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Obama's tough love for Afghanistan

In another installment of President Obama's "Talk to the American people like Adults" series, Obama Tuesday deftly made the case for escalating the war in Afghanistan while laying the groundwork for withdrawal. No one's really happy with the path he's chosen. But the criticism of Obama for daring to mention a timetable for withdrawal is shortsighted. As a senior administration official said during a briefing today, "We can't want this any more than the Afghans do." So true. The American people have little patience for welfare states.

Obama delivered some necessary tough love for Afghanistan. Twice he mentioned the "transition to Afghan responsibility." He bluntly stated, "The days of providing a blank check are over." Praising Karzai's inauguration speech, he continued, "And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance."

David Ignatius likes Obama's plan but says "the weak link" is the announced departure. I disagree. The not-so-subtle subtext of Obama's speech was "enough is enough." And I say amen to that.

We've been there for eight years. We've lost nearly 1,000 troops. We've spent hundreds of billions of dollars in a rudderless country rife with corruption and led by someone who appears content to do nothing while Americans die and go broke in the process.

Of course, conditions on the ground will determine whether and how quickly combat troops will come home starting in July 2011. But if Karzai hasn't gotten his act together to exert the leadership Obama is counting on -- and his people deserve -- I wouldn't blame Obama for withdrawing U.S. forces.

By Jonathan Capehart  | December 2, 2009; 2:02 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Obama's speech signaled a biggie to me:

HE FEARS SOROS a heck of a lot more than HE FEARS bin Laden!!

Posted by: wheeljc | December 2, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

In 2001 Americans felt an urgency to strike out in some sort of self defense.
retaliation. revenge.
That was 8 years ago!!

How long can the military government of
the united states run rough shod over the
peaceful intentions of the American People?

Bring the troops home!
Give America back it's status
as a Just and Peaceful Nation!

How can we preach to china or north korea
about human rights or threats, when we occupy TWO nations!

Obama said we would stop being
two faced lairs!!!

obama said he would oversee a new
age of american foreign policy,
to rebuild our reputation?????

Where is obama?
Who was that moron propped up
by generals and assassins?

Posted by: simonsays1 | December 2, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

My ObamaMeter's needle has long since gone to the left side of the dial, you know, where the zero percentage point lies at the far end. In August of last year, the needle could be found hovering between eighty and ninety percent on the other side of the dial. By inauguration day, it was definitely pinned at ninety percent.
And then came the appointments of his dynamic financial duo of Summers and Geithner. At first I thought it was a stroke of genius, giving the keys to the Fort Knox hen house to these two foxes. I surmised that if anyone knew how to reverse the Bush take-from-­the-poor-a­nd-give-to­-the-rich financial structure he had blessed and implemented, it would be these two who were up to their eyebrows in it's formulation and support.
Needle at seventy-five percent after I found out just what their plans were.
When Obama's Kumbaya personality suddenly took complete control of his psyche, prompting him to say let bygones be bygones and that he had no interest in prosecuting any member BushCo for their transgressions against the Constitution and the planet at large, that needle started to inch toward fifty percent.
Now with his damn-the-­torpedoes-f­ull-speed-­ahead attitude toward Afghanistan, that needle has started a left-leaning decline that probably can't be corrected anytime soon--if ever.
What a waste . . . what a disappointment.

Posted by: hyjanks | December 2, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the author. The Afghanistan govt. forces operate on geological time. They need the threat of a US pull-out to get their military functional. Eighteen months is short, but McCrystal's execution counts for a lot. He needs to be given the chance.

The biggest risk in the region is an unstable, nuclear Pakistan. Imagine a nuclear bomb smuggled in to US in a suitcase sized package. There are already weekly attacks from terrorists in Pakistan. Factions of the Pakistani army are loyal to some terrorist groups. They at least looked the other way when Bhutto got assasinated in early 2008, the ONLY leader not installed with a coup.

The attacks in to Pakistan are coming from the Afghan/Pakistan border, exactly where McCrystal wants more troops. This should drive them deeper in to Pakistan where the Pakistani army will be forced to deal with them due to pressure from the Pakistani people. OTH, if they return to Afghanistan, the extra US troops will help suppress them there.

In 2002, running for the US Senate, Obama wisely said "I'm not opposed to all wars, just dumb wars" referring to Iraq. Well, that has been proven in spades. I think many wrongly assumed he was a pacifist.

Posted by: YoungAtheart | December 2, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, you are not getting it. Obama did not surge troops in to achieve victory over the Taliban and al Quada. His decsion was withdrawal in 18 months, and plussing up the troops by the absolute minimum to train a replacement force. He is retreating rather than cutting and running. You need to ask yourself if you wanted to get out of Afghanistan, what would be the most responsible way to do that.

Obama better not hesitate if more guys are needed to accomplish the police training mission. There should be no more dithering=deliberation on Afghanistan. He is withdrawing, and he needs to do that properly without worrying about his poll numbers with people who wish to cut and run at any cost.

Posted by: Wiggan | December 2, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Nation building again? one million dollars per troop= 30 Billion. One question? with unemployment 10.5% (really 17.5%) and the economie in shambles ...what the hell is he thinking holding up a corrupt gov. who was voted in by stuffed ballet boxes. He sounded like a snake oil salesman trying to sale his NEOCON idea (which the people have said NO NO NO to) to who? the 30% who like it or to the 70% who oppose this. I ask how much more will the american people stand. The economie is gone and the troops are worn out. We need Nation Building HERE not there!!

Posted by: bullet1 | December 2, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The lost situations with Afghanistan, calls for former president (George W Bush) to participate in solution. After all, he is the one that represented to congress the reason why we needed to attack that poor country with our military. The concept should be same; GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!!!!

Posted by: BOBSTERII | December 2, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the liberal anti-war revolution is over.

Posted by: mock1ngb1rd | December 2, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

"obama decides."

Posted by: ChooseBestCandidate | December 2, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

"obama decides."

Posted by: ChooseBestCandidate
It appears to me McChrystal's 40,000 phased in over 15 months would not give us the possible 2011 drawdown. 15,000 due this spring, after 9 meetings, put 30,000 in place for summer operations and a message to Karzai, the free ride is over. The earlier you start, the earlier you finish is only true with proper staffing. Sure Obama could have stripped cold war assets to fight there, but he like Brown will not send troops into harms way without being properly equipped.

Posted by: jameschirico | December 3, 2009 3:28 AM | Report abuse

I agree with your assessment. The McCrystal plan is population protection. It assumes that the Afghans will reject the Taliban given protection and with assistance can develop alternative governance.

The Obama conditioned time frame puts to test the McCrystal assumptions. It is a clear signal to the Afghans to get moving on developing a self sustaining alternative or we are out of there.

Posted by: rich_harrington | December 3, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

OH- that man with FIVE DEFEREMENTS!


I guess it must be true!

Althouy MURDOCH never showed what is ON C-SPAN- see ARCHIVES- C-Span's PHOTO JOURNALIST in AFGHANSITAN - in 2007-2008-


On or about Dec. 16, 2001, bin Laden and bodyguards "walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan's unregulated tribal area," where he is still believed to be based, the report says.

CHENEY, Rumsfeld's BEST BUDDY did not DITHER!

Look what we got!

C-span's photo journalist interviewing the troops - dubbing Afghanistan the FORGOTTEN WAR!

2007- 2008 USA troops- ON TAPE- stating they were in a FORGOTTEN WAR!


AND MSM is all about what DICK SAYS!Are you KIDDING ME?

PULL those C- Span tapes and see what the TROOPS said about CHENEY's FORGOTTEN WAR!

After all - DICK ran the show!


DID DICK care about the NUCS in PAKISTAN?


Posted by: sasha2008 | December 3, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

The President has embarked on a Fool's Errand. I hope he finds some Fool's Luck.

Posted by: mikehike | December 3, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

This is not about tough love. President Obama is using excellent Project Management skills regarding Afghanistan. Goals have been established, stakeholders involved, tasks assigned, the plan is being executed, and measurements identified. President Obama is holding our own military accountable for what they say can do. ...............

Posted by: glclark4750 | December 3, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Is there any course President Obama can take that would truly satisfy "White America" or the GOP? It seems any progression in any direction is the wrong answer regardless of any decisions made. It is still NO!

The problems were created by the very people screaming the loudest like Bush, Chaney and the entire GOP. And they realize the problems-they made the problems. Now they try to act like gee this is just one more mess-of course you jackasses made the circumstances worse by lying in the first place "with weapons of mass destruction and allowing Bin Laden to get away and fly his entire family out of America and Bin Laden was probably on the damn plane-no one checked and we did not see who actually was on the passenger list.

So, who is really playing games here? Obama is just trying to put us back on focus of what was said to be the problem-no one actually knows how it all got stirred up in the first place. The CIA is not telling and it seeems enhanced techniques and the like keep mouths closed on that for the time being so who knows?

Then CNN Wares; Fareed; Amanpour; Gupta; Cooper and those who really have a grasp on things really enlighten the real picture of things in Afganistan. One it sits in a very tight spot with India, Pakistan, Iran and all the other interest in the Middle East. So, one cannot push one side to hard-that is most definitely a problem. Then, the terrain is like being on the the moon with deep holes everywhere. Historically these people have fought for centuries and it is about Winter there-have mercy.

And can anyone see Iran is the real problem? Oh the Taliban is a problem but, hello!!!! wake up!!! we are in the middle of hell!!!!

I almost want to go help our troops however I can. It is one more piece of crap we are in and it will not be for a short time-they are grasping for straws but, they should send a long rope. They will need it.

Obama had to think "hard and long". More men were needed but, no more-it is a real trap and a trap to downing our economy-they want to make sure we are on a downward path economically with no jobs; money or hope. They want to weaken our structure and even our foundation. If we can we need to pay off our debt to China. Proverbs tells us it is bad to "owe a man". The bailouts were the setup but, the CEO's were too stupid and greedy to see how much they allowed us to be hurt.

So, it is time each person pay their debts and save money-really start at home. This is also a hint to our Treasurer-the answer from now on is NO!

Posted by: Scar1 | December 3, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Create a Senior Corp. They can function and free up armed service members in the field and make more service where they are really needed. The Seniors can do paperwork and function on and in areas of supply; clerical and backup and assist reserve and other Armed services. It creates jobs and all branches need the extra help. Put some of these prisoners on the lines too. That saves prison system and may correct some really bad behavior indeed. It will wake some sleeping misfits the "f" up-let um gang up on front lines. Ha, ha, ha!!

Posted by: Scar1 | December 3, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Hell let me be their correction officer. Scar's school of "hard ass knocks"-get your butt over there and work-hello-work or start digging-either way-your butt is mine today!!

Posted by: Scar1 | December 3, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

No this war will not be quick at all. Anyone who thinks so is not realistic. This is one War we should take very serious. Those at home-brace your butts up. Stop being foolish; plant those gardens; get the meal, flour, sugar, toilet paper etc. like moma and grandma use to say and be ye ready for all things. These folk ain't playin-especially Iran and N. korea. What do you need with 5 nuclear stations and it is just suppose to be simple. Huh, for who?

Not to mention biological stuff they have and have had since the 70's -planning that long-no these folks are serious. And Pakistan-trust who? Hell no!!! Wrong!!! Trust you own behind like my grandma would say-cover it!

Posted by: Scar1 | December 3, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I disagree we should entreat the Taliban but, I do think we need to get the tribal leaders together and if the Taliban sends a rep we should try to listen but give nothing.

Posted by: Scar1 | December 3, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

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