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But Where's the Exit Strategy?

Obama, then a presidential candidate, met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul in July 2008. (via AP)

In a speech this morning, President Obama established narrower, more strategic goals for the war in Afghanistan, announced he would send in more troops and civilians, and described the need for regional outreach.

But his new plan doesn't seem to meet his own standards. As he said in a CBS News interview just a few days ago, "There's gotta be an exit strategy."

Obama insisted that the commitment to Afghanistan isn't open-ended: "Going forward, we will not blindly stay the course. Instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable. We’ll consistently assess our efforts to train Afghan Security Forces, and our progress in combating insurgents. We will measure the growth of Afghanistan’s economy, and its illicit narcotics production. And we will review whether we are using the right tools and tactics to make progress towards accomplishing our goals."

But what if things don't go according to plan? At some point, are we willing to just up and leave? Obama didn't say -- and it would be hard to imagine, given what he did say a moment later: "The world cannot afford the price that will come due if Afghanistan slides back into chaos or al Qaeda operates unchecked."

This is all more than a little reminiscent of the "benchmarks" former president George W. Bush and his aides established in January 2007 for Iraq, as they announced the "surge."

Most of those benchmarks were subjective and amorphous, and Bush wouldn't say what would happen if they weren't met. Indeed, when the few concrete deadlines came and went without any success,neither Bush nor the media took any notice.

Perhaps President Obama should answer the same question that a young Illinois senator posed to then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing two years ago.

Sen. Barack Obama asked her: "Are you telling me that if in six months or whatever time frame you are suggesting that in fact the [government of Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki] has not performed these benchmarks -- which, by the way, remain not sufficiently explicit, I think, for a lot of us to make decisions on, but let's assume that that surfaces over the next several weeks that this is being debated -- that at that point, you are going to suggest to the Maliki government that we are going to start phasing down our troop levels in Iraq?"

Rice: "Senator, I want to be not explicit about what we might do because I don't want to speculate. But I will tell you this, the benchmark that I'm looking at -- the oil law is important, the political process is extraordinary important -- that the most important thing that the Iraqi government has to do right now is to reestablish the confidence of its population that it's going to be even-handed in defending it. That's what we need to see over the next two or three months, and I think that over the next several months they're going to have to show that."

Obama: "Or else what?..."

Rice: "Or this plan -- or this plan is not -- this plan is not going to work."

So what exactly are Obama's benchmarks in Afghanistan? And what are the consequences -- to who -- if they're not met?

Or else what?

"Many people in the United States and many in partner country that have sacrifices so much have a simple question," Obama said today. "What is our purpose in Afghanistan? Of so many years, they ask why do our men and women still fight and die there? They deserve a straightforward answer....

"So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That's the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just....

"To achieve our goals, we need a stronger, smarter, and comprehensive strategy. To focus on the greatest threat to our people, America must no longer deny resources to Afghanistan because of the war in Iraq. To enhance the military, governance, and economic capacity of Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have to marshal international support. And to defeat an enemy that heeds no border or laws of war, we must recognize the fundamental connection between of future of Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Karen DeYoung writes for The Washington Post: "President Obama this morning announced a new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy that will require significantly higher levels of U.S. funding for both countries, with U.S. military expenses in Afghanistan alone increasing about 60 percent from the current toll of about $2 billion a month....

"Along with the 17,000 additional combat troops authorized last month, Obama said he will send at least 4,000 more this fall to serve as trainers and advisers to an Afghan army expected to double in size over the next two years.

"In outlining his plan after a two-month review that began the week of his inauguration, Obama described a sharp break with what officials called a directionless and under-resourced conflict inherited from the Bush administration....

"Officials who briefed reporters on Obama's strategy yesterday said the administration, working with Congress, will develop new 'benchmarks and metrics to measure our performance and that of our allies,' including the Afghan and Pakistani governments. Lawmakers and the administration itself have questioned the ability and will of the Afghan government to fight corruption and the narcotics trade, and have criticized the Pakistani military's performance against al-Qaeda and other insurgent groups. U.S. intelligence officials believe that elements of Pakistan's intelligence service continue to actively collaborate with the Taliban.

"'We are looking for performance and changes in behavior on the Pakistani side,' an official said."

Peter Baker and Thom Shanker, writing in the New York Times, explicitly liken Obama's strategy to Bush's in 2007: "In imposing conditions on the Afghans and Pakistanis, Mr. Obama is replicating an approach used in Iraq two years ago both to justify a deeper American commitment and prod shaky governments in the region to take more responsibility for fighting insurgents and building lasting political institutions."

And they write: "Although the administration is still developing the specific benchmarks for Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said they would be the most explicit demands ever presented to the governments in Kabul and Islamabad. In effect, Mr. Obama would be insisting that two fractured countries plagued by ancient tribal rivalries and modern geopolitical hostility find ways to work together and transform their societies."

David S. Cloud writes for Politico: "A senior U.S. official said the White House hoped to see progress in the south and east by the fall or early winter. 'The sooner the Afghan soldiers can handle the threat posed by the Taliban, the sooner you can reduce our forces,' said a senior official

"But there is always the risk that the Afghans will prove incapable of standing on their own —at least on a timetable acceptable to Obama.

"If progress against the safe havens along the border cannot be achieved in the next few years—or if the Taliban insurgency becomes even stronger--will Obama decide to send in more troops? Or will he draw down and resort to other means to go after al-Qaida?

"The answer to those questions was not immediately clear."

Jonathan Karl writes for ABC News that Obama's plan "does not include anything resembling a timetable for withdrawal."

Another problem: Even if Obama were to set specific benchmarks with explicit deadlines, who would know if they're met?

Andrew Gray writes for Reuters: "NATO has no reliable way to assess its performance in the war in Afghanistan even as the United States prepares to announce the results of an Afghan strategy review, the alliance's top commander said on Tuesday.

"U.S. Army General John Craddock, NATO's supreme allied commander Europe, ... said his headquarters had tried to find ways to measure factors, such as security and the effectiveness of Afghan authorities, but the task had proven 'overwhelming'.

"'Right now, our assessments of progress are anecdotal and they vary daily, weekly, with whoever makes the observation and where they are making them,' Craddock told a hearing of the Senate's armed services committee."

By Dan Froomkin  |  March 27, 2009; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  Afghanistan  
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Any Afghan strategy MUST include:

1.)Destruction of the poppy crop to deprive the Taliban of revenues.
2.)Sealing the border with Pakistan.
3.)Substantial US troop presence in and the cooperation of the government of Pakistan to support the efforts of US troops to take control of the 'Tribal areas.'
4.)Capture of OBL and all senior AlQ leaders.

Unless and until we get serious about killing these vermin, they will continue to breed and fill the world with their spawn.
I'm sorry to say that nothing about Obama or his administration fills me with hope that anything other than appeasement will be attempted. Doubt that Holbrooke will last long.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | March 27, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I wonder if anyone will criticize Obama's "new" Afghanistan plan of using "benchmarks" to measure progress?

As you point out, Bush used "benchmarks" that his Administration shamelessly manipulated to feign progress.

Now, Obama will use the same method to engage in a long, intractable war in Afghanistan.

I am sick of hearing about bin Laden planning new attacks... do we even know if he is still alive?

Let's face it: Obama is not even close to departing/repudiating Bush's policies with regard to the War on Terror. Obama's DOJ is making the same unConstitutional arguments in Court abusing the state secrets privilege.

Obama is ramping up combat operations in Afghanistan when we really should be ramping up diplomatic efforts.

Obama's DOD is still awarding KBR contracts even though their electrical work is killing soliders.

I see more the same thinly disguised by clever rhetoric from another Slick Willie type character.

Posted by: winoohno | March 27, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

We should also address the Islamic terrorism at the school level. The most dangerous thing that is happening in the world is ‘evil-education’ of young children and youth by the Islamic terrorists to kill and die for "Islam" . A corrupted mind is more dangerous than a Bomb. Organized effort to identify moderate Muslims around the world who are committed to fight abuse of their religion by terrorists and work among the youth and children of Pakistan, Afghanistan and other parts of the world should be taken up on high priority. Such people should be supported by giving organizational and moral support, and funds.
It is also important to initiate projects that generate jobs so that these youngsters won't go to make bombs kill and die

Posted by: kpoetv | March 27, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

There goes Obama, fooled again by "the intelligence", no different than Bush. Looks like Geremiah Wright was right: Obama will BEND, for he's just another politician, willing to say and do anything to get to higher office and grow and increase the ego.

Posted by: ElMugroso | March 27, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

How would we feel if an enlightened, modern nation, say France, invaded the U.S. to "defeat" right-wing Christian fundamentalists because, say, abortion clinics in France had been bombed?

While I also see right-wing fundamentalist Christians as a potential threat to civilization, I would take umbrage at France presuming to "straighten us out." I would not help the French soldiers seeking the lairs of the fundamentalists. I would do everything I could to sabotage the foreigners, and they would never have my sympathy but would always have my enmity.

Why do Americans presume that other countries want us to impose our "values" on them at the point of a gun? Even supposedly benign missionaries pose a threat to another culture. When the Spaniards invaded Peru, they demanded that the Inca chiefs convert to Christianity before they were executed. Otherwise, they would be burned to death, which Incas feared more than anything because they thought they would lose their souls.

While the Spaniards managed to conquer and colonize the Americas, it took hundreds of years and genocidal tactics. Unless we want to colonize Afghanistan, we will never succeed in converting them to an American Judeo-Christian point of view.

And the idea that we can root-out all potential terrorists is ludicrous! In a world of 6 billion people, most living in poverty and primitive conditions, finding and eliminating all "enemies of freedom" is impossible.

Even more than the economy, Afghanistan has the potential to ruin the Obama presidency.

Posted by: motorfriend | March 27, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

This makes me physically ill. There are killer pot holes I have to navigate to get to work that have me more afraid than Bush's bogeymen who are now apparently Obama's. How is any of this sustainable? Is there something in the drinking water at the White House?

Posted by: SarahBB | March 27, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

1.)Destruction of the poppy crop to deprive the Taliban of revenues.
2.)Sealing the border with Pakistan.
3.)Substantial US troop presence in and the cooperation of the government of Pakistan to support the efforts of US troops to take control of the 'Tribal areas.'
4.)Capture of OBL and all senior AlQ leaders.

all four of these are impossible.
1. not even the Taleban who have more ruthless means at their disposal was able to do that. is not possible to seal the borders of Pakistan. we cannot even seal our own borders.

3. no one has been able to subdue the tribal areas. it cannot be done, not with a million troops.

4. capture Osama?'s been eight years since the attack.

Posted by: johannesrolf | March 27, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

To SarahBB: No bogeymen + nothing in the drinking water. It just is.
To ElMugroso: Not fooled, he now just has enough information to realize how important a sensible governing structure in Afghanistan is. You don't have to like it, but he sees the light.
To Kpoetv: You are partly right, the education at Muslim schools can be downright scary. But the difference between a civil society and one that fosters crime/violence and terrorism is simply this: How well are the women educated? How safe are the women? Take care of that and the rest follows.

Posted by: the_node | March 27, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

But the difference between a civil society and one that fosters crime/violence and terrorism is simply this: How well are the women educated? How safe are the women? Take care of that and the rest follows.

Posted by: the_node | March 27, 2009 1:50 PM

I suggest we look at our own house. we have shelters for abused women. many women are killed by spouse or boyfriend. we haver no moral high ground.

I don't think the army and war are the appropriate means to improve the plight of women the world over.

Posted by: johannesrolf | March 27, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

War always makes things harder for women and children. Always.

Posted by: SarahBB | March 27, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"Any Afghan strategy MUST include:

1.)Destruction of the poppy crop to deprive the Taliban of revenues."

You just shot yourself in the foot. You mean, to deprive the populace of their best cash crop, impoverish them further, and drive them into the hands of the Taliban? No. We need to start buying what these folks are growing. Eradication hasn't worked anywhere in the world it has been tried, and it has always created massive political trouble locally.

Posted by: fzdybel | March 27, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"2.)Sealing the border with Pakistan."

Get out Google Earth and take a good look. Along with your point 3) "substantial US troop presence [in Pakistan]" and you've just written a recipe for geopolitical disaster.

Drunk with power. And the joke is, we don't actually have that much power.

Posted by: fzdybel | March 27, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Amazing that any colunmist can only hear what he wants to hear, especially if he is just doing it to argue against something.

Look, I interpreted that the "exit strategy" was to dismantle and defeat Al Queda and the Taliban, then to hand off security to a well trained Afghanistan military/police force.

What more do you want? We are going to leave a residue force just like have done in Japan, South Korea, Germany and soon to be Iraq.

Or we can exit both Iraq and Afghanistan 100% like we did in Vietnam, and then have to go back under another GOP president one day.

Posted by: wlockhar | March 27, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Obama, Obama, this is ridiculus, sad, and as stupid as George's Hubris in his misadventure in Iraq! You have got to know better! You have got to tell the Geo-Political-Military experts to just retire and write the good books about the imagined good wars to achieve the hopeless good results while primarily squandering world wealth, world capability, and world well-being. Playing neo-colonial games in the 21st century is just plain stupid!

Posted by: Chaotician | March 27, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, I have to agree with Dan on this, which is hard for someone as pro-Obama as I am, but it's as if he incorrectly assumed our military leaders actually understand what the real battle is.

Look, we still have the Saudis providing more than 90 percent of BOTH the volunteers AND the funding for al-Qaeda.

And Pakistan still playing us.

Until we tell Karzai to get his act together and stop caring about him, we're dead.

Posted by: WillSeattle | March 27, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't particularly care what happens in Afghanistan and agree that the "end the poppy crop/seal the Pakistan border" metric is impossible.

But I want to see Osama Bin Laden dead. Whatever it takes. Whatever it costs.

Posted by: gposner | March 27, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

wlockhar you do know that 1) we did not go back to Vietnam and that we left in a disorderly fashion under a republican president, don't you? 2) our force in Germany had more to do with Russia than any threat from within Germany? and 3) Japan and Korea we stayed more as a deterent to China and Russia than due to any internal problems, and that the South Koreans are more than capable of handling themselves right now. You do know those things right?

Posted by: m_mcmahon | March 27, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

This is merely cleaning up the unfinished business that followed Charlie Wilson's war. When the Sovs were driven out we did a Pontius Pilate and left Afghanistan, Stinger missiles and mujaheddin emboldened by victory over the Bear. Obama has the right idea - you can pay the price now or pay it later, but eventually we will pay. One of several huge obstacles will be getting the Pakistani Intelligence Service to stop supporting the insurgents.

Posted by: sundog2 | March 27, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Look, I interpreted that the "exit strategy" was to dismantle and defeat Al Queda and the Taliban, then to hand off security to a well trained Afghanistan military/police force.

How do you do this?

What if they're being financed by the Russians, or the Chinese, or even the Israelis, in part to weaken the American economy and military, asymemtrically?

I hear (idiot) neocons declaring "victory" in Iraq -- isn't that like declaring victory over cancer at the first sign of a questionable remission?

Osama correctly summed up his Pentagon and intelligence advesaries as Special Olympians, and attacked.

Do we labor under the illusion the people
purporting to protect us are smarter than Osama?

Not anymore, not after 8 years of catastrophic losses. They haven't even said, and neither have you, how they're going to pay for this -- how does that affect long-term investor confidence, as well as that of the "rubes?"

Oh, wait, is the economy fixed now, or do wars not affect our economy?

Boy, no wonder Osama has them BEAT, HANDS DOWN...

And if I were China or Russia, I would be licking my chops at this recent kook-headed move on behalf of the DUMBEST Pentagon I'd ever gamed...

(And no offense to Special Olympians, or their loved ones...).

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | March 27, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Our Plan In Afganistan

Stay until one of two things happens:

1. China declines to lend us more money.

2. Soldiers decline to keep dying.

Until then, we will spend 3 billion dollars a month and sacrifice as many soldiers as it takes to keep the MIC in luxury.

Now, where's that cocktail shaker, Michelle?

Posted by: davidbn27 | March 27, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Until then, we will spend 3 billion dollars a month and sacrifice as many soldiers as it takes to keep the MIC in luxury.

I'm beginning to think American war, since the first world one, has simply been a matter of the proper management of the MIC kooks, applied internationally.

'Now, where's that cocktail shaker, Michelle?"

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | March 27, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

This war have been going on for SEVEN(7)YEARS. Did you ask BUSH if he had an
Exit Strategy. I don't recall that Bush
having an Exit Strategy for Iraq of Afganistan. This is a War that have been going on for 7 (seven)years. I aske again
where was Bush Exit Strategy?


Posted by: maymhwmariah | March 27, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse






Posted by: maymhwmariah | March 27, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

The truth is Obama once again if full of crap. He loves acting like he is so nuanced but he has no substance. Talks the talk and then won't walk the walk.

Posted by: pwaa | March 27, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

It's maddening to be trite, but Afghanistan has been described as "the graveyard of empires". While the Surge has put a longer fuse on the powder keg in Iraq, we are misled into thinking that we can now turn our focus to the original problem (the existence of the organization that attacked us - Al Quaida, now reconstituted along the Afghan/Pakistan border), and be successful in achieving delusional goals (such as ending poppy agriculture without concrete cash alternatives for farmers, and attempting to reconcie tribal factions that have existed in one form or another, for centuries).

One can only hope that Obama, in contrast to Bush 43, has a steeper learning curve. When it come to understanding other cultures, America continues to be naive, ignorant and presumptuous. There is no good exit strategy for Afghanistan, because the strategy and tactics for achieving the goals that would lead to an exit strategy are not fundamentally realistic.

Posted by: MillPond2 | March 27, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Given Osama's statement, the probelm here really isn't the terrorists, it's how we reply to the terrorists, and those who finance them.

And we either face the truth about our own MIC, and the people who profit from it, and react intelligently, or we react like the effeminate Phd cowboys who would torture and spend us to our deaths, nationally, a simple, slow US suicide -- too stupid to understand they're killing themselves in the process, too.

But they're too smart to fail, doncha know,(this from people who recommend torture and spending in the face of a broken budget and lost war, clearly indicating they have no understanding of economics and/or human behavior).

How can the US lose?

With "talent" and "thought" at the level of John Brennan, it's pretty easy to understand WHY the US is losing, how it is vulnerable.

And given Obama's choices here, he's no better than Cheney in chosing his military/intelligence champions, so don't look for salvation...

We fail until they're gone, it's a little more complex than point-and-shoot and react, sorry, war is hard.

Poor 'lil butchie, too stupid to understand war, no matter how many people he tortures, he still hasn't figured his enemy is smarter...

BTW, I would also look for increased military confrontations from the Chinese and Russians toward the US, they smell, well, they smell something, and it ain't b*lls and brains.

"This is real, folks."

You bet!


Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | March 27, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin, it's all too evident that you haven't a military bone in your body.

Why would you divulge an "exit strategy" to you enemy?

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | March 27, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Even though the cold war has been over nearly twenty years, Democratic presidents, beginning with Truman thru Obama, have seemed as if they had to show they were "tough" by militarily intervening somewhere in the world. This was part of the reasons why Kennedy and Johnson escalated military intervention in the Vietnamese civil war, so conservatives, especially Republicans would not say they were "soft" on communism. This could be Vietnam, the mini-sequel.

I hope the staff will keep any neo-cons from showing Obama any John Wayne movies, especially "The Alamo" or "The Green Berets" or George Scott in "Patton." Many have said Nixon ordered the invasion of Cambodia after watching the latter film. Obama probably though is more mature, but nonetheless susceptible to neo-con influence, especially to show his "toughness" on military issues.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | March 27, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who gets it? There is no exit strategy, none is needed.
Obama's followers are trying to form a lynch mod for George W. Bush for waging an illegal war in Iraq on the "false" information of their possesion of weapons of mass destruction. Obama is expanding on this war, instead of ending it as G.W.B.'s accusers always said he should have done.
Is the conflicts in Afganistan and Pakistan due to efforts to destroy weapons of mass destruction? No.
Why, then? Simple. To keep trained soldiers known to be patriotic and willing to fight and die for freedom, liberty, and democracy, off american soil until they can train our children for "Social Defense"
against these qualities that Americans have fought and died for since the Revolutionary War.
It may take some time to take our children, hungry enough for knowlege to seek government loans to agree to their terms and enlist in their training, and "train" and "educate {brainwash} them to protect their intrest in defeating the qualities that made America great.

Posted by: jimmy_7591 | March 27, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

The Afghanistan action is analogous to hold sand in your hand, and , points to the futility of chasing phantoms. The asymmetrical nature of the Taliban and Al Queda bear an eerie resemblance to the Viet Cong and the lesson of that conflict.

Just as there was no feasible exit strategy from Southeast Asia, so it is with the Afgan and Pakistan theater. To win will mean genocide, to lose is to surrender to terror.

Posted by: hadenuff1 | March 27, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Get out of Afghanistan.

Posted by: observer23 | March 27, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

DC Sleeper Cell?

If you were Osama or Al Qaeda in general, you would long to have a sleeper cell within the US government. From there you could undermine the war on terror: freeing enemy combatants, abolishing the term enemy combatant, placing time limits on troop withdrawals, negotiating with terrorist States and alienating your one true ally in the middle east. Furthermore you would work just as hard to undermine the US economy by promoting reckless tax & spend policies that have failed time & again in the past, building huge governmental entitlement programs that will further erode the national economy, make the US dollar worthless and push the country to the brink of bankruptcy.
It’s a good thing there isn't such a sleeper cell at work within our government.

Posted by: smokedsalmoned | March 28, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

smokedsalmoned, you almost had me fooled; I thought you were talking about George W. Bush.

It all sounded so familiar from the past eight years.

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | March 28, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Mr. President,

The American people need an "exit strategy" AND an "end state" statement for Afghanistan.

Plain english: What are we trying to achieve in Afghanistan????

Both statements should be short, succinct and no greater than 60 words each.

Are we on the verge of another Vietnam?

Posted by: furtdw | March 28, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

As best I can remember, the only significant attacks on the US itself were funded and masterminded by Osama Bin Laden (attacks on the US military abroad are by definition not terrorist attacks). How is it that capturing him is not the number one US priority if not the only one?

Posted by: skeptonomist | March 28, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Oh puhleaze will you...?! This is Obama. There is no pointing out of contradictions.

Posted by: georgegjones | March 28, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

This is all Bush's fault. Obama is change we can believe in.

Posted by: jhorstma | March 28, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the Bush Truth Commission can also get to the bottom of Obama's exit strategy.

Posted by: jhorstma | March 28, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Really not an big different between Jr. the clueless and Obama, except it looks like Obama is even more adapt at bankrupting and turning the USA into an third Nation faster than Jr. the Stupid!

Posted by: american1 | March 28, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

NewsHour last night:

Patreus and Holbrook describe an enemy that was built and "connected" by our support of the Mushadeen to defeat the Russians.

They also describe these factions/connections as a "gun-fighter" culture that is not necessarily ideological, but borne of so many years of no government and no alternatives.

Pakistan is a nuclear power.

The campaign into the south of Afghanistan they say will be supported by coordinated efforts to unify and strengthen the Afghan government institutions, with all U.S. military, diplomatic and NGOs coordinated in a single effort.

Patreus and Holbrook think this is very doable and contrast the challenges with Iraq, in which systemic divides fueled and re-fueled sectarian and religious violence.

Nevertheless, both men predicted heavy casualties in an invasion of the south.

It should be good practice for the coming showdown with similar armies of heavily-armed renegades in Mexico.

The arms merchants (including the good old USA) will complicate further the next messes we find ourselves in, in Africa.

When will it all end?

Posted by: rowens1 | March 28, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Obama has no exit strategy. While we must fight al-Qaida and terrorism in Afghanistan and where ever, There has to be a plan ask Russia. Adding some troops is not a plan. Obama better sit down with the generals and listen to what they say. So far his administration has demonstrated they don't have a clue with nation security, economy, and now terrorism. If Obama's plan is to bankrupt our country, it will work. AMERICAN people WAKE UP.

Posted by: rrdn96 | March 28, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I love the hypocrisy. I'm sure most all the people that railed against the war in Iraq are now on board with this new spurt in Afganistan. This is the only thing that the community organizer has proposed that I don't object to. If they don't try to micro-manage this from DC and let our military do their job we will be sucessful.

Posted by: dugedug62 | March 28, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Simply hilarious! I am loving every minute of this. Neo-lib surrender activists believed their boy god was going to let our enemies run roughshod over us, but he found reality and they are screaming! First of all, Bush's surge relieved him of making any Iraq decisions at this time, and he has learned that Afghanistan needs one too. He also has learned that setting an 'exit strategy' which tells the enemy when we are going to leave is idiotic. But the white-flag waving left is not smart enough to understand reality. Though not a big Obama fan, who is scared to death of his spending plan, I applaud his ability to understand world affairs, and his guts to go against the extremists who put him in office.

Posted by: JCIll | March 28, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

you are over your head mr. president and you have no one on your staff that will be able to bail you out. two failures, the economy and afghanistan will prevent you from being reelected in 2012 qnd hopefully allow republicans to make some progress in replacing dems in congress especailly in the senate in 2010. so thanks for taking on more then you can handle.

Posted by: joeyhoh | March 28, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Moment of Truth, or Moment of Confusion for Obama in Afghanistan?
Winston Churchill famously once said “Give us the tools, and we will finish the job”. He did not say “Give us the tools and we will devise exit strategies”. Nor did he say “Give us the tools and we will talk with our enemies”. So, what is all this talk about negotiating with the Taliban? It may very well be true that a lot of Taliban fighters would go home under the right conditions. But none of the Taliban leadership, nor their Pakistani allies, will ever seriously lay down their arms. If the ultimate aim is to somehow share power with them, we might as well bring the troops home now, and prepare ourselves for the next attack.

Posted by: manishyt | March 28, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Obama Finds His Groove in Afghanistan, But What About Pakistan?

The President is right to identify Pakistan as the key to solving the problem in Afghanistan, and his plan for Afghanistan is sound. But it is Pakistan itself that has become the principal problem for the United States and for the world as a whole. That much is clear. What is not clear from the policy review is what the Administration proposes to do about it.

Posted by: manishyt | March 29, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Dan has got to know when propaganda hits the real world it is worthless. Tell me when we leave Germany, Japan and Korea and I will think we need an "exit strategy" for Iraq and other places. Otherwise I will think we are well occupied in these countries.

That stuff may win elections, but it is no way to run a country.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | March 30, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

"We should also address the Christianist terrorism at the school level. The most dangerous thing that is happening in the world is ‘evil-education’ of young children and youth by the Christianist terrorists to kill and die for "Christ" . A corrupted mind is more dangerous than a Bomb. Organized effort to identify moderate Christians around the world who are committed to fight abuse of their religion by terrorists and work among the youth and children of Missouri, Arkansas and other parts of the world should be taken up on high priority. Such people should be supported by giving organizational and moral support, and funds.
It is also important to initiate projects that generate jobs so that these youngsters won't go to make bombs kill and die"

There I fixed it for you.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | March 30, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

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