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AdLib On June - 22 - 2011

President Obama speaks to the nation tonight at 5:00 pm PDT (8:00 pm EDT) about his administration’s policy on Afghanistan and upcoming withdrawals of troops.

His speech can be watched live below, share your thoughts on his speech and policy.

 

Remarks by the President on the Way Forward in Afghanistan

 

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Nearly 10 years ago, America suffered the worst attack on our shores since Pearl Harbor.  This mass murder was planned by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network in Afghanistan, and signaled a new threat to our security –- one in which the targets were no longer soldiers on a battlefield, but innocent men, women and children going about their daily lives.

In the days that followed, our nation was united as we struck at al Qaeda and routed the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Then, our focus shifted.  A second war was launched in Iraq, and we spent enormous blood and treasure to support a new government there.  By the time I took office, the war in Afghanistan had entered its seventh year.  But al Qaeda’s leaders had escaped into Pakistan and were plotting new attacks, while the Taliban had regrouped and gone on the offensive.  Without a new strategy and decisive action, our military commanders warned that we could face a resurgent al Qaeda and a Taliban taking over large parts of Afghanistan.

For this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made as President, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan.  When I announced this surge at West Point, we set clear objectives:  to refocus on al Qaeda, to reverse the Taliban’s momentum, and train Afghan security forces to defend their own country.  I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to draw down our forces this July.

Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment.  Thanks to our extraordinary men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals.  As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point.  After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead.  Our mission will change from combat to support.  By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.

We’re starting this drawdown from a position of strength.  Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11.  Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al Qaeda’s leadership.  And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known.  This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11.  One soldier summed it up well.  “The message,” he said, “is we don’t forget.  You will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes.”

The information that we recovered from bin Laden’s compound shows al Qaeda under enormous strain.  Bin Laden expressed concern that al Qaeda had been unable to effectively replace senior terrorists that had been killed, and that al Qaeda has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam -– thereby draining more widespread support.  Al Qaeda remains dangerous, and we must be vigilant against attacks.  But we have put al Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.

In Afghanistan, we’ve inflicted serious losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds.  Along with our surge, our allies also increased their commitments, which helped stabilize more of the country.  Afghan security forces have grown by over 100,000 troops, and in some provinces and municipalities we’ve already begun to transition responsibility for security to the Afghan people.  In the face of violence and intimidation, Afghans are fighting and dying for their country, establishing local police forces, opening markets and schools, creating new opportunities for women and girls, and trying to turn the page on decades of war.

Of course, huge challenges remain.  This is the beginning — but not the end –- of our effort to wind down this war.  We’ll have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we’ve made, while we draw down our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government.  And next May, in Chicago, we will host a summit with our NATO allies and partners to shape the next phase of this transition.

We do know that peace cannot come to a land that has known so much war without a political settlement.  So as we strengthen the Afghan government and security forces, America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban.  Our position on these talks is clear:  They must be led by the Afghan government, and those who want to be a part of a peaceful Afghanistan must break from al Qaeda, abandon violence, and abide by the Afghan constitution.  But, in part because of our military effort, we have reason to believe that progress can be made.

The goal that we seek is achievable, and can be expressed simply:  No safe haven from which al Qaeda or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland or our allies.  We won’t try to make Afghanistan a perfect place.  We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely.  That is the responsibility of the Afghan government, which must step up its ability to protect its people, and move from an economy shaped by war to one that can sustain a lasting peace.  What we can do, and will do, is build a partnership with the Afghan people that endures –- one that ensures that we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan government.

Of course, our efforts must also address terrorist safe havens in Pakistan.  No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists, which is why we will continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation in securing a more peaceful future for this war-torn region.  We’ll work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keeps its commitments.  For there should be no doubt that so long as I am President, the United States will never tolerate a safe haven for those who aim to kill us.  They cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve.

My fellow Americans, this has been a difficult decade for our country.  We’ve learned anew the profound cost of war — a cost that’s been paid by the nearly 4,500 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq, and the over 1,500 who have done so in Afghanistan -– men and women who will not live to enjoy the freedom that they defended.  Thousands more have been wounded. Some have lost limbs on the battlefield, and others still battle the demons that have followed them home.

Yet tonight, we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding.  Fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm’s way.  We’ve ended our combat mission in Iraq, with 100,000 American troops already out of that country.  And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance.  These long wars will come to a responsible end.

As they do, we must learn their lessons.  Already this decade of war has caused many to question the nature of America’s engagement around the world.  Some would have America retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security, and embrace an isolation that ignores the very real threats that we face.  Others would have America over-extended, confronting every evil that can be found abroad.

We must chart a more centered course.  Like generations before, we must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events.  But we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate; as strategic as we are resolute.  When threatened, we must respond with force –- but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas.  When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don’t have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own.  Instead, we must rally international action, which we’re doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground, but are supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their own destiny.

In all that we do, we must remember that what sets America apart is not solely our power -– it is the principles upon which our union was founded.  We’re a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all our citizens.  We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others.  We stand not for empire, but for self-determination.  That is why we have a stake in the democratic aspirations that are now washing across the Arab world.  We will support those revolutions with fidelity to our ideals, with the power of our example, and with an unwavering belief that all human beings deserve to live with freedom and dignity.

Above all, we are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens here at home.  Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times.  Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource –- our people.  We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industries, while living within our means.  We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy.  And most of all, after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war.  For our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong no hill is too steep, no horizon is beyond our reach.

America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.

In this effort, we draw inspiration from our fellow Americans who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.  To our troops, our veterans and their families, I speak for all Americans when I say that we will keep our sacred trust with you, and provide you with the care and benefits and opportunity that you deserve.

I met some of these patriotic Americans at Fort Campbell.  A while back, I spoke to the 101st Airborne that has fought to turn the tide in Afghanistan, and to the team that took out Osama bin Laden.  Standing in front of a model of bin Laden’s compound, the Navy SEAL who led that effort paid tribute to those who had been lost –- brothers and sisters in arms whose names are now written on bases where our troops stand guard overseas, and on headstones in quiet corners of our country where their memory will never be forgotten.  This officer — like so many others I’ve met on bases, in Baghdad and Bagram, and at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital -– spoke with humility about how his unit worked together as one, depending on each other, and trusting one another, as a family might do in a time of peril.

That’s a lesson worth remembering -– that we are all a part of one American family.  Though we have known disagreement and division, we are bound together by the creed that is written into our founding documents, and a conviction that the United States of America is a country that can achieve whatever it sets out to accomplish.  Now, let us finish the work at hand.  Let us responsibly end these wars, and reclaim the American Dream that is at the center of our story.  With confidence in our cause, with faith in our fellow citizens, and with hope in our hearts, let us go about the work of extending the promise of America -– for this generation, and the next.

May God bless our troops.  And may God bless the United States of America.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

271 Responses so far.

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  1. whatsthatsound says:

    My favorite part of the speech was when he said, “move from a country shaped by war to one that can sustain a lasting peace”.

    My only quibble with it is that he was talking about Afghanistan.

  2. SallyT says:

    Okay, call me selfish but my concerns are for here. I wasn’t for the bombing of Afghanistan from the get go. I didn’t understand why we were attacking a country to get a few men who had done evil to us. The people of Afghanistan hadn’t. Oh, I heard how terrible the Taliban were and the be headings in the soccer stadium. My answer to that is that I don’t approve of capital punishment anywhere. Like ours where you strap a person to a gurney and put poison in there veins and pull the curtains for those that care to watch can. Yes and the mistreatment of woman there. Right now I am concerned about the treatment of women here. The attack on the right to choice, reproductive rights, the accessibility to Plan Parenthood and the medical treatments they supply and the discrimination against them for position and pay. So many that the Supreme Court ruled the case too large to hear. I am troubled by the treatments of people in Afghanistan the same as I am in other country such as Africa with its famine, the rape and killing of women, the killing of albino babies because they have a superstition that it cures aids and the movement against gay individuals to the extreme of extinction. But, I am very concerned about the attack on our Medicare system and Social Security here. How long do we stay there to keep the Taliban out of control? Could they get control again? Right now I am concern that the Republicans might get control of our nation again. Do we maintain bases there forever to help control their country as we see it? Everyone says if we pull out it will go back to where it was. Why didn’t we bomb eariler when it was then? Because we weren’t concern then? Or we thought we shouldn’t be involved. Now we broke it so we fix it? How long? How many lives? Will it ever be stable? Its been 10 years. We have sent billions of dollars there to help them build roads while ours crumble, build schools while we close many of ours and fire teachers, to build hospitals, do they need unaffordable insurance to get treatments in those like we do here? I’ve seen the big beautiful houses that have been built there while the masses still live in make shift houses and here the rich have many houses and we foreclose on the less fortunate. LBJ wears the blame for the Vietnam War even though Nixon was in command several years. He is awarded the ending. I hope President Obama will be granted that when this war ends. I heard it back then that we can’t leave because it will be taken over. It was and we have a stable relationship with Vietnam today. They provide our corporations with cheap labor. Perhaps our corporations could make the Afgans a call center. But, I want those men and women home just like I wanted my friends home from Vietnam. If there was a draft now, oh, you would see a cry for the end as you saw in my day. These young people have over served their time. They need to come home to a country with no jobs and their home or a family members home in foreclosure. There is my concern. However, with climate change taking its actions on our country, our reserves are needed here with us. These young people will need medical treatment and mental treatment for many years. We need to focus on being able to provide it. We need to focus on the United States of America and make it a better place. We need to bring down the deficit or make it larger because we are rebuilding our country. We are acting to much like Rome before the fall. We act as the most powerful and admired nation when others see us as bullies. We are not paying attention to our homeland and it is crumbling. They once thought our streets were paved with gold. I just want them paved. I want the United States to continue to succeed. Yes, I am selfish but my selfishness takes in all of you, too. I want us to continue to be the democracy that others strive to reach. By example we have made others reach for that star. I want ours to be the biggest and the brightest of all on this planet. I don’t want us to be one that they point to in history books as a great idea and it work for a couple of hundred years and failed. No, selfishness or not, I want us to be the winner right here. Let more countries reach their goals for democracy and more will come to believe in it and want it. Oh, I am not in a fairyland. I know that all countries have their own ideas. But, that is theirs to choose and live with. Middle class, get your dust clothes out, we need to bring back the shine, make the USA bright again. She has all the potential in us and we need to show that we have the strength. All we want is a fair shake, good living, affordable healthcare, an education, taking care of the less fortunate and being safe. Is that a lot to ask? I admire the President but I don’t agree with this plan of withdrawn. I want to get started on our nation building here right now with the money and people power we have over there. Please bring them home as soon as you can. We have a lot of work to do!

  3. alpha pup says:

    The problem in Afghanistan is way deeper than what we are talking about here on this planet. Afghanistan country that has only known war, not only the Former Soviet union, but the civil war and the Taliban. Afghanistan is messed up, messed up badly, to know and seek solution for the many problems faced in Afghanistan,it would be better to know all the ethnic tribes well. I’m aware of the debt ceiling, unemployment, and the budget deficit here in the states, but in my opinion as an Afghan, the complete withdrawal will lead to a political crisis. As soon as the international community leaves Afghanistan, there will be a huge gap, and the country will go to what it was in the 80s, maybe worse. All the schools, hospitals, roads, and other infrastructures built during this past ten years will be destroyed. There will be huge loses again. And imagine what is going to happen to the kids and women of Afghanistan, who have just after 3 decades of war hoped for a better life.

    I know, Karzai and his whole government is corrupt, and that is not acceptable neihter for the international cummunity, nor for the Afghan people. But, we can work together to fix that problem. Hopefully, the young citizens of new generation, the educated and passionate Afghans will be the change makers. I have always believed that we, Afghans should be the ones who have to fix the problems faced in our country, but we need help. I know, and am deeply sad for those men and women in uniform who lost their lives, but I’m truly grateful for the freedom and opportunites they have provided. Many thanks to those who serve in Afghanistan and sacrifice, it was an honor for me to work along side, and experience the military life. Been a dangerious job as an interpreter, but I have enjoyed every moment of those times.

    Since the beginning of the second term of Afghan Parliament, about 6 months ago, there has always been argues about the results of the election. Karzai was not happy, because his Pashtoon brothers did not win most of the Parliament, therefor, he ordered an investigation committee. After 5 months, this committee yesterday announced that about 61 current members should be romoved and new people replace them. There will be another political dispute between Karzai and the Parliament members.

    I listened President Obama’s speech, I think, it is a good plan, though- Afghan army is not ready yet to take over. Might be possible in the secure provinces, South and East will still need ISAF’s presence.

    • ADONAI says:

      alpha pup, How much effect would it have if we shifted focus out of Afghanistan and onto Pakistan? Would political problems there be easier to solve if we “put a lid” on Pakistan?

      And I also thank you for your contribution. It is very good to hear an Afghani voice on this.

      • alpha pup says:

        Pakistan is the key player, without the support from the Pakistanis, Afghanistan will not be peaceful. Pakistan has helped Taliban in the past, and is doing so even today. And, the death of Bin Laden in Pakistan has proved it. The major root to the problems in Afghanistan is Pakistan, they want the Pashtoons to be in control, so that they could follow their own goals, which is to never let the country grow up its economy, have a weaker army, and much more.

        But let’s not forget that Pakistan itself is also in big risk of Al- Qaeda, Taliban, and other radical groups. The very group of people, Taliban, who have been recognized by Islamabad, is now a threat to the Pakistan government.

        I think the U.S. should put more pressure on Islamabad, make sure they co-operate fully, in return to billions of dollors they receive. ISI, has to cut their relations with the militants, as well as Madrasas where thousands of these suicide killers are trained. In the meantime, the peace talk between the Afghan Taliban and the government of Afghanistan has to be accelerated. History has proven that military is not the solution, combat and battle did not work. Time to use some diplomacy.

        The formation and structure of different tribes in Afghanistan is making things complicated. In most minds of the fundamentalist pashtoons, west, and espicially, America is considered Kafir, infidels. This ideology, has been injected in their crazy brains.

        So, I think, it takes time to educate people, be smart to be able to see what is wrong and waht is right.

        • AlphaBitch says:

          And that’s my boy……….I’m proud of you, Pup! Well put. Your words, your ideas.

          See Planet people? I’m knowledgeable on this topic BECAUSE of these kids.

          I always find it helpful to go to the source, and to listen. I trust them and their views more than news or politicians. Well, at least MOST of them. For just like here, there can be differing opinions.

          But the one thing I am most proud of in my life is that in my home, in my life, Afghans are one. There IS no Hazara vs. Pashtun vs. Tajik. They think of the others as brothers/sisters. They are Afghans, and they are beautiful. Those with whom I’ve shared photos and stories can validate.

          And I will be making an announcement about some of the students soon. Sigh. I’ll need a bigger vest, as the buttons seem to be popping off the one I have…..but you will have to wait! (tease)

    • kesmarn says:

      alpha pup, thanks so much for getting the point of view of a citizen of Afghanistan out there.

      I wish there were something all of us could do (besides praying) to make the future for you and your fellow students easier and smoother. But that isn’t always possible. I just hope that Afghanistan is able to be transformed into a more peaceful place where you and your whole generation can learn, work and build families in security, with equality for all.

      • alpha pup says:

        Thank you Kesmarn,

        Yeah, my biggest dream is that one day all Afghans could live in peace, and prosperity. We have suffered more than enough. People of Afghanistan have been affected both mentally, and phisically as the result of wars.

        I just hope that Afghanistan soon becomes safe, I wish there is no more fighting, no more destruction, and above all no more human loss. My desire is to see all Afghan kids go to school, learn and teach others. There are more nice things to do in this world other than war.

        • kesmarn says:

          Your last sentence says it all, alpha pup.

          Here’s a question that you needn’t answer if you’d rather not: Do you think that — given the choice — most kids in your generation would opt to stay in Afghanistan and try to do the best they could there, or live elsewhere and leave the war and the past behind? (There’s no “right” answer on this one!)

          • alpha pup says:

            I think, given a chance of leaving the country, would be a yes. I just want to point one reason why, just imagine, if your life is in danegr, you don’t want to jeopardize it. However, I can also say that there are few people who might consider staying in the country and try to do something. It all depends on security, I bet there are young students here in the U.S. who are just eager to go to their country, Afghanistan, and help it rebuild. But, safety is a huge concern.

            • kesmarn says:

              Thanks so much, alpha pup. Needless to say, I completely understand what you’re saying. What’s more basic than life itself?

      • AlphaBitch says:

        Hey “Auntie” kes! I have to teach the Pup that you are his Khala Kes. I’m sure you will hear from him; dinner is ready, and we are off to eat some tandoori dish the Blov has made…..

        • kesmarn says:

          “Khala Kes.” I like the sound of that. And I am completely honored and humbled to be awarded the title!

          Mmmmmm. Tandoori. The Blov is a multi-talented guy indeed. Chicken and pasta/veggie salad here. Not exciting but easy on the budget.

          I see that Turner Classic Movies is featuring “The Arab Image in Film” on Tuesdays and Thursdays (I think in July). Doesn’t that sound interesting?

          • AlphaBitch says:

            Hey kes: don’t get too excited. The tandoori veggies were offered as a sidedish; he decided we should have them to “eat healthy”. There are many left in the frig, if you want them.

            BTW: your nephew Pup’s favorite dish in the world is ……… PASTA. Pasta anything. The boy is half Italian, I swear!

            • kesmarn says:

              I’ll put a little air in that left front tire on the aging Taurus and start heading West, AB. No guarantees on what condition the pasta salad will be in a couple days from now, though…. 😯

            • AlphaBitch says:

              Kes: Done. Can you drive them over? I’m busy typing at the moment…Can’t wait to meet ya! -- AB

              PS I’ll throw in some non-healthy Cookies and Cream ice cream. It’s calling to me “Eat me during Jon Stewart!” Don’t mind if I do…..

            • kesmarn says:

              Heh. In that case we need to do a food swap, AB! I love tandoori anything. My pasta salad for your tandoori veggies?

          • Khirad says:

            Are they all about terrorists?

            [~snark]

            • kesmarn says:

              I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll start out with Rudolph Valentino (that well-known ME actor… 😉 ) as The Sheik.

              I hope it doesn’t go downhill from there.

              Although actually I have hopes for better. TCM usually takes the high road.

    • Caru says:

      I quite like your take on the matter. Lasting democracy and stability can only come from within.

      • Khirad says:

        Indeed, but as AP mentions, how can a lasting democracy be built until the ethnic tribes see each other as Afghan partners, not just Tajik, Pashtun, Sunni, Shi’a, etc?

        Here is where I come to a stumbling block. I would favor a Lebanese confessional quota system here. I’ve even entertained partition… but that didn’t exactly go smoothly when India and Pakistan (West and East) did it.

        As AP says, and he knows better than any of us, it’s a mess.

        • alpha pup says:

          Khirad,

          It really is, we need to accept each other, and ignore all these ethnic issues. Have to see ourselves as Afghans, not Pashtoon, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, or Noristani. Our neighbors, Iarn and Pakistan, supported different tribes against each other. And we were crazy, not smart enough to distinguish who are we fihgting. They gave the necessary war tools, guns, and ammo, then watched us fight each other. I just pray that before too long, Taliban realizes that who they are fighting, and what they are doing. Killing people, innocents, kids, women, and destroying their own country. They have no idea of Islam, if their aim is to protect Islam as they always say. They blow up, torture, grow opuim, and much more… where these are all prohibited.

  4. ADONAI says:

    Here’s the problem in a nutshell and why you can’t “win” a civil war.

    KQ’s poll numbers on 60% of Afghanis polled wanting us there is correct but these polls were conducted in certain areas, mostly Central Afghanistan and urban areas in 2009.

    When you go to the Poshtun region in the South, and view a poll taken a year later, you get a whole ‘nother answer.

    50 percent of those polled in October 2010 think recent military operations are bad for the Afghan people

    58 percent think it’s wrong to work with foreign forces

    55 percent oppose military operations against the Taliban in their area

    72 percent say that foreigners disrespect their religion.

    Only 31 percent of those polled believe that NATO forces are protecting the population

    51 percent say that their view of NATO forces is either more negative or the same compared to a year ago

    65 percent say that foreign forces kill more civilians than do the Taliban

    But these are Afghani’s who oppose the country WE’RE trying to build. And since we know what is best for everyone, they will be ignored. ‘Cause, again, it’s not about what is best for the Afghani people. Only what is best for us. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be there.

    Also, I wanna address the term, “you break it, you buy it”. First of all, this is a sovereign nation, not a fucking Pottery Barn. Shit like that shows our arrogance and how little we think of the rest of the world.

    We didn’t break Afghanistan. The “problems” we stepped into were already in place. We haven’t leveled Afghanistan like we did Iraq. We put their government in place and declared it the will of the Afghani people. It only took a few months to realize that was not the case. That Karzai was despised in many places far more than the Taliban. But what do we care? Karzai can be forced to play ball with us.

    It’s not our job and was NEVER our mission to sort our Afghanistan’s numerous political and cultural problems. We were attacked by men from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Yemen. Trained in Pakistan, based in Germany, and funded by Saudi Arabia/Yemen. So I guess, naturally, that all leads to invading Iraq and Afghanistan.

    So certain Afghani’s want us to stay. Even though it is costing us far too much money and tearing our own country apart. Everything we are doing right now only weakens Afghanistan. Almost 60 percent of people polled feel the army and police are nowhere near ready to take over in the areas we are leaving. But how can any of us know? We haven’t even given them a chance to run their own country.

    And the long term. Say we “crush the Taliban”, whatever that means, and leave the country with a “pro-western” government. How long you think that’s gonna last? A government put in place by Western powers? Not very. No matter what we do, that place is gonna fall back into violence. Just ask England.

    Between 1992 and 2001, Afghanistan was dealing with the Taliban on their own with mixed results. Their biggest problem was an influx of Pakistani nationals into the Taliban ranks. The main leader of Afghani resistance was Ahmad Shah Massoud. He went to the U.N. to ask for help. What he DID NOT want was foreign countries occupying his country.

    A country that had done no wrong. Of the 45,000 combined “Taliban, Al Qaeda” forces he was fighting, only 14,000 were Afghani. Most were from Pakistan. He felt they were given the world the wrong picture of Islam and turning Afghanistan into a police state. He asked for international help with Pakistan. If the West pressured Pakistan and slowed the stream of militants across the border, the Taliban would not last a year.

    Instead we said no thanks, watched him get assassinated, America get attacked 2 days later, and we invaded his country to “get Osama”. Then we took over his fight against the Taliban. First we formed a partnership with the country arming and staffing the Taliban in Afghanistan, ignored the wishes of border tribes by appointing Karzai leader, and started killing shit loads of Afghanis, even though, as we discovered, they have very little to do with the Taliban or Al Qaeda.

    But yet we are still there doing the “right thing” even though we don’t really know what the right thing is. History shows that Afghanistan found it’s footing AFTER foreign powers left. That they are capable of fixing their own problems. Even the ones we started. They are not children. Not a backwards people who wouldn’t be able to manage without our mighty hand guiding them.

    If we are gone from that country by 2014 then I guess Obama has done his job. Don’t know what makes anyone think things will be different 3 years from now, but whatever. Had 9/11 not occurred, we wouldn’t be in Afghanistan and no one would care about their state. Our fake sincerity now only does more damage. Again, ask England.

    • AlphaBitch says:

      Adonai: Interesting points, but here are a few other statistics:

      1,000,000 Afghans were killed during the period of Soviet occupation (1978 to 1989).

      400,000 Afghans were killed during the period of 1989/1990 to 2001, when NO foreign forces were “officially” occupying their country. It was a civil war only, and what is thought of by many Afghans as one of the bloodiest times in their history. Afghans killing Afghans for the most part. Gulbuddin Hekmatyr.

      30,000 Afghans have been killed since 2001-2011. That is, without a doubt, far too many. But look at it from the preceding 20+ years. Puts it into perspective.

      As to the numbers: if you assume that the majority of whom you are referring to in the south/east are Pashtun, remember that they make up 42% of the total population of Afghanistan. Therefore, a survey which shows 50% think military operations are bad would break down to 21% of the total population. Likewise, 58% thinking it is wrong to work with foreign sources would mean 24% of the total population, etc.

      I’m not disagreeing with some of your reasoning, but it is important to realize the high percentages refer to less than half the total population. Tajiks, who are believed to make up 27%, and Hazara, who make up about 10%, should also be counted.

      I do agree with your sentence in the last paragraph that had 9/11 not happened, we would not be in Afghanistan. I also agree with the futility and sheer idiocy of allying our country with Pakistan. Thank Joanne Herring for that one. And Charlie Wilson’s priaprism. And Zia Haq’s cleverness in seeing a sucker in these two. -- AB

      • KQuark says:

        You lost me when you said we should not “ally” with Pakistan. I just don’t see how an isolationist stance towards Pakistan helps US interests at all. It is an Af-Pak issue not just Afghanistan alone so if you deal with one you have to deal with the other. Sure Pakistan is not as dependable as our close allies but it’s far from a fruitless relationship. I mean Pakistan really has nukes and to give up on our relationship would just be irresponsible.

        • AlphaBitch says:

          KQuark: Agreed, but you need to admit “they are just not that into us”. Helping the Pakistani PEOPLE is good; helping the ISI -- well, not so much.

          I’m sure that the primary reason we are hanging on in Afghanistan is because of Pakistan. Afghanistan’s minerals are taken by China. They are important to us primarily because of their geographic location. Sad, but true.

      • Khirad says:

        Zia-ul-Haq deserves far more blame than he’s been given in the West.

        Like, oh my god.

        • AlphaBitch says:

          Khirad! I agree 100%. That little monster….grrrrr! I can’t remember how he snookered Joanne into coming onboard with him, but it was something sneaky, I’m sure. Darn it! Now I’ll have to go drag out CW War and re-read it.

          That book took me nine months to read. I have never in my life taken such a long time to read anything. I remember I could read a few paragraphs or pages, then I would have to stop because I felt my head would explode in pure disbelief.

          I had met Charlie Wilson when I worked for a lobbyist in Austin. What a schmutz. After learning what he did (I met him in 1982), I wanted so much to see him again. I even hunted down his address in Lufkin and thought about driving out to visit him, but he died before I went.

          • Khirad says:

            I’d be interested in the timing of that as well. It should have been clear to anyone that Zia was a monster though. He spelled the end of Pakistan IMO. He was Taliban-lite in ruling Pakistan (and Shi’a pogroms, etc), never mind the meddling in Afghanistan.

      • ADONAI says:

        AB, I’m with you. I know polls are no real way to judge where a country is at. Especially one as politically divided as Afghanistan. But even if only 1% of Afghanistan opposed our occupation, I would want us to leave. It’s not our country.

        And I hate sounding like an asshole all the time, I do, but it’s so hard to support arguments about “preventing loss of life” or “mass murder” when those things are happening in so many places and we don’t lift a finger to help because they have nothing we need or they have something we REALLY need and we can’t take it from them.

        So many people are furious with the bombings in Libya, even though they too asked for international help, and they question the “rebels’ and people we’re trying to support there. Yet with a similar situation in Afghanistan, there is no end to the defense of our presence there from many of those people.

        There has to be a better way to do this. Honestly, I don’t really know what the Afghani people want. I can read polls and quotes all day but it tells me very little about the situation because I am not there. News reports that focus on military matters, a corrupt Afghani government, and how it all influences OUR politics, does very little to enlighten me.

        I don’t think we can do anything until our troops leave. THEN we can actually begin helping them. If our presence is dictated by the stability of that region, we are never leaving.

        • AlphaBitch says:

          Thanks, ADONAI. Your input means a lot. You’ll have to read the Pup’s take -- he IS an Afghan, he HAS family still there, so it means more to him than to either you or me. I think the idea of offering all who want to come asylum is nice, like world peace, but will never happen for a myriad of reasons. I will have six of my seven children who completed the program to train future leaders of Afghanistan back in the US by next month, with one more to go. I want to hold them all tight and never let them go, but it IS their country, their fight. I just want to give them all the advantages I can, with education and a chance to live in peace for four years or more while they get that education.

          For better or worse, since the 1970s, our future and Afghanistan’s are interconnected in a way we both probably would like to be different. It’s why I fight my own “war” with my own “army” of smart, talented, wonderful, beautiful and superb children. As I told my Missouri girl, you don’t have to be richer, stronger or meaner than the competition/your enemy; you just have to be smarter! And they are.

          Thanks again AD. I love how people DO care, and it’s why I’m here and why I share my experiences, when I should be working……now, back to work!

  5. AlphaBitch says:

    Hola, amigos y amigas! Wow, this was the hot topic for the night. Sorry I missed it, cuz you KNOW how I like to weigh in here (unlike the gym).

    Lots of passion and spirited discussion, lots of varying viewpoints. Well done.

    As most of you know, I have spent five years getting to know about 70 Afghans, mostly children who came on high school exchange. Of those 70, about 8 are “mine” (meaning the kids) and 7 more are my “family” of refugees (we hyphenate our names when together). There are Pashtun, Hazara and Tajik among them, and some hybrids. Needless to say, there are also different opinions.

    I have read MOST books about Afghanistan, and can claim as a personal friend Sarah Chayes, the former NPR reporter and tireless giver of time and attention and life to the effort to build a better country.

    I followed Afghanistan from the late 1970s, after the Soviets began their occupation. I was with a man from Canada who had spent lots of time actually IN Afghanistan (don’t ask -- I didn’t, and when I did, I was sorry I had). After the Soviets left, I was amazed his prediction that the Afghans would never accept an occupier had proved prophetic against such a large empire. Then I lost interest.

    Fast forward to 2001, when I saw the film “Beneath the Veil” and found myself drawn back in. When Massoud was assassinated on 9/9/01, I turned to the Blov and remarked it was going to get really, really ugly. I had no idea 9/11 would occur, just knew something big was getting ready to happen.

    So I went back to work, studying this mystical place. And I found others were drawn to it like me. I found my wonderful, special children whom I still believe hold the key for some future IF Afghanistan can pull itself together.

    And that is the key. I felt we abandoned Afghanistan and the Afghan people (Afghanis, by the way, is the term for their money, not the people) when we lost interest and walked away after the Soviet occupation. READ Charlie Wilson’s War, DON’T just watch the movie.

    So when we went in October 2001, I for one was hopeful that it would herald great changes. When we switched almost immediately to Iraq (post shock and awe), I was angry and depressed. Over time, so were the Afghans. In time, our allegiance with and to Karzai made us far from credible partners, when corruption became so widely accepted (note: this is why the Taliban seemed so attractive in the first place).

    Now, some ten years later, and after applying a better effort, I don’t know what to think.

    What I believe is that we will leave, it will fall apart (again, following 30 years of history). However, for the FIRST TIME EVER, there are young people who are educated, who love and depend on technology, and who may -- just may -- resent going back to the seventh century. These young people may be the ones to fight back. And that is what gives me hope.

    There will be much more bloodshed and misery in the interim. But maybe it shouldn’t be ours. They now have “fair warning” that our presence can’t/won’t continue as it had, and will have to step up to the plate themselves. Let us hear cries of “Death to the Taliban” instead of only “Death to America”.

    Remember: this is one of the ten poorest nations on earth, despite bountiful resources (and not even counting the poppies). It is one of the most illiterate, too. Therein lies the problem.

    But I have come to believe it is THEIR country, first and foremost, and that they themselves MUST be part of the fight, not just sit and wait for someone to do it for them, or sit back and be the recipients of aid. Sure, it will be hard and bloody and bad. But it should not be ours to do FOR them. With them? I’m still in. For them? I’m out.

    That’s just my POV. The Pup is writing his own piece for this, so stay tuned. (BTW: I could not be more proud of this guy. He is truly the best.) -- AB

    • Khirad says:

      I excuse my use of ‘Afghani’ from too much exposure to Persian. 😉

      • AlphaBitch says:

        Khirad: you, dear brother, need no excuse. Not now, not ever.

        The Pup is blown away by how smart you are. And he’s a clever one, himself. Not easily impressed. Nor am I.

        BTW; I’ve heard from my Syrian several times. Brief and quick, no real news, just a “hey -- thinkin’ of you”. But at least that way I know they are OK……..

  6. whatsthatsound says:

    bito, “questions are easy, solutions are a whole other animal”.

    Okay, a whole other animal. Before everyone jumps on me to tell me how “impractical” it is, please be sure to convince me how it is MORE impractical than continuing a war in a place that has been referred to as “where empires go to die”, and will result in even more bloodshed and wasted lives in the best of circumstances.

    According to KQ, 60% of the Afghan people want us there. That’s about eighteen million people. Many of them live in the major population zones, which are far more stable.
    Many are at terrible risk of being tortured, raped and murdered, especially in the most warlike regions. So, a whole other animal: The American government offers every single one of them amnesty here. We can pay for their resettlement. We can help them to set up some sort of a life here. I imagine we can do this for far LESS than it costs to continue this war to nowhere. Because it doesn’t involve enormous military costs. It also doesn’t cost something even more valuable, the lives of soldiers.

    We have one hundred thousand soldiers there. Tell them their job is to spread information throughout the region. Start an information campaign that America will accept everyone who wants to leave. Send word that small contingents of U.S. troops will soon be arriving to set up pre-immigration centers.

    I know there are dozens of good arguments against this. Just as there are dozens of good arguments against keeping our gigantic military presence in a part of the world where tens of millions are extremely hostile to our presence, and see us merely as the latest invaders. Five years from now, some of the Afghan soldiers we will be fighting will have been born AFTER 9/11. Just because this is appalling doesn’t mean it isn’t true. They will have never heard of our tragedy, and will not see a shred of justification for our being there.

    Time for a change.

    • Buddy McCue says:

      WTS -- Personally, I think this is a good idea. It’s a much more humane approach to the problem than the military solution that we are engaged in. There’s plenty of wide-open spaces in the U.S. in which the Afghani people could live.

      But if this relocation policy were actually implemented, the anti-immigrant conservatives here would… well, I don’t know WHAT they would do. They sure wouldn’t be happy about it.

      When presidential-hopeful Hermann Cain talked about securing our border with a Great Wall similar to China’s Great Wall, with electrified barbed wire on top and a moat with alligators, many of us liberals laughed at him.

      But the Far Right anti-immigrant people did not laugh. They DO feel that strongly about it.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        That’s true, Buddy, there will always be major problems. With Israel, the problems have never stopped. Even in the Ellis Island days, there were major problems and a HUGE amount of opposition, some of which came from folks who would make the Tea Baggers look like the International Friendship Society.

        It’s a matter of doing it, or not doing it. A way can always be found and opposition will always rise.

        But here’s the thing. I’m just some artist in Tokyo who came up with that idea on the nudge from bito to present a solution. Imagine an American president, who has scores of staffers willing to work sixteen hours a day, access to research institutes, some containing professors who have waited their whole LIVES for a call from the White House saying, “We understand you have some peaceful solutions to share”. Imagine the energy that could be put into motion merely by a president calling his subordinates together and saying, “I want a viable non-military course laid out. The American people deserve no less.”

        Like Adonai says, there HAS to be another way. It’s a matter of will and commitment.

      • SallyT says:

        Well, Buddy and WTS, they certainly would know how to handle life in our deserts. But, Buddy, you are right about the anti-immigratant people. These people would also be bringing a religion that many here don’t understand or want. They don’t want to respect the people already here that wishop with those beliefs.

    • funksands says:

      WTS, I think your post makes a lot of good points. I also think that if were to do what you suggest and make it policy, we would be far more judicious about where we get involved in the future.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        We sure as heck would! This is what an enlightened, non-militaristic country would do. It’s not like there aren’t precedents. 100 years ago we brought in millions of people from all over the world.
        Israel was created because Europe was not a safe place for the Jewish people to live.

        Resettling Afghans who want to come here would be a much smaller project than either of those.
        And a MUCH smaller project than our endless multi-billion dollar military escapades and archipelago of military bases all over the world.

        Paraphrasing the president’s speech, it is OUR economy that needs to move from one “shaped by war” to one that can “sustain a lasting peace”.

        • SallyT says:

          We did relocate many Vietnamese here after we left there. Many would have been imprisoned or killed for helping the Americans. I have a dear friend who’s father was one of those. The story of his family’s escape from Vietnam after we left is heroic. His father would have been put away for life or killed, so, they left everything and that was a lot because they were wealthy there. The boat they escaped from was cramed tight and actually sunk. His family had to swim to shore, his dad with his mentally challenged brother strapped to his back. The horrors he saw on the island they swim to are terrible. But finally a ship arrived to bring them to America.

          • Sally, I used to wrok with a young man from Vietnam. He spent three years in a North Vietnamese “reeducation” camp.
            I got to meet him and his family and they really good people. I’ve worked with several others since then. Most of them left Vietnam and came to a Vietnamese community in Texas. The people were hard working, law abiding people.

            • SallyT says:

              Yes, KT, my friend is one of those good people. When they got to America, only his father spoke broken English. They did not ask for any help from our government. To proud. Took whatever work they could fine. But, my friend went to school and made good grades without knowing all of our language. (It was fun at times to tease him when he mixed up the words. He always laughed and said, “Teach me right way to say that.”) He became the head of our computer department and now works for the state’s water department. He checks in with me now and then. Still always refers to me as “Boss”. “How you doing, Boss?”

          • whatsthatsound says:

            So many harrowing stories like that one, Sally. Yes, I thought about mentioning the Vietnamese relocation as well, but because I think this would necessarily be a much larger undertaking I stayed with the two examples above.

            By the way, if I could have given you two thumbs up instead of one for your lengthy, wise and heartfelt comment above, I would have.

            • SallyT says:

              WTS, thank you, that means a lot to me coming from you. I don’t mean to sound heartless but just to remind us that we need to focus on here. If we are strong, we can help so many others. Not with war or military force but strong humanitarian organizations. I think there would be jobs there,too, especially for the young, education people. Give them a chance to payoff those college loans.

  7. bito says:

    I am a bit amazed form the comments I have read and heard today on this speech and from position President Obama. Viet Nam? Vietnamazaton? The man is calling for the ending of the war. He is reducing the troops not increasing them. Did he ask for the for more troops, reinstatement of the draft, a lottery system perhaps?

    What did people expect him to say? “Beginning tomorrow all troops will be withdrawn out of Afghanistan and will be completed by the end of the month!”? “We will also shut down all military activities and the Pentagon will be converted to a full service hospital for the homeless by the end of the year.”?

    Perhaps everyone needs to have this finished by the next commercial break or do we have to wait to hear what the judges on “dancing with the Stars” have to say.
    From 1957 to 1973 we had an increasing number of troops in Vietnam and this man has attempted to decrease the number of soldiers, responsibly, since he was elected.

    And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan

    • funksands says:

      Bito, I have no quarrel with the President’s consistency. He said a while ago he would pull out 5k now and 5k at the end of the year. He said as you noted that after 18 months the “surge” would be ended and the troops removed.

      I have a problem with the initial prescription.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      bito, I think perhaps you really need to stop seeing this as an anti-Obama thing. Otherwise, you keep talking down to commenters here. Like we are impatient and want everything done yesterday. You know us better, or you certainly should.

      You seem to have a great deal invested in this president. Those of us who are taking a different point of view are not criticizing him, we are criticizing POLICY. We are criticizing the decisions and actions of the country he leads and the administration he is in charge of. We, or at least I, neither have a crush on the man nor feel any particular antipathy toward him. Our stance has its foundation in our opposition to war, and our recognition of how extreme a stain on humankind it is. Yes, we DO want the war over tomorrow, but our disappointment hardly arises from the fact that it isn’t going to happen that way. We would all be in loony bins by now if we actually expected the world to be like that.

    • What initiative? We are no farther along now than we were two years ago. And whatever progress we have made is tenuous at best. We are still playing whack-a-mole. I just can’t believe that after ten years, we are still buying into such optimism and “hope.” It really boggles my mind.

  8. KQuark says:

    G’night folks. Cya in 2015. I think I’ll get in a time machine. I can’t wait to see if tex’s prediction comes true. 😉

  9. whatsthatsound says:

    We’re fighting them over there because we’re (Dems vs. Repubs) fighting each other over here.

    • KQuark says:

      Dems vs. Reps, Dems vs. Firebaggers, Reps vs. Tea Baggers, Romney 2004 vs. Romney 2011, Reps. vs. America, Juggalos vs. Monsters, Ali vs. Frazier, North vs. South, Charlie Daniels vs. the Devil, Roe vs. Wade, Beck vs. Schultz, Maddow vs. Olberman, dog people vs. cat people, Greece vs. Turkey, FL vs. Casey Anthony and last but not least US vs. Obama.

    • Khirad says:

      Although not so much more on this issue, ironically enough.

      • Our government is rarely at odds when it comes to feeding the war machine.

        • whatsthatsound says:

          indeed, which is pretty much my point. Hearing Bob Baer speak about the subject on the link below, saying the war is based on politics and the need for a Dem president to appear “tough”, I can only shake my head in disgust and sorrow.

          • That is not all he said. He also said, after ten years, and hundreds of lives and billions and billions of dollars, not much has been accomplished. Outside of killing bin laden.
            The Taliban just moves to the north, when we concentrated on the south. They move between Pakistan and Afghanistan, quite freely. And not even Pakistan is on our side. Please, enough of the Obama worship. I voted for him and will do so again, but come on. Some folks here act like any criticism of him is a form of blaspheme. That’s how most on the right looked at bush. We can’t criticize our president’s decisions because it may hurt him in the upcoming election? Really? I know that’s not what you said, but I have no doubt that many are thinking it. Is that what this is? How many years must we waste? How many Lives? How much treasure? I honestly can’t believe the left has gone so far to the right. I shake my head.

            • Honestly wts, I couldn’t tell that by your comment above, or below, I get really confused when the reply boxes no longer appear in sequence.
              But I am very glad you agree with me. All the links in the world, sometimes don’t paint an accurate picture.
              I am just not not a bandwagon type of person. Never have been.

            • whatsthatsound says:

              KT, you realize I’m completely on your side about this, don’t you?

          • bito says:

            And Bob Baer was elected to what and has to govern whom? (This video was also before the speech, BYW.)

            • Does someone have to hold an elected office and govern, to know what he is talking about?
              Really?
              It doesn’t matter whether Baer’s comments were before the speech or not. What he said doesn’t depend on what Obama just said. Obama was laying out a plan, a plan based on a whole lot of speculation. Sure, he knows a lot more than you or I do about what is going on, but he is also trying to predict the future. Something not even he can do.
              And what real progress have we made? I know we are being told that progress is being made, but where and in what form?

            • whatsthatsound says:

              bito, I can’t see to what degree you are perceiving irony in my comment, so don’t know how to respond. You began your reply to my comment with a rhetorical question, that somehow, you seem to feel, has relevance. It is my opinion that it doesn’t, and therefore I referred to it as “nonsensical”. This may have been rude. Frankly, I don’t think so considering the dismissive tone of the comment it was in response to.

              I’m a smartass, yes, but I really didn’t understand the nature of your comment to me. I agree with KT, it’s like any critical comment of the president’s action has to be met with knee-jerk dismissiveness, at best. THAT, I feel, is sad.

            • whatsthatsound says:

              Bob Baer was elected by me to to prevent people from asking nonsensical rhetorical questions, and it appears he is failing.

            • bito says:

              Failing how WTS? Ole Bob has to answer to whom? Just you? Questions are easy, solutions are another animal.
              Mr. Baer is quite knowledgeable, given, but he has no one to answer to but himself.
              I did not call him failing and I don’t won’t say that of your comment either.
              Sad.

  10. texliberal says:

    It’s never been confirmed if anyone in authority actually stated for the record, ” Never fight an Asian land war.” But I’ll tell you what, anyone who has actually fought one will state it emphatically.

  11. texliberal says:

    First lesson I learned when I moved to Texas in 1979, never EVER kick a fire ant mound much less stick your arm in one.

  12. texliberal says:

    Sorry folks this life long Democrat believes Obama is dead wrong and playing politics. Just like I thought LBJ too was WRONG and I even got to go to his PARTY in SE ASIA.

  13. funksands says:

    The President is going to unleash innovation and resources at home to rebuild our country while wrapping up the 2 wars, 1 conflict, and 2 covert ops, while cutting the deficit, appeasing the left, the right, and the middle?

    Tightrope Nation


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