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In Japan, Obama Addresses Decision on Afghan Troops

Written by Warren Mass on November 13 2009.

With respect to Afghanistan, Jennifer, I don't think this is a matter of some datum of information that I'm waiting on. It's a matter of making certain that when I send young men and women into war, and I devote billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money, that it's making us safer, and that the strategies that are placed not just on the military side but also on the civilian side are coordinated and effective in our primary goal, which is to make sure that the United States is not subject to attack and its allies are not subject to attack by terrorist networks, and that there is a stability in the region that helps to facilitate that larger goal.

And I recognize that there have been critics of the process. They tend not to be folks who I think are directly involved in what's happening in Afghanistan. Those who are recognize the gravity of the situation and recognize the importance of us getting this right.

And the decision will be made soon. It will be one that is fully transparent so that the American people understand exactly what we're doing and why we're doing it and what it will entail. It will also I think send a clear message that our goal here ultimately has to be for the Afghan people to be able to be in a position to provide their own security, and that the United States cannot be engaged in an open-ended commitment.

So I am very pleased with how the process has proceeded. And those who participated I think would acknowledge that it has been not a academic exercise, but a necessary process in order to make sure that we're making the best possible decisions.


In “Obama to Consider Four Afghan Troop Options,” a related article for The New American online posted on November 13, this writer discussed the heavy concentration of people associated with the Obama administration’s operations in Afghanistan who are members of the internationalist Council on Foreign relations. Most prominent among them are Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander, General Stanley McChrystal.

The latter two are reportedly not of the same mind when it comes to expanding the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reported that Eikenberry: “sent two classified cables to Washington in the past week expressing deep concerns about sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan until President Hamid Karzai's government demonstrates that it is willing to tackle the corruption and mismanagement that has fueled the Taliban's rise. Eikenberry's memos, sent as President Obama enters the final stages of his deliberations over a new Afghanistan strategy, illustrated both the difficulty of the decision and the deepening divisions within the administration's national security team.”

Curiously, CFR members are also counted among leading Republican figures who have been critical of Obama’s delay in deciding the future of the war — such as former Vice President Dick Cheney (who recently accused Obama of “dithering” in his troop decision) and Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama’s opponent in the race for the White House, who said last week that he was disappointed and angry that the president has delayed his Afghanistan decision.

While it is true that the CFR as an organization has always declined to take an official position on U.S government policy, its members have dominated the U.S. State Department since the Truman administration and have almost always used that influence to maneuver the United States into a series of undeclared wars under mandates from the United Nations or one of its subsidiary agencies such as SEATO or NATO.

The current disagreement we are witnessing among prominent CFR members, therefore, may be regarded more as a difference of opinion about method, rather than end goals. As to what those goals are, we should recall that all of the post-World War II military operations entered into under the direction of CFR-dominated administrations ended in stalemates or worse — culminating in the withdrawal of U.S. troops without the stated objective ever being achieved. Vietnam today, for example, is under complete communist control, despite our years of effort and over 50,000 U.S. lives lost.

During the war in Vietnam, President John Kennedy, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge, and Generals Lyman Lemnitzer, Maxwell Taylor, William Westmoreland, and Andrew Goodpaster were all CFR members.

Given the present leadership of our operations in Afghanistan, can we expect several more years of war, and thousands more casualties, followed by the eventual withdrawal of our troops, with the Taliban still in charge and al Qaeda still in place?

Perhaps that is what all of the disagreement over how many troops we should send to Afghanistan is all about — planned chaos.


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