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Obama to Send More Troops to Afghanistan

Written by Warren Mass on November 30 2009.

Senator Carl Levin, (D.-Mich.) the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on the CBS program Face the Nation that the president's focus must be on building up the Afghan army: "The key here is an Afghan surge. Not an American surge," he said.

 Levin said that President Obama must unveil a strategy that will eventually enable the Afghans to defend themselves. "If the mission is to give them the capacity to take on the Taliban — and I believe that will be the principle mission statement — that would be one important thing to happen for Democratic support.”

Obama’s announcement will be greeted more receptively by members of the opposition Republican Party than by congressional Democrats. A standard GOP reaction was voiced by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a member of the Armed Services committee:

 "This is not just any place on the planet. This is the place where the Taliban took control after the Russians left, aligned themselves with al Qaeda and attacked this nation and killed 3000 Americans.”

VOA News reported that Graham said on ABC's This Week that the war must be a spending priority, and that cuts should be made in other programs to pay for it:

 "Where does our national security rate in terms of spending?” asked Graham.  “Are there things that we can do in the stimulus package? Can we trim up the health care bill and other big ticket items to pay for a war that we can't afford to lose?"

During an appearance on the Fox News Sunday program, Senator Evan Bayh (D.-Ind.) said he will be listening to hear what Obama plans to do to put pressure on the Afghans and the Pakistanis to meet their obligations. "It is a fine balance.  We have to got to show we have the determination to see this through on the one hand, but keep the pressure on them to do their part.  And, by talking about an exit strategy under the right circumstances, I think you do that.”

But Republican Senator John Kyl of Arizona took exception to the very concept of announcing an exit strategy,  telling Fox News Sunday that any mention of an exit strategy will send the wrong signal to opponents in the region:

"All of this talk about an exit strategy is really dangerous. It tells the Taliban just to lay low until we leave, and it does not encourage the Europeans, for example, or other NATO allies that this is a cause worth sending their troops to support.”

VOA noted that President Obama has spent about three months reviewing all his options in Afghanistan, and has spent many hours in intense, closed-door discussions with his national security team. His December 1 announcement is expected to detail a plan to send an extra 30,000 to 35,000 troops to Afghanistan.  However, presidential aides have also made it clear that the president will discuss the long term, and his plans will emphasize the need to ensure that the Afghans will ultimately take care of their own security needs so U.S. forces can come home.

As President Obama’s position on the war in Afghanistan comes closer to his neocon Republican “opposition” (if one can call it that) one wonders if those who voted for Obama feel betrayed, and if those who voted for McCain feel somewhat relieved.

The only Americans who probably are neither surprised nor disappointed with Obama’s actions are those who voted for third-party presidential candidates such as Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin and Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr. Such independent-minded voters were able to see that either an Obama or a McCain administration would bring a continuation of the same CFR-controlled, interventionist foreign policy, with its never-ending succession of pointless, no-win wars, that has persisted since the days of Harry Truman.

The near unanimity of the Obama and McCain positions on the war in Afghanistan brings to mind a statement made back in 1968 by Alabama Governor George Wallace, who, as third party candidate on the American Independent Party ticket, opposed Republican Richard M. Nixon and Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey in the general election, maintaining that there was not a "dime's worth of difference" between the two major parties.

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