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November 24, 2009

Report: Obama Settles On 34,000 Troops For Afghanistan

Let's see, McChrystal provided options of 80, 40 and 20 thousand. Yet, the magic number is 34,000? I guess that's the Peace Prize compromise.

Obama is expected to announce his long-awaited decision on Dec. 1, followed by meetings on Capitol Hill aimed at winning congressional support amid opposition by some Democrats who are worried about the strain on the U.S. Treasury and whether Afghanistan has become a quagmire, the officials said.

...

They said the commander of the U.S.-led international force in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, could arrive in Washington as early as Sunday to participate in the rollout of the new plan, including testifying before Congress toward the end of next week. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry also are expected to appear before congressional committees.

...The administration's plan contains "off-ramps," points starting next June at which Obama could decide to continue the flow of troops, halt the deployments and adopt a more limited strategy or "begin looking very quickly at exiting" the country, depending on political and military progress, one defense official said.

"We have to start showing progress within six months on the political side or military side or that's it," the U.S. defense official said.

It's "not just how we get people there, but what's the strategy for getting them out," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.

The approach is driven in part by concerns that Afghan President Hamid Karzai won't keep his promises to root out corruption and support political reforms, and in part by growing domestic opposition to the war, the U.S. officials said.

When did they start sneaking the term "off-ramp" into the discussion? I don't have any military experience (of course, neither does Obama) but having read a fair bit of history I'm pretty sure that "a war of necessity" means you need to win it. Thus the only "off-ramp" is victory.

Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I'm not sold on this idea but then I'm not sending tens of thousands of Americans into harm's way. You can be damned sure if I were, I'd be 100% committed to the idea and not giving myself wiggle room like "off-ramps". A lot of brave Americans are going to come home by being carried off the back of airplanes. If you are going to send them to that fate (and God bless them for their courage in facing it for us), you as the the President damn well better be committed to the mission and them.

"Off-ramps"? What the hell kind of ass covering political crap is that? Sorry but when it comes to a "war of necessity" you are either in or out.

Karzai's ability to deliver on reform and legitimacy is really irrelevant. Either securing Afghanistan is vital to our security or not. If it is, a functioning government helps us to that end but it's absence doesn't change the strategic mandate.

If Karzai doesn't deliver are we just walking away? Well, if that's an option with no costs in a 6 months or a year, why not do it now? Obviously the answer is we can't walk away, now or in 6 months or a year.

So let's drop the "off-ramp" crap and admit the truth, Obama and the Democrats want out. If that's the bottom line, do it today. Don't send in 34,000 troops to show how tough or committed you are. If Obama isn't in it to win, he is neither.

For 8 years of the left has been comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam and they wrong. Until, perhaps, today.

God speed to those who are going and their families, I hope they receive all the support and equipment they need.

Related: Democrats want to start raising taxes to pay for this.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the purse string-controlling House Appropriations Committee, is calling the idea a "war surtax." He said that just as the federal government is expected to pay for its proposed intervention in the health care sector with new taxes, any escalated involvement in Afghanistan should come with a payment plan.

"If we have to pay for the health care bill, we should pay for the war as well ... by having a war surtax," Obey told ABC News in an interview that aired Monday. "The problem in this country with this issue is that the only people that has to sacrifice are military families and they've had to go to the well again and again and again and again, and everybody else is blithely unaffected by the war."

David Obey isn't usually such a strict custodian of the public fisc. Pork spending? No problem. Waging a war of necessity? Well, now we have to pinch pennies.

I'm open to correction on this but I don't remember a major war that was paid for as we went. I seem to recall war bonds being sold and huge debt being run up.

The thing is, war is a legitimate national interest that makes sense to go into debt for. Health insurance is a private problem (or should be) that the government should stay out of let alone run up massive debt for.

Democrats really don't get the whole legitimate role of the government thing (in fairness a lot Republicans don't either).


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posted by DrewM. at 12:34 PM

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