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President Obama to Announce his Afghanistan Strategy December 1st

By Kelly Thomas - Posted on 24 November 2009

From Politico. President Obama will announce his Afghanistan strategy on Tuesday possibly in prime time.

President Obama is expected to announce his Afghanistan policy with an address to the nation next Tuesday, Dec. 1, likely in prime time, officials told POLITICO.

Obama held his ninth formal Afghanistan strategy session in the Situation Room on Monday night.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement: “After completing a rigorous final meeting, President Obama has the information he wants and needs to make his decision and he will announce that decision within days.”

The decision is shaping up as one of the most momentous of Obama’s presidency, coming as the public is turning negative toward the war effort and his fellow Democrats are growing increasingly vocal in their opposition to a troop buildup in Afghanistan.

President Obama and his team seem to understand the human cost of war, the precious lives of our men and women in uniform and the many civilian casualities. But they also seem to be paying attention to the monetary cost, which has been ignored since the beginning, and is often overlooked by your typical "War Hawks."

I just saw this photo of President Obama's recent meeting with his War Council and I couldn't help but notice Peter Orszag, budget director, was sitting at the table. This tells me they are very concerned about the cost.

P112309PS-0831 by The White House.

Some Democrats are talking about imposing a tax to pay for the war. Upon discussing that, Joe Scarborough (Morning Joe, MSNBC) made a comment like "wow-look at all these new taxes. If I am a business man, I would not want to hire anyone." Another person on the panel said "So how would you pay for the war?" He seemed caught off guard and said something like "Well I've said we should scale back in the war. I would not do anything that would require so much spending."

It's revealing how people like McCain-who advocated for a spending freeze during his campaign-have totally ignored the huge price tag of the wars and now demand that President Obama send in the maximum number of troops. These same people complain about the cost of health care reform, but that's peanuts compared to what we are spending in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I know many say Obama is just another spend-aholic liberal, but I see someone who is actually addressing cost in a serious way and very concerned about reducing the deficit. Did Bush even think about the cost of these wars along the way? It was not even included in his budget. That speaks volumes.

Some Democrats are talking about imposing a tax to pay for the war. Upon discussing that, Joe Scarborough (Morning Joe, MSNBC) made a comment like "wow-look at all these new taxes. If I am a business man, I would not want to hire anyone." Another person on the panel said "So how would you pay for the war?" He seemed caught off guard and said something like "Well I've said we should scale back in the war. I would not do anything that would require so much spending." 

BAM!  Take that Scarborough.  I'm so sick of these neo-cons wanting to have a war and not pay for it.  Two wars nearly bankrupt this country because we didn't plan to pay for them in advance.       

Did Joe miss the neo-con war budget 101 class?  The answer is just don't show the cost in any budget, etc.  Poof!  The cost disappears!
"Reagan proved that deficits don't matter." --Darth Sidious Dick Cheney

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

UNLESS....they are Obama's deficits.

From MSNBC. Now there is talk of war bonds. Even Lieberman supports the concept and he hasn't supported a Democratic idea in ages!

I will be listening carefully to the speech tonight. It's comforting to know that President Obama gave this major decision careful thought and consideration. Cheney slamming him on Afghanistan today (from Politico) only reinforces my faith that President Obama has the good of the nation at heart and Cheney could care less about our troops and national interests.

BTW-with news that Pres. Obama will send in high troop levels (pretty much doing what GOP leaders have begged of him from the start) you would think the GOP would be united in support on this decision, even offering praise. But, noooooooo, you already hear grumbling (why did it take him so long, it's counterporoductive to mention an exit strategy or goal, blah, blah, blah!) If President Obama ever really believed he'd make headway with that bunch of GOP "we want the president to fail" hard heads, I think this will finally be the cold water over his head that sets him straight. He could find a cure for cancer and they'd still complain!

OK-(from MSNBC)- maybe I spoke too soon. Karl Rove and Dan Senor actually spoke out in support of President Obama (although you'll notice Senor had to complain that he took too long!)

Rove is ever the political opportunist-- it's not surprising that he would pick the more politically expedient position and increase his foreign policy cred, unlike Cheney who now seems to be attacking Obama out of spite.

Edit: Uhhhh... did I break the forum software? 2 posts are stuck as "new".


It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Exactly, Suzi! Do they all really think if they don't talk about it or present it in a budget, it will just go away or does not exist as a problem? I have no idea what President Obama will decide about Afghanistan, but I am confident his decision will factor in the human cost, monetary cost, government corruption in Afghanistan and an exit strategy. To me, that combination makes the wait well worth it.

I am in total agreement, Izzy.  There are so many factors to be considered, making it an extremely complicated situation.

Those who say "send more troops now or withdraw now" take none of this into consideration as they oversimplify in order to criticize the President. 

I am thankful the President is making an intelligent,  thoughtful, calibrated decision.

I'm in favor of the war tax but I'm not in favor of exempting us veterans from it.

I'm not too good to pay for a war which I support.

I've said for a long time that we need to raise taxes in order to pay for this (along with all the other stuff we seem to want government to take on).

Otherwise, even I'm getting impatient with the President on his delay in deciding this matter. 

You are a good and fair man, Tin.
Here's a link from Politico talking about Orszag's role.

From CNN. President Obama will speak from West Point, NY on Tuesday. I'm not sure how much we should trust this (with the history of past leaks) but it is being reported that he will be asking for 30,000-34,000 troops. Personally, I was hoping for a lower number, but I am willing to listen to his rationale and goals. I hope other NATO troops can step up to the plate to assist in the mission. I also hope they tell us how they intend to pay for it. Whatever happened to the war bonds concept? Would that make any sense?

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama will announce the U.S. troop strategy for Afghanistan in a speech at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.

The Pentagon was making detailed plans to send about 34,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in anticipation of Obama's decision on the future of the 8-year-old war, a defense official said Tuesday.

Obama held a lengthy meeting with top advisers Monday night and said Tuesday that he would announce plans for Afghanistan after the Thanksgiving holiday.

A Defense Department official with direct knowledge of the process said there has been no final word on the president's decision. But planners have been tasked with preparing to send 34,000 additional American troops into battle with the expectation that is the number Obama is leaning toward approving, the official said.


They almost had Bin Laden in 2001?  Hmmm... If only we didn't go into Iraq until we at least finished in Afghanistan...

That's why I ultimately dropped my support for our actions in Iraq. When I learned that we were taking our eye off the ball and letting Usama bin Laden get away scot free, we should have finished the deal in Afghanistan first. We should have made sure to capture or kill bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahri and Mullah Mohammad Omar and to leave the Taliban in a position where they would not be able to return to power. But some of our forces in that region were pulled in preparation for the invasion of Iraq. Imagine where we'd be right now if we had stayed the course and caught bin Laden and not gone to Iraq, at least not right away with scattered support from international partners.

Talk about taking their eye off the target! The only word that comes to mind is: incompetence.

Just keep reading the last line below (that is underlined and in bold) and give me one good reason we should take the GOP critics/Neocons seriously ever again. They have all been pounding their chests and demanding action on troop levels from Pres. Obama while ignoring the fact that Bush/Cheney DID NOT listen to the commanders on the ground and denied troop increases when it would have mattered the most.This just proves what an idiotic move it was to invade Iraq. I remember Pres. Obama speaking out against the Iraq War and saying he "wasn't against all wars, just dumb wars." He has always felt the focus should have been on Afghanistan. This pretty much proves him to be correct.

Some highlights from the CNN article on this story.

A report released by the Democratic staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee blamed the Bush administration for failing to capture or kill Osama bin Laden when the al Qaeda leader was cornered in Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountain region in December 2001. The report, released Sunday, said the situation in Afghanistan presented greater problems today because of the failure to nab bin Laden eight years ago.

Bin Laden had written his will, apparently sensing he was trapped, but the lack of sufficient forces to close in for the kill allowed him to escape to tribal areas in Pakistan, according to the report.

It said former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and top U.S. commander Gen. Tommy Franks held back the necessary forces for a "classic sweep-and-block maneuver" that could have prevented bin Laden's escape.

When criticized later for not zeroing in on bin Laden, administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, responded that the al Qaeda leader's location was uncertain.

"But the review of existing literature, unclassified government records and interviews with central participants underlying this report removes any lingering doubts and makes it clear that Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora," the report said.

By releasing the report Sunday, Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, focused attention on the past failure of the Bush administration to take out bin Laden, saying that had created a greater problem today.

"Our inability to finish the job in late 2001 has contributed to a conflict today that endangers not just our troops and those of our allies, but the stability of a volatile and vital region," Kerry, D-Massachusetts, wrote in a letter of transmittal for the report.

When Kerry was the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, he argued that the Bush administration botched the pursuit of bin Laden and that then-President George W. Bush "took his eye off the ball" in Afghanistan to invade Iraq.

The accusations were hotly disputed by Bush supporters and Franks. However, Gary Berntsen, the CIA operative who led the pursuit of bin Laden at Tora Bora, said in 2005 that his request for up to 800 U.S. troops to cut off the al Qaeda leader's escape route was denied.



Personally, I think it's worse than "incompetence."

I think they knew full well what they were doing. Capturing or killing Bin Laden would eliminate the necessary Boogey Man.

They really really really needed that Boogey Man.


Cheney, Kristol, et al. wanted to invade Iraq long before bin Laden ever crossed their minds. Al Qaeda, IMO, was just a convenient excuse for them to amass an army and crush Saddam.

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

So true, magus.  Include McCain in this group, who wanted to invade Iraq long before 9/11.  That was another big reason I could never support him.  War of necessity is one thing, being a war monger is quite another.
Well, if that's the case, I do believe we have already met the devil and his name is Dick Cheney. I try not to let my mind think of such evil, especially coming from the top levels of my own government, but if anyone is capable it is Dick. His actions with regard to torture, lucrative contracts for Halliburton, lies to get us into Iraq, etc. certainly do not make a good case for his innocence. I always believe that the truth unravels eventually and this may only be the beginning of exposing a naked Dick Cheney in which he can no longer hide his shameful ways and lies (OK-not liking that visual...)
I told you he was evil!!

U.S. forces will begin to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011. On a conference call with reporters to discuss the president's new plan for the war in Afghanistan, an administration official said U.S. forces will begin to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Obama is expected to order all U.S. combat troops to leave Iraq by August of next year, administration officials said, closing the door on a war that has led to the deaths of at least 4,250 members of the U.S. military and tens of thousands of Iraqis.

The stream is live. No TV in my immediate vicinity, so this will have to do.

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Anyone feel like chatting live during the speech?,com_wrapper/Itemid,416/

Channel is #rfo

Darth Cheney:  I'm not responsible for this mess.  

(Talking Points Memo)


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sits with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Military leaders pictured are (L-R): U.S. Sen Jack Reed (D-RI), US commander General David Petraeus, U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, Veterans Affairs Secretary retired U.S. Army General Eric K. Shinseki and Gates.

The last picture in the post made me start crying.  When I look at that picture, I see nothing but mothers' babies.  That is who each of these young men and women is to me.  Each of them is someone's child.  They could each be mine.

Those are children in that last photo!  Whoa!  Not a smile on one of them, either.  I guess they know the hell that is to come.     

So, they'll be the officers directing this surge and the withdrawal from both Afghanistan and Iraq.  Correct??

Also, I find it strange, but some of the boys appear to be starting beard growth.  I thought West Point had very strict grooming regulations.  

They're not supposed to be smiling. You don't smile while standing at attention.

I didn't see any facial hair, but yeah they would get some serious demerits/extra duty/hazing/or whatever if someone had failed to shave. 

And of course they're children! It's a college for crying out loud! Most of those kids are 18-19 years old. 

His heart is heavy and he's doing the very best he can.



This is a very intelligent President! He told those two countries that it is time to step up to the plate, an secure their countries while they have the help to do it. Let them know exactly what he expects from them, an our own ability to accomplish what we can, an than have them take over their own country security! He set a Goal for them, an said, "We'll help you reach it, if you do your part"! Mccain screams, you can't set a pull out goal! Why not, I say! He was honest with us, an both countries! He didn't lie about why we were there, how long we would be there or what is expected of them to get the temperary help they needed! ON your mark, get set, an go, an get across that finish line on time!

I'm taking their (the site and the neos on my other board) word for it, but supposedly Chris Mathews was pretty bad last night. I'm not in a political mood or airbag mood so here's the link.

I didn't watch him, but I did read this excerpt. Sounds pretty on-target to me:

{Referring to Cheney} Does he ever stop? He's crawled troll-like out from under his bridge to say that President Obama is projecting weakness to our enemies. [...]
But he is really tough. I compare him to the troll that comes out from under the bridge and bites the ankle of the kid crossing. 


I didn't watch it either, nor did I see the clip yet.  But I did read somewhere that he referred to West Point as "the enemy camp".  No matter what the context, this was a very poor choice of words and sentiment.

He has already copped to that and that it was a poor choice of words.

My guess is he was trying to characterize speaking to the cadets as a somewhat hostile or biased audience, considering what the president was going to be telling them.

Sort of being in the lion's den.  

Some folks (TPM for one) are making a fuss about Matthews' pronunciation of Cheney's name (which, ironically, is how the Cheneys pronounce it themselves), and his reference to Cheney as the troll under the bridge (which IMO is pretty accurate). The rest, though, is Matthews doing what he does best: open his big mouth without using his brain.

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Well I have some very positive news to share.

My sister, who is a huge Sarah Palin, Glen Beck fan just called me to tell me that she watched the President's speech last night and that she was very impressed and she supports his decision.  She sounded very shocked, I don't think she expected to have that reaction?

I wonder how many more 9/12ers might reconsider their overall opinion of him?  I am actually surprised that this speech made that much of an impression on her, but I am glad she finally sees the intelligent and thoughtful man he is.  I told her, "I am glad you finally have seen the President I voted for."

I have my own reservations about our being able to accomplish anything in 18 months in a region that has never been stable?  But, I have full faith in President Obama.  He was between a rock and a hard place, and it is clear he spent a lot of time contemplating where to go from here.  I don't think there were any good choices and in the end I wouldn't want anyone else in that seat! 

I am grateful everyday We are not saying, President McCain.

Matthews did seem in rare form last night. I saw him make the "enemy camp" remark and didn't have much initial reaction because I took it to mean Obama chose a tough audience who may be skeptical. The wrong audience in Matthews eyes (but I disagree.) The analogy was that Bush always chose such an audience because his War Hawk mentality and rhetoric tended to fire them up and make Bush look good. Obama knew the audience might be more reserved and skeptical, but I truly think he chose that audience because those are the people he is sending into harm's way and wanted to be eye to eye with them. Sure he could have hand-picked his audience to be sure there was a huge enthusiasm, but he is man enough to own this plan and confront those it impacts most, even if they aren't cheerleaders all the time.

The only major negatives I have heard have come from the far-left. For example, Huff Post has a big headline comparing Obama to Bush. Well, McCain is in a frenzy but what else is new? Oh, and Dobbs came out with "Who the hell does Obama think he is?" (um, the president and commander in chief??) Honestly, the Republican and military support after this speech seems pretty strong. lizbethie gave an amazing example: a Palin supporter! Really??? When asked about troop reactions, I keep hearing they were especially happy about the deadline (the part I thought would be most controversial.) 

You can bet the GOP pols will try to make the deadline controversial-- I heard Chambliss on the radio say that was about the main part of the plan he disagreed with, and when pressed about the parts of the plan he did agree with, he retreated to the same tired talking points (red herrings in that discussion) as if he had nothing else on his mind.

To his credit, he did mention that Obama's "deadline" isn't a hard-and-fast rule, as it would be aware of the situation on the ground.

I do agree that the greatest fools for now are on the left-- we went into Afghanistan to bring the organization that brought us 9/11 to justice, and we ought to finish that mission, and help the Afghan people get back on their feet. I think the Democrats for the most part will back the President, as he did establish that the military's time in Afghanistan will be limited. The main purpose of the plan and speech, though, was to disarm the political right-- he's giving them a bunch of things they were looking for (big troop deployment), so the only thing they can really complain about is the time frame.


It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Chris Mathews just apologized for his comments last night.  I don't think there is a link available just yet, as he just said it, I will look for it later to post.  He said that he deeply apologizes to cadets and their families.  As Kelly mentioned, he said he was referring to the President picking a tough audience for his speech.  He also made mention of what Tin said, saying that he was informed that they are not suppose to have smiling faces and that he was unaware of this.  It was a sincere apology imo.

I heard some anti-Obama talk today, things like "Did you see that picture of those troops? Did you see when they scanned the audience? It was so telling how the troops feel about Obama." blah, blah, blah. They obviously did not know of the norm for cadets in terms of serious faces. I did hear after the speech, many cadets were diving over chairs to get a picture or hand shake, so I'm sure they were just holding back their enthusiasm during the speech. I'm glad Matthews apologized. Clearly he was misunderstood.

here's the text if anyone is interested.


Heh -- You're not supposed to be reading during such an event, either.

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