Obama WH falsely downplaying risks of retreat in Afghanistan: Military, intel sources

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

by Ed Morrissey

Sources within both the intelligence and military communities tell McClatchy that Barack Obama’s White House has not been honest about the risks of moving away from a robust strategy of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.  Obama and his advisers have begun publicly discussing the Taliban as a moderate alternative to al-Qaeda in terms of enemies, but the latest intelligence shows just the opposite.  Taliban leadership and AQ have integrated even more tightly than ever since 9/11 and act in concert on strategy and tactics:

As the Obama administration reconsiders its Afghanistan policy, White House officials are minimizing warnings from the intelligence community, the military and the State Department about the risks of adopting a limited strategy focused on al Qaida, U.S. intelligence, diplomatic and military officials told McClatchy.

Recent U.S. intelligence assessments have found that the Taliban and other Pakistan-based groups that are fighting U.S.-led forces have much closer ties to al Qaida now than they did before 9/11, would allow the terrorist network to re-establish bases in Afghanistan and would help Osama bin Laden export his radical brand of Islam to Afghanistan’s neighbors and beyond, the officials said.

McClatchy interviewed more than 15 senior and mid-level U.S. intelligence, military and diplomatic officials, all of whom said they concurred with the assessments. All of them requested anonymity because the assessments are classified and the officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Bob Kerrey openly wonders why the White House has begun to tread the ground of retreat, in an op-ed for today’s Wall Street Journal:

Yet despite these setbacks, our leaders must remain focused on the fact that success in Afghanistan bolsters our national security and yes, our moral reputation. This war is not Vietnam. The Taliban are not popular and have very little support other than what they secure through terror.

Afghanistan is also not Iraq. No serious leader in Kabul is asking us to leave. Instead we are being asked to withdraw by American leaders who begin their analysis with the presumption that victory is not possible. They seem to want to ensure defeat by leaving at the very moment when our military leader on the ground has laid out a coherent and compelling strategy for victory.

When it comes to foreign policy, almost nothing matters more then your friends and your enemies knowing you will keep your word and follow through on your commitments. This is the real test of presidential leadership. I hope that President Obama—soon to be a Nobel laureate—passes with flying colors

Read the rest at HotAir.com

 

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Senators Escalate Call for Obama to Send More Troops to Afghanistan

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , |

The Obama administration is deep in deliberations over whether to build on its counterinsurgency strategy with thousands more troops in Afghanistan or focus more on taking out top Al Qaeda targets, particularly in Pakistan. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining Senate Republicans in calling for the president to approve the request for more troops. 

Top Republican senators escalated their call Sunday for President Obama to grant Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan, and one prominent Democrat warned that a failure to do so could jeopardize U.S. forces. 

The Obama administration is deep in deliberations over whether to build on its counterinsurgency strategy with thousands more troops in Afghanistan or focus more on taking out top Al Qaeda targets, particularly in Pakistan. The bloody clash this weekend at the Pakistan army headquarters, where commandos freed dozens of hostages early Sunday after militants attacked the facility, underscored the instability in the region. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the attack emphasized the “danger of the Taliban not only in Afghanistan but in Pakistan as well.” 

But he said any attempt by the administration to scale back the fight against the Taliban in favor of a tactical battle against Al Qaeda would damage security. 

“They are different. But they are inter-connected,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” 

He said Republicans would “almost overwhelmingly support” the president if he opts to grant McChrystal’s request for more troops, estimated to be for about 40,000. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said the counterinsurgency strategy pursued by McChrystal is “really critical.” She said the American people don’t have the stomach to stay in Afghanistan for another 10 years, but that the mission there is in “serious jeopardy” and Obama has an obligation to follow his commander’s advice. 

“I don’t know how you put somebody in who was as crackerjack as General McChrystal, who gives the president very solid recommendations, and not take those recommendations if you’re not going to pull out,” Feinstein said on ABC’s “This Week.” 

“If you don’t want to take the recommendations, then you put your people in such jeopardy.” 

She suggested some elements of the Taliban could be won over, but warned that the Taliban in Afghanistan will have a “dramatic impact” on Pakistan if allowed to flourish. 

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the Taliban and Al Qaeda will become “inextricably tied.” 

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the president is right to take his time and deliberate but that a failure to accept the advice of his military commanders would be “an error of historic proportions.” 

But many Democrats are pushing back on a call for more U.S. troops, questioning whether a larger U.S. military footprint will help change the course of the war. 

Read the rest of the story at FoxNews.com

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Krauthammer:Young Hamlet’s Agony

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , |

 
by Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON — The genius of democracy is the rotation of power, which forces the opposition to be serious — particularly about things like war, about which until Jan. 20 of this year Democrats were decidedly unserious.

When the Iraq War (which a majority of Senate Democrats voted for) ran into trouble and casualties began to mount, Democrats followed the shifting winds of public opinion and turned decidedly anti-war. But needing political cover because of their post-Vietnam reputation for weakness on national defense, they adopted Afghanistan as their pet war.

I was part of the 2004 Kerry campaign, which elevated the idea of Afghanistan as ‘the right war’ to conventional Democratic wisdom,” wrote Democratic consultant Bob Shrum shortly after President Obama was elected. “This was accurate as criticism of the Bush administration, but it was also reflexive and perhaps by now even misleading as policy.”

Which is a clever way to say that championing victory in Afghanistan was a contrived and disingenuous policy in which Democrats never seriously believed, a convenient two-by-four with which to bash George Bush over Iraq — while still appearing warlike enough to fend off the soft-on-defense stereotype.

Brilliantly crafted and perfectly cynical, the “Iraq War bad, Afghan War good” posture worked. Democrats first won Congress, then the White House. But now, unfortunately, they must govern. No more games. No more pretense.

So what does their commander in chief do now with the war he once declared had to be won but had been almost criminally under-resourced by Bush?

Perhaps provide the resources to win it?

You would think so. And that’s exactly what Obama’s handpicked commander requested on Aug. 30 — a surge of 30,000 to 40,000 troops to stabilize a downward spiral and save Afghanistan the way a similar surge saved Iraq.

That was more than five weeks ago. Still no response. Obama agonizes publicly as the world watches. Why? Because, explains national security adviser James Jones, you don’t commit troops before you decide on a strategy.

No strategy? On March 27, flanked by his secretaries of defense and state, the president said this: “Today I’m announcing a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He then outlined a civilian-military counterinsurgency campaign to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

And to emphasize his seriousness, the president made clear that he had not arrived casually at this decision. The new strategy, he declared, “marks the conclusion of a careful policy review.”
Read the rest on Page 2- Townhall.com

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It Looks Like GIs Are on Their Own

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , |

It Looks Like GIs Are on Their Own

By JENNIFER LOVEN

WASHINGTON — President Obama appears unlikely to accept his top Afghanistan commander’s recommendation for a surge of 40,000 troops, and is inclined to send only as many more forces as needed to keep al Qaeda at bay, a senior administration official said yesterday.The sharpened focus by Obama’s team on fighting al Qaeda above all other goals, while downgrading the emphasis on the Taliban, comes in the midst of an intensely debated administration review of the increasingly unpopular eight-year war.Though aides stress that the president’s final decision on any changes is still at least two weeks away, the emerging thinking suggests that he would be very unlikely to favor a large military increase of the kind being advocated by the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

McChrystal’s troop request is said to include a range of options, from adding as few as 10,000 combat troops to — the general’s strong preference — as many as 40,000.

Obama’s developing strategy on the Taliban will “not tolerate their return to power,” the senior official said in an interview with The Associated Press.

But the United States would fight only to keep the Taliban from retaking control of Afghanistan’s central government — something it is now far from being capable of — and from giving renewed sanctuary in Afghanistan to al Qaeda, the official said.

Obama has conferred nearly every day this week on the war, and was continuing that yesterday with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

On Wednesday, the eighth anniversary of the war launched by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Obama and more than a dozen officials in his war council met for three hours to focus on Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan.

Read the rest of the story at New York Post

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Dem: House GOP is “80 percent male, 100 percent white”

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

By Glenn Thrush

The National Republican Congressional Committee is urging Gen. Stanley McChrystal to put House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “in her place” for weighing in on Afghanistan — prompting one female Pelosi ally to  blast the House GOP as “80 percent male,” “100 percent white” — and completely out of touch.

On Monday night, Pelosi told Charlie Rose “should go up the line of command” instead of publicly opining on strategy — prompting a swift, sneering reaction from the GOP committee.

Mocking the first female speaker as “General Pelosi,” an NRCC spokesman wrote, “If Nancy Pelosi’s failed economic policies are any indicator of the effect she may have on Afghanistan, taxpayers can only hope McChrystal is able to put her in her place.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who is close to Pelosi, could barely contain her anger.

“I think the place for a woman is at the top of the House of Representatives,” said Wasserman Schultz.

“It’s evidence they long for the days when a woman’s place was in the kitchen. Now a woman is third in line for the presidency… But it’s not surprising, coming from a party that’s 80 percent male and 100 percent white,” she added, referring to the composition of the House GOP conference.

NRCC Spokesman Ken Spain was unrepentant, telling POLITICO that Pelosi is “playing out of her league,” and questioned the reluctance of Democrats to call for McChrystal to testify in a hearing on the war.

Spain: “Spare us the lectures and mock-outrage. The Speaker of the House is taking on a highly decorated general who has outlined a strategy in Afghanistan that she once claimed to advocate… [S]he’s playing out of her league and she knows it.”

Read more Politico.com

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A war of necessity turns out not so necessary

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: military | Tags: , , , , |

by Michael Barone

“This is not a war of choice,” Barack Obama told the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Aug. 17. “This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.”

But that was nearly seven weeks ago. Now it appears that Obama is about to ignore the advice of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whom he installed as commander in Afghanistan in May, after relieving his predecessor ahead of schedule. McChrystal, who came up as a Special Forces officer, is an expert in counterinsurgency. Not surprisingly, in his Aug. 30 report to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, he recommended a course that seems certain to require a substantial number of additional troops.

During the first three weeks of September, Obama held one meeting on the “war of necessity.” Then on Sept. 20, Obama appeared on five talk shows to push his health plan. The next day, Bob Woodward published a story in The Washington Post based on a copy of McChrystal’s report, which the newspaper later posted in redacted form. Woodward made it clear that McChrystal would request more troops. When questioners pressed him about the war, he said he was rethinking his Afghanistan strategy.

Snow Report

via A war of necessity turns out not so necessary | Washington Examiner .

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43 Troops Have Died Since McChrystal Asked Obama for Reinforcements

Posted on October 1, 2009. Filed under: military | Tags: , , , , |

43 Troops Have Died Since McChrystal Asked Obama for Reinforcements

Another American died in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the final day of September–and exactly one month after the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan sent a confidential war assessment to the Obama administration, warning that more forces are needed–soon.
 
The as-yet-unnamed American serviceman who died on Wednesday was caught in a suicide attack in Khost Province, in eastern Afghanistan, press reports said.
 
On August 30, Gen. Stanley McChrystal sent Defense Secretary Robert Gates a war assessment in which he said more U.S. troops–and a new U.S. strategy–are needed if the U.S. is to defeat the insurgents in Afghanistan.

More @ FoxNation.com

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