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Responding to Obama

December 2, 2009 - Jim Anderson
One word in U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak’s statement in response to President Obama’s plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan jumped out at me.

Here is Stupak’s statement:

“I am pleased President Obama has laid out his plan for conducting the war in Afghanistan. The request for 6,000 additional troops from NATO and other allies is a positive step and is a critical component to conducting this war.

“However, I have concerns with committing 30,000 additional U.S. troops to this war. There are constant reports of corruption under Afghan President Hamid Karzai and I am not convinced the necessary internal reforms will ever take hold under his leadership. I believe the Afghani people must take responsibility for their government and their own security.

“While President Obama said we should start withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan in 2011, wars are unpredictable and timetables seem to slip.

“The question of how to pay for the war in Afghanistan remains unanswered, but must be confronted by Congress and the American people. I will consult with military leaders and experts before making any decision on the president’s proposal.

“As always, I ask the American people to keep our brave military men and women and their families in our thoughts and prayers.”

The word that stood out was “experts.”

Who are the experts? There has been so much conflict and division over Afghanistan that I had all but forgotten about the concept of expertise. One person’s expert is so often another’s fool, it seems.

Congressman Stupak, to some degree, is withholding judgment on the president’s plan.

But U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., is already taking a stand against it:

“I do not support the president's decision to send additional troops to fight a war in Afghanistan that is no longer in our national security interest,” he said.

“It’s an expensive gamble to undertake armed nation-building on behalf of a corrupt government of questionable legitimacy. Sending more troops could further destabilize Afghanistan and, more importantly, Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state where al Qaeda is headquartered.

“While I appreciate that the president made clear we won’t be in Afghanistan forever, I am disappointed by his decision not to offer a timetable for ending our military presence there. I will work with members of both parties and both houses of Congress to push for a flexible timetable to reduce our troop levels in Afghanistan, as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat al Qaeda in the region and around the world,” Feingold said.

“... armed nation-building on behalf of a corrupt government ...”

Many experts will disagree, but that seems a fair summary of our Afghanistan predicament.


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