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November 2nd, 2009
10:14 AM ET

Afghan war veterans debate merits of troop surge

President Obama is expected to make a decision on troop levels in Afghanistan in the coming weeks. His top commander in Afghanistan wants at least 40,000 more soldiers. Is that the right number? Should we be sending more troops at all?

Veterans Thomas Cotton and Jake Diliberto debate opposite sides of the troop surge divide.
Veterans Thomas Cotton and Jake Diliberto debate opposite sides of the troop surge divide.

Two veterans of the war, Thomas Cotton and Jake Diliberto, will be lobbying Congress on opposite sides of the troop surge divide. They spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Monday. Below is an edited transcript of that interview.

John Roberts: Thomas, let's start with you. What's the pitch that you're going to make in favor of General Stanley McChrystal's call for some 40,000 additional troops in Afghanistan?

Thomas Cotton: I'm going to tell Congress that we need every last one of those troops. That's based not only on my experience over the last year in Afghanistan, but also on General McChrystal's reputation and expertise. He has spent a career in the Army Special Operations community and he's looked at this situation carefully and knows that we can't win with a counterterrorism strategy only.

We need a full-spectrum counterinsurgency that can secure the south and the east while mentoring and training the Afghan national army. And 40,000 troops is the absolute minimum with which he can accomplish that mission.

Roberts: Jake, you heard Thomas' argument. What's your argument against the surge in troops in Afghanistan?

Jake Diliberto: Well, Tom's right – if you want to do a counterinsurgency campaign, you absolutely need 40,000 troops. But that's not enough. You're going to need another 100,000 troops on top of that. And all counterinsurgency experts will pretty much agree that another year is going to look like another 15 years. And so the idea that another counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan is in our best interest as Americans, I don't think, is the right answer.

Roberts: So Jake, what do you do instead?

Diliberto: The inclination that somehow we need to be in Afghanistan to keep America safe is not the complete answer. Al Qaeda is a 5,000 to 7,000 operative force that is across the world. They are in Germany, they're in the United States, they're in Mexico, they're all over the place. And you need to do the good things to find these criminals and put them in jail, which is – looks like a worldwide collaborative intelligence effort to find them and root them out.

Roberts: So Jake, do you not buy the argument that Afghanistan is the central front in the war on terror and that as General Stanley McChrystal says, if U.S. troops were to leave and it were to fall back in the hands of the Taliban that it could provide safe haven for al Qaeda again?

Diliberto: Even if you could prevent the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, you could not guarantee that al Qaeda would not be able to go back there. To think that is a one-size answer to say we need to be in Afghanistan, is not complete. We have fallen in love with a military solution in Afghanistan and that is not the answer.

Roberts: Let me go to Thomas on that. What do you think about that argument that Jake just made, that we've fallen in love with the idea of a military solution in Afghanistan? And then on the idea of more troops going on, as you know, U.S. diplomat Matthew Hoh recently resigned his post, saying we're doing this all wrong, we’re creating more of a problem by having American forces there.

Cotton: I agree that a military solution alone is not the answer. General McChrystal recognizes that, as does President Obama. However, first and foremost, you must have security for – you’re going to hope to have improvements in the government or economic development.

And I know Matt, he actually came to my base last year – or earlier this year – and we visited sometime, and he may not have received the clearest guidance from the civilian side, but on the military side, we certainly received crystal-clear guidance from General McChrystal down to the front line troopers, that you really have to provide security for the people to allow them to be able to develop the economy and develop a strong and more efficient government. The same way we saw in Iraq with the surge in 2007 and 2008.

Roberts: And Jake, what do you say to that argument, that one of the problems that the Afghan people have is they believe the U.S. isn't keeping their promises. They promised to go in there and provide safety and security and they don't have it. So the way to get safety and security to win over the hearts and minds of the Afghan people is to send more troops in there so you can more effectively police the area.

Diliberto: Well, our history is short in this country. I think we need to recognize that the Afghanistan people have been bombed for almost 100 years going back to the British at the turn of the 20th century. And this continued violence that's taking place has caused the Afghanistan culture to be very resilient and also resistant to any sort of foreign powers. So to think that another 40,000 troops or counterinsurgency campaign can be successful really misses the point on this war.

What's taking place is a cultural misunderstanding and a war on poverty. The real war that's taking place in Afghanistan is poverty. And more troops destabilizes the area even more. And this overlooks, if you send more troops to Afghanistan, you actually have the unintended effect of destabilizing Pakistan, which is a nuclear-armed, highly volatile region that needs to be a close watch of intelligence and special operations for terrorist activity, not a counterinsurgency campaign.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Opinion
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. dennishamm

    to those who asked, Jake's website is http://rethinkafghanistan.com

    November 8, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  2. Sean

    If we are going to fight this war, then lets get serious about it and stop messing around. The consequences are too grave for all this messing around, all this talk of leaving before the job is done is also nonsense, we have plenty of options at our disposal. Firstly the administration and military leadership needs to make it clear that any country or state entity funding the enemy or providing them with arms and munitions is part of the equation, on the other side of the table and therefor an enemy of NATO and the Coalition, thus making them a legitimate target in the war theater. Secondly, remove Karzai from office immediately and instate a Military leadership to oversee the war until it is won. Theres no point in having a puppet government in place while the enemy is at the gates, lets stop messing around and let the country know we mean business. Thirdly, eradicate with napalm or firebomb all, i repeat, all the current opium fields that are funding the bulk of the insurgents supply coffers and killing our young generation on our streets, this at the very least should give our brave troops cause to shed blood in that heathen land.

    Remove the opium crop from the air, strangle the supply of munitions and arms along the borders, remove large fighting forces from the field in a gradual pullback and go after the Taliban relentlessly with special ops, drones and local highly paid and trained afghan security forces.

    This should set the ground for a situation where we can eventually leave, this i believe is the strategy, and the strategy required for victory.

    November 4, 2009 at 9:55 am |
  3. Bruce From Cypress Texas

    Its clear to me that the war in Afghanistan, cannot be won, mainly because of the fact that the Unitied States does not have a realistic mission that will work. Just merely throwing more troops at the problems will not achieve the goals that we should have in mind. I agree that Afghanistan and Pakistan are the areas where the Taliban call home base. I think President Obama is taking far too much time, in deciding what to do. A global mission, is just as important as the decision on how many more troops to send. We are fighting this war as if this is a conventional type of war. Until we come up with a viable solution as to the mission, and as to why we are there and what we hope to accomplish, we will fail in Afghanistan.

    November 4, 2009 at 9:06 am |
  4. don parker

    To defeat a guerrilla force, a regular army has to deny the enemy any chance of mobility. Without mobility a guerrilla force cannot operate because they cannot win set piece battles. To deny mobility the regular army must have overwhelming numbers. In Afghanistan that probably means somewhere in the neighborhood of 500,000. And the sending country must be willing to fight a long war. Are we willing to reinstate the draft and to fight a long war? I doubt it. In fact, I think that college campuses would blow up in a flash and we would return back to the 60s and all that turmoil.
    Even if we are ready to pay the price and if we were to achieve success, to whom would we turn over the country? To Karzai and his compatriots? If so, we ready for even more heroin here and in Europe? I don't think so.
    As for training the Afghans, Richard Nixon called that Vietnamization and that didn't work out too well, did it?
    No, there's only one answer. Get out now and take care of our domestic problems. Oh, for those who are interested, I'm a Vietnam Vet. Xinh loi, GI.

    November 3, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  5. Cazart

    If it's between these two choices, then yes, let's go. But I wonder about a third option – buy every single opium poppy in the country. Take the money out of Karzai's pocket, out of the Taliban's...sell what you can to the pharma companies, burn the rest. You'd disrupt the global heroin trade for a few years, (ok, maybe 18 months,) and perhaps create the air-and-space to actually provide some security. THEN see what happens.

    November 3, 2009 at 8:50 pm |
  6. Proud Marine Dad

    I subscribe to the Powell Doctrine. If you're going to war then it has to be all in or it's not worth a war.

    The Powell Doctrine states that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States:

    Is a vital national security interest threatened?
    Do we have a clear attainable objective?
    Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
    Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
    Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
    Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
    Is the action supported by the American people?
    Do we have genuine broad international support?

    When a nation is engaging in war, every resource and tool should be used to achieve decisive force against the enemy, minimizing US casualties and ending the conflict quickly by forcing the weaker force to capitulate. This is well in line with Western military strategy dating at least from Carl von Clausewitz's On War.

    November 3, 2009 at 7:29 pm |
  7. Scott

    First, I support our troops wholeheartedly – no quibble about that. Having said that, and given that hindsight vision is 20/20, I wished that after 9/11, despite even my own anger and desire to strike back forcefully, we would have defined this as an INTELLIGENCE mission first and foremost....and that it would have REMAINED a qualified intelligence mission. Have we found bin Laden? And by golly, those in intelligence positions can't look like a white guy like me and wear a suit (unless it blends), they MUST learn to or naturally speak whatever the local language is, must look as much as possible like the local population, must be supportive of our mission. For us to succeed, we must KNOW as much as possible, if not more than our enemy knows about themselves, if we are to defeat them once and for all. Lastly, we really need the INTENT to win and DEFEAT them. Which begs one last question, if we're going to "be" at war. Have we, as a nation, really had the WILL to WIN this war, like during WWII? Further, have we made the commitment, as a nation, to WIN this war? Should the question not just be how many troops for a surge, but how many troops to WIN, stabilize, maintain and bring unnecessary forces home? We're stuck now.....and we've been stuck. If we're smart, since we're already involved, we might as well do whatever it takes to WIN.

    November 3, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  8. ballucanb

    There are a lot of similarities and differences between this conflict and Vietnam. What I find the most disturbing is that the DM's do not have any personal stake in this conflict, and like Vietnam, nobody seems to be able to decide if we are there to win or just not lose, or whatever. Meanwhile the people that do have a personal stake in the war are adversly affected by death or injury.
    It seems clear to me that Afganistan has taken a backseat to a range of issues, especially health care. But if we are still putzing around in Afganistan by 2011, it will hurt President Obama's re-election chances. The left and the right and the middle will all ask the same question: what are we still doing there?

    November 3, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  9. Mike

    As a Vietnam Vet I see the conflict in Afganistan as another Vietnam. As in Vietnam there was no clear goal and there is not clear goal in Afganistan. If we are going to send more Americans in harms way then at least let them know exactly why!

    If our mission is to destroy the Taliban than declare that as our mission and go about it with purpose. If it is just to secure something for someone else than it becomes a waste of life.

    Fighting terrorism might be a goal, but not enough or precise enough to risk any more lives. Please let me know what the goal is, I have no idea why we are in either Iraq or Afganistan.

    November 3, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  10. Lawrence C. Hartung

    When we commit to going into combat we have to do so with an established plan of eventual withdrawl, a plan to win. If we don't, and when it gets to the point where the fight is fruitless, we need to either get the job done or get the heck out. These situations will never suit our desires, we are fighting against a civilization who has been in existance a lot longer than ours, and when the fight is on their turf the battle is harder to win. If our plan is not to win, we need to get out!!

    November 3, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  11. The Truth

    As a Veteran and a student of military operations and history the President has only one question to answer. Do you trust your commanders on the ground? If yes you give them what they ask for, if not you replace them and give the new ones what they ask for.

    Yes, he can also pull us out but lets think about that one. Our enemy is using considerable amount of their resources and manpower to fight us there. If we go away that will free up a good portion of those resources. What do you think they are going to do with them? For all those who want to pull out don't complain if another 9/11 happens after the pull out, you are the ones who gave them the breathing room to allow it to happen.

    November 3, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  12. Jim Camp

    I am a Vietnam Veteran. 1967-1968 I experienced a surge. The Tet Offensive. Combat Result. Viet Cong destroyed. Political fact, "war became impossible to win". Our President Obama has it right. What is the Mission and Purpose of this effort? What is the long term aim? What is the continuing task and responsibility of the United States and to whom? I believe {and I know what my opinion is worth, not much} when those questions are answered then and only then should our President and leadership make the decisions of how to move ahead.

    November 3, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  13. Troy

    I am a retired Senior Chief with the Navy Seabees. I am recently retired so I have made multiple deployments to Afganistan and Iraq; Many of you question if the troop surge is the answer; many of you say we need to pull out and bring our brothers and sisters home. Believe me when I say, our fighting forces in country have the same questions but there is one difference; no matter what their beliefs may be, all military forces belive in the chain of command and will support that initiative with their lives.
    Being a combat veteran in both Afganistan and Iraq I can tell you that the people of these countries do appreciate our presence and welcome our support but this type of activity is not reported; only the small percentage of the population that denounces our presence is reported. I have fought beside the Afgans and Iraq's and they are some of the bravest and compassionate people I have ever met; so is our presence working in these two war torn countries? The answer is yes. Let me also say that what Gen McChristyal's belief that the hearts and minds of the people must be captured in order to secure the democracy of these countries is not a new strategy, it's just being implemented as policy, without this type of strategy we would still be in intense combat in Iraq and Afganistan but this is not the case. It's a sad truth that people die in war but it's something that we as soldiers have come to accept for our nation. Too many times people tend to overlook the foot soldier on the ground in country and in their haste basically tell those brave souls that they are stupid for fighting a war that is not winable; shame on all americans that do not support this war; if this war is not fought in Afganistan and Iraq now!, it will be fought on our soverign soil in the future and this no-one wants, trust me!!! Send the troops; if our Generals, Admirals, and Commadores request 100,000 troops then we send them; we owe this to our forces.

    November 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  14. Pat

    This conflict isn't much about anything. There is no oil in Afghanistan.

    I am not an Obama supporter, but I might be if he would show some balls and pull out directly.

    If he ends up half supporting this conflict, he will show me he is exactly what I think he is.

    November 3, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  15. JOE

    I am a very strong supporter of President Obama, but I think its time we leave. Just look at the history of Afganistan. Nobody has been sucessful there in over a thousand years, including the Soviets who through everyting at it but the A-Bomb. Have we learned nothing from Vietnam. Fifty six thousand of my fellow vets are dead and countless thousands are physically and mentally maimed. If we learned nothing from else from Nam, we should have learned that we are not fighting an issue or a cause, we're fighting a culture that has nothing to lose.

    November 3, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  16. E. Ward

    Its not the Taliban we should be worried about ; its our exposed Troops, should Iran retaliate from a bombing of their Nuclear sites by Israel- their is little doubt that our troops in both areas would be targets. we would be hard pressed to give the needed support should Iran make such a move. Look to the Global Problems not a specific front. Troops needed in Theater cannot be inserted quickly if a crises occurs.

    November 3, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  17. Greg

    Hey Da Professor,
    Do you really think our war in Afghanistan is typical right-wing – You are full of it. When we were attacked on 9/11 everybody, and probably yourself included wanted to go after the enemy where ever they were. I imagine you are a left-wing, democrat, so all Americans wanted to go after the enemy. Also Professor (Nut job) you see our current president even before he was elected wanted to draw down the forces in Iraq, and put more presence (troops) in Afghanistan. You can't see it is strictly one party to blame for all your problems, or maybe for you it is.
    I believe with a number of you in the fact we are facing an enemy that is strictly motivated by religion, and we here in the US don't necessarily fight for religious beliefs, but for democracy, and our protection. I have served in the military, and I love this country, but there is alway more to the situation than what the Media tells us. We as Americans need to educate ourselves, read books, new articles – both liberal and conversative. We can't rely on the media to educate us, or we become like the Da Professor (nut job).

    November 3, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  18. Janet Glazier

    Mr. President: There is no shame in saying enough already,It's time to pull out.We've sacrificed our great soldiers to no avail.They do not want our help.It's up to them to solve their civil differences.

    November 3, 2009 at 8:56 am |
  19. Michael Milligan

    What would Will Rogers say about all this? He probably say something like this: " let them politicians and bureaucrats in Washington go and settle this mess...it will be over right quick, before they get their shoes tied to leave'.

    November 3, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  20. murray merlin

    good morning, please, it would be great if you could inform the folks there on your show that Afghanistan is not like the U.S. in any way shape or form. it's culture is no way like ours and it has more years of living with out democrecy then this country or where the folks that came here had.

    we have idiots in our goverment that don't understand that except their own views, thank God they are gone.

    thank you

    November 3, 2009 at 7:42 am |
  21. Bob Ramos

    Diliberto is absolutely corrent when he says that somehow we have fallen in love with the idea that the only answer is a military solution and when he says we will need much more than 40,000 troops to accomplish our military mission there. Are we willing to pay the price for all that?

    Another major concern is the lack of international support despite Afgan being an international threat. Where is it written that the 40,000 troops have to come from the USA? Why cannot they come from the other NATO countries? We have around 68K troops in that country with England next at 9K troops.

    November 3, 2009 at 4:12 am |
  22. Doc

    Someone ought to question why the deployments of the units Diliberto claims to have been on don't correspond with what's listed on globalsecurity.org for those units.

    November 3, 2009 at 1:33 am |
  23. Mary M.

    In listening to Jake and others on the subject, and after writing my Congressman, Pres. Obama and Sec. of State Clinton today,
    I fully agree with veteran Jake DiLiberto. Does he have a website and/or need support? Better yet, does this country let the Am. people have a say directly, before we send more troops and how can we voice our requests other than through email?. After all, we are paying for this war in many ways.
    Thank you.

    November 2, 2009 at 9:47 pm |
  24. Brion

    Afghanistan is not about the Taliban or Al Quada. Its about Oil. And China. Period.

    November 2, 2009 at 9:45 pm |
  25. Chris

    It seems that Afghanistan has not had a stabel government in well over 100 years. In the last 8 years, what has occurred to make anyone believe that we can build a successful government?

    November 2, 2009 at 9:32 pm |
  26. Andrew Mitchell

    The trust of the Afghan people are the key to stability, both there and in Pakistan. If a surge worked in Iraq, it will work in Afganistan. People are not stupid. They (the Afghan people) know the American (coalition) infantryman or woman are placing themselves at risk for their safety. That is an investment of long term benefits.

    November 2, 2009 at 9:19 pm |
  27. Charley B

    There are only two choices. 1. Annihilate the entire population. 2. Get the hell out. There is no middle ground. There is no such thing as a "nice" war.

    If you are not there to win you have already lost and you have no reason to be there.

    The Afgans do not love us and no matter how much money we give them, roads and schools we build for them they will never love us. The sad and brutal fact is that the only success path is to gain respect and that can only be done with total war on the entire population.

    The only other choice is to withdraw and await the next terrorist attack. Given modern weapons and multitude of potential delivery systems there is a high probability that will occur. However, under those conditions, we could at least have an immediate response force in place on our own soil to deal with the situation rather than have them tied up fighting a war they cannot win.

    November 2, 2009 at 7:36 pm |
  28. Rodney Chapman

    To add to Jake's analysis – can we afford a protracted war in Afghan for the next 10 years at the cost of $6000 a day per soldier? Isn't it time to admit that America is too broke for a war that's very irrelevant to the average America ?

    Is Al Qaeda racing against time – 10, 20, 30 years? I don't think so. Can Americans really win the hearts of Afghans, i.e. Muslims?

    My suggestion; America should pressurize NATO, Pakistan and India – even China to play greater roles. Let's use counter-strategies as opposed to brute force; e.g draw the Al Qaeda leaders to the open by giving them room to operate.

    November 2, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  29. Jason Winterle

    All,
    I and several of my fellow officers in the United States Army found Mr. Oh's public resignation self-indulgent. We all read his letter of resignation and there nothing in the letter that was not unknown by the military community at large. Is there an easy answer in Afghanistan? Of course not!

    I am an Army officer with 15 years of service. I've deployed to Iraq and served in Korea. As an officer, if I decide that I'm given a mission that I don't agree with I have two options: complete the mission, or resign quietly. Professionalism dictates support to the chain of command. As Mr. Oh is a former marine officer, he should understand that.

    We (a group of active duty officers in the Army) also object to Mr. Oh's frequent generalizations about how the military feels about the mission in Afghanistan.

    I don't have an answer to the way-ahead in Afghanistan. It's a complicated, long-running, and extremely difficult military and civilian mission that will take time, planning, and effort to complete.

    Quite frankly, I am glad that President Obama is taking time to evaluate the plan for Afghanistan. I also heartily support GEN McChrystal's comments both in public and on the recent PBS special on Afghanistan. We've got extremely competent leadership looking at this problem and a junior ex-marine and newly converted state department worker Mr. Oh should keep his opinions to himself.

    It's Mr. Oh's ultimate right to self-promote himself by leaking his resignation letter to the press, but I found it pedantic, largely devoid of analytic effort, and extremely self-serving.

    My best wishes to Mr. Oh in the private sector. I don't want to serve next to him in my foxhole.

    Respectfully,
    Jason Winterle

    November 2, 2009 at 7:09 pm |
  30. Jon Bell

    If you examine the choice of words used, it is quite clear that both young men have been mentored-but it's also obvious that the anti-war proponent speaks out of personal conviction, whereas the other is obviously a "tool" bought and paid for.
    My personal conviction is that we were suckered into going into Afghanistan with the motivation to counteract Al Quaida. Well, Al Quaida IS, repeat IS, everywhere. Simply because every Muslim, through his committment to the ummah, the congregation of all muslims, is a potential recruit in the battle against what they see as repression by the western nations--simply a continuation of the repression of the last two centuries. Any occupying force, whatever its good intentions, will be seen, rightly and inevitably, as a suppressor and thusly an enemy.
    The fight for peoples minds are not won on the battlefield whatever its form, but in the schools and universities.....yes I know institutions the Taliban won't accept. So it will take time for Afghanistan to overcome the Taliban. Meanwhile, let's stop alienating the rest of the muslim world which comprise almost a billion (roughly) by putting armies in their faces and spitting on their beliefs.

    November 2, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  31. peter an

    i think Biden provided a great solution which is to send more special ops units into the region as well as drones. although that would be a small increase, it will be greatly effective. delta, SF, seals, forest recon, and rangers can be very effective. this should be more of a gurrella fighting tactic vs a counterinsurgency.

    November 2, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  32. Chuck Hendrix - Jasper Ga.

    The argument that more troops will provide "better security" for the people is a bunch of rot. I especially find it completely illogical to use the surge in Iraq of an example that this would actually work. If it was so successful, why have suicide bombings increased over the last year in Iraq. Why have more civilians in Iraq been killed since the "surge" than before the surge? What a bunch of hogwash. These "people" have been killing each other for 800 years and the U.S. is not going to change that. Not to mention, we (we being the United States) not only trained but financed and armed the same people we now call terrorists when the Russians were involved in Afghanistan. We armed and trained them so they could expel the foreign invaders of their country and now we are the invaders. Karzai is considered a puppet of the U.S. by many in Afghanistan, as is the government. That's the reality of this issue. To think we have to be there is total bull. If we as a nation were not dependent on oil from the Persian Gulf we would not be there period. No politician will ever admit that however. Its all about oil. Oil we would not need if all the money being used to fight a war that can not be won were used to develop alternatives to oil. Nobody in the U.S. government will ever be telling the truth by saying the cost of $120 billion dollars a year is necessary if we dont the oil from the Persian Gulf. We have been "stabalizing" the Persian Gulf since the 60's. A logical person that knows the history of these events would say after almost 50 years of military intervention in that area were going to work, it would have done so long ago. Al Quadi is not the issue. Oil is.

    November 2, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  33. Ron Fowler

    I remember being in the military during Viet Nam (I wasn't assigned to Viet Nam myself). It began with a few thousand advisors and through numerous troop surges ended up with over 500,000 men and women in country and over 50,000 dying for a country where much of the population didn't want us there. It looks like we will end up with the same thing in Afghanistan. We have too many politicians without the courage to call an end to the fighting and dying of our best and brightest. Nixon may have a liar and bigot but at least he had some cajones.

    November 2, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  34. Rich

    As a Vietnam vet and a military history buff. Neither of these guys have it right. We can't win in Afghanistan. We can only help the native people win. They will get the government they work for. In vietnam we tried to stop the viet cong without invading surrounding countries. History is clear on our failure. But, there have been sucesses! Sucess is a partnership between Afghanistan people/government and our military. We have to provide the villiages with security. No one will support us if we leave them to the insurgents at night. Check the British and the MauMau in africa. We need to provide security and consistency to the rural peoples. Then maybe they will help us by not supporting the Taliban.

    November 2, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  35. bill page

    Friend from Pakistan says they avoid walking on same side of street if policeman there. They stop you and take your money.
    So much corruption in Afghanistan and Pakistan are they really worth losing more lives and killing more people?

    gany1

    November 2, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  36. Chris Burch

    Minimal support (edit. "will") breed minimal success

    November 2, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  37. Chris Burch

    Does anyone remember the Soviet Union's "success" in Afghanistan?

    What is the mission in Afghanistan? It is not clearly defined.

    What is the exit strategy for Afghanistan? Unplanned? Is the same as Vietnam? Or the Soviet Union's bloody retreat?

    How does or will the United States measure success?

    Is it time to go home or is it time to initiate massive routing of Taliban forces?

    Minimal support or breed minimal success.

    November 2, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  38. Da Professor

    There we go again... Nation Building.

    In other words, the Bush – Cheney, right-wing extremist doctrine. We saw what happened when the last White House residents lied our way into Iraq. The Republican draft dodging "leaders" (??? know how to start wars, listen to the Generals who want nothing less than a war to build their chances for promotion, then lead us into oblivion. When is the last time that a General died in battle?

    NO one but the country's willing population can build a country.
    No one can be the world's policeman.
    No one can end a religious fight that has gone on for hundreds of years except the country's willing residents.

    But don't tell the right-wing extremists in this country. They are the ones carrying guns, protecting themselves against fellow countrymen, dodging the draft (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and other fellow travelers), but failing to enlist in the battle.

    November 2, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  39. Andrew Hyatt Masset III

    Military surge is a short term 'feel good' answer that only involves more death and destruction. "Drone up'.. have eyes in the sky locate, destroy and spec.ops mop up...We will never win a Democracy for them..they have to win it for themselves and as long as we are there why should they even try...Have we learned nothing from history? Alexander on down? Live by the sword...Take away their revenue source ( Oil) and they dry up and blow away...

    November 2, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  40. Montelle Bates III

    You can NOT win a land war in that part of the world
    any more than you could in Vietnam. We are the enemy to
    those people...we invaded their country and it doesn't
    matter why...they beat the Russians and they will defeat any
    army...even America's best. We are sending our young to die
    for a country that is not worth the effort. The Taliban will simply
    move to another place...not Pakistan then her neighbors...same
    tactics as Vietnam.
    Get our troops out soon...we can NOT win...we are the
    enemy of those people...our "good intentions" mean nothing.
    Leave soon or get more body bags for our brave young people.

    November 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  41. Don

    Currently the military are making their recruitment quotas due to the large number of jobs being off-shored to other countries with much lower labor costs and to a poor economy. Young men and women are turning to the armed forces because they can't find a decent paying job here in the U.S. I bet if we re-instated the draft and made it so no one would be able to get a deferment for any reason Members of Congress would think twice about sending their children to fight and possibly die for what we take at face value as a "necessary war". If these people want to live in a democracy, which I'm sure is as abstract to them as anyone could possibly imagine, then they are the ones who should be doing the fighting and dying just as Americans have done so often and in so many places. What other nation has been willing to stand up to evil and tyranny like us? I'd like to the think that this makes us a more noble nation but sometimes wonder if it will ever end?

    November 2, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  42. Eric

    As a veteran who served during the Vietnam era, I have to ask that we look at this rationally and leave now. As Eisenhower said, Military might is an illusion and we will bankrupt our country with relentless spending that won't buy security.
    The Russian's learned this lesson with a much more brutal campaign and we are running headlong into the same abyss.
    We will not secure our country in this desolate desert. We will only get a lot of people killed and dig our financial hole much deeper.

    November 2, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  43. PNUT

    I think that Diliberto is right, a Covert war of intelligence and pin-point operations is what we need to dig these terrorists out by the root wherever they are. They aren't just in Afghanistan ,they're everywhere, in the U.S.(as we saw recently), Somalia, Germany, and especially in the U.K. . We need to be able to go after them wherever they are without worrying about local laws and jurisdictions. Find them, and if they don't have intelligence value, kill them on the spot. Playing nice with these people will lead nowhere but to more innocent lives lost.
    We also need to be honest and admit that the problem is religion. The ideology of Islam is one of conquest and war against the infidel. It is religion that is at the root of this.

    November 2, 2009 at 11:06 am |