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February 18th, 2009
01:01 PM ET

More troops to Afghanistan?

More troops to Afghanistan?

American soldiers search for caves concealing weapons in eastern Afghanistan. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama has decided to send another 17,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. More than 7 years into the war there, this move will increase U.S. troop levels by 50%. The president insists that "urgent attention and swift action" are needed to fight a resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda. The increased troop levels are expected to last 3 to 4 years.

American and NATO casualties – along with Taliban attacks- were at record highs last year. War-related civilian deaths were up almost 40%.

Although Mr. Obama hasn't made a call yet on troop cuts in Iraq, his decision will move troops to Afghanistan who had been scheduled to deploy to Iraq. The president has said he wants to limit objectives in Afghanistan. These new troops will be headed to southern and eastern regions, will help train the Afghan army and help provide security for the August elections.

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan had actually asked for more than 30,000 additional troops, which would have doubled the current force.

A tough decision – one of many – made by the new president these days, especially when you consider the public may not be behind escalating our military effort in Afghanistan. Recent polls shows 34% of Americans think the U.S. should send more troops there. 29% call for a decrease. Also, only 18% of Afghans think we should step up our presence – not exactly a warm welcome.

Here’s my question to you: Is a prolonged American military presence in Afghanistan a good idea?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Matthew from New York writes:
A prolonged military presence in any area is never a good idea. I wouldn't want the Afghan Army in my country for one day, let alone months. I know we have to try and sort that region out and clean up the mess that we made, but let's keep it brief.

Wesley from Atlanta writes:
Yes, of course we need more troops in Afghanistan. The Bush administration took their eye off the situation there and invaded Iraq. Now that the situation there is a lot better, it’s time to finish the job in the "right" war.

Ryan writes:
If we just push the Taliban back into Pakistan, and Pakistan can't or won't put the same pressure on, then what's the point? I thought we declared a war on terror, anywhere on the planet. Except where the terrorists are, I guess.

Michael from Toronto writes:
Well, if Obama says it's a good idea, it must be a good idea. THE ONE should never be questioned. I'm glad THE ONE doesn't play a role in Canadian foreign policy; Canada is getting out next year!

Patrick from Austin, Texas writes:
The United Nations should be leading this effort, not the U.S. We should have some forces there, but we should not carry the burden of rebuilding this country. If they want to be free, they need to fight for it like we did.

Lawrence from Illinois writes:
Bring them home. Why do we feel that we need to meddle in everyone’s business? We are not wanted there either, just as we were not wanted in Iraq.

Sly from Alpena, Michigan writes:
Let us not forget 9-11 and who was responsible for it.


Filed under: Afghanistan • US Military
soundoff (112 Responses)
  1. Dave, Brooklyn, NY

    The time for Afghanistan has come and gone. If we had finished the job when we first went in none of this would have happened. The terrorists would have been beaten back into their caves where they would have spent the next ten years regrouping. Even so, we would have been able to keep them at bay in their weakens state. Now we will be fighting Iraq all over again and this one will be no more winnable.

    February 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  2. Russ in PA

    Of course not! Bring them all home! Now! Where in the world is Obama going to get the money to pay for more pointless war? Hello, McFly! You're broke!

    February 18, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  3. Conor in Chicago

    A long term military presence in Afghanastan is not a good idea. However, pretending that the Taliban taking over the Swat Valley this week isn't going to serve as a launching pad for an offensive on Islamabad in an attempt to seize nulcear material and throw Pakistan into chaos in the next 6 months isn't a good idea.

    February 18, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  4. Ron McLeod

    The Russians were smarter than the US, they figured out it was a losing battle to try and change centuries of religious traing.

    The US still has visions of democracy, it won't happen in my time, nor will it happen in the next two generations.

    All it will accomplish is to make the companies that the politicians own stock in richer.

    People evidently do not remember that LBJ escalated Vietnam, and it took a Republican ot get the country out of what was a losing proposition, fighting a war directed by politicians that couldn't or wouldn't, accept that they were wrong.

    February 18, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  5. CJ in Roanoke, VA

    If you look at the history of Afghanistan, with regards to foreign militaries intervening in that country. It will become clear that Afghanistan is where empires go to die. We need to get out of there now and realize that we cannot continue to fund this into perpetuity. It broke the former Soviet Union and it will break us too. Why do we keep repeating the same mistakes that history has warned us about?

    February 18, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  6. Jim

    Jack,

    Without an American military presence in Afghanistan, the present democratically-elected government would fall and the Taliban would retake power. Afghanistan would, once again, become a safe haven to al Qaeda. Opium exports would boom, with the profits going to support a repressive regime and various terrorist activities. Those Afghans who were deemed to have cooperated with the U.S. would be tortured and killed. If we really don't care about any of those things, then we should pull out and let the chips fall where they may. Otherwise, a prolonged American military presence is an unfortunate necessity.

    Jim
    Reno, Nevada

    February 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  7. samir from florida

    Being originally from the middle east I will tell you that this whole thing started (9/11) from american military presence in the middle east. Do you want another 9/11? If not, then US needs to leave.

    February 18, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  8. David in Granville, Ohio

    Its a lousy idea, Jack. I am concerned that this will become Obama's Vietnam. I just don't think you can win the "war on terror" with military might.

    Much better is to cut off Al Qaeda recruiting with a diplomatic offensive based on respect for Islam. Obama has the right ideas about this – he just needs to have the political guts to carry them out!

    February 18, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  9. John, Michigan

    Jack, if "prolonged" means semi-permanent basing in the region, the answer is no. If the our ideology is to determine the the political nature of the region, then the answer is again no. If the reasoning is to capture or kill a mass murderer (Bin Laden,) then the answer is yes. The problem rest with these reasoning's blending and after a period of time, the prolonged stay in the region, becomes very fuzzy. Thus, an intense covert operation to find and eliminate Bin Laden without a prolonged stay, is our only viable option!

    February 18, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  10. erico so beach

    Its going to be a great idea until we are forced to pull out, after several thousand are killed in action and billions down the drain. But the military machine must feed itself. Does Vietnam bring any memories ? Didn't the Russians attempt the same in Afghanistan some years back ? Now the coin is flipped and the Russians will continue to sell weapons to the Afghan rebels.

    February 18, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  11. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: The answer is NO! I keep asking the question, "Why are we in Afghanistan?" No one has a good answer. The best way to stabilize Afghanistan is to get out. When I think of war, and I served in Vietnam, I always remember the Wartime Prayer found in Eleanor Roosevelt's papers:

    "Dear Lord, lest I continue my complacent way, help me to remember that somewhere, somehow out there, a man died for me today. As long as there be war, I then must ask and answer, Am I worth dying for?"

    February 18, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  12. Paulette,Dallas,PA

    Not a good idea,Jack. This country cannot afford it in dollars or more young lives. Bush missed his chance to clean it up considerably more than he did but he moved on to Iraq and left the job unfinished. They have had several years to regroup and strategize their new moves. Now that the Taliban has the Pakistani government bamboozeled it will be very difficult for our boots on the ground to combat their strength. The only way I see to rid this area of all Taliban is to initiate a massive air campaign,and don't stop until the job is done.

    February 18, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  13. Katiec Pekin, IL

    Until that area is stabilized do not see where we have a choice.
    That pursuit has been underfunded, understaffed because of
    the misguided war in Iraq and perhaps now we can put our
    resources into winning the war with the actual terrorists. It is
    going to be much more complicated as the enemy has been
    allowed to grow in strenght and receive aid that was not there
    before.
    And, true negotiation will be an asset.

    February 18, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  14. Joe in DE

    No we need to find a way without troops,

    February 18, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  15. john ..... marlton, nj

    No, was a prolonged American military presence in Iraq a good idea? I think not.....

    February 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  16. Ken in Seattle

    No, but thanks to the short-sightedness of the Bush Administration we will end up having troops there longer than would otherwise be the case. Can you imagine the progress we would have made if the Bush Administration had committed the manpower and funding to Afghanistan we did to Iraq? It is unlikely Afghanistan will ever be a model of democracy, but we certainly could have achieved an acceptable level of stability much sooner had we stayed with the job. And who knows, we might have actually gotten Bin Laden. Our status there is like a football team racking up a 21 to 0 lead at the end of the first quarter and going into half time 21 to 17. There is still a lot of the game left but we've definately blown a nice lead.

    February 18, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  17. Robbie

    No. If this next surge don't work and pack up and leave the region. We cannot win a war based on religion. If the Russians did not win how in the world do we think we can? Get out asap.

    February 18, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  18. Chad Jarman--Los Angeles

    Yes, we should have a stronghold somewhere in the Middle East. You never know when we will have to invade another country in the area, and we don't want to have to negotiate with a supposed ally in the region to get a place to launch attacks from.

    February 18, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  19. Christine, Edmeston NY

    Afghanistan is exactly where the majority of our military efforts should have been from Day One in our so-called war against terror. The idiocy of Bush's Iraq campaign should not eradicate the sensibility of being in the right place. Thanks to Bush's ill-conceived agenda in Iraq, the Taliban is more organized and dangerous than before 9/11. It's now up to Obama to see this critical military campaign through to a more positive and definitive conclusion than we could ever hope for in Iraq.

    February 18, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  20. Adrienne

    As a parent of a son who wants nothing more than to join the Marines, (gasp), I would rather see him fighting in Afghanistan, and going after Bin Laden, than fighting in Bush's war for nothing in Iraq.

    February 18, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  21. Susan from Twn Falls Idaho

    Not prolonged but we have to protect the remaining troops and stabilize again. We can’t prevail against the taliban. What we must do is get out of the Arabic region as soon as possible. Our presence there is akin to one step forward and two step backwards.

    February 18, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  22. Donna Wisconsin

    I guess I am not understanding why these folks have not gotten their country stable after 7 years. Why do we have to continue defending these guys? Just like Iraq, it is time these countries step up to the plate and take responsibility for themselves. We want our troops home and home is the USA!

    February 18, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  23. william in wyoming

    Sure Jack, let's attack Russia, China, and Canada while we're at it. Put the weapons on the credit card.

    February 18, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  24. Jackie in Dallas

    If we want to retain the good opinion of the world (and since we need the rest of the world to get out of this mess), then yes, we need to send the troops there that SHOULD have been there for the last 7 years. More importantly, as the Pentagon has said, we need to determine what our goals are, and what we need to do to meet them.

    February 18, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  25. Eric Bracke, Fort Collins, CO

    It's got all the potential to become the nation's second "Vietnam" (if it's not so already). The terrain is nasty, the people are super tough, a culture the US can't/won't understand, and they don't follow normal "civilized rules of engagement". It's not a fight the US is prepared to win or fight appropriately. I've got a bad feeling about this expansion.

    February 18, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  26. me46

    No. As long as war is an option, peace cannot exist.
    Tom
    Las Vegas

    February 18, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  27. Tony in Michigan

    Afghanistan is where the war on terrorism should have been fought all along. If we ignore the Taliban or al Qaeda now it will come back to haunt us. 'Prolonged' is a pretty loose term -we should not set a time table but we should not plan on being there for twenty years either. And getting our hands on bin Laden should be a top priority.

    February 18, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  28. Natalie Ohio

    Jack as with all of these rubik cube questions, there is not quick and easy answer. My take on the situation is that we gave Bush more than a few years to trash our reputation here at home and abroad. Lets give President Obama the room he needs to make prudent decisions on behalf of ourselves and the world. His is not an easy job but so far even his most unpopular decisions are better than the best supported ideas of the Texan cowboy that drove our military, economy and reputation right into the ditch.

    February 18, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  29. Jenny from Nanuet, New York

    Yes. It's a good idea to go after those who attacked us on 9/11. Bush took his eye off the ball and Obama wants to put his eye back ON the ball. And he IS a good b-ball player.

    February 18, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  30. KarenB, Florida

    We;ve managed to screwup with both Iraq and Afghanistan, long past time to get out of both – our economy would not be in this bad a shape if we'd stayed out. There is so much unaccounted for money, weapons that went over there - billions wasted. The Iraqis treasury is loaded from what we've heard, so they may hate us - but they sure love us footing the bill and destroying our own economy to boot. Nobody has to attack us, we can be conquered "from within" (of our own making).

    February 18, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  31. Thomas

    Is it a good idea to stand by helplessly while the Taliban grows in power once more? Obviously, in order to combat a growing Taliban, we need more forces. In order to destroy that terrible organization and its ally al Qaeda, we need to step up all our efforts there, on the military, diplomatic, and economic fronts.

    February 18, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  32. Jay in Texas

    No, continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan is a terrible idea. We should have had that country's military trained and capable of defending themselves years ago and we should have gotten out of there. We are getting into another quagmire, just like Iraq, by taking this action.
    Brownwood, Texas

    February 18, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  33. Anne/Seattle

    What a terrible conundrum. I have no answer. I know the Taliban must be stopped from waging war on the West and I deeply appreciate Afghans don not want us in their country. I also know from reading scholars, editorials and those who have lived there that the situation is even more complicated than it seems. I do know that it seems wrong for America to donate the largest number of troop casulaties unless a war is declared.

    February 18, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  34. Nuwan

    It may not be a well entertained idea. However, if our national security depends on it president has no other choice. So without getting those daily security briefings, we can merely give our opinion based on what we are shown by the media. So I trust President Obama to take a right decision based on what he sees everyday.

    Nuwan from Houston, TX

    February 18, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  35. Matthew, NYC

    A prolonged military presence in any area is never a good idea. I wouldn't want the Afghan Army in my country for one day, let alone months. I know we have to try and sort that region out and clean up the mess that we made but let's keep it brief.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  36. Carole Morton

    We should get out of Afghganistan. It is a bottomless hole that is draining our economy and not worth losing another American life for.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  37. Jerry Nelson

    The resaons we are in Iraq were never explained by Pres. Bush, unless you accept the "weapons of mass destruction" argument. Obama now needs to clearly explain why we are in Afghanistan if he expects support in America.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  38. Kafele, New York City

    I don't agree with that, I voted for President Obama and he did say that he would be pulling troops out. This war has reaped nothing good for anyone in the world. Clearly, the middle east does not like peace and the U.S. cannot go into another country and tell them how they can and cannot live. However, he is our president and I trust and believe in him so I support him 150%.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  39. William Feliciano

    Are you kidding me, the military had asked for 30,000 troops, if Pres. Obama believes, as he had stated during the campaign that the "real front on terror is Afghanistan", then why not give the military commanders the troops they are asking for, I fear we are being set up to fail, which means the Taliban and Al-Qaeda will be emboldened to continue and step up their efforts to attack us here at home, yet again.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  40. Mary

    I would like to hear more of how the Afghani people plan to defend themselves from the Taliban and others who fight against their government. From what I hear the Afghani need Western military support to keep the government they voted into power to stay in power. I think we need to be much more sensitive in our dealings with the civilians but the Afghani people must be more willing to support and defend their people and their government.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  41. Johnny

    I think it is necessary to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. It is a failed state and needs repair. We went in many years ago and now we must fix it in order to protect ourselves. The current government has so little power over the whole country, a couple of states/provinces around the Kabul is all they control. The rest is up to the tribes and ethnic groups in them whom may or may not align with the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. This a national threat and must be dealt with before another attack against us is conducted.

    Johnny
    Ames, Iowa

    February 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  42. Edgar

    No!

    February 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  43. Will Long

    Have we really forgotten why we are in Afghanistan?bin laden is still on the loose. Until he is captured, troops will be needed. If the Afghan people don't want us there long term, turn in bin laden...

    February 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  44. Syed

    It is a good idea only if Americans take full control of the country. When they try to hide behind the facade of a sham democartically elected president and pretend not to be an occupier, problems will remain there , get real! you are already there who you are trying to fool ,take full control don't be afraid of being called an occupier ,believe me people in that region will welcome this development and all the problems will go away with time ,given the good intentions if you really have good intentions.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  45. Catherine Kamburoff

    We need diplomacy and not more troops. Getting these thugs should always have been dealt with by a police action and not a war. We should get other governments to cooperate in catching these guys and not be so dependent on sending in our troops. We have bankrupted our country, in many ways, with these Bush wars. Why continue? Can't we ever learn from history? This approach does not work.

    Catherine
    Palm Desert, CA

    February 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  46. Travis

    Its hard to say whats need but, i do know that escalation of violence is not the answer, it never has been. What do you think radicalizes people? When their family members are being killed. It doesn't matter who pulls the trigger and for why the loss of a loved one is something most people can not bare to live with. We have to remember that we American's have a history of demonizing groups to justify our means. Terrorist aren't born, they aren't following a religion, they are created more often than not by the loss of loved ones. So its not that asinine to believe that the reason we have the threat of terrorism is because we've been taking loved ones in that area for decades.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  47. JB

    This is the turning point of the Obama Administration. The war now belongs to him and he will not be able to win it. We will be kicked out of Afganistan, continue the bad blood that the Bush administration started and poison the well of the as yet not initiated good relations with the Arab world.
    Barack, don't do it. Stay out of Afganistan and deal diplomatically with Pakistan instead. Don't fall in the trap that has buried empires since Alexander the Great all the way to the Soviet Union.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  48. Rasheed Nazeri

    Jack,
    We will emerge victorious out of this recession. I am not sure one could say the same–and with conviction–about Afghanistan.

    While the focus at present is on the economy–which is a huge challenge to be overcome–I think in the long run, the war in Afghanistan will prove to be a bigger problem for President Obama. The historical precedents, cultural and geopolitical problems in that part of the world makes me more pessimestic about the war than the economy.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  49. Bob Field Toronto

    I am 83. When I was a boy in England I read stories of the fiece North West Frontier tribesmen fighting the British, For decades the Brits tried to pacify Afghanistan and failed. The Russians tried and failed.. "When will we ever learn?"

    February 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  50. Marshall

    An old rule of thumb is "Never fight a land war in Asia." We should not get involved in a protracted war in Afghanistan with out a clearly defined mission, the support of the American people and without a mission that we actually can achieve. None of these conditions exist at present.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  51. Terry from Ontario Canada

    Jack , yes more troops because that is where we are to believe Bin Laden is , after all that is what this war-ing is about in the first place . He was not in Iraq that was a different administration's personal quest .

    February 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  52. Michael, Houston, TX

    if the job needs to be done, the President needs to figure out the cheapest way of going about it. Is a "surge" effect of mass of troops for a short time the best way or a smaller group over a long period of time better with the economy as it is I'd move towards the latter.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  53. John Barraclough

    Do we really have a choice. Had our focus not been blurred by the previous administrations desire to remove Sadam, we would be in better shape and the insurgency might have been slowed or stopped. However, the thought of thousands of troops in Afganistan for more than five years sends chills down my spine. Russia couldn't eliminate the problem. What makes us think we can?

    February 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  54. Bill - St Louis MO

    William in Wyoming is 100% correct, but don't forget North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan. It's time to end both current wars before things get even worse. Remember how Reagan did so called "cut & run" after the bombing of the Marines. As Bill Clinton once said, if one digs themselves into a deep hole, get out of the hole, don't request a bigger shovel.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  55. Albert R.Killackey. Los Angeles

    No! A prolonged American military presence in Afghanistan is a stupid idea. Our contribution to the war should not be to send even more American troops to be targets of suicide bombers but rather we should invest at home creating jobs including building tens of thousands of missiles to be used on targets in the Afghanistan / Pakistan border region – the new home of the Taliban and al Qaeda. With the money saved from having to support a Standing Army, over there, we can invest in a future of electric cars thus ending the flow of cash-for-oil to the Middle East which is the cause of all these wars.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  56. Jack

    Since other countries want us to leave them alone and we are not wanted, we should bring ALL our troops home until help is requested. This would allow us to protect our home front, put troops to work here, building and protecting and training for quick deployment in case of need and above all letting them be with their families.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  57. Jeff in Minnesota

    We have to get rid of or neuter al Quaeda and the Taliban somehow. The Afghan government and military are in no shape to get the job done, so it's up to NATO, which basically means US.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  58. Mark

    Last time a nation decided a prolonged stay in Afghanistan was required, it contributed to its collapse....lets hope careful attention was paid to this fact, and the risk involved.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  59. Rudy Haugeneder

    The taliban would probably have been overthrown by its own people by now if the U.S. had not attacked. Now you are stuck in a battle no foreign nation has been able to win throughout modern history.
    Withdraw all US troops and let the Afghans sort it out themselves - it will probably take decades of civil war to decide and bin Laden and his cronies will be long dead by then.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  60. Jim Wilmerding

    If history teaches us anything, it's that the Afghani's can pretty much wait anyone out, over years of time. Just asked the Russians and Queen Victoria. Only 18% of Afghanis polled wants the US to increase our presence in their country. These are no doubt the Afghanis that we are giving scads of money to. No Jack, I do not believe that a prolonged military presence in Afghanistan is a good idea, because I do not believe there is a chance for a good out come. By the way, what exactly IS our stated goal there?

    February 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  61. Roy - Chicago IL

    I thought it was time to bring the troops home until I heard that the Taliban had implemented Sharia, or Islamic law, in areas of the country, and the Afghan government had to let them to get to a cease fire. ANY culture that denies education to women, that cuts off hands and heads, that limits the participation in self-governance MUST be stopped. There is no place in the modern world for barbaric medieval justice, and as their own citizens note, Sharia has NOTHING to do with Islam. This is the Afghan 'Boys Club' trying to keep themselves in power. If no one else will stop them, it is our job to do so, THERE, before we have to do it....HERE.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  62. John N.

    No. Anyone with even a basic understanding of Afghanistan's history knows that it's almost impossible for anyone – much less a foreign (and unwelcome) power – to create a strong government there. If you want to deal with al-Qaeda, which is in Pakistan, then you need to draw the Taliban away from them politically. That's what was actually done with the Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq – and it's what needs to be done here. Throwing troops at the problem will make it worse, not better.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  63. Ray Garzone

    Considering the current finacial crisis, America no longer can afford the luxury of telling the world how to behave – we have stubbed our own toe, and need to fix it first, before we can kick someone else's butt. When will we ever learn the lessons of Vietnam?

    February 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  64. will

    Yes, we need a presence there. That's where most of the threats will come from say many of our scholars and writers. With no stable gov'ts in the area maybe we can stop something before it spreads too far., ie, the Taliban in Swat Valley. Zealots who through acid in the girls' faces for going to school, behead those who disagree with them and destroy centuries old artifacts (Buddha) are to be feared and fought, preferably over there than over here.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  65. Steve Spangler

    As the Russians found out, Afghanistan is very similar to the old adage about boat ownership: A boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into. American presence in that region of the world is only as productive as the length of time we stay. Despite the American dream of inserting democracy into every nation, our leaders have yet to come to the realization that enforcing our dream on everyone else is unworkable. We have neither the money nor the manpower to make the world a democratic state. Nor is it the responsibility of the United States to drag all other cultures into our way of life. Time to pull back, pull out, and tend to our own wounds.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  66. Winston

    I am a huge supporter of the President. However, I think that he is making a huge blunder by prolonging this war. Maybe I have missed it, but I am not real sure what the definition of victory is. It is starting to become a bit of a cliche, but Afghanistan truly is where empires go to die. Alexander the Great, the British, the Soviets, and now the U.S. are all prime examples. Please get out. Save the lives (on both sides), the money, and the headache.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  67. WilliamTell

    Jack, If we leave that country incomplete. The Taliban and Al Qaeda will exploit our removal as a sign of weakness and claim victory over the Devil nations from the West. Tribal (manly) thinking in the muslim world is very big in countries like Afhganistan. Both the past and present Administration do not understand this realilty.

    Buffalo, New York

    February 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  68. Ronald Corry

    No. However, we never made an honest effort in Afghanistan. We have a debt to the people who supported us to at least try to stabilize the country. But if after about a year that doesn't work we need to leave.

    thx mch,
    rc

    February 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  69. John, Fort Collins, CO

    There is nothing about the current U.S. military presence in Afghanistan that makes any sense to me. Every expert opinion I've read says the odds are zero of ever forming a self-sufficient pro U.S. government there. Could it be Afghanistan is only a first step staging area with Pakistan actually in mind? If so, let's have a detailed plan this time, with LOTS of international support.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  70. Adam in Winston-Salem, NC

    I feel like we've been through this before.....oh, right. We have. This does not help bring our troops home, it simply moves them from one powder keg to another.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  71. Alex Walker

    I think Obama understands that the only way to justify leaving both Iraq and Afghanistan without uproar from conservatives is to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. We didn't go to the region for weapons of mass destruction, we went to get Osama Bin Laden, and frankly once we do, its time to leave the middle east alone. Period!

    February 18, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  72. patricia b from houston

    I think this is a BIG mistake.
    I am afraid this is Obama's Vietnam. It saddens me that Obama has made this decision.
    We are not going to be able to get out once we are in and keep sending more troops. If the Russians were not able to defeat the Afghan rebels then we should have learne from history's lesson. We are digging ourselves for a long war that will not be won.
    The Russians were smart to get out.
    I am surprised Obama took the advice of the military. Their solutions are Only military. Their jobs depend on it.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  73. Victor

    Jack,

    I strongly believe that we need to aggressively attack Al-Qaeda, even if it means venturing into the Pakistani-Afghan border and Swat Valley. As a former military member, this was the war that was "justified" not Iraq. I suggest a military presence no more than 3 years coupled with diplomacy. If it doesn't improve during that timespan,then I believe its time to re-evaluate and strongly consider to withdraw. I have faith in our commander-in-chief...

    February 18, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  74. Bill from Michigan

    Absolutely not. We are in debt up to our eyeballs with communist China and we continue to borrow even though our economy has collapsed. Let's do as the Russians did and cut our loses and bring the troops home to protect us here. We seem to forget that we are in danger here because our borders have been invaded for years.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  75. jack lisko

    The experts on afghanistan are the russians it took them quite a while to get the message. We will never learn,

    February 18, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  76. Zahera

    As an Afghan American who has lived here in the U.S for over 21 years, I highly doubt that by increasing our military troops in Afghanistan is going to solve the internal problems Afghanistan faces. If anything they will hate the west even more by all the high number of civilian casualties we seem to be causing. The British and the Russians couldn't do it. What makes us think we can?? Lets end this "so called war" and leave those people alone!! They deserve a break.

    Mission Viejo, Ca
    Zahera

    February 18, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  77. Rasheed Nazeri

    RE: Ron Mcleod

    Ron,
    The Soviets were not there to "change centuries of religious traing" and the challenge in Afghanistan has more to do with ethnic and tribal allegiances than religious ones. Though the Taliban sought to establish a theocracy, the long-running conflicts (including the Civil War which brought about the Taliban rule) were not religious, but rather ethnic conflicts.

    Nonetheless, I agree that bringing democracy will not happen overnight but rather over decades–and perhaps generations.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  78. Fred Johnson from Silver Spring, MD

    We are just wasting our time and precious resources in Afghanistan.I thought we should have learnt from the Russian experience by now.As long as the Talibans have a safe haven in Pakistan,that war would be unwinnable.Our strategy should be concentrated on dividing the Talibans,if we did it in Iraq-why not Afghanistan.When we realize that our so called ally-Pakistan is the source of the problem then we would have taken the first step in solving that ugly situation.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  79. John Sturgis, S. Dakota

    The time for war in Afghanistan has past, our war was with Al Qaeda under the face of bin Laden. What the hell are we still doing there, they don't want us there, I'll bet a majority of our military men, and women don't want to be there. We just can't afford to be at war when it serves no purpose, and I don't want to hear that foolish diatribe that "it makes us safer here in the U.S." Yeah......right.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  80. Vern Barke

    Jack, I am Canadian. I can't buy a Gun let alone bullets.

    I cry everytime a Canadian Soldier dies.

    I want to hurt every person who supplies these terrorists with guns and bullets that are willing and want to kill Canadian and American soldiers. We Don't need 17 000 more American Soldiers in Afghanistan. We need to convince these few people that killing others is Wrong.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  81. RGray

    You know Jack I love your comments and there always down to earth. Let me say though its time for America stop thinking we run the world. Lets just bring'em home

    February 18, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  82. Brian, Buffalo, NY

    Jack, is there much of an option. GWB failed to see the strategic necessity of keeping a strong force in Afghanistan, despite military leaders urgings and, now, President Obama has to somehow rectify the situation. He is, at least, listening to the Commanders in the field. The extremist Taliban and terrorist Al-Qaeda have to be crushed. There are some good people in Afghanistan who deserve some kind of protection after so many years of being put in harm's way. This show of might does at least give them some hope and maybe, just maybe, might flush out the real enemy for once.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  83. B. Slavin

    No! Besides costing us a lot of money, the Afghans don't seem to want us there. The money could be better spent in this country...helping our unemployed, homeless, aged, etc... And, we don't seem to be making much progress after seven, eight years.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  84. ron britt

    AS a former marine who has a son currently serving in iraq that would be a no, no,and a no.. they have there stans wrong .. Its PAK ISTAN not AFGHAN istan we americans should be focused on.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  85. dorothy smith

    Absolutely! With all of those crazy nuts, pouring into Afghanistan on all sides, if we don't maintain a sizable presence, they will just retake all that has been gained, without counting the number of American & allied lives that have been lost. It is a shame, that our President has to go begging to Canada, to leave the Canadian troops in to help us.
    You would think the rest of the free world can see what would happen & be willing to freely give us some solid support.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  86. Dennis from PA

    Yes, Afghanistan is where our troops should be for the true War on Terror.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  87. j/NJ

    Is a prolonged American military presence in Afghanistan a good idea?

    No...despite the CIC's campaign commitment to escalate the US military's presence there, a protracted mission is hopelessly doomed or worse...moreover the American people generally are tired of war, tired of Middle Eastern politics and tired of nation building on foreign soil...unfortunately military planners cannot comprehend the reality that military victory in such a dysfunctional part of the world is simply not possible...

    February 18, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  88. Joe Bova

    From Alexander the Great to Great Britain to Russia, Afghanistan has hurt them all and now it is hurting us. NO, it is not a good idea to extend military presence there. As far as I can tell, there would be warlords there even if the Taliban or al Qaeda didnt exist. It seems to be in their culture to be warriors and fight. Why don't we leave them to each other? With the Pakistan government caving to the Taliban in the Swat valley, things will only intensify. Our participation in overt war-making most likely would garner more worse case scenarios than diplomacy and covert action.

    Joe in Santa Fe, NM

    February 18, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  89. Bill, Virginia Beach

    It has been generally acknowledged that we should have focused our military resources in Afghanistan where the real terrorist threat has been located rather than waste them in Iraq. Our current forces are not adquate to find, fix, fight, and finish the terrorists, or at least significantly reduce their numbers and capabilities. Therefore, I think we need to increase our forces, take vigorous action and then leave. However, it is not in our interests to keep military forces there for a prologed period. However, since the terrorist infection has sprad to Pakistan, we will probably have to be involved in some manner.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  90. Sherri Illinois

    Jack We have to get out of Iraq & Afghanistan! It is time to take care of America. President Bush dropped the ball when he invaded Iraq instead of heading to Afghanistan, and as a result of that blunder we are just blowing in the wind. You see how President Bush completely dropped any pursue of Bin Laden? HELLO REMEMBER HIM??. I am sick of America always being the leader and sending millions of dollars to other countries every month of every year. 17.000 more troops is not going to do anything because the Talibans are being protected just as Bin Laden has been and every country knows that. I say get out of Iraq & Afghanistan.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  91. " TANK " St. Augustine, Florida

    Those people over there don't appreciate our presence. They have lived and suffered over their radical religious beliefs long before our country came ito be. After all this time, if they wanted to change their way of life, they would have already done so on their own.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  92. Pat, TN

    Too little, too late. Afghanistan & Bin Laden should have been the target seven years ago. We've wasted billions of dollars & thousands of lives in Iraq, where the situation may not even be as stable as it was when we invaded. The last thing we need now is another full scale conflict that we can't finish or afford (economically). Maybe Blackwater/Xe or whatever they are calling themselves today will be willing to take this one on free of charge.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  93. Jaime, Sunrise Florida

    We're going broke, and we're still flexing our military muscle in deserts and tundras all around the world. They say an army marches on its stomach and in this day and age that stomach is its economy.

    If we really care about our own necks, we'd pull our military out of Asia, Europe, Africa, pretty much the entire world, and come home to put our own house in order. Imagine how much we could stimulate our economy without billions going to maintain our military presence overseas.

    It's time to stop pretending that we are the masters of the universe. We just can't afford it anymore.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  94. mary

    No, when will we learn. Russia and England failed. Our president doen't need us to spend 10 years there and lose many men and women. Bring them home, protect te USA.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  95. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Prolonging American military in Afghan only means prolonging something we don't understand in the first place and never will.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  96. Nicholas Crisp

    There should be NO increase in troops abroad until we get our economy back on track. None of these foreign military battles will be successful because its not a battle of who has more guns, its a battle of the minds of the people in Iraq and Afganistan. They will decide their own fate. I promise you that if we intend on fighting the extremists this way, there will be no end, we could very well be fighting them for the next century. After all, the middle east has been fighting for over a thousand years.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  97. Danni

    When is a prolonged military presence ever a good idea Jack? Did we forget what happened to our Israeli friends in Lebanon from 1982 till there withdrawal in 2000. More lives will be lost over a goal that is yet to be seen through the mystic fog. Lets utilize all the money and resources where they really belong, back home. With 2 wars still open, the deficit will still continue getting bigger and bigger and in no time President Obama will be needing another stimulus package.

    Danni
    Upland Ca

    February 18, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  98. Patrick Gordon

    Sending more troops to Afganistan is insane. We will
    will be spending more blood and money for nothing.
    Afganistan is another Vietnam for America, pure and simple.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  99. Lara from MA.

    I think its good for us nationalguardsmen and women . We can use some active duty income. Many people in my unit feel the same way I do ...

    February 18, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  100. Terry

    Why are our troops there? What is the mission and when will it end? It would appear that Pres Obama has decreased troop levels in Iraq and simply shifted them to Afghanistan. The war machine marches on. We are also bombing Pakistan. Makes no sense.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  101. Gity Monty

    More troops in Afghanestan may help but, it is not solution.
    There is no way you can destroy all religious groups including Talaban, and Al-Quaida.
    Afghan people are making their living by selling different Drug items. And those groups are helping them to sell their products and put money into their pocket.
    If you want to stop these groups activities the best way is to buy all the Drug production from Afghan people, and cut the hand of the Drug dealers off that part of the world.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  102. Junior Doh

    I believe it a great idea but he should limit his troop control. He should not be like former Pres. Bush. He is doing a great job and he should ask the nation bout how they feel about it. he shoulld interact.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  103. Kevin from Montebello CA

    I think it is a good idea. That is where the terrorists are. If we had focused the resources that have been in Iraq all this time we could of gotten Bin Laden by now. George Bush took his eye off the ball and made a huge mess of everything. He ought to be in jail.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  104. Daryl

    He promised withdraws! Does anyone remember his campain promises? He spoke them as fact. Bush warned him and Clinton not be make promises like that because they may change their minds when they saw the intel but they continue to tell the left what they wanted to hear. Well- he just put the screws to you all!

    February 18, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  105. Scott in Canada

    If the Taliban are looking for an honest peace, let's see what can be done.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  106. roger in ga

    If the new troops will be there to help train the Afghan Army and to provide security for the August elections, I think that would be prolonged enough.
    I know that I would not like the prolonged presence of Russian troops in our country to help set up a form of government like theirs because they think it would be a better form of government for us. We would be fighting them then just like many of the people of Iraq are fighting us now.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  107. Charles from Roswell, Georgia

    First, Obama has to clean up the mess Bush administration created. We should have a clear objective in Afghanistan long time ago. Now we have to achieve some stability in Afghanistan before we can pull out. There are not much choices right now.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  108. Jim/NC

    Send as many as needed to support President Obama. His security briefing every morning is obviously convincing our president of the need.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  109. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack,

    A lot of work needs to be done with the right focus to reduce insurgents but also al lot of work in diplomacy and reconstruction. We really need a multi-country involvement with the approval and assistance from Pakistan and Afghanistan...we need to learn to listen what is their reality there!

    February 18, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  110. Mari Fernandez, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Although I am not an expert on terrorism, I know one thing...... that the United States of America will NOT win the hearts and minds of the people of Afghanistan nor Iraq, nor indeed the Middle East with WAR!

    The more we war, kill and maim the more terrorists will be recruited! The ONLY way to fight terrorists is with diplomacy and with GOOD intelligence from the CIA and others. Bush was WRONG.

    February 18, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  111. Interested? in Cleveland

    Yes considering we botched up Iraq and dropped the ball in Afghanistan where we should have never let up.....

    February 18, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  112. Donna Colorado Springs,Co

    Pres. Obama really has no choice now but to send troops to Afghanistan. The violence is escalating to the point where he has to. He inherited quite a mess when Bush didn't see the need to send troops where they were actually needed! Hopefully, they won't be there for an extended period of time. Obama will need wading boots to walk through the mess that Bush has left us and the world in!

    February 18, 2009 at 5:00 pm |