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President Obama in Afghanistan: foreign policy or campaign stop?
May 2nd, 2012
02:33 PM ET

President Obama in Afghanistan: foreign policy or campaign stop?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It was masterfully done, the result of political instincts seldom seen except in Chicago.

But it was also blatantly transparent.

If President Obama had simply gone to Afghanistan to sign the document with Hamid Karzai, give the troops a pep talk and address the nation on winding down the war there - the rest of it would likely have taken care of itself.

But the chest pounding over killing Osama bin Laden that preceded the trip, the use of Navy SEALS as chips in a sinister game of political poker, the questioning of whether Mitt Romney would have made the same call if given the chance to take down the Al Qaeda leader, cheapened the whole thing.

There's a difference between classy and cheesy, and this came off as cheesy to the max.

After telling the country "You don't spike the football," you come off as a hypocrite when you go out of your way to spike the football.

And as far as winding down things in Afghanistan, where we have been spending somewhere around $2 billion a week for years. That's very much an open question.

The document Karzai and Obama signed was an agreement to work on an agreement to keep an American presence in that sand pile until 2024. For what?

The Karzai government is corrupt, and can barely stand us. Look at the Afghan leader's body language with Obama.

The rest of the country is a tribal sewer that for thousands of years has been a no man's land for invading armies - and we want to remain there for another decade?

I don't get it. And 72% of Americans don't get it either. They want us out of Afghanistan.

In the end, I'm not sure President Obama didn't do himself more harm than good with this little stunt.

Here’s my question to you: President Obama in Afghanistan: foreign policy or campaign stop?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

In light of recent events, what's the point of staying in Afghanistan?
Afghan protestors shouted anti-U.S. slogans during a demonstration in Jalalabad today.
March 13th, 2012
03:23 PM ET

In light of recent events, what's the point of staying in Afghanistan?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

How much is enough?

The United States has been in Afghanistan for more than 10 years. And President Obama insists we will remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2014.

Why?

What will be accomplished by staying in that godforsaken hellhole for another 20 months that hasn't been accomplished in 10.5 years?

Events are beginning to conspire against the U.S. mission there. We had pictures of U.S. Marines urinating on dead bodies. We had the accidental burning of copies of the Quran, which further inflamed the hatred of the American presence there.

And now we have a U.S. soldier allegedly massacring 16 Afghan civilians, including women and children. The Taliban are threatening to begin beheading U.S. soldiers in response to this latest outrage.

Yet the Obama White House is insisting that none of this will deter us from our mission, which is what exactly? I have no idea what the hell we're doing there anymore. Isn't Osama bin Laden dead?

The Karzai government is a puppet regime that is barely friendly to our government, and the rest of the country hates our guts. Not unlike the way we might feel if an army of occupation had taken up residence in the United States and begun desecrating our dead, burning our Bibles and massacring our women and children.

Not to be cynical, but it's my nature. The one thing that might hasten our departure from Afghanistan is if Obama's re-election campaign is in trouble come Labor Day.

Suddenly with his second term in doubt, my guess is he might decide to move up the timetable for bringing our troops home. Hey, whatever it takes.

I don't know about you, but I've had a bellyful of Afghanistan.

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: Afghanistan
Should President Obama have apologized for the inadvertent burning of Qurans?
February 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Should President Obama have apologized for the inadvertent burning of Qurans?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says President Obama's apology over the burning of Qurans in Afghanistan was "the right thing to do." But not everyone agrees.

The president has come under fire for apologizing to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for something Obama calls "inadvertent" and an "error."

The Qurans that were burned were among religious materials seized from an Afghan detainee facility.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says the president's apology "shows weakness." He says that the burning of Qurans was a mistake and that the president of the United States shouldn't apologize for something that was unintentional.

Mitt Romney says that for many people,Obama's apology "sticks in their throat," seeing as we've lost thousands of troops there.

And Newt Gingrich has compared Obama's apology to "surrender." Gingrich said Karzai is the one who should be apologizing for the deaths of U.S. troops.

At least four American troops have been killed in apparent revenge attacks in the past week. Dozens of Afghans have also been killed and hundreds more wounded.

The ongoing violence is why Clinton believes the president is right to try to calm the situation. She said "it is out of hand, and it needs to stop."

Clinton adds that the ongoing criticism of Obama is inflaming the situation in Afghanistan.

Here’s my question to you: Should President Obama have apologized for the inadvertent burning of Qurans?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Muslims • President Bill Clinton
U.S. troops may stay in Afghanistan until 2024. What's the point?
August 22nd, 2011
02:04 PM ET

U.S. troops may stay in Afghanistan until 2024. What's the point?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

U.S. troops may stay in Afghanistan until 2024. That's 10 years later than when the U.S. has said it would hand over security to Kabul.

But the British newspaper "The Daily Telegraph" reports that the two governments are close to signing a deal that would allow thousands of U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan for the long haul.

What for?

The reason we went into Afghanistan – Osama bin laden – is dead. The U.S. economy is collapsing under a mountain of debt. We are either unable and/or unwilling to fix our own financial problems.

So what exactly is the point of dumping billions of additional dollars, not to mention human treasure, into Afghanistan?

According to The Daily Telegraph, this agreement would allow both military trainers and U.S. special forces and air power to remain in Afghanistan until at least 2024. Top officials for both governments reportedly say they want to sign this pact before December.

No surprise that Afghanistan's neighbors – like Iran and Pakistan – are none too happy about the prospect of American troops staying for at least another decade.

It's also likely the Taliban would reject such a deal. They've said all foreign troops must leave Afghanistan before they'll negotiate with Hamid Karzai's government.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops have already begun withdrawing from Afghanistan to meet the 2014 deadline. Earlier this summer – President Obama announced that the 33,000 additional "surge" forces would be home by next fall... and the 2012 election. Back then, Mr. Obama said that it's time to "focus on nation building here at home."

Once the surge forces withdraw from Afghanistan, that would leave about 70,000 U.S. troops.

Here’s my question to you: U.S. troops may stay in Afghanistan until 2024. What's the point?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Afghanistan
June 15th, 2011
04:08 PM ET

How would you feel about the U.S. maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan for decades?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the calls for a quicker U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan get louder in Washington, an interesting story appeared in the British paper, The Guardian. The paper reports that U.S. and Afghan officials are in secret talks over a long-term security partnership between the two nations.

If this is the case, such a deal could put U.S. troops and other special forces and personnel in Afghanistan for decades. The Guardian reports these talks have been under way for more than a month. A U.S. official denies The Guardian report and said there are no plans for a permanent base in Afghanistan. We'll see.

The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is supposed to begin in July. And President Obama is planning to release his plan soon on how many of the more than 100,000 U.S troops in Afghanistan will come home as the withdrawal begins. More than two dozen senators sent a letter to the president today calling for a "sizable and sustained reduction" of military forces in Afghanistan.

The U.S. is involved in four wars right now. Even though the White House - in trying to clear the president of any wrongdoing under the war powers resolution - argues that the U.S. military action in Libya doesn't amount to full-blown "hostilities." But we're spending money on these operations, we're engaging in military action, and we're putting military lives at risk. And we're stretched pretty thin.

Here’s my question to you: How would you feel about the U.S. maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan for decades?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Troop Withdrawals • U.S. Army
May 31st, 2011
05:00 PM ET

When it comes to the war in Afghanistan, how much is enough?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Ferguson/U.S. via Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's coming up on 10 years since we went to war in Afghanistan. The stated purpose at the time was to get Osama bin Laden and the rest of al Qaeda who had attacked us on 9/11. Bin Laden is dead now, and we're still fighting and dying in Afghanistan. The U.S. death toll recently passed 1,500.

In a speech in December 2009, President Obama announced he would begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in July 2011. Well, a year and a half has passed, July is almost here, and Americans are waiting to hear his plan.

And pressure is mounting from some unlikely places. House Democrats are becoming more vocal on Afghanistan, pushing for an accelerated withdrawal plan and, according to Politico.com, asking the president to go after a settlement with "all interested parties" to speed up the process. That includes the Taliban.

Only 37% of military members approve of the job President Obama is doing compared to a 48% job approval from Americans who have not served in the military.

We're still in Iraq. We were told we would be in Libya for a matter of a few days; that was more than two months ago.

Afghanistan has never been conquered. Russia gave up after seven years. And everyone else who has ever tried has eventually been forced to leave with their tails between their legs. The Karzai government is a joke, ineffective and corrupt. The schools in Afghanistan openly teach young children how to hate the United States. The population can't read, but they're taught how to hate our guts.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to the war in Afghanistan, how much is enough?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
December 7th, 2010
04:06 PM ET

Lowest pay raise for military in nearly 50 years?

ALT TEXT
(PHOTO CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As our government plans to extend tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, they're also proposing the lowest pay raise for the military in almost 50 years.

You heard right. As our servicemen and women return to the battlefield for their third or fourth tours of duty, the people who represent us think it's a good time to cut corners there. Extend tax breaks for millionaires and the middle finger for the armed forces.

The Obama administration has proposed a 1.4 percent pay raise for the military in 2011 – the lowest since 1962, when they got no raise.

The administration claims a 1.4 percent raise would match the average for the private sector, and they say it's on top of other increases in housing and food subsidies.

But many in the military aren't buying it. And it's easy to see where they're coming from when rich Americans will be saving billions in tax breaks.

One Marine Corps sergeant who just got back from his fourth deployment in Afghanistan calls it "absolute garbage."

He asks USA Today how the government can bail out the auto industry and other major corporations, yet not give a larger pay raise to those putting their lives on the line for the U.S.

Some senators want to give bonuses to troops doing the most fighting. And an organization representing 32 military groups is pushing for a 1.9 percent pay raise.

It's estimated that an increase from 1.4 to 1.9 percent would cost taxpayers $350 million next year – compare that to the tax break deal which some say will cost $900 billion.

Here’s my question to you: In light of the economy, do members of the military deserve the lowest pay raise in nearly 50 years?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Economy • Iraq • United States Military • US Military • War in Iraq
October 18th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

When it comes to Afghanistan, what, exactly, is the point?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

More than nine years into the war in Afghanistan, there doesn't seem to be a lot that's good to report.

Osama bin Laden (L) and Ayman al-Zawahiri (R).

Osama bin Laden (L) and Ayman al-Zawahiri (R).

From every conceivable angle, things are a mess - starting with the country's attempts at democracy. Officials have now postponed announcing the results of last month's parliamentary elections because of widespread suspected fraud. An election panel spokesman said Monday that about 10 percent of votes have been disqualified because of the suspected fraud.

The New York Times reported that the fraud included everything from stuffing the ballot box to citizens being forced to cast their votes at gunpoint to election officials and security forces working in cahoots with corrupt candidates. Lovely.

On the security front, deadly insurgent attacks on U.S. and coalition troops are rising. It’s the deadliest year of the war for foreign troops, which includes Americans and service members from other nations. A recent U.N. report shows 1,200 Afghan civilians died and 2,000 more were wounded in the first six months of this year.

It's no wonder American support for the war in Afghanistan is at an all-time low. The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll shows 37 percent of those surveyed favor the war. Fifty-two percent say the operation has turned into another Vietnam.

Meanwhile, remember Osama bin Laden?

You know, the reason we're in Afghanistan to begin with? A senior NATO official says bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan. No hiding out in caves for these guys - instead al Qaeda's top leaders are believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and the Pakistani intelligence.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to Afghanistan, what, exactly, is the point?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
October 6th, 2010
05:41 PM ET

Bar people from protesting at funerals?

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Protesters demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court while justices hear oral arguments in the First Amendment case of Snyder v. Phelps. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Supreme Court is deciding a case involving the disgusting behavior of protesting at funerals.

The case focuses on a Baptist Church from Kansas whose anti-gay protests have targeted the funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The church claims the soldiers' deaths are God's revenge for the United States tolerating homosexuality. Members of this church have traveled around the country, showing up at funerals and shouting at grieving family members.

They also display signs with messages like, "Thank God for dead soldiers," "God blew up the troops" and "AIDS cures fags."

The Snyder family sued the church in 2007 after protests at their son's funeral. Their suit claims invasion of privacy and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. A jury awarded them more than $10 million, but that amount was cut in half by a judge and then overturned by an appeals court.

The judges said although the church's message was offensive, the speech was protected.

The soldier's father, Albert Snyder, said his son was not gay and the protesters shouldn't have been at his funeral, calling their actions "inhuman."

The attorneys general of 48 states and the District of Columbia, along with a bipartisan group of 40 senators, support the Snyders. So does common sense.

The church insists it has the right to protest at funerals. It is backed by First Amendment and media groups, which denounce the church's message but defend its free speech rights.

The Supreme Court's decision in this case isn't expected for months.

Here’s my question to you: Should people be barred from protesting at funerals?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • U.S. Army • War in Iraq
August 30th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

CIA making secret payments to members of Afghanistan's govt?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While the U.S. publicly criticizes corruption in the Afghan government... privately the CIA is making secret payments to "multiple members" of President Karzai's administration.

Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai speaks after meeting with U.S. Sen. John Kerry at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on August 20.

Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai speaks after meeting with U.S. Sen. John Kerry at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on August 20.

The Washington Post has an explosive report on these payments, which in some cases have been going on for a long time. They're meant to help the agency keep many allies within the presidential palace... and to provide a flow of information, since Karzai doesn't always know what members of his own government are doing.

These revelations surface at a time when one of Karzai's top national security advisers - also allegedly on the CIA's payroll - is under investigation for corruption, as first reported by the New York Times. Yet, some defend the payments, even if they're going to corrupt officials, saying they help achieve U.S. goals there. As one American official says, "If you want intelligence in a war zone, you're not going to get it from Mother Teresa or Mary Poppins."

The CIA disputes that there are several Afghan officials on the payroll, calling speculation about who can help the U.S. in Afghanistan "dangerous and counterproductive."

President Karzai calls these U.S. media reports "irresponsible allegations" saying they are part of an effort to divert attention away from the fight against terrorism.

Meanwhile - as public support here at home for the war in Afghanistan weakens, the U.S. is trying to show progress there before December - when the White House will re-evaluate its mission. Corruption is one of the biggest problems U.S. officials cite with the Afghan government; but it's tough to be critical if some Afghan officials are being bought by the CIA.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if the CIA is making secret payments to members of the Karzai government in Afghanistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
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