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July 19th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Is the war in Afghanistan really worth it?

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U.S. troops carry a wounded Afghan National Army soldier to a U.S. Army MEDEVAC helicopter in Qandahar, Afghanistan. (PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Nearly nine years into the war in Afghanistan... and it seems there are more questions than ever about what exactly the U.S. is doing over there.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Afghanistan to lead the American delegation to the Kabul Conference.

The Afghan government is supposed to talk at this international meeting about how it will tackle a deteriorating security situation and crack down on corruption.

But even as the U.S. has added tens of thousands of troops to Afghanistan - last month was the deadliest since the start of the war for international forces. 103 coalition troops were killed, and militants keep attacking every day.

The Obama administration says it will review its Afghan strategy later this year; but there are growing concerns from all corners about where we're headed.

Democratic Senator John Kerry says it's not clear the administration has a solid strategy; and Republican Senator Richard Lugar is criticizing "a lack of clarity" about U.S. goals in Afghanistan. Even the administration's point man for Afghanistan and Pakistan - Richard Holbrooke - acknowledges things are not working out as planned.

Meanwhile a record number of U.S. soldiers killed themselves last month. The Army says 32 soldiers committed suicide in June - the highest in any month since the Vietnam War. Seven of those soldiers were on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army officials say they're not sure what's behind the spike in suicides.

The U.S. is approaching insolvency, yet we continue to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into a nine-year-old war, and no one seems to have a real good explanation of why we continue.

Here’s my question to you: Is the war in Afghanistan really worth it?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
June 29th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Is success possible in Afghanistan?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The spotlight is back on the war in Afghanistan. Big time.

In the wake of the very public dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal and renewed talk of a withdrawal date - there's lots of debate over what is now this country's longest war.

And it isn't pretty.

As the U.S. continues to escalate troop levels, top officials are warning of a long road ahead.

CIA Director Leon Panetta says the Afghanistan war has "serious problems." He says progress is being made, but the fight is harder and slower than anyone anticipated. Panetta cites problems with the government, corruption, drug trafficking and the Taliban insurgency.

Speaking of corruption, The Wall Street Journal reports American investigators believe top Afghan officials have been flying more than $3 billion in U.S. aid and drug money to financial havens for 3 years.

That would be our tax dollars.

The Journal says President Hamid Karzai's brother, long suspected of being deeply involved in Afghanistan's drug trade, is one of the officials in question. What are we doing?

President Obama has said U.S. troops would start pulling out in July 2011... although he seems to be hedging on that lately.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is warning the U.S. exit strategy "provides a mechanism for failure." He says the public needs to be prepared for a long struggle.

Here’s my question to you: Is success possible in Afghanistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
June 23rd, 2010
04:00 PM ET

How does McChrystal episode affect confidence in Afghanistan war?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Sometimes timing is everything… and when it comes to the war in Afghanistan the timing of the departure of General Stanley McChrystal is awful.

The U.S. is in the midst of escalating the nine year old war in an effort to defeat the spreading power of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

This surge of tens of thousands of U.S. troops was pretty much McChrystal's plan - and he had close ties with leaders in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

Also - summer in Afghanistan is usually a time of heavy fighting and allied forces are on the eve of the Kandahar offensive. This month is on track to become the deadliest month for NATO troops since the start of the war in 2001.

But the president decided that McChrystal had to go. and on one level, you can't argue with him.

McChrystal's job was to implement the president's war plan on the battlefield. But he and his inner circle found it appropriate to trash top administration officials and make destructive personal attacks to a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine.

Just imagine what our enemies must think - not to mention families of the thousands of brave troops fighting in Afghanistan.

It put Pres. Obama in a very tough spot - he risked looking weak if he didn't fire the general... and now he could be accused of undermining his own strategy in Afghanistan by cutting loose the guy he put in charge at such a key moment.

Even before this incident - only 42 percent of Americans said they favor the war in Afghanistan - that's down six points since March. 56 percent oppose it.

Here’s my question to you: How does the McChrystal episode affect Americans' confidence in the Afghanistan war?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • U.S. Army
June 8th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Afghanistan war = America's longest. Worth it?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The U.S. war in Afghanistan by some counts is now the longest war in American history.

It's been 104 months since October 2001 and the start of a hugely popular mission in the aftermath of 9/11.

That's longer than World War II. And that's longer than Vietnam - it was 103 months from the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution to the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops there.

It's worth noting some insist that Vietnam is still the longer war; that American servicemen were taking casualties there as early as 1961 - long before the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.

At first, Afghanistan seemed like a cake walk. Within months, the U.S. had driven the Taliban from the capital city of Kabul. And Kandahar, the headquarters of the terrorist group, was in U.S. sights. In fact, on the one-year anniversary - then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said: "The Taliban are gone. The Al Qaeda are gone."

But instead of finishing the job in Afghanistan we invaded Iraq and now nine years later the Taliban seem more dangerous than ever. President Obama recently ordered an additional 30,000 U.S. troops into the war in Afghanistan.

Of course, sadly, that means the deaths of U.S. service members continue... recently passing the 1,000 mark. Yesterday was the deadliest day for coalition forces in Afghanistan this year.

But warfare has changed a lot, and the military death toll in Afghanistan is nowhere near the 58,000 U.S. troops lost in Vietnam or the 400,000 who lost their lives in World War II.

Here’s my question to you: Technically the war in Afghanistan is now America's longest. Has it been worth it?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
April 6th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

U.S. policy when it comes to Afghanistan?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With friends like Hamid Karzai, who needs enemies?

Here's what America's alleged ally - the president of Afghanistan - has been up to lately...

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (R) speaks with visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad moments before a joint press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul on March 10, 2010.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (R) speaks with visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad moments before a joint press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul on March 10, 2010.
  • First - he invited Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to hang out with him in Kabul
  • Then Karzai blamed the fraud in Afghanistan's elections on foreigners who he says wanted a "puppet government" in his country.
  • This past weekend, Karzai reportedly threatened to quit the political process and join the Taliban if he kept coming under "foreign pressure" to reform
  • Lastly - our good friend told a group of tribal leaders that the U.S.-led alliance won't move against Taliban fighters in Kandahar quote "until you say we can."

Enough already - the United States has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into Afghanistan - propping up Karzai's government - since the 2001 invasion... not to mention American lives. For what?

Tom Friedman recently wrote in his New York Times column when you can steal an election - like Karzai did - you can steal anything. He asks how the U.S. can rebuild Afghanistan while relying on a corrupt partner like Karzai.

Friedman worries that "once we clear, hold and build Afghanistan for him, Karzai is going to break our hearts." If that happens, it won't be the first heart to be broken in that cesspool of a civilization.

Meanwhile this afternoon, the White House indicated it may have finally had enough... saying it could cancel Karzai's upcoming U.S. visit if he keeps making "troubling and untruthful remarks."

Here’s my question to you: What should U.S. policy be when it comes to Afghanistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
December 7th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Do you believe Obama will begin Afghan pullout in 2011?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President said in last week's speech that he will send 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan - but also set July 2011 as a target for starting to withdraw forces.

But you'd never know it listening to some of his top assistants over the weekend.

A lot of people didn't like that the president set a timeline for withdrawal. Republicans suggested setting a withdrawal date 18 months out would allow the Taliban and other enemies to just wait us out. Also - Afghan and Pakistani officials are worried the U.S. will leave too quickly.

So here's what we got over the weekend:

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: quote "we are not talking about an exit strategy and a drop-dead deadline".
  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates: "there isn't a deadline"... and only a "handful" or "small number" of troops might start withdrawing in July 2011... conditions permitting
  • National Security Adviser General James Jones says the July 2011 withdrawal date is quote "not a cliff, it's a ramp" for the beginning of turning over to Afghan Forces... Jones adds the U.S. would be in the region "for a long time"
  • And head of U.S. Central Command, General David Petraeus - says the president's strategy "doesn't trigger a rush to the exits"

That should clear things up.

Meanwhile - Afghan President Hamid Karzai is asking for patience... saying that his country's military might not be ready in 18 months to take over responsibility.

Here’s my question to you: President Obama said the U.S. would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July 2011. Do you believe him?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • President Barack Obama
December 2nd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

How optimistic are you about success in Afghanistan?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to Afghanistan, President Obama better be right. After months of meetings and criticism that he was "dithering" and "weak" on Afghanistan - he finally made what may be the most important decision of his presidency.

President Obama spoke at West Point last night. He laid out his plan for an increase of 30,000 troops in efforts to eventually begin to transition U.S. forces out of Afghanistan starting in July 2011.

President Obama spoke at West Point last night. He laid out his plan for an increase of 30,000 troops in efforts to eventually begin to transition U.S. forces out of Afghanistan starting in July 2011.

But the announcement to deploy 30,000 additional troops is cloaked in contradiction. We're going to rush more troops in so we can begin to rush them out in 18 months. The Taliban and al Qaeda will probably make a note of this timetable.

You don't suppose the decision to withdraw in July of 2011 would have anything to do with the President's 2012 re-election campaign do you?

There was no mention of how we're going to pay for this. The 30,000 additional troops will cost an additional $30 billion in the first year.

Where's that money going to come from? Some Democrats are calling for a so-called "war surtax." But With a fragile U.S. economy, an unemployment rate topping 10-percent, and a costly health care reform plan on the table - there may not be much appetite for that.

Meanwhile - a new USA Today/Gallup poll suggests the American public has just about gotten its belly full of Afghanistan. Only 35-percent approve of what President Obama is doing there. That's down from 49-percent in September and 56-percent in July. 55-percent disapprove… not the kind of numbers that are likely to lead to a second term. Can you spell Vietnam?

Here’s my question to you: How optimistic are you about success in Afghanistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
November 23rd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Should the wealthy pay more taxes to send more troops to Afghanistan?

Should the wealthiest Americans pay more taxes to send more troops to Afghanistan?

Should the wealthiest Americans pay more taxes to send more troops to Afghanistan?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Some top Democrats think the wealthy should have to pony up more taxes in order to pay for a troop increase in Afghanistan.

Democrat Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says people earning more than $200,000 or $250,000 a year should pay an "additional income tax."

Levin says richer Americans have done "incredibly well,” and that it's important to pay for a troop surge instead of increasing the federal debt.

Democratic Rep. David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, also says
he favors a so-called "war surtax."

Obey says that people making $400,000 or $500,000 per year should be asked to pay as much as 5 percent of their incomes, while lower earners might pay a smaller amount - down to 1 percent.

Obey says if we don't increase taxes, the war in Afghanistan will "bleed every dollar in the budget away from any other initiative." Unless of course the government cut spending elsewhere. Hah!

First they wanted to tax the rich to pay for health care reform. Now they want to do it to pay for more troops for war. This administration also plans to increase the top income tax rate. Pretty soon the rich won't be.

The White House suggests it could cost as much as 40 billion dollars per year to send 40,000 additional troops into Afghanistan. President Obama is expected to announce his decision in the next few weeks. He will meet with his national security team tonight - again.

Here’s my question to you: Should additional taxes be levied against wealthy Americans to pay for more troops in Afghanistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?
FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Taxes
November 16th, 2009
02:32 PM ET

Tired of waiting for Pres. Obama to decide on Afghanistan?

U.S. army in Afghanistan.

U.S. army in Afghanistan.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Still no decision from Pres. Obama on Afghanistan, despite eight formal meetings that have consumed more than 20 hours.

A lot of people are asking what's taking the president so long. His own press corps used the first question on his Asia trip to ask "what piece of information" he's still waiting for to make the call on this war, now in its ninth year.

The president got a little testy and said the people involved in Afghanistan "recognize the gravity of the situation and recognize the importance of us getting this right." He says the decision will come "soon."

The issue is making the president look weak and indecisive. Former V.P. Cheney has accused Pres. Obama of "dithering”. Mitt Romney says Mr. Obama "can't make up his mind".

Meanwhile, with record violence in Afghanistan, the Army says morale among the troops has fallen... with a lot of soldiers struggling with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. There is a shortage of mental health workers; there were only 43 in Afghanistan at the time of the Army survey.

And most sadly, the Army says the number of suicides among active-duty troops is on track to reach a new high this year.

Is all of this lost on the Commander in Chief?

Here's the question: When it comes to Afghanistan, are you tired of waiting for a decision from President Obama?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?
FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
November 10th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

White House vs. CBS on Afghanistan troop increase?

Call it CBS News versus the White House.

CBS reports that President Obama intends to give General Stanley McChrystal most - if not all - of the 40,000 troops he's asking for in Afghanistan. They say the president has tentatively decided to send four combat brigades plus thousands of more support troops.

General Stanley McChrystal is the U.S. Military commander in Afghanistan.

General Stanley McChrystal is the U.S. Military commander in Afghanistan.

According to CBS, the troop buildup would last for about four years - until the Afghan military doubles in size. This surge would mean the number of U.S. troops would grow from the current 68,000 to about 100,000 by the end of the president's first term.

But the White House insists the CBS story is false. They call reports that the president has made a decision about Afghanistan "absolutely false." They say Mr. Obama still hasn't received or reviewed "final options" with his national security team.

So - who's telling the truth here? It comes down to the word of the Obama White House against the network of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.

Of course... CBS News also saw Dan Rather step down in 2005 after apologizing for a report that questioned President George W. Bush's National Guard service. Rather said the report was based on false documents.

Meanwhile the Associated Press seems to support the CBS story, saying President Obama is nearing a decision to add tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan - but not the 40,000 that McChrystal wants.

Some officials dub that likely troop increase McChrystal Light since it would fall short of the general's request.

Here’s my question to you: CBS News says nearly 40,000 additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan. The White House says the story is false. Whom do you believe?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • US Military • White House
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