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Ear to the Ground

Obama Expects Three More Years of War

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Posted on Jun 22, 2011
White House / Pete Souza

The word surge implies a certain brevity, but according to President Obama’s withdrawal plans, announced Wednesday, it will end up taking two and a half years from the day the president ordered his Afghanistan surge to bring home those extra 33,000 U.S. troops sent to that country.

U.S. involvement in the war, if everything goes according to the plan, will not end until 2014—no, that isn’t a typo. The longest war in our history isn’t scheduled to end for another three years. That is when “this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security,” Obama said Wednesday.

The president plans to reduce troop levels by just 10,000 by year’s end. Next summer, Obama promises, a full 33,000 servicemen and -women should be home.  —PZS

White House via Huffington Post:

Good evening. Nearly ten years ago, America suffered the worst attack on our shores since Pearl Harbor. This mass murder was planned by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network in Afghanistan, and signaled a new threat to our security – one in which the targets were no longer soldiers on a battlefield, but innocent men, women and children going about their daily lives.

In the days that followed, our nation was united as we struck at al Qaeda and routed the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then, our focus shifted. A second war was launched in Iraq, and we spent enormous blood and treasure to support a new government there. By the time I took office, the war in Afghanistan had entered its seventh year. But al Qaeda’s leaders had escaped into Pakistan and were plotting new attacks, while the Taliban had regrouped and gone on the offensive. Without a new strategy and decisive action, our military commanders warned that we could face a resurgent al Qaeda, and a Taliban taking over large parts of Afghanistan.

For this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made as President, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan. When I announced this surge at West Point, we set clear objectives: to refocus on al Qaeda; reverse the Taliban’s momentum; and train Afghan Security Forces to defend their own country. I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to drawdown our forces this July.

Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. Thanks to our men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan Security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.

We are starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al Qaeda’s leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known. This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11. One soldier summed it up well. “The message,” he said, “is we don’t forget. You will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes.”

The information that we recovered from bin Laden’s compound shows al Qaeda under enormous strain. Bin Laden expressed concern that al Qaeda has been unable to effectively replace senior terrorists that have been killed, and that al Qaeda has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam – thereby draining more widespread support. Al Qaeda remains dangerous, and we must be vigilant against attacks. But we have put al Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.

In Afghanistan, we’ve inflicted serious losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds. Along with our surge, our allies also increased their commitments, which helped stabilize more of the country. Afghan Security Forces have grown by over 100,000 troops, and in some provinces and municipalities we have already begun to transition responsibility for security to the Afghan people. In the face of violence and intimidation, Afghans are fighting and dying for their country, establishing local police forces, opening markets and schools, creating new opportunities for women and girls, and trying to turn the page on decades of war.

Of course, huge challenges remain. This is the beginning – but not the end – of our effort to wind down this war. We will have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we have made, while we drawdown our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government. And next May, in Chicago, we will host a summit with our NATO allies and partners to shape the next phase of this transition.

We do know that peace cannot come to a land that has known so much war without a political settlement. So as we strengthen the Afghan government and Security Forces, America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban. Our position on these talks is clear: they must be led by the Afghan government, and those who want to be a part of a peaceful Afghanistan must break from al Qaeda, abandon violence, and abide by the Afghan Constitution. But, in part because of our military effort, we have reason to believe that progress can be made.

The goal that we seek is achievable, and can be expressed simply: no safe-haven from which al Qaeda or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland, or our allies. We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place. We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely. That is the responsibility of the Afghan government, which must step up its ability to protect its people; and move from an economy shaped by war to one that can sustain a lasting peace. What we can do, and will do, is build a partnership with the Afghan people that endures – one that ensures that we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan government.

Of course, our efforts must also address terrorist safe-havens in Pakistan. No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists, which is why we will continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation in securing a more peaceful future for this war-torn region. We will work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keep its commitments. For there should be no doubt that so long as I am President, the United States will never tolerate a safe-haven for those who aim to kill us: they cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve.

My fellow Americans, this has been a difficult decade for our country. We have learned anew the profound cost of war—a cost that has been paid by the nearly 4500 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq, and the over 1500 who have done so in Afghanistan – men and women who will not live to enjoy the freedom that they defended. Thousands more have been wounded. Some have lost limbs on the field of battle, and others still battle the demons that have followed them home.

Yet tonight, we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding. Fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm’s way. We have ended our combat mission in Iraq, with 100,000 American troops already out of that country. And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance. These long wars will come to a responsible end.

As they do, we must learn their lessons. Already this decade of war has caused many to question the nature of America’s engagement around the world. Some would have America retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security, and embrace an isolation that ignores the very real threats that we face. Others would have America over-extend ourselves, confronting every evil that can be found abroad.

We must chart a more centered course. Like generations before, we must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events. But we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate; as strategic as we are resolute. When threatened, we must respond with force – but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas. When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don’t have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own. Instead, we must rally international action, which we are doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground, but are supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their destiny.

In all that we do, we must remember that what sets America apart is not solely our power – it is the principles upon which our union was founded. We are a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all our citizens. We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others. We stand not for empire, but for self-determination. That is why we have a stake in the democratic aspirations that are now washing across the Arab World. We will support those revolutions with fidelity to our ideals, with the power of our example, and with an unwavering belief that all human beings deserve to live with freedom and dignity.

Above all, we are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens at home. Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource – our people. We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industry, while living within our means. We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy. And most of all, after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war. For our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong no hill is too steep and no horizon is beyond our reach.

America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.

In this effort, we draw inspiration from our fellow Americans who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. To our troops, our veterans and their families, I speak for all Americans when I say that we will keep our sacred trust with you, and provide you with the care, and benefits, and opportunity that you deserve.

I met some of those patriotic Americans at Fort Campbell. A while back, I spoke to the 101st Airborne that has fought to turn the tide in Afghanistan, and to the team that took out Osama bin Laden. Standing in front of a model of bin Laden’s compound, the Navy SEAL who led that effort paid tribute to those who had been lost – brothers and sisters in arms whose names are now written on bases where our troops stand guard overseas, and on headstones in quiet corners of our country where their memory will never be forgotten. This officer - like so many others I have met with on bases, in Baghdad and Bagram, at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital – spoke with humility about how his unit worked together as one – depending on each other, and trusting one another, as a family might do in a time of peril.

That’s a lesson worth remembering – that we are all a part of one American family. Though we have known disagreement and division, we are bound together by the creed that is written into our founding documents, and a conviction that the United States of America is a country that can achieve whatever it sets out to accomplish. Now, let us finish the work at hand. Let us responsibly end these wars, and reclaim the American Dream that is at the center of our story. With confidence in our cause; with faith in our fellow citizens; and with hope in our hearts, let us go about the work of extending the promise of America – for this generation, and the next. May God bless our troops. And may God bless the United States of America.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 23, 2011 at 12:35 pm Link to this comment

Hope and Change! Go Barry!

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By John Poole, June 23, 2011 at 8:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

to: GO RIGHT YOUNG MAN.  Reading Robin Fox’s book on Tribalism might make
you drop the term “Afghan people”.  America’s hubris was in not understanding
how the world works. AND America is just as tribal as Afghanistan. My prediction
that in 100 years the North American continent will not longer be a so called faux
union but about five nations which it should have been. Blame Lincoln for not
understanding that this huge continent was never meant to be on country but
perhaps four or five.

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, June 23, 2011 at 5:49 am Link to this comment

In the 1980’s the world used the Afghan people to fight a battle nearly no one wanted to fight themselves directly.  Japan, Germany, Poland, Britain, Mexico, Australia, Austria, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and, yes, even Israel involved themselves.

In the 1990’s the globe pulled away and turned its collective back to the Afghan people.  The result was disastrous.

The world owes the Afghan people a dept nearly beyond repaying.  Pulling out completely, turning its collective back yet again, would prove horrifically self-serving, myopic, short-sighted and, particularly for woman and girls, inhumane.

-

PBS NewsHour On-Line
Mon. 6/20

“Amid Push for Talks With Taliban, Where Do Rights of Afghan Women Fit In?”

SUMMARY
Three Afghan women, influential figures in politics, business and non-governmental organizations, were in Washington last week meeting with senior members of the Obama administration and Congress on the topic of negotiating peace with the Taliban. Margaret Warner gets their views on the situation in their country.

-

These liberal Afghan woman (Peace Activists) tell Margaret Warner that U.S. soldiers should begin a withdrawal in order to prove U.S. intentions. Yet, simultaneously, they each argue that nobody’s soldiers should leave too quickly.  Not so fast that they each feel “unsafe” from various Taliban. - Apparently these woman fear Taliban types more than NATO or U.S. soldiers.

Yes, they say, soldiers should begin a slow departure.  Then each went on to explain how and why, they believe, the U.S. government and others should stay and remain involved. - An interesting dichotomy.

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By Steve E, June 23, 2011 at 2:26 am Link to this comment

Meanwhile the banksters, the nation’s real enemies and terrorists that have done
the most damage to America, get to walk around freely and continue to gamble
with the country’s future and speculate the shit out of vital commodities because
Barack needs them to finance his dog and pony show for another kick at the cat.

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monkeymind's avatar

By monkeymind, June 23, 2011 at 12:54 am Link to this comment

@Copeland, well stated mate. Seems our boy Obamanation is now the groundhog of Presidential prognosticators. Tonight he climbed out of capital’s borrow long enough to see the pending election shadow and declared, ‘...three more years of war…’ before sliding back underground.

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By monkeymind, June 23, 2011 at 12:53 am Link to this comment

@Copeland, well stated mate. Seems our boy Obamanation is now the groundhog of Presidential prognosticators. Tonight he climbed out of capital’s borrow long enough to see the pending election shadow and declared, ‘...three more years of war…’ before climbing back in the hole.

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Copeland's avatar

By Copeland, June 23, 2011 at 12:14 am Link to this comment

This is one of those pure BS speeches, in which this nation’s alleged and
contradictory goals cancel one another out. It is an Orwellian consummation
and a nest of damned lies. How can anyone bear to hear it or read it? It is both
farce and tragedy at once.

The president starts by reminding us of the meta war on terror, which by design
can never end, and he rolls effortlessly into explaining how we will withdraw
our armies from Afghanistan. He doesn’t tell us that the Taliban and al-Qaeda
are not the same thing. He misleads us with his concern for Afghan women;
who are not doing so good in a country that our military delivered into the
hands of warlords. And he offers the withdrawal of 10,000 like some bauble
being dangled in front of a war weary US public. Listen to the tone of Obama’s
speech; he doesn’t care how weary, and sick of war, the majority of people are
over here.

As long as the mission is to pursue and kill all those who have been marked
enemy in Pakistan, the US army will not leave the Afghans in peace. Neither will
the public, nor any sentiment for our own democracy, bring an end to this
occupation. It will not be agreed to by the generals or the president. Only
catastrophe can compel withdrawal, or a snapping shut of the congressional
purse.

There is so much magical thinking in Obama’s speech, enough to spin a cocoon
of illusion for two empires. Are we really a nation of laws at this stage in the
game? The losses suffered by the Taliban do not impact their strategic situation
in any significant sense; and the reckless killing of civilians by US drone attacks
replenishes their ranks. “We are drawing down from a position of strength”, are
we? This is what Mark Twain would have called “a damned lie”.

The president’s speech is filled with damned lies. There is more mendacity per
paragraph in Obama’s speech than he has heretofore revealed. He finally just
amazes with the sheer banality of it.

Obama says, “We take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receeding”

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By zonth_zonth, June 22, 2011 at 11:19 pm Link to this comment

so in 2 years and roughly 340 days or so, another front will be identified necessary to secure; in an effort related to the ‘war on terror’.  Need to fuel the military industrial complex dont you?

In fact how could it be otherwise as the US is the most powerful country and a neccessary leader of the free world;  isnt it?


Gonna leave with your tail between your legs like the Soviets did?  Well g-dammit do it NOW!!! not in 3 years

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By TAO Walker, June 22, 2011 at 10:26 pm Link to this comment

It is Obama’s corporate sponsors who require, and so demand, and so expect and anticipate avidly “three (or more) more years of war.”  The negative effects, on myriad bottom-lines, of just suddenly ending these profit-centered enterprises, is totally unacceptable to those ‘taking’ the profits.

So the current Oval Office selectee, in his de facto capacity as official “spokesperson” for the perverts who pull his strings, goes on-camera and does his usual bang-up job….for the “global” gang-bangers.

HokaHey!

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By SteveL, June 22, 2011 at 9:59 pm Link to this comment

Just more of hey I am a Democrat President and the liberals will have to swallow what ever I dish out.  If this crap does not fly and Obama is a one term president he only has to remember these kind of announcements and talk to that guy in the mirror about the loss.

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By Wounded and Dangerous, June 22, 2011 at 9:07 pm Link to this comment

It is a sad situation friends. And, the sickness has extended itself here into Canada as well. Stephen Harper, an apparent Zionist lackey and George Bush fan is conducting the war with vigour in Libya. Yes, Canada is actually in charge of the operation.  Need I say more?  Isn’t it all becoming rather obvious by now what is transpiring? We only await the ’ Made in Canada ’ false flag attack and the corresponding ruination of our economy and loss of freedoms. Americans and Canadians truly are brothers in arms. That is our bond friends. You can’t make this kind of stuff up, because it is real and it is not a dream.

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By Steve E, June 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment

So this is all that the liberal and progressive movement has to offer so far, this
pathetic cad Obama and his continual BS?

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By Bones, June 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Scheduled to pass war profiteering to the next President.

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By john from ojai, June 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

People in this country are going hungry while Obama and most of our corporate controlled politicians throw away our tax dollars on the military. Obama expands our military presence in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Libya while our infrastructure crumbles, home bankruptcies increase, and people are dying from a lack of health care. Sounds like a reasonable definition of insanity.

Time for publicly funded elections and a break up of the conglomerate media. Time to consider some intelligent and wise politicians like Kucinich and Nader. I’d even settle for Paul as a way to stop these insane wars.

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By California Ray, June 22, 2011 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

So this ruinous war will last another two-and-a-half years. That’s a godsend. By then, because of dwindling financial resources, we should be able to drag the U.S. military empire into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.

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By RayLan, June 22, 2011 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

Why does this corrupt ass think that a surge is going to be necessary or effective after all this time? He mocks the American people.

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monkeymind's avatar

By monkeymind, June 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm Link to this comment

What is even more spectacular is the comprehensive jobs and education package being prepared to greet our returning heroes. Right after the ticker parades each returning vet will be whisked away to the vacation of their dreams where they will reunite with loved ones, spend some time re-acclimating to America and choose which of the foreclosed and empty homes they will be given a fair and reasonable mortgage, at zero down, to. Then our trained career counselors, each of them once unemployed but now retrained, will guide our welcomed soldiers through the process of finding gainful employment in the green, swords to plowshares industries, springing up all over the US thanks to the unprecedented corporate / wealth capital reallocation measure boldly proposed by a joint Democrat and Republican leadership.

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By the worm, June 22, 2011 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment

Obama on the four major issues of his Presidency:

1. TARP & Financial Bailout: Over 70% of us opposed the bailout. Obama ?
accelerat­ed it with Geithner and Bernanke - both Bush carryovers embraced by
Obama.

2 . Health Care: 72% of us supported “a government­administered insurance
plan - something like Medicare for those under 65—that would compete for
customers with private insurers.” Supporting Max Baucus, Obama blocked
hearings on single payer and chocked off true health care reform.

3. The Debt and Fair Taxes: Washington Post-ABC poll Washington Post-ABC ?
poll, Spring 2011: 72 percent support raising taxes on the rich including 68 ?
percent of Independents and 54 percent of Republicans. Obama twice ?
‘bargained’ to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

4. Afghanistan: 64% of us opposed expanding the war in Afghanistan and
wanted to disentangle from Bush-era ‘War on Terror’ and ‘preventive war’ ?
policies. Today, over 70% of Americans oppose the war. Obama continues it.

War is good for generals, good for mercenaries and good for ‘defense’
industries. Obama likes them, but leaves American taxpayers holding the bill.

Debt is good for banks when the taxpayer covers your loses. Obama fixed the
banks & financial industry, but left the American worker without jobs, with
declining pensions, with lower home values, with fewer services and is now
about to cut services and cut pensions again.

Health insurers are guaranteed 20% overhead under Obama’s reform. American
taxpayers are guaranteed fines, if they dont buy insurance.

Favorable tax rates for the wealthy and corporations have already been
extended twice by Obama. Obama has appointed GE CEO to head a White House
Commission on taxes and the deficit. GE paid no taxes and received tax payer
bailouts. The American taxpayers subsidized GE with their tax money, and now
Obama brings in the GE CEO to ‘advise’ on taxes and the deficit. Cut the deficit?
Start with no subsidies to Obama’s favorite corporations.

Please, this administration is a farce.

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