President Obama used his Weekly Address to lay out the U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan. Obama essentially declared the U.S. has reached the objective of decimating Al-Qaeda and preventing them from using Afghanistan as a base of operations.
Charles Krauthammer believes Obama’s redefining of the goal in Afghanistan is a tacit admission that “Surge” ordered by Obama “has failed and we’re leaving.”
Here is video of Charles Krauthammer last night saying President Obama’s redefining of the goals for the War in Afghanistan is essentially “an acknowledgement that the surge has failed, and we’re leaving.”
Over at Powerline, Scott Johnson has posted a final dispatch from one of our brave U.S. Soldiers (Pete Hegseth – founder of Vets for Freedom) serving in Afghanistan. Be sure and go over there to read the entire dispatch, but in it he provides a stark assessment of where Afghanistan may be headed in the months and years ahead:
POWERLINE: . . . Rather than break down my assessment categorically as I did in previous emails, I will instead look at the war through a lens provided by an insurgency expert who visited us this past summer. His name is Gérard Chaliand and the day we spent with him was fascinating. In addition to authoring over 40 books on guerilla warfare, he has also been a participant/observer of over a dozen insurgencies around the world—including Afghanistan in the 1980s, and again during the current conflict. Listening to him was like sitting in a semi-circle around Yoda himself, absorbing the insight and knowledge of a rare specimen.
Mr. Chaliand visits Afghanistan yearly, but said his 2011 trip was his last. When asked why, he said, “Because I know how it will end. The Taliban control the countryside and are growing in support throughout the country by providing an effective underground government structure. The seeds of their return were planted long ago—much before Gen. McChrystal’s 2009 counterinsurgency strategy—and their ascension is now inevitable. International forces started doing the right things at ‘half past eleven’ and now it’s too late.”
While I certainly didn’t share his pessimism then, I’ve come begrudgingly to agree with his assessment today. The Taliban—by mitigating their negatives (brutality, ethnic exclusion, and overt association with al Qaeda) and accentuating their perceived positives (swift justice, longevity, and ideological cohesion)—have gained, and maintained, a psychological grip on the Afghan population. While most Afghans, especially non-Pashtuns, do not want the Taliban to return (“hearts”), they are grappling with—and calculating accordingly—the looming reality that the Taliban will outlast U.S. forces (“minds”) and eventually challenge a weak, corrupt, and fractured Afghan Government for control of the country.
This isn’t to say that we couldn’t achieve a more advantageous outcome for the United States; of course if we got rid of the 2014 withdrawal deadline completely, were truly willing to remove Taliban and Haqqani safe-havens in Pakistan (we know where they are!), and purged the Afghan government of its most corrupt nodes we could “change the game” of this conflict. But for various reasons—be they domestic politics, a nuclear-armed Pakistan (a lesson for Iran, I would suggest), and a trepidation with undermining corrosive “Afghan sovereignty”—it is highly unlikely we will make the hard choices necessary to level the playing field. A bad outcome in Afghanistan isn’t inevitable, but in light of current realities, it is likely. . . . Read More
Reports out of Afghanistan indicate 13 American Troops have been killed by a car bomb attack in Kabul. A Senior U.S. Official said a suicide car bomb attack hit a U.S. convoy. The Taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack.
MSNBC: A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a van into an armored NATO bus Saturday in Kabul, killing 13 American troops and four Afghans, U.S. and Afghan officials said, in the deadliest attack on coalition forces in more than two months.
The explosion, which occurred as the convoy was passing the American University, sparked a fireball and littered the street with shrapnel. Heavy black smoke poured from burning wreckage at the site.
The armored personnel carrier, known as a Rhino, was sandwiched between of a convoy of mine-resistant military vehicles traveling on a four-lane highway frequently used by NATO forces in a southwestern section of the city.
Pentagon spokesman Jim Gregory confirmed to Reuters the 13 service members killed were Americans.
The Afghan Ministry of Interior said three Afghan civilians and one policeman also died in the attack. Eight other Afghans, including two children and four other civilians, were wounded, said Kabir Amiri, head of Kabul hospitals.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack, as well as for another suicide bombing outside a government intelligence office in the northwest province of Kunar. . . . Read More
Here is a video report on the mission conducted by U.S. Special Forces today that ended when their Chinook Helicopter crashed after apparently being hit by a Taliban-fired RPG. CNN reports the Pentagon says they were on a rescue mission to assist U.S. Forces who were pinned down in a firefight. Twenty-two of the Special Forces were Navy SEALs from SEAL Team 6 – the same unit that killed Osama Bin Laden. However, none of the names of those killed today were on the mission that got Bin Laden.
Horrific news all day. Now, Fox News reports via the Associated Press that more than 20 of the Navy SEALs killed in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan – in which 31 Americans died – were from the SEAL Team 6 unit that killed Osama Bin Laden. Some reports indicate there are as many as 300 members of the secretive, elite unit, and whether the SEALs who died were the actual ones involved in the Bin Laden raid itself is not yet known. But it is a grievous blow to our nation. Thank God for the service of these brave Americans, and may He comfort their families:
FOX NEWS: The Associated Press has learned that more than 20 Navy SEALs from the unit that killed Osama bin Laden were among those lost in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
The operators from SEAL Team Six were flown by a crew of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. That’s according to one current and one former U.S. official. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because families are still being notified of the loss of their loved ones. . . .Read More
UPDATE: Fox News just said they have been told by Defense Department Officials that the SEALs killed in the Helicopter Crash were NOT the same soldiers who actually raided Osama Bin Laden’s compound and killed him. They were members of the same SEAL team – SEAL Team 6.
Here is a video report from ABC News on the Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan that has killed 31 American Soldiers. A “senior U.S. military Official” has confirmed to ABC News that 25 of the dead are “U.S. Navy SEALs,” as well as an interpreter and the crew of the Chinook Helicopter. It was reportedly brought down by Taliban fire – likely from a “rocket-propelled grenade” in the southeast part of Wardak Province.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai was the first to state that those killed were U.S. Special Forces. Seven Afghan Commandos also died in the crash.
This is the largest loss of life from a single incident in Afghanistan since the war began nearly 10 years ago.
Terrible news this morning that 31 U.S. Special Forces died in Afghanistan today when their helicopter reportedly crashed during a military operation. Seven Afghan commandos also died:
MSNBC: A NATO helicopter crashed in Afghanistan killing 31 U.S. special-forces troops and 7 Afghan commandos, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday. It was easily the dealiest incident for foreign troops in 10 years of war.
A brief statement from the presidential palace said the helicopter had crashed in central Wardak province, just west of Kabul. The volatile region is known for its strong Taliban presence.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai “shared his deep sorrow and sadness” with U.S. counterpart Barack Obama and the families of the U.S. and Afghan victims, the statement said.
The Taliban claimed to have shot down the troop-carrying Chinook helicopter during a firefight. The Islamist group also said in a statement that eight insurgents had been killed in fighting.
NBC News quoted a Taliban spokesman as claiming the U.S. troops were attacking a compound that was housing militants when the aircraft was brought down. However, the Taliban has been known to make exaggerated claims in the past. . . . Read More
These are our best and bravest. May God comfort and strengthen their families.
Here is video of GOP Rep. Allen West reacting to President Obama’s speech tonight announcing that he will withdraw the 33,000 U.S. Troops from Afghanistan that made up the “surge” of troops that have led to recent success there.
West said that what you saw from Obama tonight was a “highly politicized ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech that was absent of the aircraft carrier and the banner.” Rather than being a military strategy speech, West said this was “more of a campaign speech.”
Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama announced Wednesday night that all of the 33,000 additional U.S. forces he ordered to Afghanistan in December 2009 would be home within the next 15 months.
In a nationally televised address from the East Room of the White House, Obama said 10,000 of the so-called “surge” forces would withdraw by the end of this year, and the other 23,000 would leave Afghanistan by September 2012.
The troop withdrawals will begin next month, as promised when Obama ordered the surge in a speech 18 months ago at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
After the departure of all the surge forces, the total U.S. military deployment in Afghanistan would be just under 70,000 troops.
Here is video of former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations – John Bolton – on Fox News this morning where he said President Obama’s speech tonight announcing the beginning of a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is exactly the wrong thing to do at this time.
Bolton made the point that the only reason Obama is doing it is to fulfill his pledge back in 2009 to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in the summer of 2011. It’s not a result of advice from his military commanders and not related to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan. It is purely a political decision with an eye on the 2012 Election.
Bolton disagrees with Republicans like Jon Huntsman, who jumped into the 2012 GOP Presidential Nomination race yesterday. Huntsman believes the drawdown of troops should be faster than even what Obama is expected to announce: 5,000 troops this year and another 5,000 in the Spring of 2012. Bolton said that recent U.S. success in Afghanistan against the Taliban means the time is now to increase the pressure on them – not let up.
Here is video of Ann Coulter debating Bill O’Reilly tonight on whether the United States should continue the War in Afghanistan.
Coulter does not believe the U.S. should remain in Afghanistan, believing we accomplished all we needed to in the first six months there against the Taliban. O’Reilly argued for the need to continue the fight against The Taliban to keep them from once again consolidating power there.
In her usual unique way of saying things, Coulter said of Afghanistan:
“Unlike most Muslim countries, Afghanistan has never exported terrorism. They just want to be left alone. They’re perfectly happy being poor, ignorant, and having a 30-year life span. They just don’t like foreigners in their country.”
Here is video of Bill O’Reilly interviewing former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a sometimes combative exchange. The two covered a wide-range of subjects, from Libya to Mexico, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Their most combative exchange was over Iraq, where O’Reilly bluntly said the conduct of the aftermath of the initial successful military action was badly managed and handled. O’Reilly argued that Rumsfeld should have anticipated the insurgency that later developed. Rumsfeld countered that anyone who says you can make up a plan before a war and think everything will go as planned is just not dealing with reality. He quoted Gen. Dwight Eisenhower as having said, “Plans are everything; plans are nothing.”
Here is video of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld being interviewed by ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer.
All through the interview, Sawyer is clearly trying to get Rumsfeld to say the Iraq War was a mistake, and that his decisions had “cost lives.” She came at him multiple times, in various ways with those two questions. Rumsfeld firmly held to the view that you cannot go back and second-guess decisions made at an earlier time based on information you did not have then.
At the end of the interview, Sawyer even tried to conflate Rumsfeld and Iraq/Afghanistan with former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and the Vietnam War. McNamara became a darling of the Left in his later years because he said the Vietnam War was wrong and second-guessed himself and the United States on virtually everything that was done. Sawyer even read a quote from McNamara to Rumsefeld, obviously hoping he would say the Iraq War was a mistake and that he was wrong.
Rumsfeld instead said “that’s not the case with Iraq.” He held firmly to the view that the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein, and that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban had to be driven from Afghanistan.
This interview is a perfect example of how the liberal media is really not interested in what someone like Rumsfeld has to say. Sawyer was not asking about what he wrote in his new book. She came to the interview with an agenda, with some things she hoped to get Rumsfeld to say. It’s not the facts she was after. It was a narrative she had already created prior to the interview she hope to get Rumsfeld to agree with in his statements. She did not succeed.