July 16th, 2008
09:03 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Shifting War Strategies

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/16/taliban.copy.jpg caption="Taliban militants hold their weapons"]

Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

Tonight, there are major new developments concerning America’s forgotten war: Afghanistan. Two top Pentagon officials said today they expect to be able to recommend more troop reductions from Iraq this fall and will try to find ways to increase troops in Afghanistan. Those words may sound straightforward – but they mark a major shift in priorities, with serious political implications. Just yesterday, while trading shots with John McCain on Afghanistan, Barack Obama called the war in Iraq a distraction from the war on terror. Today, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff, said: "The enemy in Afghanistan has grown bolder, more sophisticated and more diverse." He cited the attack Sunday by insurgents on a military outpost in eastern Afghanistan that killed nine U.S. soldiers and wounded 15.

Today Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that he’s hoping to send more troops to Afghanistan "sooner rather than later." Does all this mean the Pentagon agrees with Senator Obama’s assessment of Afghanistan? We’ll look at the politics of the shift – and also what it may mean for troops on the ground.

Also tonight, a question as important as it may be uncomfortable: Are Americans really ready for a black president? New poll numbers are a reminder that our country still sees things in black and white. Blacks have voted Democratic for decades while no Democratic presidential nominee has won the white vote since the early ‘70s. Tonight, a close look at the numbers and what they say about voters’ attitudes. What do you think? Is America ready for a black president?

We’ll also continue our investigation of the terror watch list. It’s now one million names long, when you include aliases. Could your name be on it? CNN Chief Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin found his name on it – and that’s not all he found. Do you think the terror watch list is really keeping us safer?

All that and more tonight on 360° at 10p Eastern.

Filed under: The Buzz
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Crystal Wiseman

    I am the wife of a deployed Marine who is fighting in this War on Terror. There are many forgotten regions in this war because of the focus on Iraq. Now we are talking about moving troops out of Iraq and putting more troops in Afghanistan. I wish the government would make up their minds. Making decisions politically is costing this country the lives of the men and women who are fighting for this country. WE NEED TO GET A GRIP! What has this country come to? We need to rethink our strategy on the War on Terror. If we do not, more innocent people will die. I am so fed up with politicians. I just wish that these politicians were in the shoes of the fighting men and women of this country. This war is hard on EVERYONE. We are a nation in trouble and we need to help ourselves before we can help others. This country is the DIVIDED STATES OF AMERICA right now...we need to be the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA just as our forefathers wanted us to be. WAKE UP...THIS IS A NATION IN TROUBLE...IF SOMETHNG DOES NOT CHANGE...GOD HELP US ALL.

    Crystal Wiseman

    July 17, 2008 at 5:30 am |
  2. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Bush might not be the brightest penny in jar, but he knows how dangerous McCain is and how stupid it is that people think his war record makes him qualified to run the country.
    Bush is making all the moves to take the 'terror' element out of this campaign.
    My post of July 3rd Political Ticker >> This was written nearly 2 weeks before yesterDAY's news on Iran, and now add the Obama / Afghanistan policy.
    Isn't it clear Bush is pushing McCain's plank off the ship?
    (Margaret Thatcher was going down to defeat but along came the Falklands War. Why isn't Bush 'manufacturing' Awe and Shock for his 'buddy'?
    July 3rd, 2008 8:17 pm ET
    PT close race
    Bush to attend Olympics ceremonies.
    More easing of World tensions by Bush. It's clear he is pulling the rug out under McCain's major campaign hope. …on the road to detente with North Korea, talks expected with Iran after European talks work out the nuclear issue, peace in Iraq, cell phones in Cuba.
    If he liked McCain, he would be manufacturing some crisis and terror for his buddy.

    July 17, 2008 at 1:52 am |
  3. Lonnie Hammack

    It's ridiculous to think that either President Bush or the Pentagon is listening to Obama or McCain and using that information to determine the Afghanistan strategy. The Bush administration is doing the same thing it has done since the war started. They are paying attention to the events on the ground, listening to the commanders, evaluating the options and responding accordingly. President Bush has shown over and over again that he doesn't allow politics to determine his actions. Right or wrong, he is doing what he believes is right. President Clinton did the same with his military decisions. President Obama or McCain will do the same. Too many Americans think that if someone disagrees with their ideology or politics, that person is evil. They spout off the latest propaganda from their party instead of doing the research and finding the real facts. Major, USAF

    July 17, 2008 at 1:46 am |
  4. AL of Texas

    Obama has been right all along about Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.I appreciate his knowledge of the difference between a strategy (big picture view) versus a tactic (intervention-surge) approach.It just demonstrates to me Obama is very intelligent,thoughtful and smart.I'm thinking he is not as naive as the McCain camp is trying to make him be.We've had 7 years of cowboy antics with Bush and Cheney.From what I'm hearing loud and clear is to elect McCain would be the ongoing saga we're in now.I think Obama has the smarts to get us out of this mess; end this war of choice in Iraq;finally get rid of Bin Laden and his supporters;get rid of the loose nukes,etc.

    I did start out being an Obama fan but now he definitely has my vote and my confidence.

    July 17, 2008 at 1:36 am |
  5. Yvette

    Ding Ding Ding...Someone is finally listening to the soldiers in Afghanistan! My God, it's about time. Hopefully it is not too late. Nothing like an election year to make things happen... so sad!! And will someone finally admit that Sen. Obama has been sending out this message over and over! So who is the expert on this subject again? Thank you Anderson for keeping this important coverage alive. Coverage like this will eventually put the pressure on.

    July 17, 2008 at 1:31 am |
  6. Ms G

    So far on major issues that are touched upon Obama is on, and was on target. Afghanistan was emphasized by Obama in so many of his addresses to the nation. Why all in sudden does everyone know that McCain will not be president., a Dumb person in the White House knows that by association. Why are whites asking the question if Americans are ready for a black president? Has it actually gWhy all in a sudden we are seeing and hearing what Obama has been saying all along. So otten so close to November timing for divide and conquer? Are the powers that be finally realizing that Obama will be president?. We all believe that this is why in the media there are so many negativity and undercurrent of racism and bigotry showing it’s ugly head. We have never had a Black president, so why is the media making the color or race of Obama an issue again and again? Obama and all of us who sees him, or only hear him knows that he’s a black man, talking about him being black will not change the color of his skin. I have been in Iraq for 13 months while in the military I did not express how wrong I felt being there. Many of my family and friends that are still there feel the same. We are just awaiting their safe return. America wake up and lets get this man elected, because “ they” want to twist him inside out and they will only find blood and that color is red not white.

    July 17, 2008 at 12:42 am |
  7. N

    Finally a decent subject matter. Yes more troops is needed in Afghanistan. Could only Obama see that, Why all in sudden the light bulb goes on?

    Get the guys out of Iraq, give them some rest before sending them in to Afghanistan, allow them to see the family members. It's worth the time.

    Obama will always be black no matter how many times the same question is asked about us being ready for a black president.

    A lesson for all in Black 101:

    Born from and inter-racial black and white = B L A C K
    because Whites will never accept you as white and by the way white is just a phrase it is not a color. The most beautiful color is Black the shades of blacks are enormous. Find all the shades of blacks line them up and you have got = OBAMA-08. Like it or not.

    July 17, 2008 at 12:38 am |
  8. leon

    Pretty savy guy Obama is. Bush administration changing its' Iraq surge to Afgan-Pakistan, wonder if their finally listening to a man with a brain....and talking with Iran, a member of the axis of evil, my, my!

    Watch list. Why don't they have hand print terminals at all airports for a live scan of all passengers, then issued a "pass" card to those whose identity is mistakenly on the list... Or is it really political? With the Bush administration still in office, it's probably the latter.

    July 17, 2008 at 12:31 am |
  9. Vicki Marshall

    Since the Taliban is so comfortable in Pakistan it makes me wonder if all the money and equiptment we send to Pakistan is being used against us. If the Taliban is getting more up to date weapons where are they coming from? Iran? Or from what we send to Pakistan?

    It would be a real shame if the weapons and money we are sending to Pakistan is being used to kill our young men and women. I would feel like a murderer if I knew this was a fact. It's our tax dollars at work here.

    July 17, 2008 at 12:18 am |
  10. EJ (USA)

    Hey! I can not believe this!! I am SO happy Anderson is talking about Afghanistan. My husband has been deployed there for 15 months and I can not tell you how many people acted like it was no big deal since “he wasn’t in Iraq” I feel a little better that people are starting realize what our men and women are doing over there. It felt awful to know that the hard work and dedication was going almost completely unnoticed. Please continue to keep Americans informed about the soldiers who fight for the freedom the enjoy daily! Our soldiers deserve to ALWAYS BE remembered!!! Thanks Anderson!!!

    Awe – that was very sweet. See Anderson? There's proof that you are making a difference.

    July 16, 2008 at 11:39 pm |
  11. Eziani Adake

    Mr. Anderson Cooper, thanks for Our Troops. I believed they will win this battle no matter how long it will take.
    We have been in this war against the Taliban since October 2001. Although the Administration is still telling us the remarkable contribution of Afghans and Pakistan governments, questions has been raised about the effectiveness of their cooperation.
    Why can Afghans and Pakistan governments trust US and European troops for using totally their airspace on ground to destroy Al-Qeada and Talibans? I believed both nations can overcome to their sovereign concern by opening their populations mind about the impact of the action of those terrorists group in long run on their life and future generation in term of damage in education, development and their integration to the globalized world.

    July 16, 2008 at 11:37 pm |
  12. Somecthemes

    McCain could've easily claimed a shift to conditions on the ground as a reason to his change on Afghanistan, yet denied any such shift. Why is there a fear of being, even in the face of clear evidence, minutely flexible. There is a faith in this that insist either upon his own deficiencies or on non-public information which belies the truth.

    July 16, 2008 at 11:37 pm |
  13. EJ (USA)

    I am very sorry for your loss Roxane.

    July 16, 2008 at 11:34 pm |
  14. Roxane Langevin

    Yes, Afghanistan is the forgotten war. My son was killed in Afghanistan on 11/9/07 in an ambush attack and 5 others killed and a similar # wounded. Back then... it was raised that more troops were needed. More troops were brought in. Yet another attack occurs and this time 9 more of his buddies are killed and 15 wounded. And, still more troops are needed. Why does it take losses like this for the: 1) acknowledgement of what these soldiers are doing in Afghanistan; 2) acknowledgement of the difficult region they are fighting in; 3) the fact that they are need of continued support and equipment. These guys were due home in 2 weeks and now it's being discussed that they need more help. I could have told you that the day my son died. Thank you Anderson for continuing the coverage of this forgotten war.

    July 16, 2008 at 11:15 pm |
  15. Victor

    Anderson, our men and women are displaying tremendous skill & commitment in the surge no doubt. But from the generals on the ground the success is fragile and can roll back. So the success in Iraq has been complemented with US using tax payers' money to pay/bribe militia and thugs for a cease fire or stay action. For how long do we sustain this ridiculous arrangement? Is McCain unaware of this arrangement or can he look at struggling Americans' eye in all sincerity and say this is not the case? It's a pontential crisis when this arrangement mortgages the dedication and hard work of our soldiers. Iraq govt & people are calling for our withdrawal timeline instead of appreciating efforts & lives lost in the war. Obama is right and we should dedicate our effort where it would be meaningful and appreciated – in Afganistan.

    July 16, 2008 at 10:57 pm |
  16. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Unfortunately, Bush finally looking to Afghanistan has left many dead that didn't have to die in Iraq and Afghanistan. His decision is politically motivated in this election year. We didn't even hold Bin Laden's relatives for questioning after 9/11. McCain continues to fall in the polls and the GOP has to create this hunt for Bin Laden to show they are trying to do something against the real threat in Afghanistan...........should of done this years and years ago Bush........

    July 16, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  17. chris

    What do you think now? Barrack Obama has called for a shift from Irack to afgan war concerns. John Mc Cain ridiculed the idea, calling it wrong headed. Now even Bush is sideing with Obama. Why will the press not give him credit.

    Now Bush will talk with the Irain just what Obama susgested. So they can use his ideas and claim property rights, unless yiu the press points out the hypocritical stance of Pres. G. W. Bush.

    This is not a game inwich you take the other teams ball and run.

    Chris in Canton Ga.

    July 16, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  18. Bradley Sumner

    Canadians have been fighting in Afghanistan for years.

    They are not only fighting, they have lost more men and women for the size of their army than any other country in that region. And they are fighting in the most dangerous part of Afghanistan (Kandahar) , not the least dangerous. It has not been easy and Canada, to many of us who live here, is fighting George Bush's war.; a war that he has completely messed up and that many of us knew he would from the outset.

    I may have missed it on 360 and if I did I apologize, but in the event that I did not you should give credit to the one country, Canada, who is doing the real heavy fighting there.

    This is not all about the U. S. It is now about bailing the U.S out of another war that they cannot win. And it is about failed U.S foreign policy.

    July 16, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  19. Laurien

    Is America going to be a Policeman ?
    David Gergen, can U become a Presidential Advisor again ? You do give a very good and neutral opinion.
    Also, I think we need more Americans understand the foreign culture , religion and understanding, then thru negociation and understanding, the world will have peace otherwise , there is no end of these wars.

    July 16, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  20. bruce falck

    Lets not forget who trained the afghan militants that are behind what is now taking place and where they learned that level of sophistication.

    I just read Charlie Wilson's War and was very interested to learn how the CIA funded the afghan was against the soviets in the 80's. It seemed like the right thing to do but the closing chapter "unintended consequences" is looming ever larger.

    With the CIA and Charlie Wilson arming the militants "to the teeth" to the tune of $1 billion a year this should not be a surprise. The book actually suggests that the escalation is driver of what happened on 9/11.

    Its just strange that with a recent movie staring the likes of Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks there is no mention of this epic story in Anderson's report. Which feels political on some level – why would Anderson not mention this obvious fact?.

    July 16, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  21. Amanda Johnson

    Hey! I can not believe this!! I am SO happy Anderson is talking about Afghanistan. My husband has been deployed there for 15 months and I can not tell you how many people acted like it was no big deal since "he wasn't in Iraq" I feel a little better that people are starting realize what our men and women are doing over there. It felt awful to know that the hard work and dedication was going almost completely unnoticed. Please continue to keep Americans informed about the soldiers who fight for the freedom the enjoy daily! Our soldiers deserve to ALWAYS BE remembered!!! Thanks Anderson!!!

    July 16, 2008 at 10:20 pm |
  22. AA Felman

    Goody!!!!!!! Maybe this time we will find tOsma Bin Laden. If not, sure we can find a whole lot of drugs up in those hills

    July 16, 2008 at 10:18 pm |
  23. Sourav Bandy

    I'm happy that tonight show's discussing the important topic of the War in Afghanistan. It's about time the American public knows exactly what's happening at the ground in the tribal regions of northwestern Pakistan. The Pakistan government has always been given a blank check and little has been done to track down the extremist training camps there. These places are not caves, they are perfectly accessible from major Pakistan cities and I believe the world needs to see more through the lens of CNN cameras there.

    July 16, 2008 at 10:00 pm |
  24. Larry

    Is the pentagon being run by Sen. Obama?

    July 16, 2008 at 9:28 pm |
  25. Annie Kate

    If that list had Nelson Mandela on it and now has Drew Griffin on it, then its not a very good list. Does it keep us safer? Who knows? Only way to know that is to not have it for a while and compare what happens if anything to now and I don't think we want to chance that.

    Looking forward to the look at Afghanistan – its about time we started concentrating on the war on terror that we were originally going to fight before Bush sidetracked us over to Iraq.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 16, 2008 at 9:26 pm |