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March 19th, 2009
10:50 AM ET

Our must-win war

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/26/us.troops.poll/art.soldiers.afghanistan.gi.jpg]
John McCain and Joseph Lieberman
The Washington Post

Later this month, the Obama administration will unveil a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. This comes as most important indicators in Afghanistan are pointing in the wrong direction. President Obama's decision last month to deploy an additional 17,000 U.S. troops was an important step in the right direction, but a comprehensive overhaul of our war plan is needed, and quickly.

As the administration finalizes its policy review, we are troubled by calls in some quarters for the president to adopt a "minimalist" approach toward Afghanistan. Supporters of this course caution that the American people are tired of war and that an ambitious, long-term commitment to Afghanistan may be politically unfeasible. They warn that Afghanistan has always been a "graveyard of empires" and has never been governable. Instead, they suggest, we can protect our vital national interests in Afghanistan even while lowering our objectives and accepting more "realistic" goals there - for instance, by scaling back our long-term commitment to helping the Afghan people build a better future in favor of a short-term focus on fighting terrorists.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • John McCain • War on Terror
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Tony Antonucci

    Eight years and no appreciable progress. I believe we are more than due to consider other options. Allowing Bin Laden to escape was a major, forcible, error. Failure to address the economics of Afghanistan was another major, forcible, error. I find it interesting that McCain and Lieberman are now behind the "right course". Eight years!

    March 19, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  2. Padma Poori, California

    Lisa in CA has it right on the mark.! No one can put it in better words.
    Where were McCain & Lieberman putting any approach to the 'wrong war' in Iraq?
    First Bush_McCain_Lieberman were backing the wrong war, any anyone who opposed the action was branded un-American then they finally heeded then outcry and sent a surge to correct the original screwup they rallied as if the surge was the result of the original reason for going to war.
    If they had stuck it out in Afganistan and fought the right war, but wait Bush-Cheney and the war industrial complex lobby wanted to profit, can't be done in Afanistan too much transparenecy so they changed the war site to match the profits.

    March 19, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  3. Lisa in CA

    I'd be concerned about the "minimalist" approach, too. We've seen how well it worked under the Bush administration. Maybe if we hadn't reduced our presence in Afghanistan and continued with our initial goal of locating and bringing OBL to justice, we wouldn't have to worry about the status in either Afghanistan or Iraq.

    Hindsight is always 20/20.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  4. Paul Ernest Show

    Yes, John and Joseph, the minmalist approach is just what we should be doing. Scale down our military engagement, try lots of diplomacy, but ensure the Taliban does not return. At what point are we going to claim we have won the war? What we are doing now is policing Afganistan, and dealing with pockets of resistance. These resistances will go on foreover. There is always an opposition group in every country, and sometimes they arm themselves. The present govt should be trained to be equal to the task of policing their country and let our troops come home. I am a veteran and know fatique.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  5. Michael "C" Lorton, VA

    What are we trying to prove in the "graveyard of empires?" In the end--it will still be a graveyard-–adding more "plots" want change it.

    March 19, 2009 at 2:04 pm |