Ann Wright and Paul Kawika Martin
Special to CNN
President Obama just announced he plans to send 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan, where hatred of the U.S. grows every day. Next door, nuclear-armed Pakistan tilts toward disaster. It's time for Americans to insist on a nonmilitary way out of this mess.
We recently returned from a CodePink study trip to Afghanistan, and our expertise and experience points to a strategy of transitioning from military to political and economic solutions that will help Afghans while making Americans safer.
The first step in providing Afghans security and weakening the Taliban and violent extremists is to remove recruiting incentives. It's time to stop air and Predator drone strikes that tend to kill, injure and terrorize civilians. It's time to stop arbitrary detentions and harsh treatment of prisoners that would be unacceptable here.
While those in major cities live in relative security, rural Afghans fear violence from insurgents or U.S. and NATO forces. Many fear civil war or the return of the Taliban. Afghanistan requires more trusted Afghan police and security forces. These forces are paid only $110 dollars a month - not a living wage - and payments are regularly late. Little wonder these forces are corrupt, poorly motivated and have a high rate of desertion. The Taliban pays its foot soldiers far better.
Special to CNN
I'm not an auto mechanic, I'm an Army wife, a mother and - when time permits - a journalist. So when my car needs work, I take it to someone with oil on his hands and years of experience looking under hoods. The same is true for plumbing problems, legal issues and medical care.
I don't assume that I know better than the experts. When necessary, I get a second opinion but, ultimately, I always yield to the advice of those who know more than me.
With that in mind, I am thrilled that President Obama has decided to listen to his experts - the military commanders and strategists - and is committing more troops to Afghanistan.
But as an Army wife at Fort Bragg whose husband has already done three tours of duty in Afghanistan, I can't help but close my eyes, grit my teeth and brace myself for the hard days ahead. As happy as I am that the president has finally made a move after months of deliberating, I know that this announcement is likely bad news for me.
CNN Senior Political Contributor
After months of review, President Obama has made a decision that will not please the base of his party. The majority of Democrats in Congress are opposed to expanding or prolonging the war in Afghanistan. Many Americans share their concern.
This decision to send 30,000 additional troops into combat, which I support, will be second-guessed for the rest of his presidency. And if it doesn't go well, it may cost him his presidency.
For a man who began his campaign as the "anti-war" candidate, this had to be a gut-wrenching decision. Critics will argue President Obama should have learned the lessons of Vietnam and remembered how that war destroyed Lyndon Johnson's presidency .
President Obama was only in elementary school during that period, but many of the leaders in Congress grew up as part of the George McGovern wing of the Democratic Party. The anti-war movement was their introduction to political activism. They are furious that their president is continuing the Bush war effort. Many will call it folly, and some will call it reckless. I call it leadership.
Reporter's Note: President Obama unveiled his plans for Afghanistan last night, to mixed reviews. I, however, have moved on to a different subject in my daily letter to the White House.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
Well, the international markets continue to roil in the wake of news from Dubai that Dubai World (which, I was surprised to learn is not a leisure-wear company…go figure!) is struggling with 60 billion dollars in debt. No doubt this is a matter of some concern to you, what with your efforts to right the economy.
“Rahm, fire off a memo to the United Arab Emirates, stat: ‘Thanks a lot, pals.’”
This is of some concern to me too, however, as now my entire Christmas card motif must be redesigned, since I was going with a “Wishing you the wealth of Dubai this holiday season,” theme. That said, once again I find the news rife with another cheery phrase that seems to have become awfully popular this past year, “too big to fail.” That’s what they are saying of Dubai World.
I don’t know all the ins and outs of the situation, but as best I can tell, if Dubai World collapses the global economy will sink even lower, dogs will start living with cats, the oceans will rise forty feet, and there will never be another Brady Family reunion show.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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