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Obama’s War in Afghanistan and Pakistan

President Obama’s War in Afghanistan and Pakistan

by Connie Lawn, December 1, 2009


US President Obama outlines his strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan at West Point.
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 12/1/09.

President Obama delivered a powerful and emotional speech about the war at the West Point Military Academy. Millions of soldiers and their families around the world watched with seriousness, pride, and apprehension. They volunteered to serve, and many have faced several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, they expect to leave their families again and return to a dangerous battlefield. Some of those deployed are Mothers, leaving their young children in the care of others. In some cases, both parents are deployed overseas. It is no wonder the soldiers and sailors listened carefully to the President – their lives may depend on his words.

President Obama proposed sending another 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan in the coming months. Eventually, the U.S. total will be 100,000. With NATO and other countries, there will be several thousand more. But, President Obama claims the American forces can draw down in 18 months. After that time, he is counting on the Afghan people to defend themselves. He calls for less corruption and greater responsibility in the Afghan government. And he calls for harder anti terrorism efforts on the part of the Pakistan Government. President Obama reminded the world that Pakistan is a nuclear power, and said terrorists would use the nuclear weapons if they could obtain them.

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President Obama also reminded the world of the horrors of the 9/11 attacks, and discussed other terrorist attacks throughout the world. He said, no one is immune from the radical agenda of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and they must be defeated.

The President touched on the economic crises in this country and throughout the world. He admitted the two wars have cost vast sums, and said continued sacrifices will be expected. By some calculations, the United States has spent a trillion dollars on the eight years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The upcoming buildup will cost billions more.

The money will have to be paid by future generations, who will already inherit a massive debt. Or it will be paid by taxpayers now, if the Congress imposes a special war tax. That is not a popular proposal, but it is gaining ground. With such a tax, the war would be spread out across the nation. At this time, only a segment of the population is really baring the sacrifices involved in the fighting.

At this time, a majority of the public is uneasy about the war. President Obama faces opposition to the buildup from many within his own Democratic party, as well as from many in the Republican Party. Opposition comes from most Liberals, and many Conservatives. They argue America’s security will be enhanced if there is more protection at home; if the borders are strengthened, the infrastructure of the nation improved (including bridges, highways, and railroads). More jobs have to be created, and homeless people returned to houses they once had. And, the nagging problem of health care reform must be fixed. Millions of people in this country lack health care insurance. Hunger is also a growing problem among the unemployed, and thousands are unable to get enough food, shelter, and basic care. With this reality, it is fair to ask whether the billions for this war are essential. Are there not more efficient ways to attack those who want to destroy us, through high technology devices, such as more drones and missiles?

With all these problems, it is a difficult Christmas and New Year Season for most Americans, as well as the rest of the world. President Obama attends the opening of climate talks in Copenhagen, and then accepts the Noble Peace Prize in Oslo. There is an irony to it, in the wake of the major war escalation. But, he argues America’s security is at stake, and says he needs to take these steps.

The young American President believes war will lead to peace. Others have tried the same arguments before. Only time will tell whether he actually earns that Noble Peace Prize.

Connie Lawn, at the White House

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Connie Lawn has a passionate love for NZ. She worked for Radio New Zealand for 20 years, and then for Radio Live for a few years. Connie has covered the White House and the world since 1968. Her other passion is skiing, and she calls herself "the skiing White House reporter." Her ski stories are on dcski.com and other outlets. Connie is also heard on thousands of radio stations, but firmly believes the internet is the future. She can be reached at connie@scoop.co.nz

ENDS

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