What lies ahead

November 25, 2009 1:52:08 PM PST
The holiday may be top of mind for most people, but alas not for me. Because there's this nagging queasiness in my gut about what's going to happen after the country stuffs itself silly tomorrow and then spends the next three days trying to work it off.

President Obama's Thanksgiving Day address will likely thank the troops serving overseas and bemoan the plight of the millions of Americans without jobs and without health care. All important to talk about.

But he's waiting until Tuesday to deliver the bombshell: He'll flood Afghanistan with tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops, bringing the current 68,000 force to nearly 100,000.

He's heading to West Point in New York to make his announcement, and the advance spin is that he has insisted that any troop surge include a precise timetable for when U.S. soldiers can leave Afghanistan. An exit strategy is certainly unique for a U.S. President - and there's everything right about taking time to think about this decision. But history is not on America's side here. No country has ever been victorious - whatever that means - in Afghanistan.

The only people who have "won" in Afghanistan over the years are the warlords, the hoodlums and the poppy farmers. Oh, yeah, also Osama bin Laden.

And even ignoring history, the present poses problems. How in the world do we pay for all this. The cost: $1 million per soldier per year. That's $2,740 a day per soldier.

So, 30,000 soldiers means $30 billion a year - this at a time when the country's economy is still anemic, tens of millions are without jobs, and we have no way to pay for programs except to raise taxes, again.

How do you feel about the Afghanistan plan? We're going to be asking you when the President's announcement Tuesday.

And tonight at 11, on this Thanksgiving eve, we'll have the latest on the President's planned military assault in Afghanistan.

Also at 11, the big holiday getaway - more of a constant leak today. At least so far. Although I'm sure if you're stuck in traffic somewhere you're cursing that line. We're covering the departures, and any snafus, at 11.

And like it or not, the so-called "holiday season" is, beginning tomorrow, officially upon us. We kick it off with a special report from Carolina Leid about a new study by a university professor who analyzed hundreds of letters to Santa from kids. The bottom line: Oh sure kids want gifts and all, but most of them want more time with their parents. Something to ponder.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

One more note: This column will resume on Monday, Nov. 30. Happy Thanksgiving and have a great weekend.