Obama's Afghanistan troop decision

November 30, 2009 12:57:40 PM PST
We've been mired in war in Afghanistan for the past eight years. And we're about to send 30,000 more troops into that country's muck. President Obama's decision - officially unveiled tomorrow - has been thought out and looked at from all sides, and it took into account the good, the bad and the ugly.

Whether it's the right decision is a different matter all together.

There are many people who argued to the president that pumping up troop levels in Afghanistan would be a quagmire waiting to happen. Others argued that to abandon Afghanistan would be to leave it to the Taliban and warlords and poppy growers.

Mr. Obama reportedly will make it clear that he wants a timetable and an exit strategy - something his predecessor did not have or even publicly discuss when he marched into Iraq nearly seven years ago.

For the country's sake, let's hope this works. It's an expensive venture, spending $1 million per soldier per year. Oh how we could use $30 billion to pump up the economy, create jobs, find a cure for Alzheimer's - anything other than on war.

The president will make his presentation tomorrow at West Point. And not by coincidence, the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services this afternoon added a hearing on Afghanistan. Scheduled to appear: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Bob Gates.

We'll preview the president's plan tonight at 11. And if you or your family have been personally impacted by the war in Afghanistan and would like to go on camera to discuss the plan, Eyewitness News is interested in talking to you. CLICK HERE and tell us your story.

I suppose it says much about this country that, as we prepare to escalate a war, we are focused so intently on Tiger Woods' apparent domestic troubles and the minor car accident that apparently resulted.

The conventional wisdom is that Mr. Woods - arguably the most successful and popular athlete in the world - has done himself few favors by being so closed mouth. He hasn't even talked to the local police about the one-car accident just outside his home near Orlando, Florida.

But in this 24-hour media frenzied world, would talking about what happened really put a lid on it? I'm not sure it would, but I'm also not sure that, given Woods' popularity and given the possibly tawdry nature of what figures to be exposed here, it's helping him by not addressing the truth.

Whatever course he takes, this Woods story is news; this afternoon he announced he would not be playing in the California golf tournament he was supposed to headline beginning tomorrow. Proceeds of the event will go to his charity foundation - so this also is a big deal. We'll have the latest, tonight at 11.

And far be it from me to pile on in the non-stop trashing of Sarah Palin's book, "Going Rogue." But the Huffington Post has a gem of a critique in one of her passages. She quotes the great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden as saying:

"Our land is everything to us...I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember our grandfathers paid for it--with their lives."

A great quote - just one problem, the Huffington Post notes: John Wooden didn't say it. John Wooden Legs did. The Native American activist wrote an essay titled "Back on the War Ponies," as part of an anthology that took a more leftist view of American history.

And the full quote was: "Our land is everything to us. It is the only place in the world where Cheyennes talk the Cheyenne language to each other. It is the only place where Cheyennes remember the same things together. I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember our grandfathers paid for it--with their life. My people and the Sioux defeated General Custer at the Little Big Horn."

Hard to imagine that John Wooden the basketball coach would have said that. I remember that Coach Wooden was mad at his star center, Bill Walton, for protesting against the war in Vietnam. So it's not likely that same coach would have been talking about how his grandfathers died for his people's land.

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

BILL RITTER


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