Obama's war

December 2, 2009 1:12:33 PM PST
So what now? Now that President Obama has taken ownership of the eight-year-old war in Afghanistan?

The way he structured his speech last night, sending in 30,000 additional troops - to bring the U.S. troop total to 100,000 or so - was the least ugly of all the unattractive alternatives.

He slammed his predecessors a couple of times - making it clear that the country lost its way after the initial invasion of Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. The world supported the war, as the U.S. tried to root out Al Qaeda and the Taliban. And it was successful; it took just a few weeks before the Taliban folded.

Osama bin Laden managed to escape the onslaught. How he did that seems beyond any logical explanation other than he had support from folks in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pres. Obama made it clear that we as a country - meaning his predecessor -- lost focus in Afghanistan, choosing instead to invade Iraq, which had nothing to do with Al Qaeda until after our actions gave them an organizing foothold in that country.

That was the backdrop for the President's speech, and his four-month decision-making process. Mr. Obama got more than a little flak from the right-wing for taking his time about this surge. The conservative cable TV commentators called him "dithering."

They didn't call George W. Bush "dithering" when he took four months to make up his mind on the surge in Iraq nearly two years ago.

The Commander-In-Chief had better take his time making a decision like this. More Americans will certainly die in this surge. That's what folks for and against the troop buildup said in Congress today during hearings that brought in Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Gates.

ABC News' investigative reporter Brian Ross today reminds us what Pres. Obama said earlier this fall - that there are fewer than 100 Al Qaeda fighters left in Afghanistan. Most are now in Pakistan, which is where many of those who opposed the Afghanistan surge said the U.S. should focus its military efforts.

The cost for the extra troops will be $30 billion a year - money that could be used for a host of other things to help the country come out of the recession, according to New York's U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

Schumer and other Democrats are more opposed to this surge than Republicans are. And it's strange bedfellows indeed, with Republicans generally favoring the surge, although opposing the exit strategy timetable.

We'll have the latest on the President's Afghanistan plan, tonight at 11. And we'd like to know what you think about it. Send me your thoughts, by CLICKING HERE. We'll post some of your comments.

One of the conservatives who's critical of Pres. Obama is former Vice President Dick Cheney. But deep down he must be smiling tonight, as his concept of separation of powers and executive privilege seems to have taken over the Obama White House. Social Secretary Desiree Rogers was asked to testify to Congress over the so-called White House crasher couple who got into the State Dinner last week, without an invitation.

Today, the White House said that because Ms. Rogers was an assistant to the President, she would not testify.

Say what? Since when does that give anyone a get-out-of-jail-free-card? How many Clinton staffers - some with that title - testified to Congress last decade?

What a turn of events. The focus on that crashing couple initially dealt with their foolishness (they are trying to get a reality TV show with BRAVO), but their antic has exposed problems at the White House: breaches of security, and breaches of judgment. Who would have thought there'd be a showdown over a social secretary testifying to Congress?

Also at 11, the stunning defeat for same-sex marriage in New York State. The State Senate - which took up the vote, according to conventional wisdom, because it would pass - overwhelmingly defeated legalizing same-sex marriages. The vote was 24 in favor, 38 against. Not even close.

It was also another stunning defeat for Gov. Paterson, who wanted this vote, and wanted it passed.

We'll have reaction from gay and lesbian couples tonight at 11.

And weather will also be a factor tonight. Meteorologist Lee Goldberg tells to expect rain and high winds and coastal flooding. Again. The storm arrives late tonight, and stays until the early morning commute. Lee's tracking the storm for us.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus 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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