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Thread: Presidential Address from Afghanistan

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  1. #1
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    Presidential Address from Afghanistan

    I was surprised this morning to not see any discussion of last night's address from Bagram Air Base about the long-term strategy to extract our troops from Afghanistan. I'm sure that anything the President says will be reviled by many on these boards, but it seemed to be an extremely centrist proposal.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and...ar-afghanistan
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    Transcript

    The White House, Office of the Press Secretary
    For Immediate Release May 01, 2012 - Remarks by President Obama in Address to the Nation from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan

    THE PRESIDENT: Good evening from Bagram Air Base. This outpost is more than 7,000 miles from home, but for over a decade it's been close to our hearts. Because here, in Afghanistan, more than half a million of our sons and daughters have sacrificed to protect our country.

    Today, I signed a historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines a new kind of relationship between our countries -- a future in which Afghans are responsible for the security of their nation, and we build an equal partnership between two sovereign states; a future in which war ends, and a new chapter begins.

    Tonight, I'd like to speak to you about this transition. But first, let us remember why we came here. It was here, in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden established a safe haven for his terrorist organization. It was here, in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda brought new recruits, trained them, and plotted acts of terror. It was here, from within these borders, that al Qaeda launched the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children.

    And so, 10 years ago, the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al Qaeda could never again use this country to launch attacks against us. Despite initial success, for a number of reasons, this war has taken longer than most anticipated. In 2002, bin Laden and his lieutenants escaped across the border and established safe haven in Pakistan. America spent nearly eight years fighting a different war in Iraq. And al Qaeda’s extremist allies within the Taliban have waged a brutal insurgency.

    But over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan security forces. We devastated al Qaeda’s leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set -- to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild -- is now within our reach.

    Still, there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over. But tonight, I’d like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan.

    First, we've begun a transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Already, nearly half of the Afghan people live in places where Afghan security forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.

    As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more and more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.

    Second, we are training Afghan security forces to get the job done. Those forces have surged, and will peak at 352,000 this year. The Afghans will sustain that level for three years, and then reduce the size of their military. And in Chicago, we will endorse a proposal to support a strong and sustainable long-term Afghan force.

    Third, we’re building an enduring partnership. The agreement we signed today sends a clear message to the Afghan people: As you stand up, you will not stand alone. It establishes the basis for our cooperation over the next decade, including shared commitments to combat terrorism and strengthen democratic institutions. It supports Afghan efforts to advance development and dignity for their people. And it includes Afghan commitments to transparency and accountability, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans -- men and women, boys and girls.

    Within this framework, we’ll work with the Afghans to determine what support they need to accomplish two narrow security missions beyond 2014 -- counter-terrorism and continued training. But we will not build permanent bases in this country, nor will we be patrolling its cities and mountains. That will be the job of the Afghan people.

    Fourth, we’re pursuing a negotiated peace. In coordination with the Afghan government, my administration has been in direct discussions with the Taliban. We’ve made it clear that they can be a part of this future if they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence and abide by Afghan laws. Many members of the Taliban -- from foot soldiers to leaders -- have indicated an interest in reconciliation. The path to peace is now set before them. Those who refuse to walk it will face strong Afghan security forces, backed by the United States and our allies.

    Fifth, we are building a global consensus to support peace and stability in South Asia. In Chicago, the international community will express support for this plan and for Afghanistan’s future. And I have made it clear to its neighbor -- Pakistan -- that it can and should be an equal partner in this process in a way that respects Pakistan’s sovereignty, interests and democratic institutions. In pursuit of a durable peace, America has no designs beyond an end to al Qaeda safe havens and respect for Afghan sovereignty.

    As we move forward, some people will ask why we need a firm timeline. The answer is clear: Our goal is not to build a country in America’s image, or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban. These objectives would require many more years, many more dollars, and most importantly, many more American lives. Our goal is to destroy al Qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that. Afghans want to assert their sovereignty and build a lasting peace. That requires a clear timeline to wind down the war.

    Others will ask, why don’t we leave immediately? That answer is also clear: We must give Afghanistan the opportunity to stabilize. Otherwise, our gains could be lost and al Qaeda could establish itself once more. And as Commander-in-Chief, I refuse to let that happen.

    I recognize that many Americans are tired of war. As President, nothing is more wrenching than signing a letter to a family of the fallen, or looking into the eyes of a child who will grow up without a mother or father. I will not keep Americans in harm’s way a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security. But we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan and end this war responsibly.

    My fellow Americans, we’ve travelled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The Iraq war is over. The number of our troops in harm’s way has been cut in half, and more will soon be coming home. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda.

    This future is only within reach because of our men and women in uniform. Time and again, they have answered the call to serve in distant and dangerous places. In an age when so many institutions have come up short, these Americans stood tall. They met their responsibilities to one another, and to the flag they serve under. I just met with some of them and told them that as Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder. And in their faces, we see what is best in ourselves and our country.

    Our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians in Afghanistan have done their duty. Now we must summon that same sense of common purpose. We must give our veterans and military families the support they deserve, and the opportunities they have earned. And we must redouble our efforts to build a nation worthy of their sacrifice.

    As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it’s time to renew America -- an America where our children live free from fear and have the skills to claim their dreams. A united America of grit and resilience, where sunlight glistens off soaring new towers in downtown Manhattan, and we build our future as one people, as one nation.

    Here in Afghanistan, Americans answered the call to defend their fellow citizens and uphold human dignity. Today, we recall the fallen and those who suffered wounds, both seen and unseen. But through dark days, we have drawn strength from their example and the ideals that have guided our nation and led the world -- a belief that all people are treated equal and deserve the freedom to determine their destiny. That is the light that guides us still.

    This time of war began in Afghanistan and this is where it will end. With faith in each other and our eyes fixed on the future, let us finish the work at hand and forge a just and lasting peace.

    May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-...on-afghanistan
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    Fourth, we’re pursuing a negotiated peace. In coordination with the Afghan government, my administration has been in direct discussions with the Taliban. We’ve made it clear that they can be a part of this future if they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence and abide by Afghan laws. Many members of the Taliban -- from foot soldiers to leaders -- have indicated an interest in reconciliation. The path to peace is now set before them. Those who refuse to walk it will face strong Afghan security forces, backed by the United States and our allies.
    I guess he got the answer:

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/05...#ixzz1tg40PDWv

    At least 7 killed in blasts in Afghan capital, as Taliban says attacks a response to Obama's visit
    and

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/05...tan-offensive/

    Taliban announce start of annual Afghanistan offensive
    Regarding Afghanistan, for the most part, good move.

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  4. #4
    One for the history books: Middle East War, 2001-2014 (assuming Iran doesn't blow up). Then 2014 will be 20??.

    Let's hope stability can finally find a place in that region of the world. Then, all our sacrifice will mean something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedBlack&Blue View Post
    One for the history books: Middle East War, 2001-2014 (assuming Iran doesn't blow up). Then 2014 will be 20??.

    Let's hope stability can finally find a place in that region of the world. Then, all our sacrifice will mean something.
    I think we can all toast to that.
    "The purpose of argument, should not be victory, but progress." proverb

  6. #6
    I didn't comment on it because I don't think there was anything new or groundbreaking in the speech. I know my friends on the left will disagree, but I am disappointed that by 2015, we will not have any permanent bases in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Both countries are strategically important, and the presence of a base or two in either country could help establish a long-term strategic deterrent against future terrorist movements taking hold in either country. The OBL archives that will be released tomorrow will show that OBL was actively planning for AQ to return to Afghanistan just as soon as the US military was gone from the country.

    FWIW, I am not proposing that we continued operations in either country -- just that we have a base there. Given that we liberated both countries from two of the most notorious regimes on the planet, I think we are entitled to a presence in both countries as a strategic deterrent. It would have been especially important in Iraq given the risks of that country becoming an Iranian client state, if it hasn't already.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChitownHusker View Post
    I didn't comment on it because I don't think there was anything new or groundbreaking in the speech. I know my friends on the left will disagree, but I am disappointed that by 2015, we will not have any permanent bases in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Both countries are strategically important, and the presence of a base or two in either country could help establish a long-term strategic deterrent against future terrorist movements taking hold in either country. The OBL archives that will be released tomorrow will show that OBL was actively planning for AQ to return to Afghanistan just as soon as the US military was gone from the country.

    FWIW, I am not proposing that we continued operations in either country -- just that we have a base there. Given that we liberated both countries from two of the most notorious regimes on the planet, I think we are entitled to a presence in both countries as a strategic deterrent. It would have been especially important in Iraq given the risks of that country becoming an Iranian client state, if it hasn't already.
    Well stated, Chi. I don't think his strategy is the best strategy for that part of the world, and agree strongly that we should be maintaining a presence - not continued combat operations, but a presence.

    Also (and sticking with mainstream media, rather than using Fox or some conservative blog) I additionally note what the press (using the generally liberal New York Times here) figured out quickly:

    It was almost prime time in Washington, and the wee hours of the morning in Afghanistan, when President Obama spoke live on television. His message would certainly be seen live by millions of Americans and very few Afghans. But it had to be addressed to both.

    The speech did not lay out any new timetable for what Mr. Obama said was the goal for Afghanistan: “a future in which war ends and a new chapter begins.”

    Any details about the exact pace of the withdrawal are unlikely to come before the November elections.
    This was a pure campaign stump speech, not a speech outlining any significant new policy details at all. Maybe that's a big part of the reason why its already gone from the front page of the Yahoo news site that I use for my morning news and I had to do a quick google search to find articles about it.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ChitownHusker View Post
    I didn't comment on it because I don't think there was anything new or groundbreaking in the speech. I know my friends on the left will disagree, but I am disappointed that by 2015, we will not have any permanent bases in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Both countries are strategically important, and the presence of a base or two in either country could help establish a long-term strategic deterrent against future terrorist movements taking hold in either country. The OBL archives that will be released tomorrow will show that OBL was actively planning for AQ to return to Afghanistan just as soon as the US military was gone from the country.

    FWIW, I am not proposing that we continued operations in either country -- just that we have a base there. Given that we liberated both countries from two of the most notorious regimes on the planet, I think we are entitled to a presence in both countries as a strategic deterrent. It would have been especially important in Iraq given the risks of that country becoming an Iranian client state, if it hasn't already.

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    A permanent base would be nothing but a permanent target. And we would have to launch retaliatory air and probably ground operations just to defend it. And it would be a powerful symbol for Al Qaeda and others to use for recruiting.

    I would like to have a forward base for future operations in the area, including for Pakistan, but I don't think it is realistic.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by huskernut View Post
    A permanent base would be nothing but a permanent target. And we would have to launch retaliatory air and probably ground operations just to defend it. And it would be a powerful symbol for Al Qaeda and others to use for recruiting.

    I would like to have a forward base for future operations in the area, including for Pakistan, but I don't think it is realistic.
    Agree.

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    The residue of U.S. foreign policy coats much of the world. It is the other part of the answer to the question, "Why do they hate us?" Simply because America has -- often for what seemed good reasons at the time -- intervened to shape the destinies of other countries and then, as a nation, walked away.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...072001806.html
    Quote Originally Posted by Warhorse View Post
    Thank God for Obama saving and transforming our economy albeit slower than any (including him) would like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuZkurZ View Post
    The residue of U.S. foreign policy coats much of the world. It is the other part of the answer to the question, "Why do they hate us?" Simply because America has -- often for what seemed good reasons at the time -- intervened to shape the destinies of other countries and then, as a nation, walked away.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...072001806.html
    Regrettably true. Without even reading the article, I know it is a very long list.
    "It just shows that we're changing the program," Petteway said. "Coach Miles and the guys we have on our staff and our players, we're changing the culture of Nebraska basketball, and this is just the beginning for us." - HuskerOnline.com 2-16-2014

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by HuZkurZ View Post
    The residue of U.S. foreign policy coats much of the world. It is the other part of the answer to the question, "Why do they hate us?" Simply because America has -- often for what seemed good reasons at the time -- intervened to shape the destinies of other countries and then, as a nation, walked away.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...072001806.html

    So is it our job to set their houses in order when our own is dysfunctional?

    Our direct incursions into the middle east have brought us 30+ years of trouble, and two costly wars.

    It's not an area we belong in, any more than we should have remained in SE Asia.

    Time to get out, for good. And the fastest way out is energy independence (domestic production is at an all time high, and green initiatives abound, so we're on the right track).

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedBlack&Blue View Post
    So is it our job to set their houses in order when our own is dysfunctional?

    Our direct incursions into the middle east have brought us 30+ years of trouble, and two costly wars.

    It's not an area we belong in, any more than we should have remained in SE Asia.

    Time to get out, for good. And the fastest way out is energy independence (domestic production is at an all time high, and green initiatives abound, so we're on the right track).
    Ok, ok. Take a deep breath. I thought it was an interesting read. Personally, I would love it if we pulled out of the middle east and let them fend for themselves but, I don't think that's realistic for a myriad of reasons.

    In addition. If you read the article you could take away that perhaps we shouldn't meddle in other countries like we've done in the past.
    Quote Originally Posted by Warhorse View Post
    Thank God for Obama saving and transforming our economy albeit slower than any (including him) would like.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by HuZkurZ View Post
    Ok, ok. Take a deep breath. I thought it was an interesting read. Personally, I would love it if we pulled out of the middle east and let them fend for themselves but, I don't think that's realistic for a myriad of reasons.
    Um, I am breathing and not upset in the least.

    No it's not realistic to assume we'll leave the mideast, and as long as we need oil (which we will for a long time), we've got interests there.

    But, the strategy of direct intervention is costly and ripe for failure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedBlack&Blue View Post
    Um, I am breathing and not upset in the least.

    No it's not realistic to assume we'll leave the mideast, and as long as we need oil (which we will for a long time), we've got interests there.

    But, the strategy of direct intervention is costly and ripe for failure.
    ok.
    Quote Originally Posted by Warhorse View Post
    Thank God for Obama saving and transforming our economy albeit slower than any (including him) would like.

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    Is it fair to say that during Obama's term, we made zero progress in Afghanistan?

    Sure seems so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nems View Post
    Is it fair to say that during Obama's term, we made zero progress in Afghanistan?

    Sure seems so.

    the great or even the better military minds than yours would disagree


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pops View Post
    the great or even the better military minds than yours would disagree
    How so? Who are these military minds that think we have made progress in Afghanistan during the last 4 years?

    Casualties aren't going down. The Taliban is about the same. The flow of arms and people from Pakistan is the same.

    But what measure have things improved?

  20. #20
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    Take out the bases in Iraq and Afghanistan and I think we have quite a few left in the region.


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