Day: September 26, 2009

The Internal Battle Over Afghanistan Policy In The Obama Administration

We are reaching a path breaking, turning point moment in the struggle over Afghanistan policy, which will have a dramatic impact on the history of the Obama Presidency.

Should we send up to 40,000 more troops into that war as General Stanley McChrystal is advocating? Among those reported backing him on this are Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But significantly, former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser and General Colin Powell is reported to have strong doubts about the wisdom of such an increase, and this is also strongly the view of Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, an army veteran along with Kerry. And of course, Vice President Joe Biden has been trying to convince President Obama of the lack of wisdom in committing more troops, and is joined by Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff, and National Security Adviser and former General James L. Jones. Much of the military seems divided on this issue, although the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, is supporting the request.

The key figure not yet to tip his hand is Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a carryover from the Bush Administration. It will be interesting to see where his view ends up landing.

So again, this is the crucial moment in the Obama Presidency to this point, and no matter what happens, it will cause splits and divisions within the President’s party and, for certain, among Republicans, most of whom are fully behind an increased military force in Afghanistan.

The likelihood is that if Obama decides against an increased force, he will be accused of LOSING Afghanistan, just as President Harry Truman was accused of losing mainland China during his administration, but as then, the answer now would be that the United States cannot win a war if the people of that nation are not united behind their government and committed to fighting the war themselves. All we can do is help, but we cannot win a war in another nation without full public backing, which was lacking in China, and later in Vietnam, and is obviously the problem in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

So again, Barack Obama, listen carefully to both sides, and come down on the side of Powell, Kerry, Reed, Biden, Emanuel and Jones. I, somehow, have a feeling, that Gates will join this side, solidifying it, but even if not, this is the correct side to take.

The Pentagon, Department of Veterans Affairs, And Abuse Of Soldiers And Veterans

Another outrage has emerged in how the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs treats its soldiers and its veterans who have sacrificed their lives for this country.

On top of such outrages as the battle over Agent Orange during the Vietnam War and the poor treatment of soldiers at many veterans hospitals including Walter Reed Army Medical Center, now we have evidence of many veterans having developed breast cancer from contaminated water supplies at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, going as far back as the 1960s.

The government refuses to accept that they are liable for the terrible health conditions in these veterans, so do not provide any coverage for medical care. This is TOTALLY unacceptable, and MUST be reversed, but just as in other cases in the past, the government fights harder against its veterans and soldiers than it often seems to do against the enemy, considering how they did not provide body armor and other support to its own soldiers in Iraq until there were extensive screams and yells by supporters of the troops that they were inadequately protected.

We say we honor our soldiers on Memorial and Veterans Day, but we can only truly honor them by treating them well while they serve us with distinction, and stop trying to cheat them when they have service related problems in later years.

The time to stop this mistreatment of our patriots is NOW, and I call on the Obama Administration to change the policy and attitudes of previous administrations and do the right thing for our troops, past and present!