As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, May 15, 2009

More Billions For Afghanistan

In other news taking the stars out of my eyes, the House overwhelmingly approved a $97 billion dollar supplemental appropriation, mainly for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with little debate and much less fanfare. 51 Democrats and 9 Republicans defied the Bush Obama Administration on this, while others approved it but did argue that they had little patience for the policy and wouldn't agree to an open-ended commitment.

Chief among them is Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., author of the House legislation as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. But for now he's giving Obama a chance to demonstrate greater progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"This is a bill that I have very little confidence in," Obey said. "I think we have a responsibility to give a new president — who did not get us into this mess — the best possible opportunity to get out of it."

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., is opposing the infusion of war funds. He's not impressed with Obama's plans on Afghanistan.

"Sometimes great presidents make mistakes, and sometimes great presidents make even great mistakes. I hope that doesn't happen here," McGovern said. "As the mission has grown bigger, the policy has grown even more vague."

We really haven't heard a clearly articulated policy in Afghanistan. The ostensible goal is to root out Al Qaeda camps, but the President's own top generals admit that they are no longer in Afghanistan. Furthermore, safe havens for terrorists could realistically be in a mosque in Newark or London or Brazil as easily as anywhere else.

Obama wants to avoid a failed state in Afghanistan. Yet his tactics of relentless bombing, exactly what he vowed to AVOID by adding new troops, only leads in the direction toward a loss of confidence in the central government, and an opportunity for the Taliban. We supposedly have a new general and a new strategy based on counter-insurgency and winning hearts and minds, yet airstrikes do the exact opposite, inflaming and angering local populations. And furthermore, this new general seems to have a nasty habit of lying to people to protect his own skin.

I just don't see the strategy beyond just Bush-plus in Afghanistan. The White House is giving it attention, and trying to implement a more regional strategy, but it makes sense to question the premises here.

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