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Commentary :: Politics
Work On Changing That
28 Jan 2012
There has been a lot of talk as to what the current president has accomplished or hasn't during his tenure so far. This has been broken down into talking points and sound bites from various sides especially since May of 2011. That is when the first official GOP debates kicked off and all the contenders from Bachmann to Santorum took their shots at the record of President Obama. The president didn't do much fighting back until the State of the Union Address on January 25.
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It was at that time the president touted some of the more successful aspects of his tenure to inform the nation about the things he believes are going well. There weren't many admissions of what went wrong, and that would have been nice given what we all can plainly see happening around us. It was also his first national opportunity during the current election season to begin making his case to the nation as to why he should be reelected.

He talked about what his advisors and himself think are strong points regarding his record and what they believe to be his accomplishments. It's an opportunity and most presidents take it.

He talked, for example, about his strengths with regards to Afghanistan saying, "The Taliban's momentum has been broken and some troops in Afghanistan had begun to come home." But, as was pointed out the morning after the speech, that is only in some parts of Afghanistan, and as was sais the morning after the speech, "In some parts of Afghanistan [...] that is true. The Taliban's momentum has been broken. But those gains are tenuous. And what's not clear is what will happen when U.S. troops leave Afghanistan." (

Furthermore, it's no secret the Taliban, long before President Obama was elected, moved across the border to Pakistan and began a process of attrition. While campaigning he promised to finish the mission, by seeking out and finding Bin Laden, and then pulling out troops by sometime in 2011. Once in office he succeeded in finding Bin Laden, but now he's got himself caught up in spending more US lives, more time and more US taxpayer dollars fighting that war.

The vast majority of Taliban have been fighting from their safe havens in Waziristan, located in Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan, as journalist Peter Bergen said, "if you look at every major jihadist terrorist attack over the last decade and a half, whether it was the first Trade Center attack of '93, 9/11, the Cole attack in 2000, the U.S. embassies attacks in '98, the Bali attack in 2002, the 7/7 attack in London, which was the largest, deadliest terrorist attack in British history, all these things have one thing in common. They were conceived of and trained for in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and since 9/11 specifically on the Afghan-Pak border." (

So, the Taliban are laying low and doing it very well. Again, Peter Bergen notes, "if it's all about the Taliban waiting us out, then we have to be there forever and we're obviously not going to be there forever." ( As long as they're hiding out in Pakistan, that's exactly what will happen. It will be a war as it is now. They fight in an area and as soon as it seems the battle is not going their way, they just retreat, move to another area and start fighting there, all the while being based primarily out of Pakistan.

As long as that's the case the war with them will be eternal, and in fact they could build up real loyalty and support in Pakistan even more than they currently have. As reporter David Rohde said "we've seen attacks in Kabul linked back to North Waziristan. We've seen assassination attempts in Pakistan linked back to North Waziristan. We saw the killing of Benazir Bhutto. We saw the London subway bombings and now an attack in Times Square. And it's been eight years and the area continues to be a Taliban mini-state." ( They are not only using Pakistan to attack us and Afghans in Afghanistan, but using it as a safe haven to train and prep for attacks on US soil.

This isn't something drone attacks alone can handle unless they're seriously ramped up. This is due to the size of the Taliban's footprint in the tribal areas of Pakistan, specifically Waziristan. Rohde, who was held as a Taliban prisoner in Waziristan, continues, "What really struck me when I was brought there as a captive, was that the Taliban regime that the, you know, U.S. felt it had toppled in Afghanistan in 2001, I found had simply moved a few hundred miles to the East -and it was alive and thriving in the tribal areas of Pakistan, particularly, in two agencies as they're called. They're parts of the tribal areas, North Waziristan and South Waziristan.

"There were Taliban road crews repairing the roads, Taliban police patrolling the streets, the Taliban run the schools and Arab and Uzbek foreign militants stroll through the bazaars with complete confidence, and it really is a completely militant-run state." ( So again, they have not merely been hiding out in caves and sleeping under bushes, they are functioning as they previously had in Afghanistan.

The deadline president Obama set for 2011 initially was flawed and he had to move it back to 2014. But to vanquish the Taliban completely, we would have to run extensive bombing campaigns in Pakistan on a daily basis. Not one drone at a time, but on a massive scale. The Pakistani government had issues with our raid on Bin Laden's mansion, so how in two years do we believe we can eradicate the virtual nation they have set up in the back hills of Pakistan which are on the border with Afghanistan?

The French have started considering an early pull out, and we are already handling the lionshare with regards to the fight there. Without a way out ourselves we could be there indefinitely. Do we really want to pay in lives and treasure? We have extended the Bush tax cuts that were in place during the whole time we had two wars going, the first time in US history we cut taxes instead of raising them during a time of war. ( We are still in that position.

That means to make this bit of political appeasement, we have to find ways other than our own inadequate revenue stream to pay for them. How do we do this? Loans of course, increasing the national debt in order to engage in nation building in an area that could honestly see us spending more on making them what we define as a nation - indefinitely. If we bring our troops home in 2014 and just keep spending until then, the only difference between pulling out in 2012 and pulling out in 2014 would be the fact more Americans will have died and more borrowed money will have been spent putting us ourselves and our children deeper in debt.

If we raised taxes to spend more there and stay there longer it would have to be significant amounts of money, and how much will is there for that on the part of the taxpayers? Is that where we really want money to be going to instead of being spent back home on things like sorely needed public works projects that have yet to materialize on a meaningful scale, our broken education system, etc. Do we invest serious amounts of US taxpayer dollars in their future or ours? We can't just start bombing Pakistan, and that nation is not willing to do anything about the Taliban.

The president needs to make a real decision and level with us on it. This is an example of some holes in what the president is talking about. There are others, but he can be working on filling in the gaps, and hopefully he will, for the sake of the country more than the sake of his reelection, though it certainly would not hurt either way.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to
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