This will be a short commentary preceding President Obama’s address to the nation Tuesday night regarding sending additional troops to Afghanistan.

It is expected that President Obama will announce plans to send between 32 and 35 thousand additional troops to Afghanistan, slightly less than the 40,000 General Stanley McChrystal reportedly asked for last September. What conditions he places on this “Surge” we’ll soon find out, but there is almost no doubt that benchmarks will be set. (Personally, I’d like to hear him say “This is it. No more troops after this, so start planning your exit strategy around this level of troops. Our commitment is not open ended and our resources not infinite.”)

Continuation of the 8+ year conflict will not please many Democrats who hoped President Obama would bring BOTH mid-east wars to a quick close. But what is also certain is that, ANY troop increase less than that of the “40,000” Gen. McChrystal initially requested is going to draw criticism from the rabid-Right. So let’s put this in context:

When President Bush finally stopped ignoring his generals on the ground, fired Rummy, and agreed to send more troops to Iraq (following the historic 2006 midterm elections that flipped control of both houses of Congress), there were already over 140,000 American troops on the ground there. The military was stretched so thin, the big question was “where would he find the troops?” After much research, it was calculated that we could scrounge up an additional 22,500 troops for his “Surge”… an increase of 16%.

If President Obama sends just 32,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to support in 68,000 already there, that’s an increase of 47 percent.

Add to that the 21,000 troops he added last March and President Obama will have sent an additional 53,000 troops to Afghanistan since entering office last January. Upon his inauguration, there were just 13,000 American troops in the entire country*… meaning this latest “surge” translates to a 500 percent increase in the number of troops in Afghanistan since President Bush left office.

(* Correction. This figure now appears to be in error, with the supporting link now claiming just over 30,000.)

So when Republicans start whining about “President Obama wants us to fail in Afghanistan” or “doesn’t want to win the war” (and they will), let’s keep in mind that the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will now be more than FIVE TIMES what it was when Bush left office.

And let’s all remember the Republican hysteria over what would happen “if we set a deadline” for withdrawal from Iraq. John McCain said “setting a timeline” would only aid the enemy, let them know we were unwilling to “stay until the job is done” and allow the enemy “to wait us out”. But one month in, President Obama declared a “timeline” for withdrawal with the goal of “ALL U.S. troops out of Iraq by August of 2010”. And what happened? Did Iraq collapse into such total chaos that we had to send in more troops? No. Beyond a few significant instances of continued ethnic violence, the war in Iraq barely makes the evening news anymore. Al Qaeda didn’t flood back into Iraq (not that they ever had much of a presence there to begin with) and by all indications, we should be able to keep our goal of redeploying out of Iraq by next August.

Yesterday on Fox “news” Sunday, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said:

[T]alk of an exit strategy [from Afghanistan during Obama’s speech Tuesday] is exactly the wrong way to go. And I hear that on the — in the media. I certainly hope the president doesn’t do that, because all that does is signal to the enemies and also to our allies, to the folks in Pakistan as well as the Afghanis, that we’re not there to stay until the mission is accomplished.

Sound familiar?

Oh, and another choice snippet from former Bush spokesmodel Dana “no terrorist attacks on Bush’s watch” Perino during that same show:

Perino: “Taxing the war in Afghanistan might make it unpopular.”


Heaven forbid we make war “unpopular“! You may need to play it twice just to be sure she REALLY said that, but I assure you she did.

You know, I can’t help but feel the tiniest bit sorry for her. But you know, it’s the Republican love affair with attractive Conservative morons (Perino, Palin, Prejean… I’m sensing and alphabetic trend here) that keeps putting these women in front of the cameras to say whatever imbecilic thought comes to their tiny minds.
ADDENDUM: A Senate report released yesterday (11/29/09) finally confirms that Osama bin Laden was indeed at Tora Bora in late 2001 and was able to escape due to the failure to send in ground troops to capture him.

Here is my blog entry on the issue from 2007: Did Saudi Kid Confirm Bush Let bin Laden Escape at Tora Bora?

For further reading, the CNN archives remind us: Bush rejects Taliban offer to try bin Laden – October 7, 2001


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