"My first issue for the Obama administration is Afghanistan. Concurrent with our withdrawal from Iraq, the President has already said that he will be increasing our presence in Afghanistan. The issue that I have with the war in Afghanistan is the same one I had with Iraq. There is no real definition of "victory". We are essentially fighting a guerrilla war against small bands of terrorists across a vast stretch of land. I really would like to know what our ultimate goal is in Afghanistan. Is the goal to wipe out the Taliban and all the terrorists in the area? If so, that seems to be an unreasonable goal. Is the goal to set up a government that is capable of withstanding the challenges from the Taliban or a similar terrorist group? That also seems unreasonable... A long term occupation of a country in the Middle East only leads to the breeding of more extremists. Without an exit strategy, we risk a never ending war and the creation of a new generation of people who are dedicated to our downfall."
As we now know, the Obama administration will be sending an additional American troops to Afghanistan, along with asking for increased participation from our NATO allies. My question still is, what is the goal? If the goal is to train the Afghan forces and build up their defenses, then I don't understand why that would require so many additional troops. Does it require over 100,000 American troops to train soldiers? How long will it take to get that job done? When are our troops coming home? How many more trillions can we afford to spend on an unwinable war, when we have so many problems at home? Are we making ourselves safer or are we just creating a new generation of people who are bent on our destruction? I guess tonight the President will give us his vision of what the future holds for us in Afghanistan. I will be looking for some answers and hopefully we'll get some because we haven't heard anything from this administration so far that makes me think that we are any closer to bringing our troops home.
Obviously there have been thousands of words written on this blog and on many of our friends blogs on this issue. As we know the Democrats gave up the idea of single payer without a fight. The administration has been on the defensive from the beginning and they continue to fight it out with members of their own party over just how much the health insurance companies will be allowed to get away with. I personally think the whole debate was handled badly by the administration. They gave up their best bargaining chip before the game even started. They have negotiated from a point of weakness and allowed the foes of reform to lead the debate. That being said, we might actually be on the verge of an historic first step in health coverage. It won't be everything that it's supposed to be, but it's a hell of a lot better than nothing. And as someone said, every great journey begins with a single step.
Literally nothing has been done. I haven't even heard the words "education reform" from the lips of a major player in the Obama administration. Having the President tell kids to stay in school is nice, but the problems that the kids have to deal with still remain. Why are spending trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan when we have all but ignored the education of our own children? What will it take until and administration takes public school education reform seriously? Why don't we make all of our elected Representatives have to send their children to public school? And not one of the magnet schools either. I think everyone elected to Congress, presidency or named to the cabinet should have to put their kids in one of the local schools in Washington DC. I'm sure that public education would get some attention then. I've asked this question about the health care debate before but, why don't our publicly elected officials care about the people who elected them? Is it so hard to ask them to actually attend to the needs of their constituents. I'm sure the Republicans and Democrats would have different approaches to reform, but if it affected their kids, at least they would have an approach. The lack of attention is shameful.
Well, this hope went out the window pretty quickly. The Attorney General has huffed and puffed, but there are still no real investigations into the transgressions of the previous administration. If the President says that he wants to "look forward not backward" one more time, I might spontaneously combust. Some of the prisoners at Gitmo will actually get a trial, but some innocent detainees had to be sent to a distant island nation, because no one would have them, even though they had done nothing. There are still others at Gitmo (and at prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan) that will never see the light of day. We won't know who they are or what they supposedly did, but they will be detained (apparently in perpetuity) in our name. This administration hasn't quite been the open book that they said they would be and at times have been downright paranoid (like when they refused to release the names of people who had visited the White House). The air of secrecy that surrounded the Bush White House seems to have infected the Obama White House as well (having an active fight with the Fox "news" Network seems childish and the kind of thing the Bush administration would have been crucified for by those of us on the Left). I wrote an article back in April about what Constitutional rights actually remain, so I won't go over that ground again. Let's just suffice it to say that it hasn't gotten any better under this administration.