Dear Mr. President: Fish or cut bait

I just went to and sent the following to President Obama:

Mr. President,

I know you’ve already prepared¬† your speech for tonight, and as I understand from press reports based on advance copies of that speech, you are planning to announce a very limited withdrawl of troops from Afghanistan.

As one who voted for you, and will vote for you again, I find this extremely disappointing. The Afghan war should never have been started (ditto Iraq). From public statements by the Afghan president, it is clear our presence there is not desired, we are just a pawn of internal conflicts among the Afghanis and among the Afghanis, Pakistanis, Indians, Iranians and Saudi Arabians, all of whom are playing their own games.

It is time to get out and take care of our own. The fact that your GOP opponents are starting to say this — rather shamelessly, considering their warmongering pasts — should tell you something about the mood of the country. Why are their political advisors telling them that this is a good stand to take?

So, get us out, now. Defund the war and tell the generals they have until the end of the budget year — Sept. 31 — to get out or destroy in place everything they can’t carry. Afghanistan will be what it will be.

I should add — if you know of something we don’t — some overriding reason that bears directly on the security of this country, and I do mean directly, not that “if we don’t fight them there we’ll have to fight them here” nonsense, but an actual military threat, this would be an excellent time to clue the rest of us in on it.

Because, I gotta tell ya, all these re-treads of Bush’s reasons for going to war — the “spreading freedom” fantasy, the alleged threats “because we are free,” the fears that some guy might come here and toss a bomb, are getting very old and do not serve either you or the nation well.

Thank you

Charles Trentelman

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9 Responses to Dear Mr. President: Fish or cut bait

  1. Bob Becker says:

    With the exception of disagreeing with you about the Afghan war having been started without sound reason, you’re missive is right on the money. We can no more successfully coerce Afghanistan into becoming a western liberty-embracing [in American terms] nation than we could Iraq. There was a point to going in a decade ago. There is little to no point in staying in now. Nor is there much point to our having gone, however lightly via the NATO connection, into Libya. And Iraq was an appallingly expensive [in American lives and money] disastrous mistake from the git-go.

    And as you note, we’re long past “trust me!” as a sufficient rationale for staying in, much less for doubling down.

  2. Charles Trentelman says:

    the rationale for invading Afghanistan — the Taliban ran it and they helped the 9-11 terrorists, was specious at best — if Al Quida hadn’t found refuge in Afghanistan, they’d have found it somewhere else — as indeed they have since then.

    We’d have been far better off if we’d have approached the hunt against Al Quida/Bin Laddy boy, as a massive world-wide criminal investigation. It would have costs far less, killed far fewer people and achieved the same result.

    But W and company saw Afghanistan as a wedge to insert democracy and a stepping stone to Iraq. The result, you see before you today.

  3. hawg says:

    ” ..and will vote for you again..”

    so if you’ve already made up your mind, why ask the question?
    or better yet, if you’ve already made up your mind, why should he respond?

  4. ctrentelman says:

    because this is not an either-or situation. I am not a “litmus test” voter.

    In any discussion threats are useless, especially in discussions of votes in Utah. If you say “either do what I want or I won’t vote for you,” you soon end up voting for nobody. So the idea is to be someone who likes him, supports him, but wants an answer to a sincere question.

    • hawg says:

      I’m not suggesting any threats at all, I’m suggesting neutrality up front.
      don’t let it be known you’d drink his bath water(sorry Ann) and then think you’ll get a serious answer.

  5. Bob Becker says:

    Having worked inside several successful campaigns [local to state legislature to US Senate] in different states, I can tell you that successful campaigns take questions, and comments, from announced supporters seriously. There is a whole range of actions someone you know is going to vote for you because the alternative is unacceptable [i.e. Republican] can take: active support, including financial and campaign volunteering, and working friends, relatives, acquaintances on your behalf; luke warm support meaning small check, little or no volunteering; and \I’ll vote for the sumbitch because the alternative is so bad, but that’s it. He’s not getting a dime or an hour’s work from me.\

    Successful candidates very much want declared voters in the first of those groups and absolutely not in the last of them. So yes, candidates — the smart ones, anyway, who have good staff — do not ignore questions, comments, complaints, from those they already count as on their side. Candidates who give supporters the impression they’re taking them for granted are not infrequently surprised at how things turn out election night. [And President Obama has big problems with the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party going into this campaign. And yes, he knows it.]

    No, of course Charlie’s letter isn’t in and of itself going to make a difference. But if the President’s staff starts reporting they’re getting fifty, a hundred, two thousand such letters a week from declared supporters, you’re damn right they’ll treat them seriously. Good staff knows they can’t afford not to.

  6. Gfrenfroe says:

    The only reason I can fathom to stay in combat mode in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya is to keep Americans employed. The number of people that will be affected by a sudden pullout and the lack of need for advanced communications, munitions, gear, portable lodging, jets, fuel etc. is staggering. The list of things that are needed to be effective in battle is too long to write down on this post but the bottom line is that nearly everything our troops are using is American made.
    The trickiest thing about pulling out is giving a chance to industry to switch from making guns to making plow shares and keeping people busy, productive and employed.
    What will soldiers do when they come back with their advanced skills in management, logistics, teamwork, technology and interdependence? Perhaps the present administration is working on that.
    Our next war should be held on domestic soil. Not the war on drugs or on terror but a war for energy independence and against slothful ignorance.
    These men and women that have been serving their country could teach us here at home many of the things that they have learned and serve as well or better than in being in harm’s way in an ungrateful country far away from home.

  7. Richard Bolin says:

    We will not likely ever completely withdraw from Afghanistan because of the need to maintain a force in the region in the event that Pakistan starts to collapse. The risk of such a collapse is relatively high and we could not afford for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons to fall into the wrong hands. Preventing a nuclear attack on a U.S. city is, and always will be, this country’s #1 security priority. -Rick Bolin, Former Senior Intelligence Officer, Hill AFB.

  8. ray says:

    I agree that invading Afghanistan was a mistake. Bush mistake number one. An even bigger mistake was invading Iraq. Bush mistake number two. But give Obama a break. He’s winding down both Bush wars in a cautious, evenhanded way. Whatever he does, he will catch crap. Can you imagine the field day conservatives would have if he unilaterally shut things down tomorrow?

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