Obama Ups Troops To Afghans But Announce PullOut Date

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[National: Afghan Strategy]

In his long-awaited announcement, President Barack Obama tonight said that in sending 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, he was responding to danger that Taliban gains represents to U.S. national security.

Obama said the United States could not allow the Taliban and its partner, Al-Qaeda, to overthrow the weak government of Hamid Karzai. He noted that while the Karzai government is hampered by corruption and the drug trade, the alternative, a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, would present a threat to U.S. national security. "This danger will only grow if the region slides backwards," Obama said.

Obama disclosed tonight that the U.S. would support any strategy to absorb Taliban elements that renounce violence into the Afghan government; this would broaden the beleaguered Karzai government's scope.

The president stressed that he didn't want Afghans to see U.S. as an occupying force in the tradition of many other previous invading powers, including the Soviet Union of old.

What's more, President Obama sought to contextualize the conflict, reminding a national and global audience during his 36 minute speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point that the Afghanistan conflict was never a war of choice.

The U.S. invasion was inevitable since those who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks had used Taliban-controlled Afghanistan to plan and launch their mission.

Obama rebuffed his critics, Democrats and Republicans, by reminding the global audience that the U.S. was firmly united in its resolve to deliver a blow against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks in its aftermath.

"I believe with every fiber of my being," the President said, that the U.S. can once again summon that spirit of unity, in supporting his Afghan strategy.
The president pointed out that after the Taliban was ousted by the U.S., the Bush Administration lost the momentum in the war against Al-Qaeda by suddenly switching the focus to Iraq and launching a war there.

In a way, the U.S. really was now completing the mission abandoned eight years ago, the President said.

In the meantime, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda partnership had reorganized and gained momentum, Obama said. The president said the 30,000 troops would push back the Taliban and thereafter strengthen the Afghan government's own capacity. The U.S. would train an Afghan fighting force that will eventually take over the fight against extremism.

United States would thereafter start to draw down American forces beginning July 2011, Obama announced. At the same time, the president said, the U.S. will also strengthen its relations with Pakistan in confronting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces concentrated on the Pakistani border.

The president addressed critics of President Karzai's corrupt and inept government as an unreliable partner by announcing a new U.S. approach in dealing with the Afghan government. The U.S. would bypass corrupt Afghan governmental institutions and deal directly with competent Afghan government ministries as well as governors. What's more, the U.S. would insist that corrupt Afghan officials be prosecuted.

The president rejected comparisons between the U.S. effort in Afghanistan to Vietnam, where the U.S. was bogged down and ultimately defeated, by the Administration's critics. Obama pointed out that unlike Vietnam, the U.S. was actually attacked by forces that organized from Afghanistan, and had no choice but to retaliate.

He also pointed out that the U.S. effort in Afghanistan was actually supported by a global coalition of more than 40 world governments.

Moreover, Obama added, unlike in Vietnam, the U.S. did not face a popular uprising in Afghanistan.


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