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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:30 PM
Original message
Kerry Opens Vigorous Debate on Afghanistan
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 06:33 PM by babylonsister
http://washingtonindependent.com/59638/kerry-opens-vigo...

Kerry Opens Vigorous Debate on Afghanistan
Contrasts With Politically Driven Iraq War Hearings
By Spencer Ackerman 9/16/09 7:14 PM


Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) (WDCpix)


Most congressional hearings bring administration officials up for a grilling. Others present interest group-backed pseudo-experts to give canned analysis. Rarely do congressional hearings present eclectic analysts who address a given policy option from a first-principle perspective to an engaged group of lawmakers. Yet thats exactly what happened Wednesday afternoon when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began what chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) described as a series of hearings about the war in Afghanistan.

Kerry assembled three experts to scrutinize the core issues at the heart of the war and the alternatives proposed to wage it: John Nagl, the president of the Center for a New American Security, a think tank that has provided significant personnel and intellectual heft to the Obama administration; Steve Biddle, an influential security expert with the Brookings Institution who advised Gen. Stanley McChrystals recent review of Afghanistan strategy; and Rory Stewart, head of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, who wrote a widely read travelogue of his journeys through Afghanistan. Intellectual cleavages over both strategy and basic views of the war were apparent on the panel, with Nagl and Biddle supporting a more robustly resourced war with broader aims than Stewart endorsed. But both Nagl and Biddle grappled with the harder implications of such positions, with Nagl emphasizing the primacy of competent Afghan, not U.S., security forces, and Biddle equivocating on the overall importance of Afghanistan to U.S. interests.

This week, President Obama is expected to approve McChrystals strategy review, and McChrystal is expected to finalize a palette of options for resourcing the war, including the prospect of U.S. troop increases. Amid rapidly eroding public support for the war, one of the larger concerns roiling lawmakers is whether the counterinsurgency strategy fulsomely embraced by the administration is sufficiently tied to the administrations stated objectives of eradicating al-Qaeda safe havens in Pakistan and preventing al-Qaedas return to Afghanistan. Kerry asked if this weeks successful commando raid in Somalia against an important al-Qaeda-linked figure launched from offshore bases and requiring no on-land troop presence might be a model for an alternative strategy.

Sir, it tells us you can conduct counterterrorism with a light footprint, not counterinsurgency, Nagl replied. Kerry was unsatisfied with the answer: Thats exactly my point, he said. Nagl parried that the presence of neighboring Pakistan was the crucial difference, as the absence of U.S. forces would contribute to the destabilization of Afghanistans neighbor, while their presence inspired Pakistani resolve. I am convinced that American counterinsurgency and counterterrorism in Afghanistan have contributed to the more effective Pakistani counterinsurgency campaign of the spring, when Pakistani troops finally evicted Taliban insurgents from the Swat valley.

snip//

It was difficult to read the impact the testimony had on the assembled senators. Most, including Kerry, posed skeptical questions to all panelists, indicating a more open debate than the congressional debate over the Iraq war, which often devolved into questioning designed to elicit politically-useful responses. Kerry, for instance, has described the struggle against al-Qaeda as a global counterinsurgency, yet he aimed most of his more pointed questions at Nagl, who mostly agrees with that analysis.

Kerry said that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had agreed to testify before the panel next month, after President Obama made a decision on whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan. Another hearing, on how to avoid failure in Afghanistan, is scheduled for Thursday morning, when the panel will hear from ret. Gen. Bantz Craddock, the former NATO commander; development expert Clare Lockhart; novelist Khaled Hosseini; and Ryan Crocker, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Pakistan.
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Parker CA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:36 PM
Response to Original message
1. Interesting piece. Thanks for posting! nt.
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politicasista Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:55 PM
Response to Original message
2. But, but, (sarcasm)
he should have been debating this in 04 when we KNEW they were wrong. :sarcasm: :sarcasm: :boring:
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:56 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I'm so happy to be able to hear his voice on Afghanistan, primarily
because I trust Sen. Kerry to do the right thing, and I'm pretty confused about what that is. Besides leaving. :(
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politicasista Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:59 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Me too
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 07:02 PM by politicasista
It was a response a thread that had another article like yours with a different title. (BTW: Yours is better and more detailed). :yourock: :hi:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

Me should delete this link, because don't want to feed the rabid trolls.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 07:28 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. If you want to read Kerry's statement or watch the hearing, here's a link
http://foreign.senate.gov/hearings/2009/hrg090916p.html

It has Lugar's and the three experts' statements as well.

Mathew Yglesias has a nice article as well - http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/09/john...
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 07:36 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. You're a doll-thank you! nt
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:28 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. You're very welcome - thank you for posting this really detailed article
It is really rare to find something that actually explains as much as it did. It was a great hearing. There is one tomorrow that is labeled COUNTERING THE THREAT OF FAILURE IN AFGHANISTAN at 10am - the permanent link, where the hearing and statements will be archived is http://foreign.senate.gov/hearings/2009/hrg090917a.html

To watch open SFRC hearings live - http://foreign.senate.gov/Flashtest.html
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DCKit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 07:24 PM
Response to Original message
5. The (subtle) writing is on the wall - The Dem leadership wants an exit strategy.
Apparently our guys and gals aren't afraid to crack a history book every now and then and some even remember what happened with Russia's failed excursion into that same morass.

If nothing else, our presence in Afghanistan is providing a theater for a proxy war, funded and supported by our enemies. Thankfully, OUR President understands the accepted definition of the word "diplomacy" - the one not preceded by "cowboy".

"You don't win and occupation. You end it."
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:15 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. I'm hoping very seriously. nt
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:37 PM
Response to Original message
10. knr nt
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patrice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:45 PM
Response to Original message
11. Killing causes Killing, increases Danger to Everyone.
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patrice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:56 PM
Response to Original message
12. BRING! THEM HOME!
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:31 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. I'm hoping that will be the result of these hearings, too.
I can't remember America hardly without a war going on, and I'm so tired of it.
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patrice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:20 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. It's Impossible to really think/do almost anything else with THAT! Madness going on.
I'm watching Fahrenheit 911 again tonight.
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