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JFP News, 9/9: Senate Dems Signal Resistance on US Afghan Troop Increase

Just Foreign Policy News
September 9, 2009


Cato Forum: Should the United States Withdraw from Afghanistan?
Monday, September 14, 2009, 12PM Eastern time; broadcast on the internet. With Malou Innocent, Cato; Celeste Ward, RAND; Patrick Cronin, National Defense University; Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy; and Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato. Moderated by Christopher Preble, Cato.
http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=6496

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Key Senate Democrats signaled Friday that any push by the White House to send more troops to Afghanistan is likely to hit resistance, AP reports. Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Levin said the US must focus more on building Afghanistan's security forces. His cautionary stance was echoed by Sen. Jack Reed.

2) A U.N.-backed complaints panel charged widespread fraud in the Afghan presidential election and ordered a partial recount, the Washington Post reports. The Afghan election commission said Karzai had won 54 percent of 5.4 million valid votes tallied - 91 percent of the total. The results indicate that he probably has enough votes to avoid a runoff with Abdullah, who has 28 percent.

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Dear Britain: "Get Out of Afghanistan, So We Can Get Out"

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces a grassroots challenge over the war in Afghanistan at this month's Labour Party conference, the Guardian reports:

Gordon Brown faces fresh questions over the war in Afghanistan at this month's Labour party conference, with grassroots activists circulating a motion demanding that troops be withdrawn.

I'd give anything for the opportunity to address this conference.

I'd wait until one or two people gave speeches arguing that Britain had to keep its troops in Afghanistan out of friendship with the United States. Then I'd ask to be recognized, and I'd say,

"As an American, I thank the honorable gentlemen and ladies for their kind words of friendship towards the people of the United States. I assure you, as you know very well, that the feelings are reciprocated.

"But I beg you, in the name of humanity: show your love differently than by continuing to support this war. Do not love us like a drinking buddy who gives liquor to an alcoholic. Do not love us by staying, teeth gritted, in a car whose driver has had too much to drink. Do not love us by holding back your criticism, or praising our war policy with faint damnation.

"Like the majority of Britons, the majority of Americans oppose this war. Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they oppose the war in Afghanistan, CNN reports.

JFP News 9/4: Biden Opposes More Troops to Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
September 4, 2009


Team Obama Divided, Public Strongly Opposed, to More Troops in Afghanistan
Top officials of the Obama Administration are divided on the expected request of the Pentagon for more troops in Afghanistan, the New York Times reports today. Leading the opposition is Vice-President Biden. Biden has the wind of public opinion at his back. Recent polls show that the majority of Americans now oppose the Afghan war. But on the question of sending more troops, public opinion is even more clear. They're against it.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/321

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Top officials of the Obama Administration are divided on the expected request of the Pentagon for more troops in Afghanistan, the New York Times reports. Leading those with doubts is Vice President Biden, who has expressed deep reservations about an expanded presence in Afghanistan on the grounds that it may distract from what he considers the more urgent goal of stabilizing Pakistan. Military strategists said General McChrystal might offer three options. The smallest proposed reinforcement, from 10,000 to 15,000 troops, would be described as the high-risk option. A medium-risk option would involve sending about 25,000 more troops, and a low-risk option would call for sending about 45,000 troops.

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Team Obama Divided, Public Strongly Opposed, to More Troops in Afghanistan

Top officials of the Obama Administration are divided on the expected request of the Pentagon for more troops in Afghanistan, the New York Times reports today.

The military's anticipated request for more troops to combat the insurgency in Afghanistan has divided senior advisers to President Obama as they try to determine the proper size and mission of the American effort there, officials said Thursday.

Leading the opposition is Vice-President Biden:

Leading those with doubts is Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has expressed deep reservations about an expanded presence in Afghanistan on the grounds that it may distract from what he considers the more urgent goal of stabilizing Pakistan, officials said.

No-one can plausibly argue that Vice-President Biden has no idea what he's talking about. Remember, this was the guy chosen to balance the ticket with "foreign policy experience," the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Nor is Biden a pacifist or shy about foreign intervention. He voted for the Iraq war in 2002 and promoted U.S. military intervention in the former Yugoslavia.

Secretary of State Clinton has been "vocal" in favor of more troops and some officials said they expected her to be an advocate for a more robust force, the Times says.

But Biden has the wind of public opinion at his back. A number of recent polls show that the majority of Americans - and the overwhelming majority of Democrats - now oppose the Afghan war. But on the question of sending more troops, public opinion is even more clear. They're against it.

McClatchy News reports, citing a recent poll:

56 percent oppose sending any more combat troops to Afghanistan, while 35 percent support sending more troops.

JFP News 9/3: US Formally Stops Aid to Coup Regime in Honduras

Just Foreign Policy News
September 3, 2009


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On Afghanistan, Obama Hanging by G.O.P. Thread
Republican support will be "vital" for continuing the war and occupation of Afghanistan, the New York Times points out today, noting that Obama's reliance on Republican votes for the war means Republicans could pull the plug at any time: "One danger for Obama is that he may be forced to abandon his own party on Afghanistan for the right, which could put him in a perilous position if Republicans at any point decide they do not want to support a Democratic president on the issue."
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/319

Send George Will's Op-ed to Your Representatives in Congress
Prominent conservative columnist George Will has called for the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Send George Will's op-ed to your representatives in Congress.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/george-will

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
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On Afghanistan, Obama Hanging by G.O.P. Thread

Republican support will be "vital" for continuing the war and occupation of Afghanistan, the New York Times points out today, noting that Obama's reliance on Republican votes for the war means Republicans could pull the plug at any time.

One danger for Mr. Obama is that he may be forced to abandon his own party on Afghanistan for the right, which could put him in a perilous position if Republicans at any point decide they do not want to support a Democratic president on the issue.

In an op-ed Tuesday in the Washington Post, conservative columnist George Will called for the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

Might George Will's op-ed encourage more Republicans in Congress to speak up in favor of withdrawing U.S. troops -- or in opposition to the increase that is now being planned?

When we get our troops out of Afghanistan will depend to a significant degree on what Republican members of Congress are willing to say and do.

This summer, the House of Representatives took what was in effect a "no confidence" vote on Afghanistan policy: it voted down, 138-278, Representative Jim McGovern's amendment requiring the Pentagon to present Congress with an exit strategy.

The majority of House Democrats supported McGovern's amendment. Among Democrats, the vote was 131-114, or 57 percent to 43 percent. But Republicans were overwhelmingly opposed. Only seven Republicans voted yes; 164 Republicans voted no; in percentage terms, 4 percent yes and 96 percent no.

JFP News 9/2: Time to Talk to the Taliban?

Just Foreign Policy News
September 2, 2009


Can We Get Some Republicans to Defect on Afghanistan?
Conservative columnist George Will had an op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday, calling for the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. We need some Republicans in Congress to listen to George Will.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/316

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The New York Times published a forum on "whether it is time to negotiate with the Taliban." New York Times reporter Elizabeth Rubin says "the short answer is yes." Rubin asks what concessions the U.S. might be willing to make: is it prepared for referenda on constitutional issues? There is no risk to pursuing reconciliation or talks with the Taliban, Rubin says. The real risk would be to imagine the insurgents can be defeated through military means alone.

2) A thousand more Americans could die "on Obama's watch" in Afghanistan, writes Tom Hayden on Huffington Post. Hayden arrives at the number by extrapolating the July-August average through 2011.

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JFP News 9/1: Conservative George Will Calls for U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
September 1, 2009


Can We Get Some Republicans to Defect on Afghanistan?
Conservative columnist George Will had an op-ed in the Washington Post today, calling for the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. We need some Republicans in Congress to listen to George Will.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/316

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) In an op-ed in the Washington Post, conservative columnist George Will calls for the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. America should do only what can be done from offshore, Will says.

2) A new report by the top commander in Afghanistan is "laying the groundwork" for a request for more troops in the coming weeks, the New York Times reports. But Representative Jim McGovern said that after a recent trip there he was pessimistic about the chances of "success" and did not even know how to define it. "I have this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that we're getting sucked into an endless war here," McGovern said.

3) Iran says it has prepared an "updated nuclear proposal" and is ready to talk to world powers, Reuters reports. But a senior U.S. official was dismissive of the report.

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Can We Get Some Republicans to Defect on Afghanistan?

In an op-ed today in the Washington Post, conservative columnist George Will dissociates himself clearly from Republicans who support escalating the war in Afghanistan.

U.S. forces "should be substantially reduced," Will writes. "America should do only what can be done from offshore." Will's piece carries this clear-cut headline: "Time to Get Out of Afghanistan."

Might George Will's op-ed encourage more Republicans in Congress to speak up in favor of withdrawing U.S. troops?

Whether we get our troops out of Afghanistan anytime in the next five years will depend to a significant degree on what Republican Members of Congress are willing to say and do.

This summer, the House of Representatives took what was in effect a "no confidence" vote on Afghanistan policy: it voted down, 138-278, Representative Jim McGovern's amendment requiring the Pentagon to present Congress with an exit strategy.

The majority of House Democrats supported McGovern's amendment. Among Democrats, the vote was 131-114, or 57% to 43%. But Republicans were overwhelmingly opposed. Only seven Republicans voted yes; 164 Republicans voted no; in percentage terms, 4% yes and 96% no.

There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth - as there should be - about Democrats not representing their constituents on the war. But the story on the Republican side is worse, and changing U.S. policy will require turning that around as well.

The Washington Post reported on August 20 that "A majority of Americans now see the war in Afghanistan as not worth fighting, and just a quarter say more U.S. troops should be sent to the country. " Seven in 10 Democrats said the war was not worth fighting, while seven in 10 Republicans said that it was.

JFP News, 8/31: Feingold - The Road Home from Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
August 31, 2009


Senator Kennedy's Most Important Vote
As Senator Kennedy has been eulogized in recent days, few have noted what Senator Kennedy himself said was his most important vote in all his years in the Senate: his vote against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Dean Baker notes that when the political and media establishments were in war fever, Senator Kennedy looked at the evidence, and found it wanting. Next month Congress will consider plans to "double down" the war in Afghanistan. Which Senators will emulate Senator Kennedy's "most important vote"?
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/314

State Department Recommends Aid Cutoff to Honduras Coup Regime
State Department staff have recommended that Secretary Clinton recognize the existence of a "military coup" in Honduras, which would cut off all non-humanitarian U.S. aid, as required by U.S. law. Call the Secretary Clinton at 202-647-5171 during business hours. Deliver this message: "Designate the regime in Honduras as a military coup and cut off all non-humanitarian aid to Honduras until President Zelaya is reinstated." If you don't get through right away, please try again later.
Background:
State Department Recommends Aid Cutoff to Honduras

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/312

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Summary:
U.S./Top News

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