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Palin’s Afghanistan Strategy . . . “Kill the Terrorists”

Reported by Julie - November 29, 2009 -

Co-Written by Guest Blogger Nayef

A note from Julie . . . Palin just loves to blather about the military from an “inside” position, as the mother of a soldier, as though that makes her some kind of expert. Well, I'm the mother of a soldier too, who's been in the Army since age 17, which doesn’t make me any kind of military expert. But he’s also no fan of Palin. In fact, when he learned that Palin had been asked not to speak at Ft. Bragg, he looked heavenward and said, “Thank God. They shouldn’t let her get anywhere near our military when all she does is trash our Commander in Chief. If she ever becomes President I’m getting out of the military.” Okay, so that’s my “personal story” segment. Now let’s let guest blogger Nayef get a word in . . . .

President Obama has been seeking advice from various experts on what to do in Afghanistan, and Sarah Palin is, obviously, not one of them. If we judge by the pursing of her mean lips, the hard eyes, and the set of her jaw, however, she apparently believes she’s got the answers and seems a little miffed that President Obama isn’t doing things her way. And what’s her way, you ask? Well, “On the Record” with Greta van Susteren,” as always, gave Palin a forum to, uh, simplify things. Like, really simplify things. Gotta keep those “terror cells” from growing, gotta make sure “those terrorists don’t come back over to the homeland,” the President needs a surge strategy, he needs to equip the soldiers, he needs to acknowledge the sacrifices of our military, we have to fight for “democratic ideals,” he needs to “kill the terrorists and stop this growth of the cells,” he needs to WIN WIN WIN! Sarah, honey, first of all, this isn’t a high school football game. This is a war, which we have been involved in for eight years, and the strategy is one which our President is weighing carefully, unlike another recent President who weighed what he ate for breakfast longer than whether to fight a war. With video.

Van Susteren asked Palin what are the best and worst things she has seen President Obama do.

Palin responded by saying, “I appreciated so much the other night when he’s in China and he suggested that condemnation of the human rights abuses in that country – of course, I’d like him to be bolder about it . . . I appreciated that he was bold enough to go ahead and tell China that human rights abuses are not acceptable in our eyes.” Well, that’s nice. She doesn’t like “human rights abuses.” Of course, her record on compassion toward other humans isn’t so great. She did, while Mayor of Wasila, require that rape victims pay for their own rape kits. And Evon Peter, the former Chief of the Neetsaii Gwich’in tribe from Arctic Village, Alaska and the current Executive Director of Native Movement, in a piece accusing Palin of human rights violations, wrote, “Let me get specific about what is at stake and how this relates to Palin and the Republican leadership in Alaska and across this country. To this day, Alaska Native peoples are among the only Indigenous peoples in all of North America whose Indigenous Hunting and Fishing Rights have been extinguished by federal legislation and yet we are the most dependent people on this way of life. Most of our villages have no roads that connect them to cities; many live with poverty level incomes, and all rely to varying degrees on traditional hunting, fishing, and harvesting for survival. This has become known as the debate on Alaska Native Subsistence. As Alaska Governor, Palin has continued the path of her predecessor Frank Murkowski in challenging attempts by Alaska Native people to regain their human right to their traditional way of life through subsistence.”

Hmmm . . . Palin doesn’t like “human rights abuses” but feels comfortable starving native Alaskans? And of course, there’s the federal lawsuit – in which the complainants sought class action status -- that was filed against Palin for “racial insensitivity.” Maybe she doesn’t consider “racial sensitivity” to be a human right? While van Susteren allowed Palin’s railroad and road show to roll on, Palin’s own record was, of course, overlooked by van Susteren.

Palin threw a negative spin on a moment where President Obama bonded with soldiers, saying, “The worst thing – I think that there’s been a lack of acknowledgement by our President in understanding what it is that the American military provides in terms of obviously the safety, the security, of our country. There was the comment made the other night about, you know, the troops make for a good photo op and I’m giving you guys a raise, and that’s the applause line . . . .” Oh, please – can we add “humorless” to Palin’s long, long, long list of negative attributes?

As ABC News reported on President Obama’s stop at Osan Air Base in South Korea, “Before a crowd of troops holding cameras and cell phones, the president joked, ‘you guys make a pretty good photo op.’ The president said he was there to share ‘the gratitude of the American public,’ and he added, ‘America's commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea will never waver . . . This is an alliance rooted in sheer sacrifice, common values, mutual interests and a mutual respect,’ he said. ‘And as we look to the future, with a shared vision of our alliance in the 21st century, I made it clear America's commitment to the Republic of Korea will never waiver and our alliance has never been stronger.’ Not surprisingly, after the president noted he was increasing military pay he received a big cheer. ‘That's what you call an applause line in the business,’ the president joked.” You can view the President’s remarks here.

And as for President Obama’s acknowledgement of the soldiers . . . As Reuters AlertNet reported in October, “President Barack Obama said on Thursday that getting a first-hand look at the sacrifices made by U.S. troops will have a bearing on how he views the war in Afghanistan as he crafts a new strategy there. ‘It was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifice (by troops and their families),’ Obama told reporters in the Oval Office after he went to Dover Air Force Base and saluted the flag-draped caskets of 18 soldiers and federal agents killed in Afghanistan this week.’ And on Veterans Day at Arlington Cemetery, as reported by NewsOK, “The president eloquently honored the service of American fighting men and women, saying the current generation ‘already deserves a place alongside previous generations for the courage they have shown and the sacrifices they have made.’ Then Obama said he would do right by all veterans and families, promising: ‘America will not let you down.’” It’s worth noting that President Obama’s visit to Dover Air Force Base to honor fallen soldiers is a trip President George W. Bush never made.

Palin seemed bitter at the President’s popularity with the soldiers – and as for the applause line that she so sneeringly quoted? As reported by the Anchorage Daily News, “. . . The Veterans Affairs budget is undergoing its largest percentage increase in more than 30 years.” Let’s see, that would be an increase that three Republican administrations (if my math is correct) didn’t offer.

“You've always taken care of America," Obama told the troops, "and America has to take care of you back."

And in fact, President Obama has done more than just pay lip service to acknowledging the contributions by our soldiers. He ended Stop-Loss, the policy that forced American service people to serve beyond their initial term of service. As reported by Let Freedom Rain, “The military will phase out its ‘stop loss’ program, the contentious practice of holding troops beyond the end of their enlistments, for all but extraordinary situations . . . Instead, the military will use incentives programs to encourage personnel to extend their service.” Under Bush, as reported by Think Progress, between May 2007 and March 2008, “the number of soldiers forced to remain in the Army rose 43% to 12,235.”

“I want him to acknowledge . . . the sacrifices that these individual men and women, our sons, our daughters, our moms, our dads, our brothers and sisters, are providing this country to keep us safe . . . they’re making sacrifices, they’re putting . . . so much on hold right now so that the homeland can be safe and they can fight for democratic ideals . . . I want to see more acknowledgment and more respect given . . . I want to see them equipped . . .”

Well, since you mentioned it, Sar, as reported by militaryinfo.com, in October 2009, President Obama signed the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, which contained “$680.2 billion in military budget authority, as transformational legislation that targets wasteful defense spending . . . ‘There's still more waste we need to cut; there's still more fights that we need to win,’ President Obama said, noting he and Secretary Gates will continue to seek out unnecessary defense spending. President Obama said he has ended unnecessary no-bid defense contracts and signed bipartisan legislation to reform defense procurement practices so weapons systems' costs do not spin out of control. The legislation . . . saves billions by capping production of the Air Force's costly F-22 Raptor and terminating troubled, over-budget programs such as the Army's Future Combat System and a new presidential helicopter. ‘As commander in chief, I will always do whatever it takes to keep the American people safe to defend this nation,’ President Obama said. ‘That's why this bill provides for the best military in the history of the world.’ The authorization act provides for a 3.4 percent pay raise for military members, improves care for wounded warriors and expands family leave rights. Money also is budgeted to fund programs that address ‘real and growing threats’ . . . Such systems, he said, include the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, the littoral combat ship and more helicopters and reconnaissance support for deployed U.S. forces. The authorization act contains $130 billion to fund overseas contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and it also provides $6.7 billion for thousands of all-terrain, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles now arriving in Afghanistan.” President Obama even gave up a new helicopter – that’s would be, in terms Palin might understand, like turning down, say, $150,000 worth of campaign clothes.

“I want to see them given everything that they need including strategies, a surge strategy in Afghanistan, for one, so that they know that they’re there for victory . . . I want our President and this Administration to listen to the advisors who they hired – McChrystal for one back in March telling the President, here’s what we’re gonna need there, and then ramping up that advice . . . Mr. President, here’s what we need in Afghanistan to win, to make sure that those terror cells don’t grow, so that those terrorists don’t come back over to the homeland, in America, on our soil, and kill innocent Americans. I want him to listen to his advisors . . . .”

Greta pointed out that one of the criticisms is that “he’s been listening too long,” but we also don’t want to “rush to judgment.”

“Do you expect that decision to have been made by now by the President?” asked van Susteren innocently, a set-him-up question if I ever heard one.

Palin sneered, and responded, as usual, in garbled English: “How long does consultation and talk among bureaucrats go on? The American people want action . . . And our troops deserve that too, they need to know what’s in their future . . . Our military needs to know, where are we going in Afghanistan? Are we gonna listen to McChrystal and are we gonna provide that counter-insurgency strategy that includes more reinforcements being sent and get the job done, or are we gonna keep kind of dithering around and not knowing so many of us who really are war-weary not knowing how long is this gonna go on and why are we sending troops over there unless the goal is to win, is to kill the terrorists and stop this growth of the cells and make sure that we’re doing all that we can to secure the homeland and to fight for the ideals in a country that believe it or not they want us there because they want us to assist.” We’ve all seen what happens when there’s a rush to judgment, such as post 9/11. President Obama has listened to his advisors and is factoring the sacrifices of the troops, including loss of life, into his decision. Only someone without a conscience could make such a monumental decision lightly.

In fact, President Obama will be unveiling his Afghanistan strategy Tuesday, December 1st, and the likelihood is that he will be sending 34,000 more troops to the region. However, both van Susteren and Palin, despite the previous comments Palin has made about “growing more debt,” failed to mention in this segment the cost of the war in Afghanistan, which amounts to, according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, “ . . . A million dollars a troop for a year . . . Ten thousand troops is $10 billion. That's in addition to what we already spend in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That also does not include training, and it doesn't include the maintaining of a security force. It's very, very, very expensive.”

Van Susteren wondered if we can win in Afghanistan, noting that the Soviet Union “ran home” in the early 1990’s, and though we’ve been there for eight years, it seems to be getting worse. “Can we really win there?” van Susteren asked skeptically.

“We have to . . . we have to win there . . . and that’s why it’s so important for the President to listen to McChrystal, to listen to those who are there on the front lines, telling him what it is that we need . . . .”

Palin’s solution to winning the war in Afghanistan is to kill terrorists, destroy those pesky terror cells and not let them grow any more – basically, just shoot everybody. Nation-building? She doesn’t need any stinking nation-building. War costs? When she said let’s not grow the debt, she didn’t mean to quit spending on the war – she meant those silly social and economy-building programs. The fact that President Obama is carefully weighing the options? She called it “dithering around” and seemed scornful of a thoughtful process.

I have a title for her next book: “Telling Lies.” I might even buy that one.