Obama escalates Afghanistan War
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12/02/09 Seán Kinane
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Barack Obama campainged for President in Dunedin last summer.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF (2008)

Last night President Barack Obama announced a plan to quickly escalate the war in Afghanistan. He spoke at the United States Military Academy at West Point before a national television audience.

“And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.”

Some on the right have criticized Obama for taking too long to make a decision or for not adding the 40,000 to 80,000 troops requested by the leader of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. Many on the left are criticizing the president for escalating the war.

But Florida’s Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson issued a statement saying, “I think the president has a sensible plan, both short- and- [sic] long term, to empower the Afghan people and allow for U.S. troops to complete their mission and come home.”

Obama claims the war in Afghanistan is necessary for the security of the U.S.

“So no – I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. This danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity.”

Obama said the cost of the escalation will be $30 billion the first year.

“All told, by the time I took office the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars. Going forward, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly 30 billion dollars for the military this year, and I will work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.”

Obama will travel to Europe next week to participate in the Climate Summit in Copenhagen and to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

We will bring you much more on the Afghanistan war later in the newscast.

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