February 18th, 2009
07:20 AM ET
9 years ago

Obama: Troops alone cannot win in Afghanistan

President Obama says al Qaeda threatens American from the Afghan-Pakistani border.

President Obama says al Qaeda threatens American from the Afghan-Pakistani border.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Diplomacy will play a bigger role in U.S. efforts in Afghanistan in future even as the Pentagon announced a significant troop increase, President Barack Obama said Tuesday in an interview on Canadian television.

"I am absolutely convinced that you cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan, the Taliban, the spread of extremism in that region solely through military means," Obama told journalist Peter Mansbridge as part of a wide-ranging interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "We're going to have to use diplomacy. We're going to have to use development."

The Pentagon said Tuesday that Obama had approved a significant troop increase for Afghanistan, which is expected to include 8,000 Marines and 4,000 Army troops. An additional 5,000 troops will be deployed at a later date to support combat forces, bringing the total to 17,000, the Defense Department said later in the day.

Canada has about 2,800 troops in Afghanistan, but parliament has voted to pull them out by 2011. Obama suggested he will take up the issue with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper when the two meet Thursday in Ottawa.

"My hope is that in conversations that I have with Prime Minister Harper, that he and I end up seeing the importance of a comprehensive strategy, and one that ultimately the people of Canada can support, as well as the people of the United States can support," Obama said.

The White House is reviewing America's strategy in Afghanistan, according to the president, who said the situation "appears to be deteriorating."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • President Obama
soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. demwit

    Send in the Clintons!!

    February 18, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  2. Proud American

    Obama OKs about 17,000 more troops for Afghanistan –

    That's all that needs to be said about Obama's credibility....or lack thereof; While he, without any military or leadership ability, sends more troops to fight radical muslims, the Pakistanis are warming up to the Taliban....gee, didn't do that with Bush in office......

    Back on the homefront, – ACORN gets 2 billion to keep Thugs on the payroll...

    February 18, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  3. demwit

    Wow! Look at all that good will Obama has inspired from the rest of the world!!

    February 18, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  4. nuke'm

    I say turn the border of Afganistan and Pakistan into a parking lot

    It is a hide out for terrorists, when the dust settles we can give them a Walmart to put next to the parking lot

    February 18, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  5. Obama Cares

    i trust President Obama's judgement.

    February 18, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  6. Gary

    Today woman in Afghanistan can be educated, can vote and can get proper medical care. I think we should continue to help stablize this country to set yet another example for the middle east of how democracy and equality work

    February 18, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  7. Dawn

    We need to get Osama Bin Laden! The question is why didn't Bush and his Croonies get him? Anyone knows?

    February 18, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  8. Dutch/Hampton Roads, VA

    I'm glad the president realizes that troops alone can not alone win the war. But I'm more pleased about troop redeployment in the region. Let's focus on the people who attacked us, find them, capture or kill them, and bring our troops home with all the honor they deserve. The afghan people are going to play the biggest role in rooting out terrorists in the region.

    February 18, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  9. Linda

    Oh good, more double talk from Obama.

    Maybe he should just talk to himself for a while.

    Yes, BOberry, we know the obvious and we also know that in particular situations, sending more troops may HURT THE SITUATION. Kinda like your stimulus. You're drowning, so you throw more water in the hole.

    What is the plan with Afghanistan that you're just sending tens of thousands more troops there? Are you trying a slow surge in troops like John McCains successful plan in Iraq? Of course, another cheap copy that won't have results.

    And, Afghanistan is not Iraq. And, we have no business conducting a "RIGHT WAR" (your words) in that country.

    But heh, your empty words are giving us a good laugh at least.

    February 18, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  10. Deborah

    "Diplomacy will play a bigger role in U.S. efforts in Afghanistan in future even as the Pentagon announced a significant troop increase"

    Talking out of both sides of his mouth!

    What we have come to expect!

    February 18, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  11. Pam

    Definitely agree. Wise man, Obama. It will take more than military actions to stop extremists from recruiting willing martyrs. In fact, military action will only inflame them, egg them on. It's a problem, and problems need thought and consideration to solve, not a swift hit with a club. This will need to be tackled militarily, socially, psychologically, and culturally. It will be a complicated resolution.

    February 18, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. MDM-Real VA

    This world needs our Savior – Jesus Christ1

    February 18, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  13. Baze


    February 18, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. obambi

    Liberal war-haters–come out of your caves–your hero just enhanced a new war which is unwinnable–it will cost you way more than your 13.00 that will be taken away from you.

    February 18, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. Dutch/Hampton Roads, VA

    "We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you. " – President Obama(1/20/09)

    February 18, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. DEMwits

    This is a no-brainer...the Afghanistan problem will only be solved by a coordinated effort across the DIME (Diplomacy, Information overmatch, precise application of Military power, and Economic revitalization).

    It can not and should not be a military problem alone...unfortunately given the lack of resources, security concerns, and a gaps in a comprehensive strategy for the region; the military has carried most of the burden (prime example of this are the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) – military civil affairs teams carrying out diplomatic and regional economic refurbishment missions).

    The DoD should only be a part of the solution...not the complete solution.

    February 18, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  17. karen-Phoenix

    Read "Three Cups of Tea". You can find information under Fareed Zakaria's web page here at CNN. Its the right way to go! And President Obama knows it.

    February 18, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  18. bill

    So where are the anti-war people now that President Obama is escalating our presence in Afganistan? Just another broken promise?

    February 18, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  19. gt

    afganistan will be as bad as viet nam ,,,, lets just get out now

    February 18, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  20. Dina-Bronx

    There is nothing America or anyone else can do for Afghanistan or any part of that region. Same thing goes for Iraq and Iran. We all know, first of all, that Saudi Arabia was behind the 9/11 attacks. Anything being done about that country? NO! So, let's just finally give it up, put an end to sending troops to any place in the middle east and bring them home to protect AMERICA! There are plenty of American boarders where we can use all our troops. And since we have been sending BILLIONS to Iraq every month, ending the mess in the Middle East would do plenty to save our economy and the economy of the rest of the civilized world!

    February 18, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  21. jaye

    Bomb the hades out of Afghanistan, then, bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan!
    NO MORE WAR!!!

    February 18, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  22. 1/20/13

    Awesome.....Now we are going to negotiate with the Taliban and Al Queda. Can this guy get any worse, I think we should invite Osama to the White House for peace talks

    "Osama Obama Talks 09"

    February 18, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. Frank from Peterborough

    Most Canadians including myself are against the fighting in Afghanistan and see it as a useless endeavor.

    The culture in this area will never change and the war lords, religious fanatics and terrorists will continue to thrive in these backward nations.

    The U.S. has a point about guarding itself from terrorist camps in this region but trading military lives for civilian casualties should be given a lot more serious thought as dead is dead regardless of how a person arrives at this point.

    February 18, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  24. beevee

    One smart way to weaken or eliminate Taliban is to create rifts among Taliban leaders and make them destroy each other.

    February 18, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  25. Vancouver, BC

    bill: President Obama was VERY clear throughout his campaign that he would bring the American soldiers home from Iraq while increasing American military presence in Afghanistan. Over and over again he stressed the point that Bush took his eye off the ball when he invaded Iraq and that the real fight is in Afghanistan. Try to at least be factual when you blog your hate!!

    February 18, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
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