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. Robert

    We can win Afghanistan, only if Russia and China stop supplying weapons to the Taliban for fighting US Troops, just like we supplied weapons to Taliban to fight Russian Troops during 1980s.

    Can we work out some Diplomacy with Russia and China?

    February 18, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. Tony

    OK Bush haters.....

    I wonder if NOBAMA would send his daughter to fight in Afghanistan????? I doubt it. They will go to school and write a book and might even go do voluteer work. But he has no problem sending my son to Afghanistan to fight.

    I thought all these guys were coming home?????

    Again, the only change he brought is changing his mind.

    February 18, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. reality check, ky

    We are acting like spoiled children! For the past 8 years, we had a president that ran this country and the entire WORLD to the ground, a vice-president who's connection to the war was corrupt (halliburton), and a government that did what it pleased and ignored EVERYONE.

    Now we have a president that works hard to give us full disclosure- and we complain about every move he makes. No wonder Bush made decisions without consulting the people-he didn't want to deal with all the crap from his own party.

    We now have a thoughtful president that talks to the American people regularly-and we nothing but negative comments and the press compares him to a monkey.

    We have a president that is working hard to address the economy- and those who messed it up are criticizing every move he makes.

    STOP and realize that he is SOOO MUCH BETTER than Bush. We should be really thankful our voices are finally being heard.

    February 18, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. Beth

    Frank: Sure you see the fighting as useless. You didn't lose over 3,000 of your own people on 9/11.

    February 18, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. Esme

    i'm a canadian who supports the war in afghanistan and i'm going to be so RELIEVED once more american troops arrive. our canadian soldiers have met with tremendous violence and the increasing bodycount has made many of my countrymen against the war (even though i'm sure ethically they know we need to be there). we need more u.s. troops or it's just too unsafe for our soldiers to be there and the canadian politicians will have to bow to public pressure and withdraw.

    AFGHANISTAN is where terrorists can thrive because of its political instability.

    AFGHANISTAN is where the terrorists for 9-11 trained.

    AFGHANISTAN is the war that should have been fought from day one after 9-11.


    AFGHANISTAN is where girls get permanently disfigured by acid being thrown on them for going to school.

    AFGHANISTAN is where women fear for their lives just because they're female.

    AFGHANISTAN is the war that should have been fought from day one of Taliban rule.

    February 18, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. hi

    Name one time in history when invading Afghanistan has worked...

    Oh wait! Never! What's that old saying...? History repeats itself?

    February 18, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    There are some people out there who say that Pres Obama would bring the troops home.....well, that he did say...about Iraq, not Afganistan. He stated he would probably have to put more troops and emphasis in Afganistan to get the job done.....something Pres Bush did not do.

    February 18, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Esme

    (to clarify, as mentioned in the article, we already set a date to withdraw, but if obama wants us to stay, he needs to send the troops over tout de suite!)

    February 18, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. WhoCares?

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

    You conservatives have really short memories.

    Did you forget that the entire nation (and most of the Western World)was behind us going into Afghansitan to fight the taliban and get Bin Laden?

    It was when YOUR SAVIOR Bush took all that capital and twisted it to fight a war he had wanted since day 1 in Iraq that he lost those that didn't revel in war and death.

    Just a small history lesson for you on the right that want to change history to match your political views.

    February 18, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. Marc

    Where is Osama Bin Laden hidden? Somewhere in the border region between Pakhistan and Afghanistan.
    Why did the Taleban (Osama's supporter) managed to create a parallel state in Afghanistan, to the point that the Federal and local governments (of the areas where they are stronger) had to agree to let some of their beliefs become law? Because the military presence in Afghanistan wasn't enough to properly neutralize the Al Qaeda, Taleban and others and they had support from local warlords and part of the (tribalistic) local population, either by Terror or real identification with their beliefs.
    So to get the men behind 9/11, to prevent that they ebe able to try something like that, AGAIN, won't be possible only with guns or nukes. Diplomacy, the reduction of the powers of the warlords and other non-military actions are in order.
    Let's see if he can accomplish it.

    PS: Baze and Jaye, nuke the Afghanistan and the Pakhistan and you'll have a Global Holly War, and will make China and Russia even more stronger than they are now while isolating completely the US. Great plan of yours!!

    February 18, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  11. Lisa, Saugus MA

    I am sick of politians and President Obama is no different. He is talking out of both sides of his mouth. First he promotes throughout the campaign an anti-war stance. He speaks of diplomacy and how he would even use said diplomacy to deal with our enemies. That is all well and good except now we are going to go in and start WWIII by bombing the heck out of Afganistan. Woman and children and young American soliders will be victims of this move and we will be in Afganistan longer than we were in Vietnam.

    If the purpose is to get Osama bin laden, we are in the wrong country. All intelligence shows he is probably in Pakistan.

    What a mess. First the economy and now foreign policy screw-up!

    February 18, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. WhoCares?

    "Hey! What's that cracking sound I hear? Oh, it's the sound of another Obama campaign pledge being broken."

    As people have stated and AS YOU KNOW IS THE TRUTH :

    Obama actually campaigned on focusing on Afghanistan.

    Do you Republicans get paid by the lie? What's it like to be so beat down that your only recourse in any discussion is just to lie?

    Good Lord...He campaigned that he would do this.

    February 18, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Melissa

    Thats where the soldiers should have been the whole time. Good, Obama is doing whats needed. He has broken no pledge, he's fulfilling what he promised.

    February 18, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Ariana

    You people need help. Afghanistan was improving, but then we decided to invade Iraq. That's when things started going downhill. It's really easy to TALK about it when you're in America. But I've been to Afghanistan, I KNOW!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. KC

    Can we just send Pelosi over?

    February 18, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Paul

    Thank you Mr. President.....
    Another campaign Promise realized!

    February 18, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. Rachelraye49 - MD

    Oh, some of you would have something negative to say about the man if he caught Bin Laden. He said time after time that the ball was dropped in Afghanistan and focused in the wrong place Iraq. Those of us who follow the election knows this too well. Stop, trying to say he's double talking. When we know who the double talking liar was. This President is not trying to hide anything from us. Please give me a break.

    February 18, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. rodlang

    Welcome to a quaqmire. Afghanistan is much tougher than Iraq. The old Soviet Union was in Afghanistan for ten years and they had to admit defeat and go home. Instead of sending more US soldiers and marines, just torch (burn) the poppy crop and be done with it. The terrain in this county is a horrid place to fight a war.

    February 18, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. Debi

    Why Afghanistan hates America:
    The "great" Regan and daddy Bush were the contributors to this war and the 9/11 attacks.
    In the 1980s we used these people.
    If we had not used the people of Afghanistan to fight the Russians then threw them away like they are yesterday's leftovers we would not have this conflict.
    Regan and daddy Bush's administration ignored Afghanistan after they fought the Russians for us. Now we expect them to LIKE us? Yeah right!

    We need to get the Taliban out and find Osama. They both helped finance the 9/11 attacks. We have wasted several years and many lives in Iraq when we should have been focusing on Osama and the Taliban. We also need to investigate how much Saudi money is involved. They are not innocent bystanders.

    February 18, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. Bob in Pa

    Nope, he's right, the troops need a few good weapons and the restraints removed from them to help with the task.

    February 18, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. Kurt from Canada

    To those people saying that Obama has broken a campaign promise by redeploying more troops to Afghanistan. Were you bothering to listen to his campaign? This is EXACTLY what h sai he was going to do.

    February 18, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Dawn – Nobama said he would get Osama!!

    February 18, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. billy-bayou

    What happened to the fact that this frigging obama idiot was going to bring all the troops home?
    As he said so many times..."Words, just words, pretty speeches, words" LAMO

    February 18, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  24. Mike in Houston


    Bush didn't get Osama. Let's see if Obama can. I bet that Obama will surrender Afganistan long before he catches any Taliban.

    February 18, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Franky

    Afghan...life's unorthodox war...geez, if the Soviets couldn't take them out, what makes you think we can? Na'h, I'm playing, we helped out the Soviets, they owe us, LOL!! I call it the little war that couldn't...

    February 18, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
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