November 30th, 2009
04:22 PM ET
5 years ago

Levin: Obama needs to 'connect the dots' Tuesday

Levin: Obama needs to 'connect the dots' Tuesday.
Levin: Obama needs to 'connect the dots' Tuesday.

Washington (CNN) - There is an overriding theme to Sen. Carl Levin's acceptance of President Obama's expected announcement that the United States will be sending upwards of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan: The chairman of the Armed Services Committee thinks the president's Tuesday night message to the nation must "connect the dots" between the added cost in American lives and a willingness of Afghan soldiers to start taking over more of the fighting.

"The nation's going to want to hear why this mission is important, (and) what is the relationship between any additional troops and success in Afghanistan," Levin told CNN.

"...If there's going to be additional [U.S.] troops, which obviously there are, what is the relationship between additional troops and increasing the size and capability of the Afghan army?"

Levin indicated he had been in contact with President Obama about the pending strategy shift late last week.


The Michigan senator echoed other congressional Democrats who said Sunday that the shortfall, especially in southern Afghanistan, is not in U.S. troops but in Afghan forces.

Levin denied that his comments represented a shift from earlier statements expressing concern over the idea of sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. "What I have said is that I do not believe we should send more combat forces at this time. That's been my position" - but that he defined "combat forces" as U.S. troops "doing the fighting without an Afghan partner." In other words: additional U.S. forces should specifically train and upgrade the capability of the locals in the fight against the Taliban.

Levin said he believes the president will be "laying out milestones that need to be met" by Afghanistan's civilian government and military, as well as U.S. personnel.

"We cannot be there in an open-ended way. The president recognizes that. ..... We cannot defeat the Taliban. Only the Afghans can defeat the Taliban with our help, and NATO's help."

As calls continue for a war "surtax" to pay for the effort - which is estimated to cost about a million dollars per each additional U.S. service member, Levin is not in favor an across-the-board increase. Put forth most prominently by Rep. David Obey, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, the surtax would be universal.

Levin and many Senate Democrats favor specifically increasing taxes on those making $250,000 or more per year. "They're the only group that really did well during the Bush years.... We cannot impose a war tax in the middle of a recession on middle-income folks. I just don't think it's the proper thing to do."

Levin: Obama needs to 'connect the dots' Tuesday
[http://podcasts.cnn.net/cnn/services/podcasting/audio/pnw1130.mp3]


Filed under: Afghanistan • Carl Levin • President Obama
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. SocialismBad

    Democrats think winning wars is as easy as "connecting the dots". How simplistically juvenile. And these idiots are running the country....

    November 30, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  2. independent

    I have confidence in out President.

    He will do what he has reminded all of us to do. Take pride, take a stand. These are the days and we are the people we have been waiting/hoping for. Don't wait for someone else to fix what you see broken and not working. Fix it.

    I have confidence that he will take steps to set right what is within his sight, and within his power. Along with him, what can we do; what can I do; what can you do to help him and extend further what he is trying to do?

    November 30, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. Jake

    end the war in Afghanistan. it's time to focus on America!

    November 30, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  4. gt

    get them out

    November 30, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. mjm

    "They're the only group that really did well during the Bush years.."

    What a stupid thing to say, but then again this does sum up liberal Democrats. If you do well, they will hate you for it and they will make you pay a fine (tax) because of it. That’ll teach you.

    Liberal democrats will always punish success and reward failure....which is why most Democrats are failures.

    Our taxes already go towards national defense. If we can't afford that, then we CANNOT afford the health care bill and its public option.

    November 30, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    When it's all said and done, there will be close to 100,000 boots on the ground. That being said, this is clearly going to be a long war. Until the Afghan Army and police forces can take control of their own communities, which I don't see happening, we'll be their for a while.

    November 30, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. Albo58

    With yet another $Billion bail out for the auto unions in Detroit, Levin would agree to ANYTHING the President wanted to do! Levin is a complete party hack!

    November 30, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. Mickey

    Bush & Cheney couldn't connect the dots...a simple child's game. So, they fabricated "evidence" to propel the United States into not one, BUT TWO, unjust wars.

    Arrest Bush and Cheney NOW for war crimes.

    November 30, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. B

    It we continue to try to Rebuild the rest of the world to our own detriment, we will lose again as we did with Bush and Co..

    This country is Broke and we need the resources used here in this country!

    What happens if we have another disaster like Katrina and we are totally spent ?

    November 30, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. Fred the Moderate

    Hard to hear you Levin, you have been bought and paid for so many times I don't know who you speak for anymore.

    A one time supporter

    November 30, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. phoenix86

    It is a shame that Obama will use the West Point cadets as a prop to outline a policy that will not give the soldiers the support they need.

    If one connects the dots of Obama's policy, it spells S-U-R-R-E-N-D-E-R.

    November 30, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  12. LacrosseMom

    62% of Americans DO NOT want this war to continue!

    We will eventually withdraw from Afghanistan the sooner the better!

    Its another Vietnam.

    And to all the war mongers, want the war? GO FIGHT IT YOURSELF!

    November 30, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. Chris - Denver

    Lame. More war isn't going to help anything. Read Three Cups of Tea and learn what really will help end extremism.

    November 30, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  14. Terry from West Texas

    Too many Liberal domestic agendas were scrapped because of a war against totalitarianism. Wilson's program was killed by WWI, FDR's by WWII, Truman's by Korea, and Johnson's by Vietnam. Even Clinton's moderate agenda was killed by Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay.

    We can't afford to postpone solving urgent national and global problems NOW! War and terrorists are just not important enough to be worthy of our attention. The house is on fire NOW. We can exterminate the rats later.

    November 30, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. mark

    fund the war against terror, not a bloated gvt takeover of health care...

    November 30, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. File under "Sarcasm"

    Careful Carl or the White House may forget you're a Democrat and bring in the Chicago thugs to get you back in line with the program. How can you possibly consider criticizing a decision that took the Campaigner-In-Chief three months to figure out? This is "rocket science" you know.

    November 30, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  17. T'SAH from Virginia

    There is ONE Commander in Chief. His name is President Barack Obama!!!

    ALL of the WANNA-BEs need to STOP and let President Obama present his strategy tomorrow night @ 7:00PM Eastern time and then SAY what you WANNA because you're going to have MORE to say at that time!!!

    Jeez! President Obama is a SMART man and he knows what he is dong!! CASE and POINT!

    November 30, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. vwrtb

    Auto union bailout... You are stuck in the 80's

    November 30, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Obama Victim

    it would seem the Dems are the "party of no" now

    November 30, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  20. morgan thomas

    How can he connect the dots? When I started school I had to present a birth certificate. If I'm right he has failed to do that.

    November 30, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  21. They call me "tater salad"

    I think Carl Levin would do himself a lot of good by connecting his own dots................. to reality, that is.............Where was this clown and all of his great ideas, for the past 8 years while Bush and Cheney basically, turned their back on the war to go to Iraq to chase oil and create all kinds of job security for all of their private military contractor and oil infrastructure buddies(Haliburton,KBR.Blackwater,Xe,Bechtel,Brickenhoff)??????........Its funny...........All I seem to hear are the crickets chirping...............

    November 30, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. Michael Arnaud

    When you say things like "We can't defeat the Taliban, only the Afgans can defeat the the Taliban" we've already lost. Sen. Levin isn't looking at this in the proper way. Find the Taliban and Al Qaida-destroy the Taliban and Al Qaida-Afgans can start building a better country. That's connecting the dots. Until the Democrats in Congress get it through thier thick heads that wanting an 'exit stratagy' before the war starts is how the other side wins. Then they just wait out the fatalistic Americans like Sen. Levin.

    Did Congress want an 'exit stratagy from Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, or even Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon. No, it wasn't asked. When you go to war you fight till you win or lose. From the sounds of Sen. Levin, we lost already.

    November 30, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  23. Robin

    It is really unfair to compare this war to Vietnam. During Vietnam we lost 184,000 men. 500,000 were wounded.

    It's easy to say "let's pull out", but nothing is that simple. This is a war that Obama supported even during his campaign. He was against the war in Iraq. Not Afganistan.

    No one "loves" war, but this war is crucial to our national security. We need to crush them before they crush us. Sorry to be so blunt, but it is true.

    Go back to 9/12/01. It was us agaist them. And the "them" was not the Republicans.

    I'm not a "war-monger", just a realist.

    November 30, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  24. valwayne

    Obama's months and months and months of dithering have shown us, and our enemies, that he does not support our troops in the field, is not committed to their mission, and does not believe in, let alone support a victory in Afghanistan. That is at least most, if not all of the Vietnam recipe for disaster. Why would the enemy give up when they know they can outlast an uncommitted President? Best to bring them home now and accept the disasterous consequences than leave our troops in harms way with so so support from their Commander in Chief!

    November 30, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. Linda

    Finally, someone is giving an Obama a "how to" book.

    Really, doesn't even the young ones now concede, "we should have went with a known and experienced leader in Hillary"?

    When Hillary asked who was prepared to answer that 3 am call, I don't think anyone expected Obama to let it keep RINGING!

    November 30, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
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