February 20th, 2009
03:40 PM ET
11 years ago

Reporters Notebook: Getting the Afghanistan message right

The Obama White House chose to make the announcement that it was adding 17,000 troops to Afghanistan at the end of a day dominated by coverage of President Barack Obama's signing of the multi-billion dollar stimulus package.

The Obama White House chose to make the announcement that it was adding 17,000 troops to Afghanistan at the end of a day dominated by coverage of President Barack Obama's signing of the multi-billion dollar stimulus package.

(CNN) - A funny thing happened as the White House tried a relatively low-key approach to announcing that it was adding 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. The military didn’t seem to be on board with the message.

The announcement by the Obama administration contrasted with how the Bush administration announced both its increase of troops in Iraq, the “surge,” and even a later addition of troops to Afghanistan last year. Both of those announcements were made in a speech from then-president George Bush.

But the new administration was stuck – it knew it needed to get troops to Afghanistan to satisfy the immediate need to stabilize things, but it also knew it was not ready to announce what its strategy for Afghanistan was. You see, the administration has a review underway for a new, comprehensive strategy that looks at both the military and diplomatic needs for the war.

So the Obama White House chose instead to make the announcement at the end of a day dominated by coverage of President Barack Obama's signing of the multi-billion dollar stimulus package. The announcement came out late afternoon via Pentagon leaks and then a four-paragraph e-mail(subject line: “Statement by the President on Afghanistan”), and outlined a 50% increase in troops to Afghanistan.

Full story at AC360 Blog

Filed under: Afghanistan • Pentagon
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Watcher

    Whoa!! Another Presidential fumble. Soon folks will wish for a return to the good ol' days of George W Bush!!

    February 20, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. Dutch/Hampton Roads, VA

    I don't why people are acting shocked. He said during his campaign he was pulling out of Iraq and that we are going back into Afghanistan to get the people who attacked us. I don't see no end game in sight myself. But I agree with what the Commander in Afghanistan said when he said this war an not be won militarily. There needs to be a way to win over the Afghans' people hearts and minds. Once they realize that freedom is waiting for them when extremists and the Taliban are expelled from the region, I believe they will take up the cause themselves.

    February 20, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. southerncousin

    Change we can believe in. Government by incompetance.

    February 20, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. Bob in Pa

    You mean he slipped it under the rug so to speak.

    February 20, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. Ken

    It seems to me that for each day that goes by, our great country gets another day closer to a 3rd World country.

    I also blame it on the rich and their greed for having the most. I remember the the richest man (Bill Gates) would fly coach instead of having his own plane.

    Our elected officials, such as Pelosi and the Democrats flying off to Rome at the taxpayers expense. Or paying for those that are rich enough to pay for their own expenses, yet allowing the taxpayers to pay their way. This is truly a joke on the American public.

    February 20, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. candian pov

    Canada supported the US actions in Afghanistan and have lost many soldiers to that cause. What most people have to remember is the reason that country was targeted was because it provided safe havens for Al Qaida. The lack of co-operation from Pakistan is one of the biggest problems in that region. The war has lost focus fighting the Taliban but the Taliban DID NOT attack the US on 9/11. It is not the same as the war in Iraq. Canada did not support the invasion of Iraq because it was an illegal, unprovoked, pre-emptive attack on a sovereign nation.

    The US and its allies in Afghanistan must put pressure on Pakistan to co-operate in outing Al Qaida and work with the Taliban to bring peace to the citizens there that have spent generations suffering for the wars of others. The war on terror is in that region and it would be wise to shift US military might to the Afghanistan/Pakistan borders and get out of Iraq.

    February 20, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. boered1

    Not a fumble he has said from the beginning he thinks Afghanistan needed more troops. he has asked for input from the military and has yet to recieve it. Not wanting to waste time and potentially lives by waiting on the beuracracy he talked with the joint chiefs of staff, got a quick assesment and acted on it KNOWING that he might have to change direction at a later date. So instead of jumping up and down and announcing a position he knew that, once he got all the facts, he might have to change he did what any good leader would. he made a decision that needed to be made before all the information was in and than prepared for the potential that changes would have to be made later. And since a large part of this country right now is, unfortunately for this country, politically driven he prepared for political backlash as well.

    Waqtcher there were NEVER and "good ol' days of George W Bush" they were, almost completely terrible distructive divisie days

    February 20, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. New Yorker

    Dutch/ Hampton Roads, VA – Yeah, he did say he was pulling out of Iraq BUT he hasn't has he. He knows Bush was right and won't pull out any sooner than Bush would have. He's all talk.

    February 20, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. bj, Texas

    Let's bring back W. This current administration is proving to be nothing but a bunch of bumbling morons. Mr Odrama travels to different states to make a spectacle out of signing the porkulous package but when it comes to increasing troops in Afganistan by 50% he lets been known by leaking it out. What's the problem mr acorn/meda elected president, got no balls?

    February 20, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. arithmetic is liberal

    Afghanistan: the graveyard of empires.

    Please pull us out as soon as possible, Obama, and focus on that country using infrastructure and non-violence.

    February 20, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. I thought Obama was bringing peace......

    So instead, it's Iraq all over again-where's the Change I Can Believe In??

    February 20, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. David

    Sending more troops to Afghanistan is exactly what Obama said he would do during the election. Nobody should be surprised by what's happening now. A big announcement wasn't necessary.
    I agree with Dutch/Hampton Roads, VA. There needs to be a way to win over the Afghans' people hearts and minds.
    The military leadership and the Obama Administration have also stated that the solution isn't going to be a military one alone. Stop complaining about sending the troops there now. They're needed now. The leaders have alreadyt recognized that the military strategy isn't the complete solution.
    We have had troops in Afghanistan for seven years and they have been ignored by the press and population as a whole for six of those years. Please don't expect the current administration to have a solution immediately. They were handed a pile of dung and it will take time to deal with it.

    February 20, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Michael

    This is too rich!!!! Obama commited 17,000 new troops to Afganistan without a plan. How does he know that is the right number? Guess timelines are out of the question. Same Democrats who demended a plan and timelines from Bush are totally silent on this. Obama has no clue what he is doing. I'm sure Pelosi will fill her boy in soon.

    February 20, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. Geronimos bones?

    @Watcher,not in your life time you moron bastard.

    February 20, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Geronimos bones?

    @Watcher.You must want to be a standup comic when you grow up.Your not funny and not any smarter than my five year old.

    February 20, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. Scott W.

    How will all of the Obama-trons justify their great leader escalating a war in Afghanistan? And what about his attacks on Pakistan, whom we are not even at war with (officially)? Or, the fact that he has broken his promise to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq? And what about his posturing against Iran or his refusal to investigate the Bush regime or try them for the war crimes they are so blatantly guilty of? Or how about his further expansion of the American Empire even as the country verges on bankruptcy? Can they really be so naive? YES THEY CAN.

    February 20, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. LIP

    A 50% increase in troops for Afganistan by the same guy that denounced and voted against every request by Georg W. for an increase in troops for Iraq to help bring that war to a conclusion. What exactly is the rational for this increase? Seems to me that if one idea doesn't float, then likewise the other shouldn't either.
    Is it possible that Obama is attempting to skew the unemployment numbers by sending in more troops and inducting more servicemen? Somewhere down the road, he will say "the stimulus bill has begun to work" and all it really amounts to is more troops in the war.

    February 20, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  18. Texas Teacher


    Admit it, CNN, you are prejudiced. You cannot stop thinking of Obama as the Black President for the Black Americans! HE IS NOT! HE IS THE PRESIDENT! And the Republican Party is NOT the party of the WHITES! GET OVER IT! OBAMA WON! NOT BECAUSE HE IS BLACK! PFFT... BECAUSE HE IS THE "MAN"... WE VOTED FOR!

    February 20, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. bsmith171

    afghanistan is obama's VIETNAM!

    February 20, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. daniel cabrera

    This president will not have any interest to safeguard our land;

    I am a simple man, and all I see is that WE, the people were cheated, our trust and money continues to be abused and the perpetrators still at large.

    sleep well,
    Daniel Cabrera
    Merrillville, Indiana

    February 20, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  21. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    .Honest Abe would say......I told you so. Boys playing with men. Move over. I think its time for amazons. Poofters!

    February 20, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. no corporate politics

    Obama is a good lawyer. He listed it quietly as a goal during the campaign but kept yelling Iraq, iraq over and over. He knew the "Obama girls" would say – and many did to me – "he is a not a war president". They lied for him – this is a technique.

    Not a lie but a BIG DECEPTION. Troops will DIE and KILL. Predator attacks by Obama as commander have KILLED already.

    February 20, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  23. annie - Palin 2012

    Where are all the protestors who would have wanted bush hung for doing this? I know the people who voted for bo were brainwashed, incompetent or just plain stupid but where to all the war objectors go?

    February 20, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. J.P.

    But wait, wait, wait... MORE troops headed to Afghanistan???

    I thought Barry was going to END all wars... I thought he was the Great Prophesied Bringer of the Peace and Sunshine and Rainbows... I thought he was going to ride in on his magical flying unicorn with his helper leprechaun and wave his magic wand and make everyone love us and have the woodland forest creatures eating from his hand ala Snow White... how can this be?

    February 20, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  25. Rafael VA

    You wanted change? You have change now deal with it!!!

    February 20, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |