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

Levin: Obama needs to 'connect the dots' Tuesday

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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

Filed under: Afghanistan • Carl Levin • President Obama
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    Listen closely and you'll hear the dems dangling the purse strings, reminding Obama that they have the ultimate say.

    Weren't these the same miscreants who wanted us to surrender and fail in Iraq???

    November 30, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  2. Phil

    I've sorted through the piles of arms that have been left in Afghanistan by other countries in the past. It really is quite interesting. Everything from old muzzle loaders to AK-47's and Hind helicopters. I wonder who the next countries soldiers will be who are sorting through our discarded arms decades from now when we are gone.

    November 30, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  3. James, Ho. TX

    As has been stated, Only Congress may declare war against an Invader ! Congress gave G. W. an authorization to invade Iraq after 9/11 and the false info about WMDs. Afghanistan is an other story and Obama has not been Authorized !! No declaration, No Need for a War Tax ! No need to send additional GI's !! Time to bring all the Boys Home !

    November 30, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  4. terry,va

    Obummie is too stupid to connect the dots. He can't color inside the lines either.

    November 30, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  5. IndyVoter

    Why do Americans have to be baby-sat and "reminded" of why we are in Afghanistan? Are they stupid? Do they have long term memory loss? I mean, how can ANYONE who saw Americans jumping out of the burning towers even ask the question 'why are we in Afghanistan?' A third grader could understand this:

    1. Al Qaeda in Afghanistan run by Taliban
    2. Al Qaeda launches attack on US
    3. US demands Taliban hand over al Qaeda leaders
    Taliban refuses
    4. US attack Afghanistan to get al Qaeda leadership and make sure
    Taliban not allow Afghanistan to be sanctuary for al Qaeda
    5. Bush starts Iraq war, forgets about Afghanistan
    6. Obama elected needs to finish job in Afghanistan (see #4)
    7. Obama needs more troops to finish job

    What is so hard about this to understand? As a US Army Veteran, I support you Mr. President and our troops!

    November 30, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  6. Stu

    Someone with no military experience in charge of the most powerful military on earth, hampered by a gutless military and a spoiled rotten population with no willpower to fight the good fight. What a change since World War II.

    November 30, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  7. formermarine

    I have read alot of blogs from us service people. They all one common theme is that the afgan military are chasing their own tail. The afgan military has no clear chain of command. Afgan soldiers don't want to show up to secure their country. Unless these can snap too and take charge of their country, this is going to be a long mess.

    November 30, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |

    I support this President.

    November 30, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  9. ralph esposito

    What is this administration doing for the average
    American? Things are worse than during the Bush years. This war and the sending of troops to die FOR NOTHING while still claiming it will make Americans more safe–is truly as nonsensical as it was 4 years ago. No more Vietnams...Are we really that stupid as Americans to believe that we can make a difference in a part of the world that wants us all to die? Maybe we can have a leader with really good foreign policy-well, maybe some day....someday...someday.....

    November 30, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  10. Paul H

    I'm not left thinking by any stretch of the imagination. Politically I tend to lean more to the right on social issues, and middle to right on most political issues.
    But this war is getting old. I think we have achieved about as much as we can by being over there in force. I think it's time for some strategic hit's, and undercover operations to maybe start taking these guys apart from the inside out.
    We have these guys on the run, and they are hiding. They are killing people in cowardly acts from the shadows.
    We need to get out and let them feel like they can come out of the shadows so that we can see them again. Then hit them in ways that are effective, and permanent.

    November 30, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  11. nclaw441

    I cannot believe those who oppose President Obama's war plans for Afghanistan. This is your president, and might I remind you, the first African-American president. If you oppose any of his decisions, you are racist. At least this is the message that has been sent to conservatives when they have opposed any of his policies.

    November 30, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  12. Connecting the dots = lunacy policy

    Connecting the dots? Neither the Obama administration nor Cngress does have the IQ to do this.

    The Democrats want to implement a war tax to pay for the Afghan War, while the GOP wants to cut spending to pay for the Afghan War, And all the while, most Americans simply want to end the Afghan War so there is no cost to fund and no lives to lose.

    We would be in Afghan for 10 more years and not make a bit of difference. The Al Quaeda inner circle likely moved to Somali 2 years ago, so we are chasing out tails.

    November 30, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  13. snowflake

    I'll bet CNN will NEVER connect the dots! They wouldn't want to give any trust or credit to this President! They couldn't wait to get rid of Bush. Now it's bash, bash, bash, President Obama! Suppose this will go on for a few more years until they find another target? OF COURSE!!

    November 30, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  14. mjm

    "Too many Liberal domestic agendas were scrapped because of a war against totalitarianism"

    Hate to brake it to you but the liberal agenda IS Totalitarianism. Why else would they need 60 votes to pass anything?

    "Totalitarian rule is a political system where the state, usually under the control of a single political organization, faction, or class domination, recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life"....Obama in a nut shell

    November 30, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  15. guy from NM

    If he goes for more troops in Afghanistan(and he is), I am burning my voting card. Civilians runs this country (however corrupt the politicos might be), not the generals.
    He has become or always was just another spineless politicians

    November 30, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  16. Texas Longhorn talks Truth

    Anymore of a would be acting president that bends over and kisses the hand of a muslim King of Saudia Arabia is a disgrace and he will embarass and cause the death of whole lot of American Soldiers before he is through. You can't take a watermelon out of the patch and change it to a cantapoupe.

    November 30, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  17. Dan, TX

    morgan thomas, SocialsimBad, and the rest of the idiots can sit back and relax as we spend $100 Billion each year on Afghanistan. Stop complaining about deficits, we know you don't want to pay for it. So just sit back and enjoy it.

    November 30, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  18. terry horn

    Levin needs to pack up his selective memory, and go home. This man thinks youre not smart enough to remember , Bill Clinton, taking a pass on the whole Bin Laden thing, After multiple bombings, all over the world , killing innocent children.and elderly people, Diplomats and military personel. The Clintons were offered his head on a silver platter, not once but three times and refused. Now Im not blaming the Clintons for current events ,but dont call down the thunder Mr Levin , If you dont want the whole story told. And no we didnt get him at Tora Bora , But the whole world did get to see A mad man , that urges his followers to blow them selves up for ala. Run like a woman with child from the battle,never to be seen again ,to save his own worthless neck,. Oh yes , he did acually leave his soldiers there to marter themselves.
    I sincerely hope that Cnn will tell the whole story about Sen. Levin and John Kerrys selective memories.

    November 30, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  19. The Great Norfthwest

    Bring them home now like yesterday..Morgan Thomas I can't get my original Birfth certificate from my state either and its not Hawaii its a small paper now my original was a black photo looking copy with white printing many records have changed are you still living in the 1800's?

    November 30, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  20. terry horn

    It frightens me to think that Sen. Levin and John Kerry would have anything to do with this bill.
    Im afraid that they will put so many rules of engagement on our soldiers that we will sart filling body bags whole sale.

    November 30, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  21. Willy Brown

    Why do you in Michigan keep re electing Senator comb over. How's the rest of that democrat change and hope working for you ?

    November 30, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  22. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Where was the liberal left when George Bush was marching our troops off to war? They weren't this loud in their complaints until 2 years ago, when the campaigning for the White House began. As for taxing the rich, it makes no sense. The left has been complaining about no "shared sacrifice" for the war and only the troops having to sacrifice. Pretty soon, the Democrats will tax those making $250,000 or more right into a different tax bracket.

    November 30, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Pkease take care of how to put people back to work then all dots will be connected..Nothing can move right if people dont have a job to pay tax to fulfill Obama spending plans.I voted for his promises and he forgot them all..This president has an empty brain so he dont remember what he said.We need to connect our own dots.

    November 30, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  24. Keith in Austin

    Clearly, Barry and the left wing loons do not have the will (let alone the intestinal fortitude) to WIN the war in Afghanistan! Mark my words, Bozo will announce a troop deployment tommorrow night with a strong caveat that he will pull them out in short order. That way he can appease his left-wing base! In other words, have it both ways and vote "present"

    Meanwhile, Ahmadinijad and Iranian leadership is threatening us with more nuclear proliferation and laughing at his impotence Obama's obvious weakness.

    America's strength is fortified in the minds of rouge dictators in fear of US retaliation. Obama's obvious weakness is now very apparant to our enemies and our overall security is compromised as a result.

    November 30, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
1 2