High Costs Weigh on Troop Debate for Afghan War

High Costs Weigh on Troop Debate for Afghan War

While President Obama’s decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan is primarily a military one, it also has substantial budget implications that are adding pressure to limit the commitment, senior administration officials say.

The latest internal government estimates place the cost of adding 40,000 American troops and sharply expanding the Afghan security forces, as favored by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and allied commander in Afghanistan, at $40 billion to $54 billion a year, the officials said.

Even if fewer troops are sent, or their mission is modified, the rough formula used by the White House, of about $1 million per soldier a year, appears almost constant.

So even if Mr. Obama opts for a lower troop commitment, Afghanistan’s new costs could wash out the projected $26 billion expected to be saved in 2010 from withdrawing troops from Iraq. And the overall military budget could rise to as much as $734 billion, or 10 percent more than the peak of $667 billion under the Bush administration.

Such an escalation in military spending would be a politically volatile issue for Mr. Obama at a time when the government budget deficit is soaring, the economy is weak and he is trying to pass a costly health care plan.

Senior members of the House Appropriations Committee have already expressed reservations about the potential long-term costs of expanding the war in Afghanistan. And Mr. Obama could find it difficult to win approval for the additional spending in Congress, where he would have to depend on Republicans to counter defections from liberal Democrats.

One senior administration official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the details of confidential deliberations, said these concerns had added to the president’s insistence at a White House meeting on Wednesday that each military option include the quickest possible exit strategy.

“The president focused a lot on ensuring that we were asking the difficult questions about getting to an end game here,” the official said. “He knows we cannot sustain this indefinitely.”

Sending fewer troops would lower the costs but would also place limitations on the buildup strategy. Sending 30,000 more troops, for example, would cost $25 billion to $30 billion a year while limiting how widely American forces could range. Deploying 20,000 troops would cost about $21 billion annually but would expand mainly the training of Afghans, the officials said.

The estimated $1 million a year it costs per soldier is higher than the $390,000 congressional researchers estimated in 2006.

Military analysts said the increase reflects a surge in costs for mine-resistant troop carriers and surveillance equipment that would apply to troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But some costs are unique to Afghanistan, where it can cost as much as $400 a gallon to deliver fuel to the troops through mountainous terrain.

Some administration estimates suggest it could also cost up to $50 billion over five years to more than double the size of the Afghan army and police force, to a total of 400,000. That includes recruiting, training and equipment.

At a stop at a military base in Alaska on Thursday, Mr. Obama told a gathering of soldiers that he would not risk more lives “unless it is necessary to America’s vital interests.” He added during his visit to Tokyo on Friday that he wanted to avoid taking any step that could be seen as an “open-ended commitment.”

The administration said Friday that it planned to cut up to 5 percent at domestic agencies in fiscal 2011 as part of an effort to reduce the federal budget deficit, which rose to $1.4 trillion with the economic stimulus and financial bailouts.

Several leading Republicans have criticized Mr. Obama’s willingness to spend more freely on domestic programs and urged him to provide General McChrystal with the resources he is seeking in Afghanistan.

“Keeping our country safe: Isn’t that the first job of government?” said Senator Christopher S. Bond, a Republican from Missouri and the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “If we have just a minimalist counterterrorism strategy, the Taliban will come back over the mountains from Pakistan, and they will be followed by their co-conspirators from the Al Qaeda organization.”

Cost is far from the only concern about escalating the war. The debate intensified last week amid disclosures that the United States ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl W. Eikenberry, had sent cables to Washington expressing his reservations about deploying additional troops, citing weak Afghan leadership and widening corruption.

That kind of doubt could also make some in Congress hesitant to support an expansion of the war, especially with the midterm elections coming next year.

Representative David R. Obey, a Democrat from Wisconsin who heads the House Appropriations Committee, said recently that sending more troops to Afghanistan could drain the Treasury and “devour virtually any other priorities that the president or anyone in Congress had.”

Representative John Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania and chairman of a subcommittee on defense appropriations, said in an interview that because of concerns about President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, he thought a majority of the 258 Democrats in the House would vote against any bill to pay for more troops. “A month ago, I would have said 60 to 70,” he said.

“Can you pass one?” Mr. Murtha said. “It depends on the Republicans.”

Mr. Murtha said he opposed sending more troops, though he would support any decision Mr. Obama made. He said he was concerned that even without a supplemental bill, total spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would surge past $1 trillion next year, which could hamper the economy for years to come.

Others said some Republicans could find it hard to justify a yes vote on troops after criticizing Mr. Obama for his spending. Some liberal Democrats said voters who had been drawn to Mr. Obama for his early opposition to the Iraq war could become disenchanted if he approved a major expansion in Afghanistan.

“In the times we’re in right now, I just totally believe that the public that elected President Obama really wants to see something different,” said Representative Lynn Woolsey, Democrat of California.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama was careful to say that he would not cut military spending while the nation was engaged in two wars. He also said it was important to shore up the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. And shortly after he took office, he approved sending an additional 21,000 soldiers there, bringing the total American force to 68,000.

Still, many of his supporters assumed that his pledges to withdraw from Iraq, and to rein in the cost overruns on high-tech weapons programs, would still produce significant savings.

But even though Mr. Obama has won battles to cancel the F-22 fighter plane and other advanced programs, the immediate savings have been offset by increased spending on the surveillance drones and mine-resistant vehicles needed in the field now.

And he recently signed a $680 billion military authorization bill for fiscal 2010 that represented a 2.7 percent increase over the 2009 spending level and a 1.9 percent increase over President Bush’s peak budget in fiscal 2008.

The administration has projected that spending on Iraq would drop by $25.8 billion in fiscal 2010, to $60.8 billion, as most of the troops withdraw.

It also expected spending on the Afghanistan war to increase by $18.5 billion in fiscal 2010, to $65.4 billion, for a net savings on the two wars of $7.3 billion, if no more troops were added.

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Judging by the company he keeps, Obama is a friend to Islam and an enemy of Israel

Judging by the company he keeps, Obama is a friend to Islam and an enemy of Israel

November 13, 1:09 AMWake County Independent ExaminerStephanie Avery
Obama Said
The Obamas at an Arab Fundraiser prior to Senate seat

Proverbs 13:20 says He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. 

You are known by the company that you keep. Birds of a feather flock together. Or as many mothers tell their children, choose your friends wisely.

These idioms and passages only echo what most people already know. We surround ourselves with people we enjoy, that are like-minded, have similar values and points of view.

In fact, in the textbook titled Social Psychology used in most universities today, most people are “likely to be attracted to and more likely to have a satisfying relationship with someone who is similar.”  This is because people with similar attitudes validate what we believe.  The authors continue by writing it is  “easier to understand similar others because they are more likely to experience the same emotional reactions to the same situations.”  Last, and most notable, is “feeling the same way leads to acting the same way.”

With this information, let’s review who our President “flocks” with.

Edward SaidVirulently anti-Israeli Professor and prominent PLO/Arafat adviser. Obama was photographed at an Arab fundraiser with Said and the photographer was a mutual friend, anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah who stated prior to the election “Obama is currently hiding his anti-Israel views in order to get elected.”  Edward Said, according to The New Criterion “could not accept Israel as anything but an injustice that had to be put right in bloodshed.” Said has also been described as Marxist.

Rev. Michael Pfleger – a controversial priest who was one of the few South Side clergymen to back Mr. Obama during his run for Senate. Pfleger has defended Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and invited Farrakhan to speak at his church. He is also one of the religious leaders whose “faith testimonials”  Obama had on his presidential campaign Web site.

Rashid Khalidi – Anti-Israeli Professor, Former director of PLO press agency, and Founder of the Arab American Action Network.  This organization aims to “challenge the government policies that violate the civil, political and human rights of the Arab American and Arab immigrant community.” AAAN has a hostile view of Israel and references it’s creation in 1948 as Al Nakba (“The Catastrophe”).  Among the current luminaries of AAAN’s staff are Vice President Ali Abunimah (referenced above).  For years, the Obamas had been regular dinner guests at the Hyde Park home of Khalidi.  In 2000, the Khalidis held a fund-raiser for Obama during his Congressional campaign.

It is also important to note, AAAN receives funding from the Woods Fund of Chicago.  Obama served on their Board of Directors from 1993 to 2001. This foundation also made grants to Obama’s church, Trinity United Church of Christ.  Most everyone is familiar with its pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who is anti-America and anti-semitic.  Obama sat in his church for 20 years.

The list goes on and on with Cass Sustein, convicted terrorist William Ayers, Van Jones and Valerie Jarrett to name a few.

Obama did not seem to listen to his mother, did he?

Napolitano Announces Obama’s Plan To Give Amnesty To Illegal Aliens

Napolitano Announces Obama’s Plan To Give Amnesty To Illegal Aliens

November 13th, 2009 Posted By Erik Wong.

napolitano

CNS News:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday that the Obama administration will push for “immigration reform” by giving the estimated 14 million people who are in the United States illegally “fair pathway to earned legal status.”

“A tough and fair pathway to earned legal status will mandate that illegal immigrants meet a number of requirements—including registering, paying a fine, passing a criminal background check, fully paying all taxes and learning English,” Napolitano said Friday at a panel discussion at the liberal Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.

“These are substantial requirements that will make sure this population gets right with the law,” Napolitano said. “It will help fix our broken system.”

Napolitano said the Obama administration is working to end the recession and put Americans back to work but said giving legal status to illegal aliens will “strengthen our economy.”

“Requiring illegal immigrants to register to earn legal status, as I discussed earlier, will strengthen our economy as these immigrants become full-paying taxpayers,” Napolitano said. “As labor leaders have made clear to me, immigration reform will be a boon to American workers.

“Think about it: unions will never achieve the best terms for workers when a large part of the workforce is illegal and operates in a shadow economy,” Napolitano said. “By contrast, the status quo not only hurts American workers, it also stifles potential opportunities to grow our economy.”

Napolitano said that she has seen a “major shift” in the immigration landscape, which the Obama administration hopes will make it easier for Congress to pass new immigration laws.

Included in that shift, Napolitano said, is a more secure border between the United States and Mexico, tougher law enforcement that has resulted in more arrests of criminal illegal immigrants and confiscation of contraband, and fewer people coming into the country illegally because of current economic conditions.

“For starters, the security of the Southwest border has been transformed from where it was in 2007,” Napolitano said. “The federal government has dedicated unprecedented resources to the Mexican border in terms of manpower, technology and infrastructure—and it’s made a real difference.

“Compared to last year, seizures in all categories—drugs, smuggled cash, and illegal weapons—are up dramatically. For example, just looking at bulk cash, Customs and Border Protection has seized at the border more than $34 million in cash being smuggled southbound so far this year—more than four times as much as at this time last year.

“Moreover, the immigration debate in 2007 happened during a period of historically high levels of illegal entry into the United States. Two years later, because of better enforcement and the current economic circumstances, those numbers have fallen sharply. The flow has reduced significantly – by more than half from the busiest years, proving we are in a much different environment than we were before.

“These are major differences that should change the immigration conversation,” Napolitano said.

The secretary said the Obama administration is “committed to this issue.”

“When Congress is ready to act, we will be ready to support them,” Napolitano said.

Obama Administration Intends to Purge Republicans From the Civil Service

Obama Administration Intends to Purge Republicans From the Civil Service

November 14th, 2009

By MARK TAPSCOTT, Washington Examiner

Fist bump for purging Republicans…

John Berry, President Obama’s director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), has issued a new directive that is clearly designed to weed out any Bush administration political appointees who “careered-into” the civil service.

The directive also effectively establishes a partisan political factor in hiring for career civil service positions in the federal bureaucracy. Berry’s agency oversees the federal government’s 1.9 million career civil servants.

The OPM was created during the Carter administration to replace the old Civil Service Commission, which was once headed by Teddy Roosevelt in his pre-White House days. The career service was intended to end the spoils system in which federal jobs were used by presidents to reward supporters.

In double-speak language that would make a Soviet apparatchik blush, Berry justifies his directive as merely an attempt to prevent political interference of the career civil service:

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Obama & Holder’s Hidden Agenda

Obama & Holder’s Hidden Agenda

November 14th, 2009

By Andy McCarthy, National Review

 Bringing KSM to trial in NY will expose secrets and make our country less safe

This summer, I theorized that Attorney General Eric Holder — and his boss — had a hidden agenda in ordering a re-investigation of the CIA for six-year-old alleged interrogation excesses that had already been scrutinized by non-partisan DOJ prosecutors who had found no basis for prosecution. The continuing investigations of Bush-era counterterrorism policies (i.e., the policies that kept us safe from more domestic terror attacks), coupled with the Holder Justice Department’s obsession to disclose classified national-defense information from that period, enable Holder to give the hard Left the “reckoning” that he and Obama promised during the 2008 campaign. It would be too politically explosive for Obama/Holder to do the dirty work of charging Bush administration officials; but as new revelations from investigations and declassifications are churned out, Leftist lawyers use them to urge European and international tribunals to bring “torture” and “war crimes” indictments. Thus, administration cooperation gives Obama’s base the reckoning it demands but Obama gets to deny responsibility for any actual prosecutions.

Today’s announcement that KSM and other top al-Qaeda terrorists will be transferred to Manhattan federal court for civilian trials neatly fits this hidden agenda. Nothing results in more disclosures of government intelligence than civilian trials. They are a banquet of information, not just at the discovery stage but in the trial process itself, where witnesses — intelligence sources — must expose themselves and their secrets.

Let’s take stock of where we are at this point. KSM and his confederates wanted to plead guilty and have their martyrs’ execution last December, when they were being handled by military commission. As I said at the time, we could and should have accommodated them. The Obama administration could still accommodate them. After all, the president has not pulled the plug on all military commissions: Holder is going to announce at least one commission trial (for Nashiri, the Cole bomber) today.

Read More:

The Fruits of Labor

The Fruits of Labor

By Pete Morin

Some time ago I went to a local mall to buy a phone. After making a purchase at one of the large electronics retailers, I went to the mall restroom and inadvertently left it behind. Ten minutes later I realized I no longer had the phone, so I rushed back, only to find it gone. I checked in with the customer service counter at the mall to see if a good Samaritan had turned it in. Unfortunately, no one had done so, and I left my number in case anyone should turn it in.  Needless to say, no call was forthcoming, and I never saw the phone again.

When some person discovered the phone, did he think it was newfound treasure? Did he not think that it belonged to someone who forgot it, rather than something that could be considered self-enrichment, that could be treated as a gift? That phone cost me about five hours of productive labor. Of course, this notion never entered the mind of the individual making off with it. Notice I use the term “my phone” since it certainly wasn’t the appropriator’s, and this whole incident must be put in the proper context as nothing better than theft.
Why do I bring this up today? What relevance does this small incident have to do with anything? Just this: we now have a government that considers it public policy to take from those who are productive and give to those who they believe are less productive (or unproductive). Although this is nothing new with respect to politics, it is more blatant now than at any other time in our history. The House of Representatives has recently passed two very controversial pieces of legislation that will dramatically affect wealth redistribution in our nation. We have a president who believes that income redistribution should be the norm in our culture and that this redistribution will make for a more equitable society. A person’s productive efforts mean little or nothing to those in high office. They don’t question the work that performed that enables them to make this transfer. Apparently, economic justice reigns supreme over the productive efforts of a citizen to provide for himself and his family. When asked under what authority the Congress could pass such legislation, the Speaker of the House could respond with only “Are you serious?” Yes, Madame Speaker, I am serious — very serious. What kind of government will confiscate someone’s property and give it to another under the guise of economic justice?
Those on the left will say that I’m without “compassion” for those less fortunate, that it is my duty to help provide for those who have less. This makes sense only until we recognize that there is no end to the confiscation that can be perpetrated on one’s private property with this argument. The Constitution grants very specific, enumerated powers to the federal government. To increase those powers, it would be necessary to get the consent of the governed through an amendment process. The Legislature today circumvents these powers with impunity. Evidently, the idea that private property is no longer sacrosanct appeals to many on the far left. Understand that when government is through looting corporations and large and small businesses, then the common citizen will be next. The people who wrote our Constitution understood this. That’s why they placed limits on government power; in effect, these were limits on the government’s appetite to confiscate property. They knew that without limitations, government would consume beyond its means, effectively destroying the people’s natural right to liberty.
This brings us to recent health care and cap-and-trade initiatives. Make no mistake: these legislative acts are nothing but redistributive programs designed to hamper the sovereignty of the electorate in a free market system and enhance the power of the state. Eventually, not just we, but also our posterity will pay dearly for this runaway government. Let’s not dwell too long on our future prospects, but instead enjoy while we can the fruits of other people’s labor. 
Pete Morin writes the satirical blog at the Pete Morin News Service.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/11/the_fruits_of_labor.html at November 14, 2009 – 11:40:51 AM EST

Obama urges Congress to put off Fort Hood probe What is he afraid of???

Obama urges Congress to put off Fort Hood probe

By PHILIP ELLIOTT (AP) – 5 hours ago

 

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Congress to hold off on any investigation of the Fort Hood rampage until federal law enforcement and military authorities have completed their probes into the shootings at the Texas Army post, which left 13 people dead.

 

On an eight-day Asia trip, Obama turned his attention home and pleaded for lawmakers to “resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into the political theater.” He said those who died on the nation’s largest Army post deserve justice, not political stagecraft.

 

“The stakes are far too high,” Obama said in a video and Internet address released by the White House while the president he was flying from Tokyo to Singapore, where Pacific Rim countries were meeting.

 

Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, was charged on Thursday with the shooting spree at Fort Hood last week. Army investigators have said Hasan is the only suspect and could face additional charges.

 

Obama already had ordered a review of all intelligence related to Hasan and whether the information was properly shared and acted upon within government agencies. Several members of Congress, particularly Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, have also called for a full examination of what agencies knew about Hasan’s contacts with a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen and others of concern to the U.S.

 

Hoekstra confirmed this week that government officials knew of about 10 to 20 e-mails between Hasan and the radical imam, beginning in December 2008.

 

A joint terrorism task force overseen by the FBI learned late last year of Hasan’s repeated contact with the cleric, who encouraged Muslims to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. The FBI said the task force did not refer early information about Hasan to superiors because it concluded he wasn’t linked to terrorism.

 

Lawmakers, however, already have announced they want their own investigations and were frustrated with what they view as a less-than-forthcoming administration.

 

Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif., said he wanted to go ahead with an investigation from the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the top Republican. He said he wanted an investigation that wouldn’t compromise law enforcement or military investigations that were continuing on separate tracks.

 

In the Senate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said his Homeland Security Committee was opening an investigation.

 

Obama said he was not opposed to hearings — eventually. But he strongly pressed lawmakers to hold off until the probes now under way are completed.

 

“There is an ongoing investigation into this terrible tragedy,” Obama said. “That investigation will look at the motives of the alleged gunman, including his views and contacts.”

 

“We must compile every piece of information that was known about the gunman, and we must learn what was done with that information. Once we have those facts, we must act upon them