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Obama cites 'obsession' on Afghanistan timeline

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Philippines
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President Barack Obama said Sunday that there's "a lot of obsession" about the withdrawal date for U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He said his focus is on making sure the mission there is successful.

Obama's show of frustration about when he will end the unpopular war in Afghanistan came in his closing press conference at the G-20 summit in Toronto, where industrialized countries committed to slash their budget deficits in half by 2013. The president said the United States shares that commitment.

At the end of a week in which he dismissed his top commander in Afghanistan, Obama defended his war strategy and said the United States would assist the Afghans "for a long time to come."

"I don't have a crystal ball," the president said when asked about a five-year Afghanistan exit strategy endorsed Saturday by the Group of Eight major industrial democracies.

"I think that right now the debate surrounding Afghanistan is presented as either we get up and leave immediately because there's no chance at a positive outcome, or we stay basically indefinitely and do quote unquote whatever it takes for as long as it takes."

Obama's policy falls somewhere in the middle, thereby pleasing few. He reiterated that a July 2011 date to begin withdrawing troops does not mean the U.S. will "suddenly turn off the lights and let the door close behind us." Under Obama's policy, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will first climb to 98,000.

Obama offered a rationale for the nation's very presence in Afghanistan.

"You'll often hear, why are we in Afghanistan when the terrorists are in Pakistan?" Obama said.

He contended America would be less secure if al-Qaida still could be housed in Afghanistan, and contended there remains "a vital national interest that Afghanistan not be used as a base to launch terrorist attacks."

In Washington, CIA Director Leon Panetta expressed skepticism about whether insurgent groups in Afghanistan were interested in reconciliation with the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

"We have seen no evidence that they are truly interested in reconciliation, where they would surrender their arms, where they would denounce al-Qaida, where they would really try to become part of that society," Panetta said on ABC's "This Week."

Obama sounded more positive.

"I think that we have to view these efforts with skepticism, but also openness," the president said.

Obama also issued a warning to North Korea, saying its alleged sinking of a South Korean warship was "belligerent behavior that is unacceptable" to the international community. Forty-six South Korean sailors died in the March incident.

"It is absolutely critical for the international community to rally behind" South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Obama said.

Obama told reporters bluntly that he hoped Chinese President Hu Jintao would recognize that North Korea crossed a line in the warship sinking.

"There's a difference between restraint and willful blindness to consistent problems," Obama said, referring to Beijing's worry that instability in the North could cause major problems across the border in China.

Obama said he wants the U.N. Security Council to produce a "crystal-clear acknowledgment" of the North's action. The cooperation of China, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council and North Korea's major international supporter, is crucial to that goal.

Obama said shying away from the harsh facts about North Korea's behavior is "a bad habit we need to break."

He also emphasized the importance of China carrying through on its pledge to introduce more flexibility in how it manages its currency, the yuan.

"A strong and durable recovery also requires countries not having an undue advantage," he said. "As I told (Chinese) President Hu Jintao yesterday, the United States welcomes China's decision to allow its currency to appreciate in response to market forces. We will be watching very closely in the months ahead."

The G-20's final summit communique did not mention China's currency directly, only generally expressing a need for countries to have flexible currency exchange rates. It did not take China to task for its managed currency policies, which American manufacturers blame for the loss of millions of jobs because they keep the cost of China-made products artificially low.

Asked about the timing for China to increase the yuan's value, Obama said that as more market forces come to bear, he believed the Chinese currency "is going to go up significantly."

Obama was asked about the prospects of his Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, whose confirmation hearings begin Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said his former Senate colleagues "should pay attention to Elena Kagan's record and her testimony ... and then vote their conscience."

He called objections to Kagan raised by Republicans "pretty thin gruel."

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/06/27/international/i171647D79.DTL




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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Philippines
Timeline

President Barack Obama said Sunday that there's "a lot of obsession" about the withdrawal date for U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He said his focus is on making sure the mission there is successful.

"I don't have a crystal ball," the president said when asked about a five-year Afghanistan exit strategy endorsed Saturday by the Group of Eight major industrial democracies.

"You'll often hear, why are we in Afghanistan when the terrorists are in Pakistan?" Obama said.

In Washington, CIA Director Leon Panetta expressed skepticism about whether insurgent groups in Afghanistan were interested in reconciliation with the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

The obsession for a withdrawal date came from Obama himself when he set the timetable.

5 Year exit strategy? Who's he kidding? More of the allied nations are pulling the plug faster than in 5 years.

Remember when Obama said why are we in Iraq when the terrorists are in Afghanistan making it the "war of necessity".

Why should the insurgents want to reconcile when they know Obama is looking the exit?

Edited by alienlovechild

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Filed: Other Country: United Kingdom
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Obviously it is about politics - Obama (and David Cameron) don't want to be seen to be holding the can if Afghanistan goes tits up in the event they order a withdrawal.

To a large degree, the US' allies in Afghanistan can set withdrawal timetables because they know that the the US will be there after everyone else has left.

Edited by Its a MADHOUSE

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Philippines
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i keep thinking US policy must be to continue fighting even though we can't win and even though we are losing troops so the enemy can't focus on attacking the US. it seems we are there purely to occupy their time - a game of cat and mouse - definitely no way to win this war. even if we tame the taliban before we leave, the mentality in Afghanistan is to settle all disputes by fighting so as soon as we leave, they'll be free focus on the US and to fight each other too. the place will always be a hell hole.

i guess, if the US did leave Afghanistan, the US knows full well the southern border would have to be more secure... something the current administration definitely doesn't want to do.




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Filed: Other Country: Afghanistan
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This will be an unpopular opinion but...

We now have a good reason to be in Afghanistan. US / Western companies need to jump on the new resources asap before China does. In a few years, China will begin to starve the world of rare metals such as lithium and we better have alternative sources outside China.

Edited by Sousuke

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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: Vietnam
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This will be an unpopular opinion but...

We now have a good reason to be in Afghanistan. US / Western companies need to jump on the new resources asap before China does. In a few years, China will begin to starve the world of rare metals such as lithium and we better have alternative sources outside China.

China has been moving into a Africa for years for the resources. So what country will the US invade next in the GWOT? Somalia, Nigeria,... It sure won't be as unpopular if Obama invades Africa, than if Bush would have.


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China has been moving into a Africa for years for the resources. So what country will the US invade next in the GWOT? Somalia, Nigeria,... It sure won't be as unpopular if Obama invades Africa, than if Bush would have.

Why invade anyone when the resources are before you already?

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We now have a good reason to be in Afghanistan. US / Western companies need to jump on the new resources asap before China does. In a few years, China will begin to starve the world of rare metals such as lithium and we better have alternative sources outside China.

It's usually cheaper to buy precious metals than fight a major war to get access. Simply not economical and same is true over a "war for oil". I have yet to see a single source stating the cost of Iraq War was outweighed by the sale of Iraqi oil.

The only time it is true is if it's wartime at one power as access to oil and denies access to the other side. WWII is the prime example where Germany and Japan had limited access to oil and had to take desperate measures to get it.


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It's usually cheaper to buy precious metals than fight a major war to get access. Simply not economical and same is true over a "war for oil". I have yet to see a single source stating the cost of Iraq War was outweighed by the sale of Iraqi oil.

The only time it is true is if it's wartime at one power as access to oil and denies access to the other side. WWII is the prime example where Germany and Japan had limited access to oil and had to take desperate measures to get it.

Thats all find and dandy, but we already have access...we've already spent the money. Of course it makes no sense to start a war for oil or precious metals. But we are there. We just have to keep the country stable enough to keep access.

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Thats all find and dandy, but we already have access...we've already spent the money. Of course it makes no sense to start a war for oil or precious metals. But we are there. We just have to keep the country stable enough to keep access.

My point wasn't that we were in some dire national dire need of oil or precious metals then or now. Keep access to what? Iraq sells oil on the open market and I'm not sure which potential enemy can take over the place. Iran? Doubt it. It would a replay of Iran-Itaq War. Remember even Venezuela sells us oil and cutting off the U.S. would probably bring down Chavez.

The key in Iraq for example is getting the government big enough and bad enough to suppress the radical elements then making sure they can sell their resources so that most people have a stake in maintaining order.


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My point wasn't that we were in some dire national dire need of oil or precious metals then or now. Keep access to what? Iraq sells oil on the open market and I'm not sure which potential enemy can take over the place. Iran? Doubt it. It would a replay of Iran-Itaq War. Remember even Venezuela sells us oil and cutting off the U.S. would probably bring down Chavez.

The key in Iraq for example is getting the government big enough and bad enough to suppress the radical elements then making sure they can sell their resources so that most people have a stake in maintaining order.

I don't think I ever brought up oil or Iraq for that matter... where is that coming from? Its about lithium and beryllium. http://www.wealthdaily.com/articles/afghanistan-mineral-discovery-a-1-trillion-find/2553 in reference to this http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/business/energy-environment/03rare.html

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