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October 7th, 2009
08:22 AM ET

Afghanistan: What's Changed?

Today marks eight years since the start of the war in Afghanistan. It's a war set in motion by the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. President Obama  is meeting today with his national security team to determine a strategy for Afghanistan.

A request for thousands more U.S. troops is expected, but as we mark the anniversary of this conflict, how has the picture changed in the last eight years?

Does the battle in Afghanistan look any different than it did when the U.S. first began its counterterrorism efforts? We want to hear from you. Give us your feedback and we’ll read some of your thoughts on CNN Newsroom with Heidi Collins from 9am-11am.


Filed under: Heidi Collins
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Charles Kopack

    No. The battle does not look any different. If people think that we can really win there, they should ask the British and the Russians. Both of those countries have had a history of wars in that country. And both had the unfortunate experience of failure.

    Unless the Afghan people want us there we can never win.

    Just putting more troops there will not win it. It is just giving the enemy more targets.

    October 7, 2009 at 8:52 am |
  2. ken

    Nothing has changed. The strategy should be to keep america safe not keeping afganistan safe. Chicago is not safe as well as most other cities. Keeping afghanistan safe is the reponsibility of president karzai. If insurgents can be trained to fight and kill americans then karzai should be able to draft and train other afghans to protect their own country.We have heard all these arguments before in vietnam, n. korea and iraq. The more insurgents we kill the more they will hate us and continue to kill us. We kicked out the taliban, now the afghans must defend their own country. The taliban were not in any of the planes that hit the towers and pentagpn on 9/11. It is very obvious now that the democrats are going to spend another trillion dollars on afghanistan just like they have done so far in iraq. Osama is in pakistan just go get him and come home.

    October 7, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  3. nokomis

    What we need to remember is that Bush side-tracked the U.S. in Iraq, if it hadn't had been for that, we would be a lot further in Afghanistan! The American public needs to realize this, we do need to be in Afghanistan for now, we need to give it more time, a rash decision now would be tragic.

    October 7, 2009 at 9:41 am |
  4. joe Gervais

    Afghanistan seems to be another Vietnam, an endless war. Maybe if we had concentrated on Afghanistan and pakistan from the beginning, instead of wasting lives, money , and time in Iraq, we would have been able to pull the plug on the Taliban. . We have given billions to Pakistan and apparently a lot of that money has gone to support the Taliban.
    In those countries it is difficult to distinquish who's who and who is for who.. A lot of the Afghanistan people see us as the enemy.. Why are we wasting more lives and more money to continue this endless war.. we need to protect the homefront here.

    October 7, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  5. rob perry

    since i am not there in the war i have no idea what has changed. the only thing i see is what is on the news. i think it is just a money pit , for what ? these people really dont like us so leave them alone and just keep intelligence on them to make sure they are not up to something in our country. either take the country over or get out and let them do what they do. my 4 year old asked why are our people dieing over there ? all i could say is good question.

    how about a story on ufo's and uso's . i watched a show on the history channel the other night and i would like to no the truth about this. how come the public doesnt know the truth ?

    October 7, 2009 at 9:45 am |
  6. Kellie Ingram

    I do think it looks different. Things have changed. Life and the battle have not stood still, there is still much to be done. The President needs to either change the mission or send more troops and resources to help the troops that are there now. Great leaders are made by making difficult decisions under pressure and quick enough to make a difference.

    I am married to a soldier. I do not want him deployed, but I also would not want him over there with a shortage of troops which puts him at more risk of dying.

    October 7, 2009 at 9:45 am |
  7. Jay Davidson

    I am the grandfather of one of the "troops" President Obama is considering sending to Afghanistan. We stopped winning wars when we could no longer identify the enemy and they started hiding behind civillians. Winning means killing lots of people and if we are no longer willing to do that–we have no chance of winning. I have already lost one family member in Iraq and enough is enough! I agree with Vice President Biden that this should be mainly be fought from the air and if we are unwilling to do what it takes to win, we should not be there at all.

    October 7, 2009 at 9:47 am |
  8. Alissa

    Nothing has changed. But, I don't think that automatically means we need to rush out of there. While people are busy pointing their fingers at President Obama for not doing what they want him to, they seem to forget that he has only been in the office for 10 months of an 8 year war. They seem to forget that instead of focusing our energy on Afghanistan for ALL of those years as we should have, we decided to fight a different, unnecessary war instead. Maybe if the Former president would have forgotten about his old family history with Iraq, and actually focused the military's energy on Afghanistan, we wouldn't be having this debate today.
    I am not in favor of war, by any means. However, I do not think that we can just pull out and leave the country in shambles. A minority of the population belongs to the insurgency and the Taliban. Can we consciously leave the rest of the majority of the population to suffer under their hands? I urge people to read literature about life under the Taliban rule before making this decision. We broke it, we buy it. . . otherwise, we shouldn't have picked it up off the shelf in the first place!

    October 7, 2009 at 9:48 am |
  9. Dissappointed

    The average American would say the War in Afghanistan hasn't changed. Because they do not know what the American or Allied Service member does. The "NEWS" does not report the amazing things that we have spent the last eights year doing. Organizations such as CNN, post news alerts every ten minutes, when there is a loss of a service member, and what celebrity is in jail.

    But why not report the hospitals, and medical stations that Allied forces have built and supported. The Schools built, the roads constructed, the hundreds of towns that have running water. Something we "Americans" often take for granted. The news also does not tell you how many "Americans" spend there own time and money to donate toys, clothing, and food to the children of this country.

    Any if any of your viewers, bloggers, or fans, disagree with this then they can feel free to find there local military recruiter station and have a free tour of Afghanistan themselves. If you do not support the troops, then you should stand in front of them.

    October 7, 2009 at 9:48 am |
  10. Rob Carlson

    We've been playing catch up in Afghanistan having largely ignored the entire area for 50+ years. Our treatment before that was to leave it to the British to colonize and dominate in the typical fashion of the period.

    We have stepped in because we fear the Taliban will build a strong hold, establishing a new theocracy in the region. So, essentially, we are fighting two battles in one; a country that is still recovering from external colonialism which by its' nature creates internal conflicting groups in order to prevent facing the common enemy (the colonizer) and the attendant internal struggles for power created by the vacuum left behind, and the irrationality of the struggle to dominate a people through faith and brutal religious persecution,.

    It is hard to imagine how we can win either struggle. The Afghans will have to decide for themselves, and take the appropriate actions to control their own destiny. The best we can do is make sure the rest of the world is with us in allowing Afghanistan to determine its' own future. If we remain engaged in hand to hand combat we will only be perceived as meddling in another sovereign people's affairs.

    October 7, 2009 at 9:52 am |
  11. Joannie

    Finally Afghanistan is front and center- for too long our troops have been ignored and neglected. When my son joined the Marines he did so with the agreement that he would loyally serve his country and perform his duties without reservation- in turn his country promised to support him and ensure that he would never be abandoned- isn't that the military code of honor- leave no one behind? Yet, when I hear all the talk about "no more troops", I get a sick feeling in my stomach, because all I can think about is the safety of my son and his fellow troops. If we are in, then we are in. We cannot leave these young men and women there without giving them all of the resources they need. The only thing harder than losing a loved one, is if that loss was due to our country's failure to support them. If McChrystal says we need more troops, then we need more troops. What are we waiting for?

    October 7, 2009 at 9:53 am |
  12. woody wilcher

    it's unbeleivable to me that the county i love is so blind to the past,has Obama ever had a history class?,all we are doing in afganastan is arming another wave of smarter and better armed terrorist groups,these people DO NOT THINK LIKE US

    October 7, 2009 at 9:53 am |
  13. P.E. Hamel

    This stupid old man has read history.The movements in Afganistan and all through the Muslim world are nearing the same state as the Italian Brownshirts and German Nazis before they actually took over those countries. Left unchecked, the future dictators will have no choice, to continue to "rule"(not lead) they must have external enemies. This time they will have Pakistani and Iranian nuclear weapons.
    The only solution requires the cooperation of the whole world, not just the "West".
    If we don't want our grandchildren fighting WW3 (nuclear) we need to create a method of disarming the militants and purchasing the poppy crops while teaching the farmers to grow food.
    The overwhelming presence needed to accomplish this would require about half the standing armies of the world for about three months a year for a generation. – or we condemn our grandchildren to WW3 (nuclear).
    "Sorry about that" – do you have a better solution ?

    October 7, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  14. Roar E

    yes send more troops send the guys that want to go ... there are alot of soldiers who want to go but are stuck in a unit that isent sloted to go. if the army took all volinteers that want to go they would come up with the 40,000 easy. send the guys that really want to go and take the fight to the enemy!

    October 7, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  15. Roar E

    who put you in charge to decide what america is seeing on the news ... let them see what america really wants to see... if you were to ask people that really are out there fighting the ememy!

    October 7, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  16. Kevin

    Of course little has changed because Afghanistan has been mostly ignored for the past 8 years! Al Qaeda, the enemy that ACTUALLY attacked us on 9/11 was in AFGHANISTAN but instead of sending our forces there, the Republicans decided to fool people into believing that Saddam was in charge of Al Quaeda and that they were in Iraq. The Bush administration decided to take us into an ILLEGAL and unnecessary war in Iraq, ignoring the original enemy and the original reason we went to the Middle East in the first place.

    October 7, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  17. Jen

    I wish it was that simple. I wish we could just pull out and be guarenteed that the country won't break down into civil war or fall prey to the Taliban, but we're not. If we just pull out now then why were we there for eight years? Why did so many people have to lose their lives? Its just not that simple

    October 7, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  18. Brown

    Blah blah...Saying we need to get this right .OMG Republicans have gotten nothing right except padding their pocket and playing in the sheet.
    BRING OUR TROOPS HOME...! They need to clean this up solely, they want to keep this going so free food troops and equipment are still flowing in.. We in fact arm the same people that kill Americans. When we leave all those resources stay there. Our job is not to circle the universe and change historical ways of living and telling other what to do.. We are by far the NOISEST NEIGHBOR

    October 7, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  19. Jan O

    One, our economy has changed dramatically in the last 8 yr. The government is spending wildly while running the money printing presses 24/7. The rest of the world is loosing faith in the dollar and it's dropping against other currencies. We can't afford this war at this time.

    Two, voting fraud and government corruption have the concept of democracy in question. The Afghan people start thinking "our tribal ways were better."

    Three, Afghanistan is the "Graveyard of History;" just ask the British and Russians. This war is not winnable for us. It's time to leave.

    October 7, 2009 at 10:15 am |
  20. Mike Armstrong TX.

    Nothings changed the enemy has fled to the mountains and into Pakistan we are on a humanitarian mission that will never end were caught up in a religious war between The Holy Bible and The Koran and this war has been going on for a thousand years and will continue for another thousand years until one kills the other off or else the two bibles join as one.

    October 7, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  21. Fubara David-West

    Please tell your reporter Atia Abawi to stop sounding like a propagandist for the Afghan government. There is really no reason why the government of the United States should become emotionally driven by the plight of the "Afghan people." American policy must be guided by American national interests, period.

    The time-table for withdrawing American troops, or for reducing their numbers, must be guided by those national interests, including the need to destroy Al Qaida and to drastically reduce the ability of the Taliban to threaten American interests.

    As the debate on the next American move in Afghanistan heats up, a crucial question to be answered, especially by the Afghan government is why American soldiers, and not Afghan recruits should be on the frontline. Any additional troops needed for this mission must come from the Afghan population.

    October 7, 2009 at 10:20 am |
  22. JB

    Our efforts in Afghanistan have based on political correctness rather than chances for success. It is a pipe dream to think that a country that has had little central authority and tribal rule will convert to anything resembling a centralized democratic nation in less than a generation. The world needs to take responsibility and establish a multinational government entity as was done in Germany after WW2. This should include Muslim nations. This entity should rule until Afghanis demonstrate the ability to operate independently with civility. "Occupation" should not be called anything but what it is, and it should be carried out with the goal of a successful transition to self-rule.

    October 7, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  23. Bev Allen

    From what I am reading...some great Americans are speaking out...and using their right of free speech. Yes, we should support our troops...in every way possible. However, we do not need another Vietnam. President Bush got the wrong war started. If war is war, then it must be fought as that and not with one hand tied behind your back. If it is a goodwill humanitarian cause ...... then that is different, also.
    Which is it? What are we doing there?

    October 7, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  24. Kris Snyder

    No. We have given enough blood, sweat and tears for a remote, undeveloped country filled with people of various tribes and family groups that just want to live their lives without interference. They will never organize into a central democracy controlled by one government.
    President Obama should make the tough call to get our troops out of
    Afghanistan. Of course, this would mean he might not be reelected; however, it is time our politicians work for America as a whole and not for their own party's interest. More troops means much more money spent over there and would only show how we back a corrupt Karzai government. It is time to stopped being scared of a few hundred taliban thousands of miles away from us. Go hunt Osama Bin Laden, but use some common sense and realize this war does not have to have a win or loss outcome.

    October 7, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  25. Deena Fritsche

    We need a decision for our troops! What is wrong with a President that cannot make the decision, Pull Out, or More Troops. This is DEATH to our SONS they are getting killed right now as we sip our morning coffee! Does the President not understand that HE HAS ALL OF THE POWER? Americans ARE DIEING RIGHT NOW! My son is a Marine and he needs a President to step up and be strong. To ask my 20 year old to be courageous while the President hides behind healthcare and the Olympics is appalling and cowardice!

    October 7, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  26. Kevin

    The economy we've inherited cannot stand another war, humanitarian effort, whatever. That money has been wasted in Iraq. Ask Dick Cheney to finance the Afghanistan humanitarian effort with with his Iraq oil profits. The countries in that region need to come together to solve their own problems and stop waiting for U.S.A worldwide police to do everything for them. Al Qaeda is the enemy we have to fight, that's it. Smaller, less expensive actions combined with Pakistan military support is now the only feasible way to continue. Let's not go off point AGAIN into something that misses the point that Al Qaeda is the enemy we're supposed to be fighting.

    October 7, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  27. David

    What did we learn from the Russians when they tried to control Afghanistan? We equipped the Afghans to fight the Russians, so what did we retain from that action? A comment was made in the early days of the war in that while the Russians were reluctant to expend a $1 million bomb to attack a cave hideout, we weren't. Is that still true? And if the terrain is as harsh as what has been shown in recent reports, where is the airborne intelligence? How much does it cost to fly camera-equipped drones over the mountains 24/7?

    October 7, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  28. Ramo

    We are not looking for Bin laden and our troops are being killed. We are there to make companies rich by selling their guns and ammo plus hiring other service companies to do dirty work, costing billions. We need to take care of our country first. If we are going to save other countries we should tax them to pay for it, instead of breaking the wallets of Americans.

    October 7, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  29. Tracey

    It has changed. It has gotten worse. We either need to go in there full barrel and get that place in check, or pull out!. Right now, it's a waste of resources, time and money. We are in a rut, unless the people want freedom for themselves we are only pushing what we want for them on them.. our country will never be respected for that. I think we should pay more attention to whom we let into our borders, right now the terrorist are setting up shop in our own country. Khadafi was right when he said on Larry King.. "Obama wasn't on the plane, the terrorist were on the plane and did it, they took over one of your planes and did it". My question is how did they get in?, Why did they get in ? and Why are they still coming in?? We need to get on the ball.
    Solve the problem in a big way, or pull the plug on the mission, I say.

    October 7, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  30. Herman Kirkpatrick

    If Rumsfeld had put in a larger number of troops from the get-go we could have decimated al Keida and the Taliban. On top of that we allowed them a 48 hour cease-fire and they all hiked into Pakistan. Our entire logic during that time was terrible. That first several months should have been all out war with thousands of troops along the border, Air Force backup and relentless action. America cannot fight a sterile war an hope to win.

    Herman Kirkpatrick

    October 7, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  31. Oscar Hoo

    As a Canadian, listening to CNN on the war in Afganistan, I hear about the US & Allied casualties along with civilian casualties caused mostly by air strikes. Are there no insurgents' casualties? Can the allied forces be so ineffective that they have not inflicted any casualties on the Taliban? If so, would it not be worth mentioning or is there a reason not to? Also why dwell so much on civilian casulaties caused by the Allies (especially the USA) while downplaying those cause by the insurgents?

    October 7, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  32. Anonymas soldier

    The war in Afahnistan is not an easy one. Not a great amount has changed. The problem is the neghboring countries harboring the Taliban and Al-Quida insugents. In comparison, how well could you protect your house if the house next door is full of criminals. Unfortunately that not an easy task. I beleive that it is important we stay in this to see it finished. I myself will be in Afghanistan at some point and still think we should finish this. It is imperitive we get Afgahnistan to take care of it's self. Keep supporting the troops america.

    October 7, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  33. Wali

    The battle in Afghanistan will never be won, unless you have define borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan is not Vietnam, Iraq or Korea. Fighting is what they do, and they will do it for generations to come. I am afraid we will lose a lot of our young men and women for this sensless war. I do not believe our government is getting the right information from Afghan government. I was born and raised in Kabul. Unfortunately, I lost faith in my people.

    October 7, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  34. Randy in Esco

    Generals on the front line of a war KNOW how many troops it will take to complete any mission. Politicians on Capitol Hill sit around and try to figure a way to win the war with only the troops they have over there now.
    It's really really simple: If we want to win the war in Afgan, SEND THE TROOPS and end it. If we decide that we should cut our loses and pull out, then PULL OUT. Don't just lolygag around and let our troops that are there now slowly, day by day, get picked off a few at a time.

    October 7, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  35. Christa Reisinger

    who would pitch a tent in the middle of a valley surrounded by high, rugged mountains which are occupied by the enemy. You don't have to know anything about war strategy, just watch the old western movies.
    And, by the way, what ever happened to "CHANGE" ? Did it mean less presence in Iraq and more in Afghanistan? War is war in any country and I am tired of our guys getting sacrificed for what, exactly? The reasons for our being there seem to be changing. And, one more thing....maybe our president should stay home for a while and tend to business, rather than preparing for one photo opportunity after another and delivering one prepared speech after another. I don't want him to be a talking head, I want him to be our president who does real work.

    October 7, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  36. Deena

    To blame the past mistakes on the last administration is like telling a teenager it is all their parents fault. Grow up America lets be responsible. Are the children of today going to slide out from the debt we have entangeled them with, No, they will have to step up and be responsible. One act good ar bad effects another.

    October 7, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  37. Ron T.

    The only change that I see is the American casualty number has continued to go up. If we place more Troops in that Country, we only give them more targets to take pot shots at. I served in the Army during the Viet Nam conflict and I know first hand what a political war is all about. The Politicians in our Country don't care about your Son's and Daughters, they only care if it's their children are affected and if they are you can bet they will be placed in a safe secure duty station.
    If we want to do some good in our Country, take the 189 Billion plus dollars that we have wasted on that barbarick Country and revive our school system in our Nation.
    We could also use part of that money to beef up our borders and protect our Country from invaders. Deport the 12 million plus illegals that are hanging out at the Home improvement centers, hotels, fast food joints, construction sites and Landscaping companies and that will help take care of some of the unemployment we now face.
    I think the little man in this Country is tired of being dumped on by the Rich and Government bureaucrats.
    If you insist on staying in that senseless war, do the Dirty Dozen trick, take all the lifers from our Prison system and send them over there to fight the enemy, lets face it you would be pitting the bad against the bad.
    Please get out of Afghanistan before it's to late, we are running out of options and patients.

    October 7, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  38. Deena

    War does not make a difference, the people remain the same. The people need to rise up in their own country. Corruption and violence have surged because of poverty and ignorance. War does not change a thing, it kills young men while old men talk.

    October 7, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  39. Ruben Guerrero

    This is a War we cannot win. The Soviet Union, another superpower, was defeated by the Taliban and Islamic Extremists after years of war and were forced to retreat. A troop surge will not work. It only gives time for the enemy to regroup until we reduce troop levels again and they go on the offensive. A possible solution? Carpet bomb all known areas. Precision not needed, massive B-52 bombing.

    October 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
  40. Mike

    Afghanistan as a country is corupt. They have many tribal problems and other issues. The president, Hamid Karzai dosen't seems to care a bit about the conditions in his own country. I don't understand way the USA army has to fight this war by themselves. Why the Afganistan government dosen't send more troops to help our soldiers ? How in the world our soldires supposed to fix Afghanistan's internal problems ? I think more usa soldiers need to be send to support the existing soldiers to take care of these problems for once and all and bring our soldiers home. We need to change attacking strategies and try to give power or arm the minority tribes there so that they can counter balance each other.

    October 7, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  41. richard e doren

    you no what i do'nt understand is the" infrastructure" and
    the "children" of this "ones Great country"of mine and ours. wants to put more" trillions"of dollars. yes "trillions" of "U.S." dollars into a war that the bush's started not obama. "like i said is anybody listening." richie San francisco,CA.

    October 7, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  42. Mike Armstrong TX.

    Just face it people were stuck in the mud over there trying to fix a proublem that God himself cant fix were just wasting lives and time trying to play God.

    October 7, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  43. Mike M.

    Post 9/11 we had the goodwill of every civilized country on the planet. Instead of using that to form a strong international coalition to wipe out terrorism we…well, we all know what we did. Now, years later, Ben Laden runs free and the Taliban controls 80% of the country, not to mention the tens of thousands of others in the Middle East and around the world who hate us even more because of our disastrous foreign policies. The result? No American citizen will ever be so naïve as to think they’re safe here or abroad. Afghanistan is lost, and, like the war on drugs, the war on terror will never be won until we stop making the same mistakes over and over again, expecting different results.

    October 7, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  44. Barbara

    My son just went over as part of the maintanence group. All the news I hear on tv is not good. I don't know is he is still alive or not. News is not easy to get out of there and the company doen't really care. They get paid for each person they send. It isn't fair for the family to not know what is happening.

    October 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  45. Ralph

    Remember the Russian Viet-Nam?
    Between December 25, 1979 and February 15, 1989, a total of 620,000 Soviet soldiers served with the forces in Afghanistan (though there were only 80,000-104,000 serving at one time. A further 21,000 personnel were with the Soviet troop contingent over the same period doing various white collar and blue collar jobs.

    The total irrecoverable personnel losses of the Soviet Armed Forces came to 14,453 Soviet Army personel KIA. During this period 417 servicemen were missing in action or taken prisoner; 119 of these were later freed, of whom 97 returned to the USSR and 22 went to other countries.

    There were 469,685 sick and wounded, of whom 53,753 or 11.44 percent, were wounded, injured, or sustained concussion and 415,932 (88.56 percent) fell sick.

    October 7, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  46. David

    Heidi, it is hard to believe that this is the eighth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. I'm sure the people there are glad you are paying attention to this day. It's a comfort to know that what is going on in Afghanistan is important to the public at home in the US.

    What is emerging in Afghanistan is a country recovering from the ravages of the Taliban and now on a more secure footing than before. Women are going to school in the capitol and schools are being formed and classes held out in the rural areas. Though there is a disputed presidential election, there is nonetheless an election process with provision for a run off election when the first balloting doesn't come up with clear majority. I think we and the Afghan people are holding onto gains at this point and fending off threats from the Taliban at a vulnerable juncture. Putting into action an additional surge of troops or moving to a more closely focused strategy on terrorist attacks should be accompanied by more energy devoted to talking to the Taliban and following through on and maybe expanding the assistance and committments to rebuilding.

    October 7, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  47. Mike

    One thing President Obama need to remind himself is that he didn't create all of these problems nor he started the war. The Democrats and the Republicans) need to get their heads together and come up with a solution to improve the condition this country is facing. The longer we wait the worst it gets. All of these bickering's and name callings doesn't solve anything.

    October 7, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  48. Jim Frasche

    Hello Heidi-

    What has changed in Afghanistan pales compared to what has changed in America. On the one hand, we finally have a President who appears to understand the importance of the Afghan people themselves and their security, stability, and prosperity in his strategic considerations. But on the other hand we have an American population which increasingly does not, and which fails to appreciate the real costs of our potential failure there. This is self defeating, because until we make a long term commitment to enabling Afghanistan to emerge as a responsible member of the world community, they will continue to be manipulated by their rapacious neighbors, international terrorist organizations, and their own illegal power brokers, who are all really, really bad people. We can loose thousands of people and spend billions of dollars now, or loose hundreds of thousands and trillions of dollars ten years from now.

    Best regards, Jim (who has spend 35+ years in and out of the area)

    October 7, 2009 at 5:34 pm |
  49. Bernie Lemieux

    The war in Afghanistan has been going on for 8 years with little progress to show for. The republicans are suggesting a surge like the one that was successful in Iraq. It won't work in Afghanistan because the situation is very different. In Iraq, the insurgents were concentrated in 3 main areas, Bagdad, the Shiite enclave and Saddam's home town where they could be confronted directly. The Taliban insurgents operate in a totally different manner. They are more numerous, better organized, more mobile, more adptable, more knowledgeable of tactics, survive in very spartan conditions and can be extremely illusive. You can never really pin them down. Don't forget their motto; you in the west have a lots of clocks but we have a lot of time. They believe that intensely. They beat the British and the Russians before and they they are passionately determined to make this strike three. When they see the surge coming, they will simply vacate the area and lie low for a long time. They will hide in the montains; the harsh geography is their biggest ally. They will wait for the opportune time to srike. They have their own spies/enforcers in every village. The old guy that waives and smiles at you we the convoy drives by is the same old guy that will plant an IED that night to kill you. Most of the money and weapons for the Taliban come through the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. The flow of arms and money must be stopped. However it's easier said than done! It's the only thing that will sway them. When they find out that their families are nearly starving to death and the Afghan government will give them a better offer, the average moderate Taliban will switch side. If enough of them defected over time, it would shake their resolve and undermine the power of the Drug and War Lords who are impediments to the Afghan goverment authority. You can't govern that way. Study the implications of an Afghan surge very carefully. What if it does not work? Things are at a tipping point ; slow progress to victory or creeping demoralization and eroding public support leading to failure.

    October 7, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  50. Jan O

    Christa Reisinger points are well taken. 8 yrs. after the start of the Afghan war we now have a president in office who thinks being an entertainer is the same as leading our country. What happened to reasoned decision making? I thought it couldn't worse after Bush,but it has. Mr. President, forget about the "rock star schtick ."Our people are suffering both in a futile foreign war and at home with a crumbling economy! Can you hear me.

    October 7, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  51. Guru

    The President has a tought decision to make but I think he has to provide the troops MacCrystal is asking for. VP Biden is wrong in thinking that the Taliban is somehow different from Al-Queda. Only in name. We need to remember what the Taliban did to women when they ruled Afghanistan – no schooling, no health care nothing for 50% of the population. We cannot walk away from that.

    However, I think we have to test those on Capital Hill who support this surge to see if they are willing to make the sacrifice they want others to make. We should pay for this increse with new taxes and not by merely borrowing more. No cutting back on health care, no increase in the budget deficit. We are in a tough situation so let's see if those who are tough on defense are rally tough on the budgert deficit. It is time to pay to play! I'll pay my share. Good luck Mr. President.

    October 7, 2009 at 8:37 pm |
  52. tayon

    Why send more people to die?We have nothing to show for the last 8 years,but a bunch of dead bodies

    October 7, 2009 at 8:47 pm |
  53. Mitch Dworkin - Dallas, Texas

    I really hope that CNN gives Michael Ware much more time on the air to explain what is happening in Afghanistan!

    Michael Ware in my opinion is by far the most knowledgeable, credible, and objective journalist in the business when it comes to reporting about and explaining complex foreign policy issues!

    I would even hope that President Obama would call Michael Ware into the Oval Office to ask for his advice about Afghanistan. While nobody is perfect or infallible, I have never seen Michael Ware ever make an unsound call on anything that he has ever reported about and explained in all of the years that I have been watching him on CNN!

    Mitch Dworkin
    Dallas, Texas

    October 8, 2009 at 9:45 am |
  54. victoria

    It hasn't changed because we were focused on Iraq. Many people I personally know were killed in Afghanistan. It's time we send in more troops. It's time we focus on our men and women in Afghanistan. Instead of cutting DoD funds 10% (OBAMA), maybe we should increase it so the USMC and the USA can buy newer, better equipment rather than sending them out into a war with "armored" vehicles that aren't really armored!!
    Obama, please stop visiting other countries pitching dumb ideas. Please visit Afghanistan and see what our men and women are going through. Also, instead of a panel deciding what they should do and you just signing off on it, maybe you should make a decision without them.

    October 8, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  55. Frank Korosi

    My military qualifications are not important but in my opinion one can not fight a guerilla war with a conventional one, just as one can NOT put out an electric fire with water.
    We need top quality inteligence and based on that, small details of special forces (like the navy seals) to go in, do what it's needed and get out in a fast and eficient move.
    That would be in my opinion the right thing to do in Afghanistan
    Regards
    Frank

    October 8, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  56. Richard

    Since all the wars we get involved in are caused by religious differences, why don't we tax religious organizations to pay for the wars? Religion is the largest money making business in the world and a lot of the money they make has nothing to do with religion.

    October 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  57. Barbara

    Is there anyway to receive information about someone on base in Afghanistan?

    October 8, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  58. MRAL

    Afganisstan eight years later and the results are the same.We need to protect our own borders. It was started by Bush he's gone and the war still goes on. The war has taken a toll on America. We have enough poor without food and shelter in America We need to come HOME we have done our part.

    October 10, 2009 at 10:15 am |
  59. Rita

    Yes it sounds heightened more. Maybe because we are hearing it more. But many of our men are dying and this being so, we should have more soldiers their to protect each other as well as the people of Afghanistan. I believe the President should boost our troops.

    October 12, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  60. Bob Miller

    I have a comment on Afghanistan where was all this concern for Afghanistan when I was there in 2004 I have e-mail cnn from fob AND WITH NO RESLUTS we needed moremen than but no one would listen i was hurt there and was sent to germany and meet 2 congressman atthe hospital there and they ask me were in iraq i said i was in afghanistan they said we did not know we the us was in afghanistan i as you how does that happen? congressman not knowing where this troops are ? i was not treated the sameas the guys in iraq we were pushed aside hey but we need more men there as soon as possible besides that where the whole thing started

    October 14, 2009 at 12:00 pm |