Friday, September 26, 2008

Presidential Debate #1 - Live Blog #5 - Afghanistan, More Troops and if So How Many and When?

Obama: Need more troops, cannot separate Afghanistan from Iraq. Would send two or three additional brigades. We have four times as many troops in Iraq where nobody had anything to do with Iraq, strategic mistake. Must deal with Al Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Press Afghan government, deal with poppy trade.

McCain: Won't repeat mistake that he regrets which was to wash hands of region after Soviets. Not prepared to cut off aid to Pakistan so not ready to threaten them. You don't announce strikes out loud, you work with the government. Area on border has not been governed since days of Alexander the Great. Need new troops but also new strategy. Not just addition of troops, he knows how to work with Pakistan.

Obama: Nobody talked about attacking Pakistan. If the U.S. has Al Qaida lieutenants in Pakistan and they are unable or unwilling to attack we should take them out. We need to be prudent in what we say but mentions him "singing songs about bombing Iran". We alienated the Pakistani population, had 20th century mindset about dictator, wasted money, they weren't going after Al Qaida.

McCain: Responds about bombing Iran, talking about his record. When he was a new congressman in 1983 voted against sending Marines to Lebanon. Supported Gulf War I and Bosnia and Kosovo. Opposed turning force in Somalia into peacemaking force. He has a record of making tough decisions. Someone at a townhall asked him to wear her son's bracelet, she asked him to make sure his death wasn't in vain. "We don't want defeat." Hard for military to recover from failure.

Obama: Also has a bracelet. She asked him to make sure another mother isn't going through what she's going through. No US soldier ever dies in vain. Our troops have performed brilliantly. Are we making good judgments. We took our eye off Afghanistan and folks who perpetrated 9/11. Nobody is talking about defeat in Iraq. McCain has not consistently been concerned about Afghanistan, he said we could try to "muddle through" Afghanistan.

McCain: Would think he would have visited Afghanistan. Has been there and knows what needs to be done. Opposes set date for withdrawal, will cause defeat in Iraq.

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