Friday, July 18, 2008


McCain: A History Of Being Wrong On Afghanistan

by: Chris LeJeune
Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 11:29:37 AM EDT
From ABC News:

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports from Capitol Hill: The McCain campaign criticism of Sen. Barack Obama's hearing record on Capitol Hill led us to put the shoe on the other foot. It turns out that presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain has attended even fewer Afghanistan-related Senate hearings over the past two years than Obama's one. Which is a nice way of saying, McCain, R-Ariz., the top Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee, has attended zero of his committee's six hearings on Afghanistan over the last two years.

Meanwhile, Obama attended the full Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Afghanistan in March 2007, although he used the opportunity to ask Gen. James L. Jones, then the commander of NATO, about Pakistan.

McCain's campaign claims that his years of previous foreign policy experience make up for his recent lack of attendance at hearings. But, as any combat veteran will tell you, the battlefield is fluid. It is dynamic. It is always changing. Simply because you know how Afghanistan was running in 2001, does not mean you have an idea of the reality on the ground today.

A review of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings as listed on the committee Web site for the past two years reveals that McCain's committee has held six hearings that included the word "Afghanistan" in the title or Central Command -- which overseas U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

McCain missed them all.

He missed the hearings with Adm. William Fallon, then the CentCom commander, with authority over Afghanistan, on March 4, 2008, and May 3, 2007.

There was also hearing on June 7, 2007, on the nomination of Gen. Douglas Lute to be the White House war czar with oversight over Afghanistan.

Gen. Jones testified before the Armed Services Committee on Sept. 6, 2007, but that hearing was on Iraq and while McCain showed up late for his opening statement, he was there.
But he missed the hearing on Afghanistan strategy Feb. 14 with representatives from the State Department and Marine Lt. Gen. John Sattler.

He also missed the hearing April, 10, 2008 on the war in Iraq and the "situation in Afghanistan" where Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen both testified.
McCain also missed the Feb. 6, 2008 hearing where the committee considered the fiscal year request for authorizations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, to be honest, even if he attended the meetings I'm not sure how much he would learn from them or be able to contribute. The following video (click on this link to see video: is from a McCain speech in 2003 where he downplays the importance of the fight in Afghanistan, and refers to President Karzai as the leader of Iraq. According to McCain in 2003, we can just "muddle through in Afghanistan".

And this is the experience that qualifies him to miss the above mentioned hearings.


U.S. soldiers who died in Afghanistan were a few days from completing deployment

Some wanted money for school; others wanted to start a career in military

Relatives seek to reconcile their grief with their anger toward the military

By Emanuella GrinbergCNN

(COMMENT BY BILL CORCORAN, EDITOR OF CORKSPHERE. We are printing this story in its entirety because we feel it is story everyone should read, and because we know other than CNN the rest of the mainstream media will ignore a story like this as they do almost everything having to do with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.)

(CNN) -- Cpl. Gunnar Zwilling suspected his days were numbered last week, while he and his band of brothers in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team prepared for a mission near Wanat, Afghanistan.

"It's gonna be a bloodbath," he told his father, Kurt Zwilling, on the phone, in what would be their last conversation.

Kurt Zwilling braced himself for the worst but held out hope that his son would make it home.

"They were in the most dangerous place on Earth. They were in mortal danger, and there was nothing they could do it about it," he said. "But they were soldiers, so they had to do their job."

With just a few days left in their 15-month tour, Gunnar Zwilling and eight of his comrades were killed July 13 in a clash with as many as 200 Taliban militants during a mission to set up an outpost near Wanat. It was the deadliest attack on U.S. troops in Afghanistan in three years.

In the wake of their deaths, the paratroopers have become symbols of what many say is a forgotten war, prompting the U.S. military to draw up plans for putting more troops and resources into the war in Afghanistan. Watch why troops may have to wait for help »

But before they were national heroes, the young soldiers were beloved sons, brothers, fathers and husbands who were drawn to the Army for different reasons.

Cpl. Jason D. Hovater, 24, of Clinton, Tennessee, joined the Army against his family's wishes with the intention of jump-starting his college education.

Before joining the service in 2006, Hovater was a "man of God" who divided his time between his father-in-law's landscaping company and playing songs of worship with his family.

"Everything that God deposited in that boy came out when he played the piano," said his mother, Kathy Hovater, who home-schooled her son and his three siblings.

Shortly after Hovater joined his combat team in Italy, his sister said he called home and said he had made a "mistake," but was committed to following through with his service.

"He was a dedicated soldier. He did what he was supposed to do because he said if he weren't over there, all that horror and torment that was going on in the war, it would be over here," said his sister, Jessica Davis.

Cpl. Pruitt A. Rainey, 22, of Haw River, North Carolina, also joined the Army as a means to pay for his college education so he could become a teacher, according to Jeff Terrell, the leader of the youth group at the Glen Hope Baptist Church.

"He wasn't going to be a career military guy, but he believed in what he was doing," said Terrell, who knew Rainey since his teen years. "He felt like this would help him. He enjoyed it, but he had other plans.

"He really wanted to teach. He had a good way with kids. Kids flocked to him."

Before joining the Army, Rainey spent his time doing martial arts, a pastime that came naturally to the high school wrestling star, and volunteering for his church's youth ministry.

"The kids loved to jump on him like he was a big bear," Terrell said. "He was a big kid, but he was gentle."

Cpl. Jonathan R. Ayers, 24, of Snellville, Georgia, seemed destined for military service since childhood.

"Jon was just very military since he was 3 years old. He looked at your shoes, and if they weren't perfect, they were no good," said his father, Bill Ayers. "He loved the regiment of the military; he loved order and schedule."

Despite his fastidious tendencies, Ayers' father remembers him as a "cutup" who never failed to amuse with his Jeff Foxworthy impersonation.

"He loved to see people smile and laugh," Ayers said. "He was not a prankster, but he loved to tell jokes."

For the free-spirited Cpl. Matthew B. Phillips, 27, of Jasper, Georgia, the armed forces satisfied a need for adventure while providing a service to his country.

"Matt had a very individualistic personality. He loved living life," said his father, Michael Phillips. "Even though he was afraid at times, in every photo from Afghanistan, he had a big smile on his face."

Phillips, who left a wife behind, died on the same day that his sister gave birth to her first son, whom she named after him.

Like other grieving relatives, Phillips' father is attempting to reconcile his emotions with concerns over how the military handled the situation.

"We're torn between incredible pride and anger. We're having a difficult time reconciling that after 14 months, someone who served his country well and paid his dues, why would he be placed in such a perilous situation?" Phillips said.

"There have to be some answers for the family."

Dean Bogar, the grandfather of Cpl. Jason M. Bogar, 25, of Seattle, Washington, said he was troubled by the fact that his grandson was fighting in a Taliban stronghold with little reinforcements.

"That's a big question mark," he said.

Watch how the Pentagon is investigating the attack »

Even so, he said he is proud of his grandson for bringing "valor" to the Bogar name.

"He was a nifty boy. He had a great sense of humor and was outgoing and very bright and upfront with everything," he said. "Kind of clever little imp."

In the beginning, Kurt Zwilling said his son enjoyed the camaraderie, discipline and excitement that Army life offered.

"Everything he did, he did with a passion," Kurt Zwilling said of his son, who graduated from high school in Florissant, Missouri. "That's why he wanted to join the paratroopers, he wanted to go into the toughest thing and be with the best."

Even as the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan became apparent, Zwilling said his son applied the same determination to his service that had carried him through high school theater, sports and music.

"He walked into the valley of death and didn't flinch. He knew what was going to happen and he went anyway. That's bravery," he said.

For the parents of 1st Lt. Jonathan P. Brostrom, 24, of Aiea, Hawaii, knowing that their son died doing what he felt was right brings some sense of closure.

"He was very happy doing what he was doing, and he wouldn't have had it any other way," said his mother, Mary Jo Brostrom. "That was what he wanted to do, defend our freedom and serve with his brothers."

Brostrom's parents said they are grateful they had the chance to spend time with their son in May, when he showed up unexpectedly at their door on Mother's Day with a bouquet of flowers.
He spent the next few weeks surfing, fishing and spending every waking moment with his parents and his 6-year-old son, Jase.

"When he came home, he would wrestle around and try and make us laugh," Mary Jo Brostrom said. "He had a beautiful smile and a beautiful heart and that's what we'll miss."


In Iraq, Mixed Feelings About Obama and His Troop Proposal


BAGHDAD — A tough Iraqi general, a former special operations officer with a baritone voice and a barrel chest, melted into smiles when asked about Senator Barack Obama.

“Everyone in Iraq likes him,” said the general, Nassir al-Hiti. “I like him. He’s young. Very active. We would be very happy if he was elected president.”

But mention Mr. Obama’s plan for withdrawing American soldiers, and the general stiffens.
“Very difficult,” he said, shaking his head. “Any army would love to work without any help, but let me be honest: for now, we don’t have that ability.”

Thus in a few brisk sentences, the general summed up the conflicting emotions about Mr. Obama in Iraq, the place outside America with perhaps the most riding on its relationship with him.

There was, as Mr. Obama prepared to visit here, excitement over a man who is the anti-Bush in almost every way: a Democrat who opposed a war that many Iraqis feel devastated their nation. And many in the political elite recognize that Mr. Obama shares their hope for a more rapid withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

But his support for troop withdrawal cuts both ways, reflecting a deep internal quandary in Iraq: for many middle-class Iraqis, affection for Mr. Obama is tempered by worry that his proposal could lead to chaos in a nation already devastated by war. Many Iraqis also acknowledge that security gains in recent months were achieved partly by the buildup of American troops, which Mr. Obama opposed and his presumptive Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, supported.

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