Friday, December 18, 2009

Rock the Taliban, train the, Afghan police force, and army

President Obama's address on Afghanistan was a very good speech expressing a very good strategy.

The strategy is neither an open commitment nor a walk-away, fitting the best interests of the U.S. We cannot afford to pay for or get bogged down in a nation-building exercise that all experts say would take 10 years or more, if ever. It is enough to make a serious attempt to rock the Taliban, give enough space to the trainers to develop an Afghan police force and army and assist Pakistan with the border areas. If it succeeds, great. If not, there's Plan B. Depending on conditions, it would entail a slow withdrawal mixed with the Biden strategy of letting the Afghans govern themselves on condition that the U.S., NATO and the United Nations can intervene to the extent necessary to kill or capture any Al- Qaeda-like elements that our intelligence can identify, together with an independent Pakistan strategy that is probably being worked on.

This is not World War II, when the boys came home after the Germans and Japanese were defeated. The use of dates a) puts the pressure on the Afghans who don't want us to occupy their country and are as opposed as we to the intolerance of the Taliban, to unite against them, and b) resembles the deadlines in Iraq (demanded by the Iraqis and acquiesced to by George Bush). Of course, that won't stop the Republicans from screaming about the deadlines.

Mr. Obama spoke to the country non-condescendingly, mentioning the cost and limits of power as well as the lofty goals of America, here and historically. He avoided the sort of simplistic, full-throated cry for an undefined and unobtainable "victory," which Dick Cheney still uses to rouse the radical right. It reminded me once again that we have an adult in the White House.


Palm Beach

Victory needed in war, not lengthy operations

To quote Sun Tzu in The Art of War, "What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations." This is pretty old stuff (sixth-century B.C.) for so many presidents and generals to have ignored or forgotten this sensible advice.


Palm Beach Gardens

Integrate long-term care with home care

A recent letter writer mentioned House Concurrent Resolution 59, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton. It supports the goals and ideals for senior caregiving and affordability. It passed the House 387-0. Congress must take this important first step to address the looming age-wave crisis that could jeopardize the independence of millions of seniors.

I would also like to bring attention to House Resolution 791. The bill would express the House of Representatives' commitment to: (1) integrating long-term care, particularly as it relates to home care and community services, into a comprehensive health care reform agenda; and (2) aiding relevant parties in composing, executing, and enforcing a well-informed national strategy for long-term care that will address geographic and economic disparities that limit access to care, expand long-term health services, and streamline quality measures.

It also would recognize the need to: (1) collaborate with local, state, and federal health care entities to improve working conditions and training for home health aides; and (2) adequately fund and support existing technologies, entities, and initiatives that assist informal caregivers and help maintain and improve long-term health services for the disabled and elderly.



Soft schedule cheats Gator players and fans

The article about the University of Florida's football recruiting class of 2006 omits a rather significant fact: These athletes have been cheated of the challenge to see how good they really could have been because UF scheduled soft nonconference opposition and because of mediocre conference foes, and its fans are cheated as well.

The University of Florida's penchant for scheduling cream puffs is a tradition. UF has never wanted to play the best. It last played Texas in 1940 (one touchdown in three games, shut out the last two) and has played the other top five winningest programs only in bowl games, never voluntarily in the regular season. The NCAA basketball tournament selection process requires teams to play rigorous schedules. The BCS process in football encourages them not to.


Boynton Beach

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