President Obama in Afghanistan

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 29, 2010
President Obama Walks With President Karzai in Kabul

Today, President Obama met with President Karzai in Kabul, Afghanistan. Following their meetings, the President spoke to a crowd of U.S. and allied troops at Bagram Air Base. The President said:

"I'm honored to be joined by America's outstanding civilian military leadership team here in Afghanistan, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, who's doing outstanding work, and the commander of our 43-nation coalition, General Stan McChrystal. The two of them together have paired up to do an extraordinarily difficult task, but they are doing it extraordinarily well and we are proud of them. Please give your outstanding team a big round of applause. They've got my full confidence and my full support.

"We're also joined by troops from some of our coalition partners, because this is not simply an American mission or even just a NATO mission. Al Qaeda and their extremist allies are a threat to the people of Afghanistan and a threat to the people of America, but they're also a threat to people all around the world, and that's why we're so proud to have our coalition partners here with us. Thank you very much for the great work that you do. We salute you and we honor you for all the sacrifices you make, and you are a true friend of the United States of America. Thank you very much.

"And we also salute the members of the Afghan National Army who are fighting alongside all of you. They're risking their lives to protect their country. And as I told President Karzai today, the United States is a partner but our intent is to make sure that the Afghans have the capacity to provide for their own security. That is core to our mission, and we are proud of the work that they are doing and the continuing increased capacity that we're seeing out of Afghan national security forces. So thank you very much for the great work you're doing to take responsibility for security here in your own country.

"And to the Afghan people, I want to say that I'm honored to be a guest in your country. Now, the Afghans have suffered for decades -- decades of war. But we are here to help Afghans forge a hard-won peace while realizing the extraordinary potential of the Afghan people, Afghanistan's sons and daughters, from the soldiers and the police to the farmers and the young students. And we want to build a lasting partnership founded upon mutual interests and mutual respect, and I'm looking forward to returning to Afghanistan many times in the years to come."Full TextRead more on the White House Blog.



Tanveer B.
Oregon, USA
March 28, 2010

Tanveer B. in Oregon writes:

President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan, coming just after the signing of the START treaty with Russia, has resulted in boosting his ratings as more people feeling confident in his foreign policy approaches – The enhanced cooperation between US and Pakistan in the AfPak Theater increases the hope of stabilizing Afghanistan within the timeline proposed by the President and, at a lower cost to American taxpayers.

The next big foreign policy related milestones are the CTBT and FMT treaties scheduled to be signed in the next month or so – It is imperative that success in these areas is achieved; it’ll be very important to make sure cooperation is obtained from key allies such as India. One other key country in the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) being hosted by President Obama in Washington next month will be Pakistan – It is interesting to note that the first phase of a new strategic dialogue, between US and Pakistan, was successfully completed just last week; and US has shown interest in looking seriously at Pakistan’s request for technology transfer for civilian related nuclear projects. Getting Pakistan to agree to the US agenda [set] for the NSS will be a prudent move and will ensure another feather in the President’s cap, therefore the process to reach an accommodation on Pakistan’s request for access to civilian nuclear technology should be expedited immediately; based upon the positive atmosphere seen during the US Pakistan strategic dialogue it seems a near possibility.

New Mexico, USA
March 29, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

As a taxpayer, I don't mind if POTUS uses the tools of his office to get out of town on a semi-regular basis to pay his respects to the troops and foreign leaders.

Goes with the job description...(chuckle).

And I thank Mr. Karzai for his appreciation on behalf of Afghanistan for our modest efforts in helping his people help themselves to attain the future they seek.

The question of reintegration is sort of a "right of passage" for those formerly of the Taleban, in the process the individual must go through after laying down arms and agreeing to terms unconditionally.

A program in place whereby three things happen for that individual to be successfully reintegrated into peaceful Afghan society.

1. That work is a method of decompression from combat used as a tool to create a peaceful mindset and something to look forward to in life.

2. That in order to prove loyalty to the constitution and Afghanistan; that the individual will plant trees for the government of Afghanistan for a period of 2 years and be paid a living wage for his labor. Planting trees will form an appreciation for life rather than retain a willingness over time to destroy life, in theory.

3. That upon successful completion of educational (reading, writing, arithmatic) training during those 2 years (can't plant trees in the winter), the individual is granted full legal status as an Afghan citizen-"in good standing with the government", with the right to vote, and start a buisiness.

I think some sort of probationary period would be in order if the law abiding Afghan citizens are to be respected.
Not to speak for Afghans in this, I think it's just human nature to want assurances of peaceful intent.

The Taliban have got to pay their dues to a future Afghanistan all Afghans can be joyful in calling home.

The way to make democrats out of separatists is to include them in that process.

This way they come to understand that we're not there to steal their land, just there to help them heal it, being in our own national interests as well as their's.

I think given a choice between fighting and having the opportunity to do something one can show off to their grandkids as they sit in the shade you created in a greener Afghanistan that has sucessfully won the war against desertification, then I think you'll find more than a few walking away from the fight they're in with us today.

End the illegal logging along the Pakistan border by paying the local Afghan loggers to plant trees instead, and then create a few more national parks to preserve the existing forests, and the Afghan government will retain sovergnity over its natural resources rather than have them pillaged by opportunists.

The tree planting that the US is sponsoring now has turned into one of the most popular programs among Afghans that has been stood up so far, if I understood the Sec. of Agriculture correctly.

I'm wondering if folks @ State are as curious as I am just how far we could stretch a program to solve more than one problem at a time.

New Mexico, USA
March 29, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Tanveer B. in Oregon

I think that's a pretty fair summary, but I would advise using extreme caution in fostering growth in civil nuclear power until the global community gets a handle on dealing with nuclear waste first.

In the meantime, if we can help make the reactors what they have safer to operate, or assist them in recycling bomb-grade into fuel-grade material then I think these would be the first doors to open to Pakistan in nuclear partnership.


@ Dipnote Bloggers

This is a little off topic, but thanks to our friend in Oregon it's fresh on the brain pan, sunny side up;

A method of energy production that produces waste that contaminates everything around it is not entitled to be called "clean energy" regardless if it produces zero emmissions.

Now I believe the President is due to speak at a NASA "town hall" soon, and I'd like it very much if he'd ask folks there a question about getting nuclear waste off-planet.

(maybe folks will think its timely enough to pass on to him)

"Assuming vitrification can make the waste enviromentally inert, would they mind figuring out a reliable container and booster, in an economicly viable way to get rid of it that will fund their manned space program from the nuclear power company's accounts the way they'd like it to be?"

I think it's time we had a comercially viable space program that pays for itself at the same time it finds the incentive to become a public/private partnership and serve the national interest.

The post office charges for the stamp to mail a letter, so let the nuclear power companies pay NASA to build a program to get rid of their waste if they want to build more plants.

We don't currently have a viable hole to bury it all in, so it would be nice to have a working alternative.

I'd like to see what they come up with.

Virginia, USA
March 29, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

"Assuming vitrification can make the waste enviromentally inert"

If the waste is environmentally inert, why send it into space?!!

New Mexico, USA
March 29, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Flavius,

Even though through vitrification the material is still highly radioactive, it's basicly like glass, and how should I put this?

It's inert in the sense that were you to have a catastrophic launch failure the waste wouldn't become dust in the air, or disolve in water, or leach into the soil, thus it could be recovered from the environmment rather than permanently contaminate it.

It was a process developed for underground storage, but since we don't have a hole to put it in that's safe storage for the next 100,000 years or so, it just makes logical sense to find another repository.

93 million miles from here is the largest nuclear furnace in four light years.

We could ship it all there and have no effect at all on the sun, it would eat all we have to feed it for breakfast and not even burp.

Basicly I think it's pretty strait forward technical challenge if Nasa is willing to take out the trash.

Build a "barge" in geo sync. orbit, load it up over several years of dunp runs from a remote launch facility (Johnson atol for instance) than add all the on board science you wish to study the sun up close and send it off like a slow boat to China. It doesn't matter how long it takes, just so it gets there.

Folks talk about cost... well I don't think there's a budget request big enough to guard that waste from the environment for thousands of years as it's currently stored waiting for terrorists or an accident to happen, nor to dig a hole and monitor it forevermore.

Better to have a known one time cost, and reasonable assurance of not having to worry about it after it's been disposed of.

If we want a safer world to live in.

So it involves building three components, the booster and container system, a space tug to transfer the container from low Earth orbit to the Barge at Geo Sync orbit, and building a barge w/ propulsion system in orbit.

The last has never been done before and is in itself a challenge manned space flight is going to have to meet eventually if we are to explore Mars.

I think there something on the order of 50,000 metric tonnes of high-level waste in this country alone to be disposed of, so this would of necessity dwarf the investment made in getting a man on the moon.

The government can't be expected to shoulder all the burden, and that's why it must be designed as a public/private funded commercial venture even if it's non-profit in its own right. If nuclear energy can curb global warming, then getting rid of the waste is the only way to create sustainability as a viable ecologicly sound long term energy production policy.

Tennessee, USA
March 30, 2010

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Good luck…Karzi is not much better than Yasser Arafat. We are stuck with dealing with him. His word is no better now than it was three decades ago. He is alive because he is more than personally involved with the Taliban, not the US.

Which one of you below is the nuclear eng. who knows what they are talking about?

Virginia, USA
March 30, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

Perhaps "environmentally inert" was a poor choice of words. There's a better term for what you describe, though I don't know what it is offhand. Call it "physically stable" or some such thing. But anything that's radioactive isn't "environmentally inert," as you would agree.

I asked my father when I was ten why we couldn't send the stuff to the sun on a rocket. He said "too expensive," but he'd have told me that it was too dangerous if he'd thought about it. My father worked for the government, so how much things cost was often his first consideration ;).

I'd love to get the stuff off planet, frankly, but you're going to have to convince the body politic that it is relatively safe to do so. And I mean the INTERNATIONAL body politic. Now how easy is that going to be? I'd say almost impossible. Any smidgen of doubt will doom it. Sure, if the rocket explodes the waste all stays in one piece. But where does that piece land? Maybe in somebody's backyard. And what if children get a hold of it before the government types do? You can have answers for all these possibilities and it won't matter. You know what I mean?

It is easier to create a domestic political consensus than it is an international one, and we can't even agree on Yucca Mountain. Ah, the treaties this idea would require! And you would need 67 votes in the UNITED STATES Senate to ratify! Forget the rest of the world! Aiyeee! Nightmare!

So, rockets are too risky. Politically, I mean. But there is something we ought to be working on ANYWAY that would eliminate that part of the equation. And from what I understand, it is something we could do if we really set ourselves to the task. Two words.

Space Elevator.

And let's keep working on some sort of fusion while we're at it, shall we?

Politics are so much more difficult than engineering!

Virginia, USA
March 30, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

I'm not a nuclear engineer, but I play one on TV. ;)

Just to add to what I said in my previous post, I know we're a long way from space elevators and fusion reactors and other cool stuff. No need to lecture me there. All I'm trying to point out here is that space elevators and fusion reactors are almost easier than international treaties and a well informed populace. It's our duty to try both approaches, but somehow I think we'll understand the physical engineering long before we understand the social engineering.

In the meantime, let's put the stuff somewhere relatively safe and let's work hard for the either the science or the politics to catch up with the problem.

March 31, 2010

Hamid in Afghanistan writes:

Yes you are right that president Obama came here he met afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai. He also asked Hamid Karzia about problems that they have in Afghanistan, and promised to Afhanistan president that he will solve it so soon. People of Afghanistan are happy from him and his kindess with them and they are thankful from U.S president.

Respectfully yours,

New Mexico, USA
April 5, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Why be satisfied with unsafe nuclear storage when we already have the technology to get rid of it permanently?

That's the question internationa agreements and partnership can be built on Flavius.

You think this is the stuff of science fiction I suppose.

I just don't think it's real smart to trade one global problem for an even greater one by promoting nuclear power as the answer to "clean energy" and global warming if you have no where to put the waste where it won't endanger lives or the environment.

Do a little research into what is is within 300 miles of you Flavius and then tell me you think everything's A-ok in your neck of the woods for the time being.

Right now folks have a ten billion dollar hole in the ground out in Nevada that is useless, a total waste of taxpayer dollars that I'm sure NASA could have put to better use to solve the problem.

You do remember why it is we haven't built a nuclear plant in over 30 years don't you?

Anyway this thread is about Afghanistan so when and if you decide to have some serious thought to contribute to finding a solution on this or any other subject I'll be happy to discuss it with you, have a nice weekend.

New Mexico, USA
April 3, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

On the political aspects Flavius I just want to add that the reason folks think it might be too dangerous or too expensive is that we haven't had an accident yet that will motivate them to get it off planet.

Then we can decide what is too expensive or too dangerous.

I don't think it's wise to wait for that or a terrorist to convince everyone, do you?

May 5, 2010

Helen K.L. in Canada writes:

I think canada should have a childrens day.


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