The “Retreatican Party?”

So Bill Frist wants the Taliban to be a part of the government in Afghanistan? If we can’t beat them, join them?

Reading the coverage of Bill Frist’s trip to Afghanistan, there’s a lot to say.

I could say it’s Dr. Frist’s worst diagnosis since the public spectacle of his Terri Schiavo diagnosis on the Senate floor.

I could say that Bill Frist who once pathetically labeled Democrats who are right about Iraq the “Defeatocrat Party,” is now the Senate’s leading spokesperson for those who are dead wrong on Afghanistan – the “Retreaticans.”

But all of that would do a disservice to just how profoundly wrong Sen. Frist is about Afghanistan, and how little leadership he’s providing when he just throws his hands up in the air and suggests the only hope is to bring the Taliban into the government as if it’s the inevitable outcome of what American troops began so bravely after September 11th.

Reaching an accommodation with terrorists isn’t the answer. We know what happened when the Taliban was in power Afghanistan: one of the most repressive regimes of modern times ruthlessly brutalized its citizens and allowed the world’s worst terrorists to attack us from its territory. We know they are still receiving support and guidance from al Qaeda as they try desperately to return to the bad old days. And we know they are not part of the democratically elected government we have sacrificed so much for.

If coddling the Taliban ever becomes the only way to save the government of Afghanistan, that will only be because this Administration has treated Afghanistan like a sideshow. The truth is, we are slipping dangerously backwards in Afghanistan because this Administration continues to deny reality.

Just look at the facts. The resurgent Taliban insurgency poses a greater threat to the Karzai government, the Afghan people, and our troops on the ground than at any point since they were overthrown. The opium trade increased by 60% last year and is now at an all-time high, funding warlords and insurgents and threatening to turn Afghanistan into a narco-state. Roadside bomb attacks have more than doubled this year, and suicide attacks have more than tripled. And forty percent of the population is unemployed and ninety percent lack regular electricity.

Just last week, Secretary Rumsfeld joined the Secretary General of NATO and the head of UN in Afghanistan in acknowledging that more troops are needed to combat the Taliban resurgence. Secretary Rice said we’ll “pay for it” if Afghanistan again devolves into a terrorist stronghold. But again and again the Administration has refused to heed its own warnings and refused to send the troops that are so clearly needed to avoid repeating the terrible mistakes of the past. That is both a tragedy and a scandal.

We have reached a critical point in Afghanistan. This Administration is on the verge of making the same mistake they made in not recognizing the threat of the insurgency in Iraq until it was too late. We know the risks of letting Afghanistan become a terrorist haven. Yet the Administration’s policy has defined cut and run. Cut and run when we had Osama bin Laden and his henchmen trapped in Tora Bora. Cut and run when we diverted resources form the hunt to invade Iraq, which had no relationship with Al Qaeda and nothing to do with 9/11.

Cut and run even now, as we learn from Pakistani intelligence that the mastermind of the most recent attempt to blow up American airliners was an al Qaeda affiliate operating from Afghanistan. That’s right – the same killers who attacked us on 9/11 are still plotting attacks against America and they’re still holed up in Afghanistan.

The central front in the war on terror is still in Afghanistan, but this Administration treats it like a sideshow. When did denying al Qaeda a terrorist stronghold in Afghanistan stop being an urgent American priority? How did we end up with seven times more troops in the crossfire of a civil war in Iraq – which our intelligence agencies tell us fans the flames of jihad and creates even more terrorists – than we have in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and al Qaeda still roams free?

So the next time the Senate Majority Leader travels to Afghanistan, maybe rather than declare surrender and invite the Taliban into Afghanistan’s government he can instead challenge Administration policy – and insist that the only exit strategy in Afghanistan is victory.

Insist that when NATO allies have pledged troops and assistance, they must follow through. Insist that the United States lead by example by sending in at least five thousand additional American troops. More elite Special Forces troops, the best counter-insurgency units in the world; more civil affairs forces to bolster reconstruction efforts; and more infantry to secure the border with Pakistan. More predator drones to find the enemy, more helicopters to allow rapid deployments to confront them, and more heavy combat equipment to make sure we can crush the terrorists.

And insist that we get serious about rebuilding Afghanistan. The President talks a good game, but his words ring hollow when his Administration has actually cut aid to Afghanistan aid by 30% this year, and requested 67% less than that for next year. We need more reconstruction money – not less — to combat the flourishing drug trade and ensure that the elected government in Kabul, helped by the United States, not the Taliban helped by al Qaeda, rebuilds the new Afghanistan. That’s how you win the hearts and minds of the local population, that’s how you win a war on terror, that’s how you show the world the true face of America.

Stop telling the Taliban what they want to hear – and get the job done.

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24 Responses to The “Retreatican Party?”

  1. kerry4prez says:

    Thank you for the comments Senator Kerry. We appreciate you taking the time to go over our Democratic plan, which is clearly more reasonable and wise. We hope to see you at the helm very soon. The people of America have had enough of Republican bungling on major issues. We need your guidance to once again be the most respected nation in the world. God bless you for all your sacrifices.

  2. Probus says:

    Thank you Sir, for sharing your plan with us to win this war on terror. Your plan is a fool-proof way to get this country back on track. We need to focus on the Afghanistan war as you have suggested. We need a leader like you who is honest with us and has actually served his nation in uniform instead of getting deferments like others in republican party. You have the leadership abilities, integrity and the sensitivity to lead this nation to victory.

  3. Andy Witmyer says:

    Thank you, Senator Kerry. Your input and wisdom is always appreciated. And, just so you know: should you run in ’08, I would proudly cast my vote for you once again!

  4. fedup says:

    Thank you Senator Kerry. You are so on top of these Republicans and their nonsense and no plan for anything but power and corruption.

    I just watched Sen. Frist on CNN, and of course he lambasted Dems for having no plan, with that look on his face when he knows Republicans are in trouble. My God what is he drinking, saying those with guns think they’re Taliban, but they really aren’t. The spin is getting crazier by the day.

    I find it funny that your amendment for a summit was passed in the wee hours of the morning and not one word about it, from anyone. Of course I am expecting a signing statement on that too.

    Keep doing what you do so well Senator Kerry, telling truth to power.

    You’ve got my vote and my help come your decision for ’08. We’ve got your back.

  5. fedup says:

    edit on my previous post.

    “speaking truth to power”

    Kerry on !!!

  6. Karennj says:

    Thank you Senator Kerry. Thank you for defending your position on Afghanistan here and detailing how misguided Senator Frist is. Your Faneuil Hall speech on Real Security gave a way out of the nightmare the Bush administration has led us into.

    You are the only one in either party who has given us ideas on what could be done on all the important issues of the day. Voting for you in 2004 was the vote I most wanted to cast in my life. My Kerry sticker will stay on my car – until a Kerry 2008 one becomes available.

    I also find it hard to believe that 65 of your colleagues could listen to the truth in your speech on the detainee bill and not do the right thing.

  7. DynamicDems says:

    Thank you, Senator Kerry. Keep holding their feet to the fire. Someone has to and we can’t count on our media to do it. They have largely ignored this stunning commentary by Bill Frist.

    And President Bush is still chanting, “cut and run” while Frist is ready to retreat at a gallop. Doesn’t the President even listen to what his majority leader is saying?

    “Retreatican Party” is a great description!

    While we have but one month to kick these buffoons out of office and take back our country and that is the immediate priority, another theme has developed in the replys to your post; so here’s my two cents about 2008.

    You are our true President, Senator Kerry. So many of us believe that you are the leader we need. There simply isn’t anyone who can handle all the problems facing our country like you can. We have many good Dems who would make a good President in ordinary times, but these are extraordinary times. We are in trouble and we need you.

    If you run in 2008, you will have many of us willing to fight tooth and nail to see you elected. You are not and never were “anyone but Bush” Senator. “Nobody but Kerry” is more like it!

  8. DAS San Diego says:

    Thank you Senator Kerry. Our party needs your strength and fortitude. Press on. Your example is powerful and is needed to keep our party unified. Leadership that can be trusted – strong and competent. Reign in our party as only you can. Keep the Dems focused on the finished line. The victory is in our grasp. The win is not just for the party but for the American people.

  9. Thank you Senator Kerry – this whole crowd has got to go. We need a complete cleaning out of the corrupt and clueless – the sooner the better!

    Frist backtracked yesterday after making his statements, no doubt to appease his base, even in backtracking he made it clear how utterly clueless he is.

  10. Thank You Senator Kerry,

    The apple is rotten to the core. Everything they have touched has gone to hell. Frist is as out of touch with reality as Bush, Cheney, Rice, And Rumsfeld.

    The logic or lack thereof, shown by them continues to baffle me. The collapse of their house of cards can be plainly seen now. After all the rhetoric of family values, now we find out that Foley was really worried about Family Jewels!! It seems ironic to me that it happens to be someone from my state that dropped the hammer down on him.

    But then Bush is managing to follow through with at least one thing he has said before. The uniter is uniting everyone, just in universal anger and hatred against him though.

  11. johng says:

    Thank You Senator Kerry for having our back.
    From one Veteran to another I salute you Sir.
    Lets roll in 2008.

  12. Brundlefly says:

    Thanks so much for these words Mr. Kerry.

    We up here in Canada, haven’t left Afghanistan, the British have not, the french have not, nor the germans, etc etc. All your brothers, sisters and allies in NATO all jumped at the chance to help the U.S. after 9/11, we are still there, and we are even upping our numbers.

    Frist’s rhetoric is defeatist and unsound.

    What about us, Mr. Frist? What about our sacrifice?

  13. Brundlefly

    Welcome to the Dem Daily. Sadly we all know Frist, Bush and the rest care only about themselves.

  14. wisteria says:

    Senator Kerry,
    Thank you for staying on top of the situation in Afghanistan. You understand the importance of getting it right there. Senator Frist, however doesn’t seem to get it at all. How could he suggest that we should give the Taliban the chance to run that country again? What kind of risky suggestion is that? I suppose it must be hard work and costly, to have to go back and redo what wasn’t done correctly to begin with, so it is easier to give up and let the Taliban run the country once again.

    Senator, please continue speaking out about Afghanistan. Don’t let the lack of current interest among the Republicans, the media and the American people discourage you. Maybe, with your outspoken concerns and that of other Democrats, the deteriorating situation there can be reversed and we can actually say that it was the Democrats that got it right finally, in Afghanistan.

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  16. YvonneCa says:

    Thank you, Senator Kerry. I. too, am SO disappointed in the current leadership of our country. We used to be the EXPERTS at leading by example. When we were at our best, the rest of the world wanted to be like us. Now, no one trusts us, or believes in our country any more. The words and policies of this administration have made us hated around the world. This is the source of my anger at this administration. How could they allow this to happen? I do want ‘America to be America’ again. Thank you so much for your leadership. Please continue to speak out.

  17. Ginny Cotts says:

    DynamicDems Says:
    October 3rd, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    “Nobody but Kerry” AMEN

    Senator Kerry, you have it covered – as usual. The underlying concept in your words is that we care about the people of Afghanistan, whose lives have been so disrupted for so many decades. It isn’t just about democracy and freedom. It is about real opportunity to have meaningful lives and the chance to rebuild their country and culture. To do that they are going to need some help to get off the ground and resist the forces that want to take over their country and lives again.

    I know a man from Afghanistan at work who returned two years ago to work at a new coed school in Kabul. He was full of wonderful ideas and hope. We had great brainstorming discussions on what the school might do to teach the kids about the America that they had little exposure to and how he could get materials and other support.

    I ran into him again about a year later. He had to come back due to some medical problems, but reported that the school was doing very well and he was anxious to go back. It was a reaffirmation of Louis Armstrong’s beautiful song ” Hello, Brother”.

    Funny, not only does Frist misdiagnose again, he still supports the idea of interfering to support a kind of life that they don’t want to live.

    Life is not just being alive. No one seems to understand, articulate and work for what most Americans believe in as well as you.

    Thank you.

    Never Surrender 8)

  18. mbk says:

    I only just noticed that this posting was BY Senator Kerry, not about him!
    Senator Kerry, I love the feisty-yet-thoughtful-as-ever tone to your speeches. And, as always, their message. I am delighted by the response you are getting in the midwest, especially from students. Having a child of college age myself, I have always maintained that this “Millenial” generation will do us proud, and accounts like those from your speeches at OSU and in Iowa just add more data points to my already-firmly-documented belief.

    Please keep up the great work! As Ginny Cotts says, above, Never Surrender. But then, it’s so obvious that you already get that. The thing I admire most is your sheer grit. Even better, it’s grit combined with class. Absolutely dynamite combination.
    Please please run in 08. Our country needs you.

  19. Dotti Janiak says:

    Senator Kerry,

    Thank you for posting this vital information about Afghanistan here at Democratic Daily.

    Since November 2004, when you told us to ‘roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our country,’ you have been on top of every issue before us, and have truly fought deligently and tirelessly to set a perfect example for all of us. I am so grateful for your words of wisdom, your leadership and your trustworthiness. You are a beacon of light during these overly dark times, and I need that brightness to make sense of it all.

    I long for John Kerry President 2008, and I have your back, sir.

  20. battlebob says:

    I posted this on another topic.
    Lind has a view closer to Frist then Kerry.

    Lind says the way out of Afghan is to make deals with the warring parties.
    I know folks may not want to hear this but Lind has been correct about every facet of the Afghan and Iraq debacles since day 1.

    He has always said the way to win a 4GW war is to make deals with the different factions. We don’t have enough guns, people, bombs and money to defeat the Pashtun and/or the Taliban. They are willing to fight forever.

    I would even suggest having the Taliban hand over bin Laden and his ilk in exchange for us no longer bombing and killing civilians.

  21. BlueWashington says:

    Hi Senator,

    Nice article. I do agree Afghanistan is the central front on the war on terrorism. We need to some how disengage from Iraq and dump the need for mid-Eastern oil at roughly the same time. An interesting problem…
    Meanwhile, Afghanistan is slowly slipping away from us. I’m just hopping we don’t have to completely destroy the place in order to save it.

  22. Probus says:


    Senator Kerry’s plan is very intelligent and most of all it is logical. I do not see the tribal leaders making deals with either NATO forces, or the US troops present in Afghanistan that function independently of the NATO forces. In a PBS documentary on the Afghanistan war, it showed how a deal was brokered between the Pakistan government and the tribal leaders but promises were broken. At one point 100 tribal leaders were singled out and killed one by one for disagreeing with the Taliban. It will be very difficult to make successful deals with the tribal leaders who support the Taliban and al Qaeda.

    I do agree that we have to work with the Pashtun people. Senator Kerry advocates investing in the communities such as building schools and hospitals. The Bush Administration has actually cut aid by 30%. As Mr. Lind suggests, rebuilding their communities will go a long way in getting the Pashtun to cooperate with American and NATO forces.

    We can’t stop attacking the Taliban as Mr. Lind suggests. While it may be true that fighting the Taliban will push us away from peace with the Pashtun, our only goal is that we find and destroy the Taliban and al Qaeda. Though it is unfortunate that NATO strikes often end up killing innocent Pashtun civilians, I cannot imagine any scenario where NATO or the Americans would eliminate all air strikes as Mr. Lind suggests. The Taliban have begun using IEDs and suicide bombers against our troops. Under those circumstances we obviously cannot negotiate with them. If Sen. Frist thinks that we can bring the Taliban into the government then he has not understood the situation on the ground as Sen. Kerry as understood it. With the murderous ideology that the Taliban and al Qaeda promote today, I cannot imagine any circumstances in which they would hand over bin Laden to us.

    I don’t think the Afghan government will ever give women the economic and political freedoms that they once had. But we must make sure that Afghan women do not live in fear. Before the Taliban took over there were female teachers, doctors, and professionals. Even now they are oppressed. Mr. Lind is a conservative so his motives are suspect if he voices views similar to those of Senator Frist; it is better defer to the excellent judgment of Senator Kerry in this matter.

    The last two paragraphs of Senator Kerry’s post include practical strategic goals and the president should implement quickly. Sen. Kerry understands how complicated this particular war is and how it differs from the war in Iraq. We must send more troops to Afghanistan to help NATO. When we had enough troops early on in the Afghanistan shortly after US troops invaded this country, we managed to neutralize the Taliban, but when the Bush Administration shifted troops from there to Iraq that, it led in a great part to the resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

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  24. kerry4prez says:

    Thank you for an interesting post, Probus. You make some very important points.

    I am also in full support of Senator Kerry’s plan as you are. I have seen the PBS documentary that you mention in your post. It gave such a clear picture of what we are up against. I think every American should see it.

    Probus writes: “The last two paragraphs of Senator Kerry’s post include practical strategic goals and the president should implement quickly. Sen. Kerry understands how complicated this particular war is and how it differs from the war in Iraq. We must send more troops to Afghanistan to help NATO. When we had enough troops early on in the Afghanistan shortly after US troops invaded this country, we managed to neutralize the Taliban, but when the Bush Administration shifted troops from there to Iraq that, it led in a great part to the resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.”

    Right on target again, Probus. Senator Kerry is the best judge of this matter.