BUSH SAYS IF YOUNGER, HE WOULD WORK IN AFGHANISTAN (Reuters headline)
AFGHANISTAN CHALLENGE ROMANTIC -- BUSH (Herald Sun [Australia] headline)
By Tabassum Zakaria
March 14, 2008
U.S. President George W. Bush says he would fight in Afghanistan if he was younger.
President Bush spoke of his dream to work on the frontline in Afghanistan during a video conference with U.S. military and civilian personnel in the war-torn country.
"I must say, I'm a little envious," Bush said.
"If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.
"It must be exciting for you . . . in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks," President Bush said.
President Bush was briefed about problems and progress in Afghanistan where a war has dragged on for more than six years.
The President was told challenges range from fighting local government and police corruption to persuading farmers to abandon a lucrative poppy drug trade for other crops.
President Bush heard tales of all-night tea drinking sessions to coax local residents into cooperating, and of tribesmen crossing mountains to attend government meetings seen as building blocks for the country's democracy-in-the-making.
He was also told of efforts to reduce support for the Taliban in tribal areas as well as hopeful signs that schools were being built, more health care was reaching remote areas, and local government officials were being trained in management.
Critics accuse President Bush of focusing on Iraq to the detriment of Afghanistan where the Taliban has persisted in fighting after being ousted from power by the U.S.-led war in 2001 following the September 11 attacks.
President Bush will try to persuade allies at a NATO summit in early April to do more for Afghanistan.
He wants international support to reduce violence, boost the economy, and provide social services.
"We're obviously analyzing ways to help our NATO allies to be able to step up, and step up more," he said.
Canada has demanded 1,000 more troops from other countries as a condition for remaining in Afghanistan to work near Kandahar where its 2,500-strong force is fighting the Taliban.
"We're mindful of their request, and we want to help them meet that request," President Bush said.
NATO has a total of 43,000 troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. has 29,000 troops in the country, about half of which are part of NATO, and is sending another 3200 marines.
The Afghan mission is the toughest ground war faced by the 59-year-old alliance and has led to open differences among allies over tactics and troop levels.
President Bush sat at the head of a conference table at the White House with Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and others.
A Reuters correspondent was permitted to observe the White House exchange that took place with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood and U.S. military and civilian personnel in Kabul.
The video conference was stopped several times when the sound crackled, diagnosed by technicians as a bad microphone at Kabul's end, which was immediately swapped for a new one.
"You're looking beautiful but you're not sounding too good," said President Bush, who was in charge of the remote control, increasing and lowering the volume at will.
President Bush was told that if local governments can provide for their people, they will respond by breaking away from tribal law and the Taliban.
One of the American participants in Kabul said there was a saying in Ghazni: "Taliban begins where the paved road ends."
BUSH SAYS WOULD SERVE IN AFGHANISTAN, IF ONLY HE WERE YOUNGER
By Shane Dingman
National Post (Canada)
March 13, 2008
From the mouth of babes, and George W. Bushes. This story contains some truly outstanding bluster from the sitting U.S. President:
"In a videoconference, Bush heard from U.S. military and civilian personnel about the challenges ranging from fighting local government and police corruption to persuading farmers to abandon a lucrative poppy drug trade for other crops.
"Bush heard tales of all-night tea drinking sessions to coax local residents into cooperating, and of tribesmen crossing mountains to attend government meetings seen as building blocks for the country’s democracy-in-the-making.
"'I must say, I’m a little envious,' Bush said. 'If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.'
"'It must be exciting for you . . . in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You’re really making history, and thanks,' Bush said."
Notice he didn't mention Iraq, presumably if he were younger he would rather not serve in a war that has been likened the other war he dodged, you know, back when he was younger and didn't have his current job. That's right, Vietnam.
This Slate roundup is by no means the only story on the subject -- and it almost doesn't matter whether he was technically AWOL from his Air National Guard service or not (an allegation that got CBS anchor Dan Rather fired) -- because there's no question his "service" got him out of the Vietnam war.
"To say that Bush squeaked by on his National Guard requirements doesn't mean that he served his country in any meaningful way during the Vietnam War.
"What denigrates the National Guard of 2004 is to compare it to the National Guard of the early 1970s, when it was a haven for people who wanted to avoid the Vietnam draft. Not the cushiest haven, perhaps -- not as good as divinity school, for instance -- but a haven nonetheless."
Think we're being too harsh on the old boy? How about his quote found by the Village Voice:
"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."
The Nation has even more on his service record.
BUSH: I WANT THE ROMANCE OF WAR
Press TV (Iran)
March 14, 2008
The U.S. president claims he would join the troops in Afghanistan if he were younger, saying he is 'envious' of those in the front lines.
"I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed," said President George W. Bush in a Thursday video conference.
He was responding to civilians and military personnel who gave him an earful about the problems in Afghanistan where the war has dragged on for over six years.
"It must be exciting for you . . . in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks," continued the 61-year-old Bush.
This, of course, is not the only chance the top U.S. echelon has lost because of his prior engagement. As the Vietnam War escalated in 1968, an aspiring Bush, then in his prime, found himself in the National Guard, an escape route from the 'front lines.'
Two weeks before he was to graduate from Yale University, Bush stepped into the offices of the Texas Air National Guard at Ellington Field and got into a training program after scoring only 25 percent on a 'pilot aptitude' test, which was the lowest acceptable grade.
It is widely believed that the wanting president used the influence of his father, George H. W. Bush, to get into the pilot training program, evading the war at a time when some 350 Americans died each week.