1. On Face the Nation with guest host Harry Smith, Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, spelled out what he wants to hear from President Obama on Tuesday night, when the commander in chief reveals his plans for Afghanistan.
LEVIN: It's very do-able. The Afghans are known to be fighters. And there's not that kind of ethnic division that existed in Iraq. But what is so critically -- the question, it seems to me, is not whether we should send more mentors and trainers. We should. The issue is how would additional combat forces, additional marines, for instance, in Helmand Province, increase the speed of the build-up of the Afghan army? That's what I think the president is going to need to explain because the key to success in Afghanistan is the Afghan army taking on the Taliban.
SMITH: It sounds to me just from the surface or your explanation that at least initially you're not inclined to go along.
LEVIN: I favored additional trainers. I have favored a real surge in equipment. But the key here is an Afghan surge, not an American surge. And if the president lays out the case for why our combat forces that are going particularly to the south will increase the speed-up of the Afghan army, it seems to me that that would be very, very important.
On This Week, Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders was skeptical for a different reason: "I have real concerns with that...If I were to put Afghanistan into the context of what's happening in America today, and what's happening now is not only a $12 trillion national debt; we're in the midst of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The middle class is collapsing. The gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider...I've got a real problem about expanding this war where the rest of the world is sitting around and saying, isn't it a nice thing that the taxpayers of the United States and the U.S. military are doing the work that the rest of the world should be doing? So what I want to see is some real international cooperation, not just from Europe, but from Russia and from China, because what happens in Afghanistan impacts what happens in Pakistan. That is enormously important. The world should be involved. We should not be...I have a real problem supporting 30,000 or 40,000 more troops and $100 billion more a year for that war on top of what we're spending in Iraq."
said he did not think a David Obey-esque "war tax" was politically
feasible, suggesting instead that those making more than $250,000 might
need to pay more. (But what about health care?) On CNN's State of the
Union, Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) acknowledged the need for a "separate"
war-funding account of some sort.