Students react to US troop surge

Some students said they want to trust Obama but don’t like the war.

by Taryn Wobbema

Tuesday night, President Barack Obama announced he would send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. He also announced a plan to begin withdrawing troops by summer 2011. On Wednesday, University of Minnesota students reacted to the announcement. Troy Aadland, a geography junior, said he thought Obama intended to begin withdrawing troops once he took office. Now that the withdrawal date has been moved to the summer of 2011, he said he thinks Obama has gone back on his word. Even so, Aadland said he could support ObamaâÄôs decision because he trusts the president to do whatâÄôs in the countryâÄôs best interest. âÄúIf our president says itâÄôs necessary to do âĦ itâÄôs something we should get behind,âÄù Aadland said. Fifth-year history senior Sam Piehl called ObamaâÄôs decision âÄúdisingenuousâÄù because he said he would scale down troops and instead is sending more. âÄúI donâÄôt want to say [what I think], but I donâÄôt like it,âÄù Piehl said. Because Piehl said he doesnâÄôt think the United States will ever declare a âÄúconcrete victoryâÄù in Afghanistan, he thinks the choice to wait until 2011 to withdraw is âÄúarbitrary.âÄù âÄúI wish it was earlier,âÄù he said. Julia Haltiwanger, a mechanical engineering and public policy graduate student, said she feels very conflicted about the troop buildup in Afghanistan. She said she worries that the United States wonâÄôt be able to solve the problems and instead more lives will be lost and money will be spent that could be better used elsewhere. On the other hand, she said Obama gave good reasons. She said she thinks recognizing the threat of the Taliban and al-Qaida and establishing security in the region are important to the United States. âÄúHe always said he was going to get the job done in Afghanistan,âÄù Haltiwanger said. âÄúIâÄôm just not convinced itâÄôs going to do what he wants it to do.âÄù Garrett Peterson, president of Students for R.T. Rybak and a graduate student at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, said he doesnâÄôt think the public gets all the information that would allow citizens to completely understand the rationale behind ObamaâÄôs decision. Peterson said the president has an obligation to make decisions that will protect the country, but he said he isnâÄôt sure itâÄôs worth the cost. Overall, he said he thinks Obama has his eye on reducing the âÄúwar presenceâÄù of the United States around the world. Peterson added that he thinks Obama included a withdrawal date with the announcement because he wanted to appeal to both Republicans and Democrats. âÄúBoth [parties] are mad, and that gives me confidence heâÄôs doing whatâÄôs right,âÄù Peterson said. Juliana Feldhacker, senior and chairwoman for College Republicans at the University, said she agrees with ObamaâÄôs decision to send more troops to Afghanistan because more troops could potentially allow a swifter resolution. She said the troops already deployed need more resources to accomplish the U.S.âÄôs objectives. âÄúI think itâÄôs a good thing that heâÄôs at least realizing we need to follow through on what weâÄôre doing,âÄù she said. However, she wasnâÄôt sure it was wise to set a withdrawal date. âÄúItâÄôs good to have a goal so that we have something weâÄôre looking for in the future,âÄù she said. âÄúHowever, it can also be dangerous to set a strict timeline on something like this where you donâÄôt necessarily know what things are going to be like at that time.âÄù