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Bond: Obama's trip not complete loss, since met with U.S military chief in Afghanistan

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 2, 2009 - U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., held off Friday on joining in on his fellow Republicans' jab at President Barack Obama's failed trip to Copenhagen to win the 2016 Olympics for Chicago.

Bond, back in Missouri for the weekend, said in an interview today that the trip wasn't wasted since Obama also met with Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, in charge of the U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

The president and the general held a private meeting on Air Force One in London, as Obama headed back home.

McChrystal has been an outspoken proponent of more U.S. troops, and has asserted publicly in recent weeks that leaving Afghanistan would allow the Taliban to retake control, along with Al Qaeda terrorists, and leave the U.S. vulnerable to new 9/11 style attacks.

Bond, whose son is in the Marines, said he's solidly on McChrystal's side, and shares the general's quest to craft a military surge in Afghanistan similar to that which helped shift momentum in Iraq in 2007.

"We have to keep the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan,'' the senator said, adding that he called on Obama to embrace McChrystal's view publicly.

Bond is concerned about reports that some in Obama's administration want the U.S. to reduce its presence, and rely more on other strategies, such as airstrikes and unmanned drone attacks.

In any case, it's time for action, not talk, Bond said, asserting that "every week we delay'' adds to weakening the U.S. military presence.

Bond noted that some military experts call for up to 140,000 more U.S. troops; Bond and others are suggesting an added 30,000 to 40,000.

Bond noted that he was among the Senate minority that sided with a resolution by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., which called for McChrystal to appear before Congress in the next 45 days. The resolution was defeated 59-40, in a largely partisan split.

On other matters:

Bond said that Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. and chairman of the influential Senate Finance committee, had succeeded in attracting "an overwhelmingly bipartisan consensus'' with his bill laying out proposed changes to the nation's health-care system.

Everybody agrees, Bond said dryly, that "his plan is awful."

The senator called for a do-over and endorsed the chief Republican proposals that call for:

  • Restrictions on what he called "out-of-control" medical lawsuits.
  • Allowing small businesses and other groups to form associations to purchase insurance.
  • Allowing insurance to be bought and sold across state lines, in effect ending state regulations. "Insurance now is a national product,'' Bond said.

And Bond announced that his first Missouri book-signing for his new book, "The Next Front: Southeast Asia and the Road to Global Peace with Islam," will be held Oct. 9 at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Fenton.
The book was co-authored with journalist Lewis Simons. Bond launched its release at a pouring Thursday in the U.S. Capitol.


As for Chicago's loss of the Olympics, the senator said that he had hoped the Windy City would get the Games "as consolation for not winning the World Series."

"I'm very sorry for our friends in Chicago,'' Bond said.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.