I’m posting videos of Sen. Joe Manchin and Jon Huntsman because their comments on Afghanistan tie in neatly with Larry Johnson’s post below, “Afghanistan Turning Point.” First, some quotes from interviews on Morning Joe, which focused on Afghanistan because of Obama’s address to the nation tonight. We’ll put up an open thread for Obama’s speech, but does anyone think that he won’t take the easy, safe route of a minimalist removal of troops regardless of the enormous drain on the U.S.’s economy and military?

Here’s Joe Scarborough’s amusing but telling remark that criticized McCain’s overly interventionist views in his attack on Sen. Joe Manchin:
        “John McCain has more staff members working for him in the Senate than there are members of Al Qaeda left in Afghanistan.”

Joe asks guest Jon Huntsman about Sen. Joe Manchin’s statement that his constituents want to know why the U.S. is wasting our resources in Afghanistan so that the Chinese can come in and “mine billions and billions of dollars in minerals.” Huntsman replies:
        “Joe [Manchin] is speaking sensibly. … Here’s the reality. China loves and hates the fact that we’re in Afghanistan. They love the fact that we’re holding down the peace and stability so they can basically move in and transact business. They hate us because we’re in a neighboring nation-state, which is one of the real sensitivities on the Korean Peninsula. So as soon as that vacuum is created in Afghanistan, which will happen eventually, China’s going to have to stand up and say, ‘We’ve got to play a role in our own backyard that we’ve never had to do in 62 years of nationhood. We’re going to have to figure out how to deal with competing factions in our backyard.’ …”

Here’s more Jon Huntsmann, asked about how we can compete with China (I typed as he talked):
        “By getting our house in order. I can give you 10 policy prescriptions on how we can forge a better economic and security relationship with China, but it’s all right here. I hate to over-simplify this, but until such time that we get our debt under control, spending under control, get some pathway for economic expansion, we’re not going to have the leverage that we have always had in our relationship with China. I’ve dealt with China for practically 30 years, and many of those years either in business or as a trade negotiator. There were days, there were years when we had vast economic leverage … we’re losing that and they know it and are taking advantage of it. … It starts at home.”

The comments about China taking advantage of the situation and mining precious minerals in Afghanistan are especially intriguing. (The inference I took was that China is relying on the U.S. military to provide it with a safer climate to build up its mining operations in Afghanistan.)

The Manchin/McCain exchange followed by discussion:

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Jon Huntsman on Morning Joe:

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Now it’s your turn.