Filed under: Islam, Military, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: Afghanistan, Freedom, Pakistan
President Obama’s speech announcing his strategy on Afghanistan at The United States Military Academy at West Point was an odd speech. He announced a surge of 30,000 troops, partly in the hope that NATO would make up the rest of the 40,000 that General Stanley McChrystal requested. His strong words about the necessity for success were belied by his defensiveness about doing so.
To be fair, the President is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He clearly doesn’t want to be involved in Afghanistan, and is much more comfortable with his hard left base who oppose all war on general principles. He made sure to mention that he “opposed the War in Iraq which left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort.”
Obama seems unable to recognize that his constant attempts to blame everything on Bush, denigrate everything that the Bush administration did, is not only classless, but exactly what has created a “highly polarized and partisan background.” When politics permeates everything, it doesn’t stop at the water’s edge, as our tradition demands.
The Left opposed the War in Iraq by claiming that the “right war” was instead in Afghanistan — going after al Qaeda. That allowed the Left to avoid being characterized as anti-war; but now, faced with Afghanistan, they have no excuses and are united in opposition. And they really don’t want to spend any money on the war. The money is needed for their dream of socialized medicine, and that is going to be very expensive indeed. Spending the rest of the stimulus money on the war or scaling back health care is, of course, not an option. They’ll tax “the rich” some more.
Obama is trying to have it both ways. He doesn’t like the war, and wants “to end the era of war and suffering,” but it had better be cost-effective and cost-effective within 18 months.
The Left got onto this “exit strategy” thing with Iraq, demanding to know what Bush’s “exit strategy” was. Those a little more familiar with war find the question foolish. The exit strategy is when you win, when you accomplish your objective, but not a date which the enemy can just wait for.
We want President Obama and his strategy to succeed in Afghanistan. We want success on the battlefield. There is a lot of talk about “nation building”, but our aim is to protect the citizens and to train the Afghan army to protect the citizens. The people fear the Taliban, and will not help unless and until they feel secure.
My sense of this is that President Obama is completely uncomfortable with war. He has little knowledge of combat or battle, and little understanding of the military or how it works. “Victory” was never mentioned. He said “As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I don’t have the luxury of committing to just one.”
I suspect that he never watches war movies, nor has read accounts of battles. It’s just unfamiliar, uncomfortable territory. Which is why he thinks an exit strategy is important, and a goal of eliminating nuclear weapons is plausible. And why he dithered for three months about simply making a choice.
And why he brags about his small efforts to recognize the military like “signing a letter of condolence to each family, reading letters from parents and spouses, and traveling to Dover to meet flag-draped coffins.” The commitment and pride with which Americans volunteer to serve in the military must be near incomprehensible.
“Ive spent this year renewing our alliances and forging new partnerships,” he said. “And we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim world — one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict, and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.” Soaring words, but with little relation to the real world. An odd speech, very odd.
I will support the effort in Afghanistan unreservedly. I hope the President does as well. The men and women who serve deserve our full support.
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