The most amazing thing about Tuesday evening’s speech by President Obama at West Point was that if you closed your eyes, and imagined the occasional butchering of the English language, if could have been George W. Bush on the stage.
The Afghani conflict was stated to be crucial to the security of the United States, with no real explanation of why this is the case. And, although the previous strategy didn’t work, the best thing to do is more of what we’ve been doing.
I’ve definitely heard all this before.
Why do I keep hoping the Democratic Party will someday stand for peace? They didn’t when Bill Clinton invaded Kosovo and bombed countries every other week. They didn’t when they took over the Congress and could have ended the Iraq war.
Now Obama is doubling down on Afghanistan.
In addition, he’s doing so without providing enough people to do the job. Conventional counter-insurgency numbers would have a force of half a million people in Afghanistan, given the size of the population.
And he claimed that he’ll start bring the troops out in eighteen months. Most authorities project that it would take a least a decade to build a real nation in Afghanistan.
I understand why he’s taken this approach. It would require political bravery that he just doesn’t have to march the troops out right now. Some might see it as admitting defeat and showing weakness. But it would save countless lives and treasure.
It would also be the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, Barack Obama has now shown clearly that he does not have this courage.
On the other hand, the American people don’t have the stomach for endless war. This is already the longest war in which the United States has ever been involved. Obama certainly wants to be drawing down the troops as we enter the 2012 political season.
So, he’s trying to take a middle path, one that increases the numbers of troops (but not enough to really do the job) and timelimits the engagement (at about 15% of the time needed).
But what if Afghanistan isn’t showing signs of improvement in eighteen months? Will he have the courage to do then what he is too afraid to do now?
Or will he double down yet again?
I understood going into Afghanistan originally. While I’ve very much anti-war, I’m not quite a pacifist. We were attacked on 911, and the people who organized it were being hidden by the Afghani government.
Destroying al-Qaeda was a worthwhile goal.
And I understand that is was the Bush Administration that screwed things up by placing the emphasis on Iraq, and spending most effort in Afghanistan on nation building than on rooting out al-Qaeda.
But now this is President Obama’s war. Any future credit or blame will fall on his head.
God have mercy on his soul.