Blogs » Politcs Plus » A sobering speech


President Obama's speech at the West Point Academy last night reminded me of a father reluctantly giving his daughter permission to go to a party that he felt was not in her best interest but he trusted her good judgment. The speech did not please the left who did not want an escalation of this war or the republicans, who will never be pleased by anything this president says or does. The republicans were not pleased with the July, 2011 time line for withdrawal, and they used the same old talking points, saying that it would embolden the enemy, who would just wait us out. President Obama told Tom Friedman, Fareed Zarkaria and other columnist at a White House luncheon yesterday, that he would use the Taliban's waiting period to take territories and train the Afghan civilians, but he was not going to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely. He said that rational is just an argument to stay forever. The Afghanistan government is corrupt now and will be 10 years henceforth; despite our efforts. The president gave a brief 35 minute sobering assessment of the situation, but he did not lead any cheer leading such as guaranteeing victory or indulging in sloganeering. I doubt any minds were changed.

After 92 days and 20 hours of meetings with input from all those that will be involved, I think the president selected the best of many bad options. The 30,000 troops will head straight to the battlefield in south Afghanistan and General McCrystal will have 18 months to show improvement, to hold back a skeptic Congress that will want to withhold funding. Those on the right said the time line was set around the 2012 presidential election. I have no evidence to dispute that but this escalation is very unpopular and the president has a 35% approval on the way he is handling Afghanistan; sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan will not enhance his 2012 chances.

The president did not mention the other players such as Iran, India, and Saudi Arabia and possibly Russia, who have much to lose if we're successful in our current mission in Afghanistan. India likes the fact that the Taliban in Afghanistan is joining forces with the Taliban in Pakistan to wreck havoc in that country. Saudi Arabia continues to fund Al Qaeda and Iran would love to see the United States bogged down in the Afghanistan /Pakistan mess. That is less scrutiny on their nuclear shenanigans.

President Obama dismissed the notion that Afghanistan was another Vietnam by saying that in this effort we have 43 nations that do not want Afghanistan to be a safe haven for terrorist camps, there is not a popular insurgency in Afghanistan, and he reminded us those that attacked us on 9/11 got their training in Afghanistan. The president also emphasized our struggling economy and the fact that if there is going to be any nation building; America is a first priority. He said “economic power is the key to military power.”..He never mentioned how we were going to pay for the escalation.

I watched CNN's impressive “after speech coverage.” Jon King displayed, maps showing the regions of conflict, zooming out to the treacherous Himalayan Mts but the left/ right talking points were not important because the decision has been made, and we can only hope these strategy adjustments are made on needs and not on a political agenda back home. I tried to watch Fox News “after speech coverage” but Sean Hannity was throwing a fit because the president did not mention a “war on terror” and he called the 92 days of strategy meetings; dithering. There is just so much of the amateur hour, I can stomach.