President Obama just finished speaking at West Point..and now it's time to look at what he actually had to say.
The first part of the speech,predictably,was political partisan boiler plate. It dealt with Obama's familiar tactic of blaming the Bush Administration for concentrating resources on Iraq and excusing President Obama's own time lag in dealing with Afghanistan.
This in itself was predictable, if odd. President Obama is opting to send another 30,000 troops or so into Afghanistan for a 'surge - exactly the strategy he accused General Petraeus of lying to Congress about and obstructed at every turn.
Obama said, “It's easy to forget that when this war began, we were united -- bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again.”
That line drew loud applause from the West Point cadets, who otherwise did not interrupt the speech with much clapping.
In view of his self aggrandizement throughout the speech and the requisite Bush bashing, his remarks on how partisanship has been a drag on our war effort and our unity are absolutely stunning in their hypocrisy.Senator Obama and presidential candidate Obama played a pretty significant role in creating that climate of partisanship and helping to destroy that unity, and his speech tonight did absolutely nothing but add fuel to the fire.
And speaking of West Point, President Obama's use of it and its cadets as a stage prop and his going on about those courageous wounded warriors at Walter Reed he visited also struck me as odd, coming from a president who wanted to charge those wounded warriors for medical treatment they now get for free from the VA and force them to carry their own private medical insurance.
He simply doesn't understand our military,nor do I think they understand him.
It was a weird, furtive speech that failed in what I think was supposed to be its primary goal - convincing the American people that nation building in Afghanistan was actually necessary to American security. It failed because the American people, with their basic common sense realize that Afghanistan is not the focus of this war, and the possible gains well outweigh the cost.
Is anyone going to ask the president why, if al-Qaeda is in Pakistan and they're the real enemy as Obama asserts, we're not sending our troops there to fight them directly the way Obama said he was going to do during his campaign instead of committing thousands of troops and billions to 'nation building' ?
Has anyone asked the president why we're not dealing with the forces preaching the ideology that spawned 9/11 rather than playing whack-a-mole in Afghanistan? Why we still allow wahabi-controlled mosques and imams to radicalize Muslims here in America? Why Mullah Omar and the Taliban as well as the Pakistani government protect bin-Laden and Al-Qaeda?
One clue to understanding this is to look at Pakistan's military chief of staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani's recent remarks on how nobody can separate Pakistan and Islam and how Pakistan's ultimate goal is a true Islamic State under sharia, and that Pakistani President Zardari can barely step out of the capitol building because of disaffection with his regime.
Afghanistan is a side show best handled by dealing directly with the tribes and warlords to keep it stabilized, while we use the bulk of our military and diplomatic resources to directly confront the nations that fund, nurture and finance the Islamist jihad against the West.
Until we start addressing that, we will not even be close to winning this war.
As I predicted, President Obama did not use the word 'victory' in his speech. That's because he's either unwilling or unable to conceive of what it looks like, or to name an enemy to be victorious over. I guarantee you our enemies do not have that problem in the least.
Instead, Barack Obama came across like an insurance salesman trying to sell a questionable policy to some balky clients instead of a resolute commander in chief. His discomfort was obvious.
He seems to have weighed the political costs of having to drop the 'Bush took his eye off the real war' narrative against the anger he's going to face from his base on the Left and made the decision that his base isn't going anywhere else, so he's going to try and finesse Afghanistan and see if he can muddle through until a written-in-stone withdrawal date, risking our warrior's lives to cover himself and look like a 'war president.'
I'd much rather he simply manned up, took the flak and brought the troops home.
We're going to need them once we realize we're at war and actually start fighting it.
Addendum: The infamous ex-Ranger McQ at Black Five has a fine technical analysis of the fallacies of the military strategy outlined in the speech that's a must read.