Obama's Speech on Afghanistan

I didn't watch the speech get delivered. Saw bits and pieces on CNN, listened to the analysts, and read the transcript this morning.

So, what do I think. It seems to me that President Obama has a clear-eyed sense of purpose, a narrow set of guidelines, and a time to exit. The point of increasing troop levels is to give the military time to better train Afghanistan's military, get Pakistan up and running on the other side (and that likely will include getting India to start talking to their long time enemies), and gain control of population centers. The President believes we don't have sufficient troops there now to do this -- so is upping the numbers. Of course, had we done this in the beginning, we might not be in this place. Here is what he says at one point:

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. Indeed, I'm mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who — in discussing our national security — said, "Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs."

Over the past several years, we have lost that balance. We've failed to appreciate the connection between our national security and our economy. In the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our neighbors and friends are out of work and struggle to pay the bills. Too many Americans are worried about the future facing our children. Meanwhile, competition within the global economy has grown more fierce. So we can't simply afford to ignore the price of these wars.

In my perspective, this is a very realistic view. If you are a pacifist, it won't suffice, but if, like me, you leave room for military action in an imperfect world, this seems to be as good a rationale as you'll get.

Is it popular? No. Those who oppose war in any form are, of course, angry. The Left seems to want us out now. The Right, well Obama could give them everything they want and they'd still attack him. And what do they want, even more troops than the Generals ask for and an open-ended time frame. Besides, they have decided that Obama has to be destroyed.

In concluding this conversation, I'd like to point out that in 2001 Congress voted 98-0 in the Senate and had only one negative vote in the House. They authorized this war and now many of them don't like it. I expected the response from Republicans, but I find it beyond good taste that so few Democrats are willing to have the President's back -- especially when they supported both this war and Iraq!


I wouldn't call myself a supporter of war, but I think what Obama is trying to do is necessary. He wants this war to be over as soon as possible - we can't really blame him for that. Actually I'm glad to see this man doing some "big" decisions finally.

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