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Friday, December 4, 2009

Has there ever been a call to arms more dispiriting, a trumpet more uncertain?

We shall fight in the air, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields, we shall fight in the hills -- for 18 months. Then we start packing for home.
We shall never surrender -- unless the war gets too expensive, in which case, we shall quote Eisenhower on "the need to maintain balance in and among national programs" and then insist that "we can't simply afford to ignore the price of these wars."

The quotes are from President Obama's West Point speech announcing the Afghanistan troop surge. What a strange speech it was -- a call to arms so ambivalent, so tentative, so defensive.
Which made his last-minute assertion of "resolve unwavering" so hollow. It was meant to be stirring. It fell flat. In August, he called Afghanistan "a war of necessity." On Tuesday night, he defined "what's at stake" as "the common security of the world." The world, no less. Yet, we begin leaving in July 2011?

Does he think that such ambivalence is not heard by the Taliban, by Afghan peasants deciding which side to choose, by Pakistani generals hedging their bets, by NATO allies already with one foot out of Afghanistan?

Obama's surge speech wasn't that of a commander in chief but of a politician, perfectly splitting the difference. Two messages for two audiences. Placate the right -- you get the troops; placate the left -- we are on our way out. (see full story at Washington Post)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think that troops will be coming home in 18 months or even 18 years. That was a purely political ploy. What we have in the Middle East is another Korea, not a VietNam. The hard bases built in Iraq is proof of that, if one needs proof. Even if things were to quiet down there, the next plea to the American people would be that we need "a presence" to keep it that way. I sure am glad my Son retired from the Army and my heart goes out to those who are still in. They are the ones we need to support. Were they all to be brought home tomorrow, there would be no jobs for them and, that too, is in the consideration pot when determining how we will handle "a war". My rant.