Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The speech that everyone, from MSM to blogs, is talking about tonight:

Overall, I liked the speech. I think President Obama did a very good job of explaining why we're there to begin with and why it's worth staying a bit longer. I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard that the Twin Towers had been hit; I remember the fear (as well as the unity) that followed the attacks, and the overwhelming sense that my generation had just walked into its defining conflict. Let there be absolutely no doubt that the threat of terrorism is very real. I don't pretend to have all the answers for what needs to happen, but from what I've seen and read recently, it seems to me that we just flat out haven't taken Afghanistan as seriously as we should have. I think invading Iraq will be remembered as the biggest foreign policy blunder of the early 21st Century, because that's where most of our resources and energy have been directed over the last eight years. We never should have allowed ourselves to be distracted by a threat that could have been contained.

So basically I see this surge as the US finally doing what we should have in 2001. For the sake of our own security as well as that of Afghans, I think President Obama is making the best call, and for that matter the only call he can make. Leaving now would be repeating the mistake we made after the Soviets left: allowing a state to fail after flooding that state with guns and trained insurgents. After eight years, hopefully we're getting back on track.

I will, however, admit that I'm nervous--I'm skeptical that we can secure the Graveyard of Empires by 2011. I worry that Americans and our allies may not have the stomach for the kind of stay that might actually be required. Building states is not a quick or easy task, and Americans have understandably lost a lot of interest in fighting this war. I also wonder if this is the right number of troops; the last thing we need is more of the "Rumsfeld Doctrine" nonsense that sent US troops into Iraq with inadequate strength; I hope that line of thinking is long gone and the commanders truly believe this is the necessary number of troops.

Ultimately, though, we have to remember that both Iraq and Afghanistan are wars the president inherited. He had a series of less than desirable options to choose from and he would have been heavily criticized regardless of the strategy he picked. President Obama had no choice but to respond in the way he thinks is best for our troops and best for America. Give our soldiers a mission and let them have what they need to accomplish it, then get out. While he was "dithering," it seems that Mr. Obama was considering his options, talking to his generals and agonizing over what decision to make. That's the leadership we should have had in the runup to the war in Iraq. I trust and hope that he made the right call; only time will tell.

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