As I write this, Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but he has released excerpts from his speech. These are my first thoughts on his words:
“The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 – the fastest pace possible – so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They will increase our ability to train competent Afghan Security Forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.” [This is good. This is what Obama needed to do. It's one thing as a candidate to demand that the sitting president lose the war. It's another thing entirely for the former-candidate, now-president to preside over another 1975. Having spent ten, agonizing, demoralizing months trying to figure this one out, Obama is finally doing the right thing.]
“Because this is an international effort, I have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what’s at stake is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility – what’s at stake is the security of our Allies, and the common security of the world.” [Is it just me, or did Obama completely avoid that old-fashioned word "victory" or that nice little phrase "win the war"? Obama is such a Leftist he really cannot contemplate the possibility of a "we win, you lose" scenario. To him, success is manifestly a way out, victory or not (and see the next paragraph to get what I mean). Also, unless Obama expands upon it in his speech tonight, he's said nothing about the nature of the threat against us. To say that "security" is "at stake" is meaningless without explaining who the enemy is, and what an enemy victory means. Given the Islamists' willingness to spell out in words of one syllable their plans regarding the West, Obama should be able to articulate the danger they pose. Again, he simply can't seem to make himself say certain words: "The Taliban, a fundamentalist branch of Islam that sheltered and trained the terrorists who killed more than 3,000 Americans on 9/11, is resurgent and spreading. It must be cut out, root and branch, in order to ensure that its members' willingness to attack us directly, and indirectly (by taking over our allies, such as Pakistan), is destroyed." See? It's simple -- but not for Obama.]
“Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We will continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s Security Forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government – and, more importantly, to the Afghan people – that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.” [Here's the kicker to the two preceding paragraphs. Obama is not in this for victory against a determined and violent enemy that has already attacked America and Europe and that continues to threaten to West's security. Instead, he's adding troops as a predicate to an orderly retreat. He doesn't want to win. He wants to escape. Obama has also done something incredibly stupid by announcing his date of departure. If I were the Taliban, I'd simply retreat into caves for a couple of years, wait for Americans to withdraw, and then return to the field. Obama should announce that U.S. and allied forces will depart when the war against the Taliban has achieved certain milestones, not when a specific date hits on the calendar.]
Bottom line: Obama’s doing the right thing (thank God), but for the wrong reasons. The question is whether our strong and determined American military can achieve victory when the Commander in Chief (a) refuses to name the enemy and is afraid of the “V” word and (b) has given the enemy a specific time line, after which they are free to pursue their theocratic totalitarian goals?
UPDATE: Well, the speech is over and done now. I gather that Obama did spell out more clearly what the threat actually is, but for the most part that he tracked along the excerpts I discussed above. I also gather that I, although unversed in military strategy, pretty much caught onto the myriad flaws in the approach. Otherwise, how could I have tracked so closely with Steve Schippert’s informed analysis?