Excerpts of Obama’s speech indicate he will do the right thing for the wrong reasons *UPDATED*

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?

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Comments

  1. Danny Lemieux says

    The worst thing I heard Obama say is that all our enemies need to do to defeat us is to force U.S. to spend money that could otherwise be spent on Obama’s social programs. I am afraid that he signalled to our enemies that we can and will be defeated in Afghanistan.
    Sorry, got to go now and be sick!

  2. JKB says

    Worse for Obama is the Taliban and AQ simply have wait until the Spring of 2012, start some troubles after the troop withdrawals are well underway and Obama has a problem for the election.  This speech was not well thought out from a strategic point of view.

  3. says

    Anything “right” in this speech was wrecked by his timetable for withdrawal…..
    We’ve told our enemies that a bit of patience will garner them a win, because in 18 months, we’re
    “outta there!”

  4. Mike Devx says

    Obama is doing the lawyer-speak again, just as Bill Clinton did (“It depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is…)   But Bill Clinton was facing disbarment, and hearings in front of other lawyers.  His ultra-careful use of the English language was necessary.  Obama’s speaking to the American people.  He’s made so many conflicting promises to so many groups of people – and they ALL believed every single word they heard! –  that he cannot make a simple statement without breaking at least one, or more, of those promises.
     
    But does Obama really think anyone *cares* how he parses his words?  Those on the left are not dumb, they can read between the lines just as well as we can.  And just as Book was not happy… trust me, the hard left is very unhappy tonight as well.  Let us parse Lawyer Obama:

    1. Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces,

    This says nothing.  “accelerate”?  Sure.  How much?  Who knows?  This is diplomatic void-speak, offering nothing, promising nothing.

    2. and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.

    More diplomatic void-speak, offering nothing, promising nothing.  He will *begin* his transfer in 2011.  How many troops?  1,000?  500?  20,000?

    3. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground.

    #3 above is the part that will REALLY piss off the left.  This is Bush-speak, and the hard left remembers Bush-speak.  Obama had no choice.  He made a huge deal in the campaign that the War In Iraq was a mistake, because “the real war on terror was in Afghanistan”.  There’s no way he back down now.  The left will read into this sentence what they must, and they’re going to be furious.  They expect and demand that this Afghan War be *over*, and they’ll settle for nothing less.  They’re going to go after Obama on this one with fury.  It’s his own fault, because he promised them that, too!  Not in so many words – he’s too careful, and his giddy hard-left supporters didn’t parse him the way I always did during the campaign.  They drank the kool-aid instead, and only heard what they wanted to hear, not what he actually said.  So now they are going to ramp up the pressure big time.  Obama made this bed, and now he has to lie in it.  He can’t satisfy the hard left, for he will lose middle America.  He can’t satisfy middle-America, for he will lose the hard left.

    4. We will continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s Security Forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul.

    “continue to advise and assist”… “over the long haul”.  Doesn’t sound like a rapid withdrawal to me.  Again, this will placate much of middle America for awhile, while infuriating the hard left.

    5. 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
     
    Ultimately be responsible?  When? 2012?  2016? 2020?  Someday, someday!
     
    In sum, while he appears to have drawn several lines in the sand, in reality, if you parse it, he’s done so such thing.   It may be all just a weaselly attempt to buy himself more time via such careful parsing of his words.  But again, the American people don’t *care* about the parsing.   And they’re no longer drinking the kool-aid.  They expect him to meet his promises, whether he actually made those promises or not.  He cannot meet all the promises, for they conflict.  And Obama has done this to himself.
     
    I’d feel sorry for him, if he deserved pity.
     
     
     

  5. nathan says

    The political calculus behind this “surge” is ruthlessly cynical: nurse the war along to get Obama re-elected in 2012, then pull the plug.  The Taliban will play along. knowing they have a friend in the White House who will allow them to eventually take over.  I feel sorry for all of the fine soldiers who will die or be wounded to further a domestic political agenda.

  6. BrianE says

    The rules of engagement make our troops sitting targets.
    This is a cynical attempt by Obama to do what needs to be done while appeasing the left.
    It will end up doing neither and putting our troops at greater risk.

    Send more troops and announce when they will be leaving? Are you kidding, President Obama. Everyone sees this for what it is.

    This was the necessary war, according to Obama. The man deserves contempt, and it is only because of the need for our country to survive his administration which requires patriots to rationally explain the mistakes being made without rancor.

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