IMPRESSIONS OF OBAMA’S SPEECH THE NEXT DAY
Posted by Andrew Roman on December 2, 2009
Last night at West Point, with his nation at war, the world saw a man whose heart just wasn’t in what he was doing. Instead of a call to arms, Barack Obama offered a reluctant nudge. Instead of sounding like a wartime leader, he came off as a tedious academic. Instead of rallying the world behind a noble cause, he sounded like he was doing his best to put them to sleep.
Perhaps he could have used some.
The potent orator who could exhilarate the masses with his command of the electronic cue card was nowhere to be found. Instead, the world was treated to what amounted to a college lecture given by a man who either had an exhausting day at the office or was in need of a better teleprompter. It was a night where trashing George W. Bush became reflexive. It was an occassion where the word “victory” was never summoned. It was a call to battle where the nature of the enemy was largely ignored. It was a lackluster talk where what is at stake for America was never explained. More negativity was projected at his own country than at her enemies. More time was spent talking about leaving Afghanistan than in crushing the enemy there. And of course, he used the words “I” and “me” so often, he prompted hate mail from the other lesser-used pronouns.
And it only took three months to put it all together.
There was the obligatory Obama self-congratulatory rhetoric, like reminding everyone that it was he who brought the war in Iraq to a “responsible end” – something only made possible by the Iraqi surge, which he not only opposed but failed to mention last night. Of course, had he mentioned the Iraqi surge, he would have had to acknowledge its success – which means he would have had to acknowledge George W. Bush’s success.
(Some things just aren’t done, even for the sake of national security).
The President also blamed the current situation in Afghanistan on the Iraqi war – “Bush’s war,” he would have said if he only could. He also high-fived himself for the ruminative three-plus months it took to arrive at last night’s decision. After all, he said, he hadn’t seen a single plan that called for troops to be deployed before 2010 anyway.
Well, that explains that.
Indeed, as projected, Obama announced the deployment of fewer troops than had been requested by General Stanley McCrhystal – 30,000 instead of 40,000. He also called on America’s allies to step up and, presumably, help America make up the difference by committing their own soldiers to the fight. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether or not already-hesitant allies will be willing to offer up troops considering that Obama also announced his plan to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in the summer of 2011.
How’s that for a battle plan?
Nothing says “lack of commitment” quite like a withdrawal timetable.
Quite literally, the President spoke of the necessity to increase troop strength in Afghanistan only to follow in his next breath with the importance of withdrawing those same troops eighteen months later.
Consider that it will take several months to get troops into the pipeline and ramped up in Afghanistan. (It took five months in Iraq). That means that the “surge” will actually have about a year to do what it needs to do before withdrawal begins. And despite the President’s assurances that conditions on the ground will be taken into account before withdrawal actually kicks in, how realistic is it that we will be able to win the support and trust of Afghans if they believe we will start pulling out the following year? And what exactly is to keep our enemies from settling back into a “lay low and wait” position? They’ve nowhere else to go.
Keep in mind that the build-up to the 2012 presidential election will kick-off not too long after the proposed withdrawal from Afghanistan is slated to begin. What talking point could be better for a leftist candidate looking to win back his anti-war base?
I haven’t had the chance to check, but I wonder how many nations have won wars by announcing their withdrawal timetable before actually employing the war strategy.
Let me be clear, I agree with the President’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. In that respect, I back the Commander-in-Chief. I certainly back the troops. There is no question of that. Whether or not Obama’s decision actually maximizes the chances for American success is the real question.
After the first few minutes, it admittedly became a tough speech to watch.
It felt like school … and I kept sneaking out of class.
Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard said it best on Fox News last night: “I think it was one of the worst speeches I could imagine in support of the right policy decision.”