President Obama addressed the nation to discuss the beginning of the Afghanistan withdrawal last night. Rarely has it been so tedious watching someone put lipstick on a pig. Strangely, he tried to make it sound more exciting by thumping the podium a lot. It didn’t work.
You see, when you’re a wartime President discussing a victory, you don’t need a lot of balloon juice about “the principles upon which our union was founded,” or our “unwavering belief that all human beings deserve to live with freedom and dignity.” You just declare America’s triumph, and talk about all the wonderful things the bad guys said while they were surrendering.
The substance of the President’s remarks was already well known. “Starting next month, we will remove 10,000 troops from Afghanistan, 30,000 by next summer,” he stated. “Our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace after that. By 2014, this process of transition will be completed.”
As the President boasted, this is consistent with the timetable for withdrawal he previously laid out. The Taliban doubtless applauds his consistency. Wars are much easier to fight when you know exactly when your enemy plans to leave.
Obama made a point of patting himself on the back for “one of the most difficult decisions I made as president,” which was “sending an additional 30,000 troops into Afghanistan.” Strangely, he didn’t mention that his generals had requested 40,000 to 60,000. His troop reductions are also about six times deeper than the Pentagon wanted, but what do they know? They aren’t the ones who took out Osama bin Laden, whose name Obama was careful to drop several times in his speech.
The President assured us it was time for the troops to come home, because we are “fulfilling our commitments,” “meeting our goals,” and “created new opportunities for women and girls.” The one thing we haven’t done is defeat the Taliban, but that’s okay, because “America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban.”
What’s the right word for a ten-year war to oust the Taliban from power that ends with the Taliban playing a role in Afghanistan’s government again? At least the President declared that “those who want to be part of a peaceful Afghanistan must break from al-Qaeda and abandon violence.” I assume that means no more pumping 9-year-old girls full of drugs and strapping them into suicide vests. The Taliban has a lot of transitioning to do.
No Obama speech is complete without a false-choice straw man. Tonight’s was between “some who would have America retreat from the world,” and “others who would have America overextended, confronting every evil that can be found abroad.” So stop bugging him about Libya versus Syria already.
Speaking of Libya, the President actually bragged about the quagmire he’s gotten us into. He sees it as a triumph of smart power. “When force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas,” Obama explained. “We must rally international action, which we’re doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground.”
And that’s going so well for us! Why, just today Qaddafi was talking about throwing in the towel. No, wait, that was Italy. They’re freaking out over the bloody collateral damage caused by this latest fantasy of winning a war from 30,000 feet.
By the way, I don’t remember Obama rallying any international action for Libya. He was the one who got rallied by Britain and France, the latter of which is now running the show. In fact, Obama has tried to defend himself from allegations that he violated the War Powers Act by specifically claiming he’s just supporting the actions of other nations, and has nothing to do with commanding the operation.
As usual with an Obama speech, there was a creepy over-emphasis on the personal pronoun – all the stuff “I” have done, “I” have said in the past, and “I” will not tolerate. “As long as I am president,” Obama promised, “we will never tolerate those who attempt to kill us.” God, I hope his successor doesn’t tolerate that! Maybe John King of CNN should have asked the Republican candidates in South Carolina if they would tolerate those who attempt to kill us, instead of wasting time asking about their soda and pizza preferences.
Obama was careful to put the Afghanistan draw-down in the greater context of his brilliant economic planning. “In the past decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war,” he sighed. “Now we must invest in our greatest resource, the American people. We must rebuild our infrastructure, and find alternative sources of energy.” Wait, I thought the last trillion-dollar “stimulus” was all about rebuilding infrastructure. It sounds like we’ve suffered more infrastructure damage than Tripoli. Where’d all the stimulus money go? Wasn’t Joe Biden supposed to be working on finding it?
“America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home,” said the man who packed four trillion dollars onto the national debt in just two years, left us with 16% real unemployment, and now wants to spend more. He still doesn’t get it. We don’t want his help with any “nation-building.” We just want to live our lives, in keeping with the principle of “self-determination” he mentioned. If it’s good enough for Afghanistan, it’s good enough for us.
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