Since Americans are weary of the war in Afghanistan, only a minority are likely to regret the drawdown President Obama announced last night. But surely more than a small number of Americans can be disappointed that the president of the United States delivered such a political speech at what should have been a solemn moment.
It was typical of Barack Obama that he’d take a swipe at the reasonably successful conclusion to the war in Iraq and an indication that once again Obama plans to run for president against a man who lives quietly in Dallas. A Wall Street Journal editorial notes:
Mr. Obama was laying out his re-election theme as a Commander in Chief who ended George W. Bush’s wars and brought the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. He could bring the troops home from Iraq because Mr. Bush had already won the surge before Mr. Obama took office. Let’s hope America’s generals can still conjure a similar success from Afghanistan, despite a pre-empted surge and a Presidential march to the exits.
I felt President Obama’s focus last night was on portraying himself as a leader rather than leading. He’s more a show horse than a leader, though, as I think Victor Davis Hanson (on National Review’s symposium):
A tough decision has to be made one way or another, but the Obama way is to vote present and set up the Obama ideal middle between two straw-men flawed poles: Some want to be isolationists; others wish to be serial nation-builders – but the great compromiser Obama wishes to be engaged sort of abroad. Some want to abandon Afghanistan; others want to keep the surge going and “win” the peace – but Obama will bring home troops but not all those committed to the surge.
My own gut instinct is that General Mattis and General Allen can wind the war down, leaving a stable country, but only if their recommendations of troop withdrawals are accepted. We are on the hinge of history, unsure whether we swing to 1974 and give up, or swing back to 2006 and win. For those who demand immediate and complete withdrawal, a victorious Taliban will likely do to women and liberal reformers what the Vietnamese once did when they sent millions to camps or fleeing the country for their lives. …
Bottom line: I tried to fathom the president’s speech, and I sympathize with his dilemmas, but I have absolutely no idea what his ultimate strategy is – and can only pray the enemy does not either. And Afghanistan was supposed to be the “good” war that Obama once chest-thumped about and campaigned on with promises of seeing it stabilized, while the “bad” war in Iraq is one that he is now taking credit for, through following the very Bush-Petraeus plan that he once demonized.
In the same symposium Cliff May says, “No surprises in this speech. No strategy either.”
I have to admit that the scariest part of the speech didn’t concern Afghanistan. President Obama says it’s time to come home from Afghanistan so we can concentrate on “nation building at home.” Just what we need-President Obama’s meddling more in our weak economy! A little more of Mr. Obama’s domestic nation building and unemployment will surely soon reach 11 percent!