First off let me preface this by saying I didn’t watch President Obama’s speech last night, instead I read the transcript this morning. The first thing about his speech that struck me is no where in it did he mention victory… A fact noted by LA Times blogger Andrew Malcolm:
President Obama spoke 4,582 words in his prime-time Afghanistan war speech at West Point last night.
He said “Al Qaeda” 22 times.
He mentioned the “Taliban” 12 times.
And here’s how many times the Democratic chief executive used the word “victory” — 0.
That telling omission says more than anything about Obama’s 322nd day in office, when he gave his first major address as the United States’ commander in chief.
The sad truth is nothing in the President’s speech leads me to believe that he is fully committed to prosecuting this war to it’s end even though he made winning the war in Afghanistan a central part of his Presidential campaign.
Anyway, President Obama outlined three broad strategies last night, the first Denying al Qaeda a safe haven is counter-terrorism… It’s Joe Biden’s “magic ninjas” and drones strategy. Which I would assume is why he decided to commit far fewer troops than Gen. McChrystal asked for. The second and third, reversing the momentum of the Taliban and safeguarding the Afghan people are elements of counter-insurgency, even with the 30,000 additional troops we’re woefully undermanned.
I have no doubt Gen. McChrystal will do the best he can with the resources he has, but counter-insurgency is labor intensive mission and given the troops available I’m not sure he’ll be able to do much more than secure urban centers.
Lastly the President set a time line for our mission in Afghanistan, a time line that ultimately undermines the counter-insurgency mission. In order for COIN operations to work your troops have to “flood the zone” and work to build trust with locals so they’ll be willing to provide us with the intelligence information we need to flush out the bad guys. The only way to do this by convincing the locals you’re going to be sticking around, by setting a date for withdrawal the President is telling the very people whose trust we need we’re not in it for the long hall. No one is going to cooperating with us for the simple reason they know we’re going to leave and the bad guys will still be there… ready, willing and able take revenge on anyone who cooperates with us.
Bottom line Wars don’t end Mr. President, they are either won or lost.
- Searching in Vain for the Obama Magic – Spiegel Online
- The Afghan-Pakistan Solution – Pervez Musharraf, Wall Street Journal
- White House: July 2011 Is Locked In for Afghanistan Withdrawal – CBS News
- Strikingly, Obama’s Afghan Strategy Manages to Repeat Almost Every Single Mistake Made in Iraq – Jeff Emanuel, Red State
- A few more thoughts on Obama’s Afghanistan speech – Ed Morrissey, Hot Air
- On AfPak, is Obama clever or stupid? – John Lewis, American Thinker