Obama’s speech hasn’t sent me racing to the barricades to either oppose or support his policy. The best thing about the speech was its tone: somber and sober. Nobody does the two S’s as well as the President. The worst thing about the speech was the troop increase: I doubt that it will work. Foreign powers have been trying to secure the rural areas of Afghanistan for centuries and there are always rebels in the mountains shooting at them. It’s a combination of geography and culture: Afghanistan remains a largely illiterate country dominated by tribes and war lords.
This is a tough time to be President; much of Obama’s job is to clean up the messes left behind by therecklessness, arrogance and stupidity of the Bushies. The Pashtun tribal areas of what could be called Afpakistan are perhaps the biggest mess of all. There was a rush to invade Afghanistan combined with mindless support for the Pakistani military junta of Musharraf. As we all know, that’s what set the stage for the current mess.
Obama made it clear that he considers this course to be the least bad one for the country. I not only hope that he’s right but that he will resist the inevitable demands from the Pentagon for more boots on the ground. I was relieved that he set a timeline for withdrawal and hope that he sticks to it. I think we should start withdrawing earlier than that and follow the sage advice of the Vietnam era Republican Senator from Vermont, George Aiken and “declare victory” and get the hell out of there pronto. Yeah, I know, everyone quotes Aiken at times like these but troubled times call for the classics. Speaking of which, Dan Rather was on the Rachel Maddow Show Monday night and also invoked the Aiken refrain:
p align=”center” class=”asset asset-video” style=”margin: 0pt auto; display: block;”>http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640