Obama Speech a Winner


I didn’t watch all of the President’s speech on Iraq last night.  I watch baseball during the summer.  But I did catch bits of it.  Here’s what I’ve arrived at. 

Our president can really give a speech.  He knows how to say all the right things.  He gave praise to his predecessor, which after two and a half years of blaming him for everything is kind of like putting a band aid on a bullet wound. 

Our president also knows how to make other people’s ideas, which he disagrees with at his core, appear to be his own.  He vehemently opposed the troop surge when it was President Bush’s idea.  His own surge, however, was a stroke of brilliance that has the Taliban on the run.  That’s why we have to keep trying to defeat them. 

His praise for our armed forces seemed genuine, and it should be.  Our armed forces are an all-volunteer force, unlike other countries, which produces professionals who take their job seriously.  Forced service to the country’s military, while helping  young people realize what sacrifice is, does not strengthen a fighting force.  It populates the force with indentured troops, who will resent the military and result in a force that isn’t all that serious about defending the country.  Some European nations have mandatory service, and these same nations couldn’t stave off an attack of gnats.  See France for examples.  Our armed forces are the best in the world primarily because they are volunteers. 

President Obama whined a little about the cost of the war in dollars.  He did make a somber and heartfelt comment about the human cost of the war as well.  But the idea that we can spend the money we are saving in Iraq on other stuff really is telling about how out of touch this administration is with reality.  Maybe, and I’m just spit-balling here, we could take money we’re not spending and, oh I don’t know, pay down the debt.  Or really cut loose in Afghanistan and kick butt. 

What the president did not say, however, was what our actual mission is in Afganistan.  Oh he addressed it in general terms, but not in specific terms.  This is one area where President Obama and President Bush are alike.  Neither one of them specifically called out what our mission was.  If your mission is undefined, victory is impossible.  Of course, victory isn’t really the point, is it?  If it was, we wouldn’t be pulling troops out of Iraq when they have no functioning government.  The Iraqi government is ripe for takeover by some nut in a funny hat.  Divided into sects, no cooperation for the good of the Iraqi people, and sectarian violence escalation is a recipe for another dicator to swoop in, and promise peace and prosperity, then rule the Iraqi people with an iron fist. 

I really don’t care much about all of that though.  I’d like for Iraq to be peaceful, and for their people to live together in cooperation to advance their culture.  Except that, for many Iraqis, that culture involves the killing of infidels.  So, if a dictator comes in and crushes the fighting spirit of the Iraqis, maybe we won’t have any of them over here blowing themselves up in a local shopping mall.  And that’s good. 

The president appeared presidential, and his words led us to believe that he’s in charge.  Unfortunately, his actions tell a different story.  With inane rules of engagement, it will be another ten years before we see Osama Bin Laden’s head where it belongs: on stick at ground zero.  Our intelligence community can’t go after this guy with the zeal that is required.  And, to use the president’s words, let me be clear, no victory can be claimed without the death or capture of Osama Bin Laden.  So, until the glove really come off and our commander in chief is committed to true victory, we will slog through Afganistan just like we did in Iraq, and for the same reasons. 

You know, there was a time when, in the execution of a war, the death of civilians was not avoided like it is today.  In fact, if you carpet bombed a city that had a factory and killed a few thousand civilians, you did good.  Other towns across the country would not want the same thing to happen to them, and eventually, the government would be forced to surrender.  Which is also good.  Our troops shouldn’t be killing for fun, but if civilians are killed in the process of getting Al Qaeda, so be it.  Maybe, if that were the case, people would point out who the bad guys are so their familty might be spared. 

I know, these ideas are not pleasing on the plate, but it’s true.  And I’m ready for whatever you may think about these ideas. 

So, even though the president’s speech was a winner, I’m not sure he is.  Since competition for him has been on the basketball court, in college and in politics, he may not have the stones to actually do what is necessary to win.

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