Run Away! Run Away!
The first twenty minutes of President Obama’s speech at West Point found me in a state of shock. His clear and forceful justification for our presence in Afghanistan, sound identification of the enemy, the Taliban and not just Al Qaida, and the declaration of his intention to commit the necessary troops to
“disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaida and the Taliban…”
initially left nothing I could honorably criticize.
That Obama felt the need to disparage, delegitimize, and distance himself from the War in Iraq was unfortunate and unrefined, though not unexpected. Apart from this, I was beginning to feel somewhat guilty for having rushed to judgment before the speech. Then the perfume of the rhetoric and the impression of decisiveness began to evaporate and I was left considering the actual plan on the table.
By the end of 2011, there will be no American military presence in Iraq. By the end of 2012, there will be no American military presence in Afghanistan. We will put some time in on the battle field and then train the local police force and it will be all over. Beneath the oratorical spell, was the simplistic understanding of the nature of Radical Islam according to which, in the space of two years, both Iraq and Afghanistan will be sufficiently stabilized and independently committed to shunning the path of Radical Islam, that we can leave and claim success. (Just in time for the next election.)
The last fifteen minutes of the speech was the Ode to Bernadine I was expecting. In a carefully crafted, honeyed outpouring, the elite of America’s armed forces were treated to a sound lecture on the inferior nature of the military in actually resolving social conflict. Hail the Community Organizer. We will use diplomacy and build new coalitions. We will isolate those who do not help to build this world of peace. We will respect others instead of trying to occupy them. We will hold them accountable and reward those who behave. We will defeat the power of Jihad simply by living our values. The President also believes we can be united again as we were on 9-12.
When we have wielded our pens and performed our literary and political autopsies on the speech, what we are left with is a strong commitment to abandon the War on Terror. We are leaving. Surge to receed.
All Americans found something to praise and something to bemoan in the West Point Speech. Only Radical Jihadists went home tonight in unmitigated jubilation. They can relax and take a much needed vacation…until they are back on duty in 2012.