The President is going to fight the war in Afghanistan so I support him in his efforts there, but his address last night was lacking in many areas and the most prominent missing piece was any use of the word “victory”. There was no talk of winning in Afghanistan. Part of the problem for the President is that he is trying to please everyone. This was evident in the amount of emphasis he gave to plans for withdrawal, which is marked in 18 months.
The other worrisome area for me is that I fear our President will focus more on training Afghans, rather than killing the enemy. Killing the enemy was the purpose of this war from the beginning and that got lost somewhere in the idea of nation building. And nation building for America is unconstitutional.
The President could not resist following his usual path during these addresses as well. He was very defensive, which has always been unattractive in a leader. He tried to explain why he dithered, but I remain unconvinced. He seems to be following General McChrystal’s plan, so his excuses are empty. He also pulled the usual, blame President Bush. And he reminded everyone of what I believe will be one of his greatest mistakes: closing GITMO. He wants to make sure that those on the left like Michael Moore who are steaming mad about his Afghan Plan are somewhat appeased by his promise to close GITMO.
Charles Krauthammer is one of my favorite “common sense” commentators and I think he summed up the speech well by referring to it as “defensive”, “hedging”, “strange” and full of “uncertainty compounding uncertainty.” I thought the backdrop os West Point really added to his belief that there is nothing better than a photo op. Especially when those present for the photo op have to respect you completely because you are their Commander-in-Chief.