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International Reaction to Obama’s Half-Hearted Surge

Obama at West PointWEST POINT, New York: Obama’s half-hearted speech last night drew a tepid response internationally and left many asking questions about the President’s resolve. German press giant Der Spiegel put it this way:

Never before has a speech by President Barack Obama felt as false as his Tuesday address announcing America’s new strategy for Afghanistan. It seemed like a campaign speech combined with Bush rhetoric — and left both dreamers and realists feeling distraught.

One can hardly blame the West Point leadership. The academy commanders did their best to ensure that Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama’s speech would be well-received.

Just minutes before the president took the stage inside Eisenhower Hall, the gathered cadets were asked to respond “enthusiastically” to the speech. But it didn’t help: The soldiers’ reception was cool. One didn’t have to be a cadet on Tuesday to feel a bit of nausea upon hearing Obama’s speech. It was the least truthful address that he has ever held. He spoke of responsibility, but almost every sentence smelled of party tactics. Gabor Steingart, Der Speiegel

The President failed to sound a clear call to arms, instead calling for retreat in the very next sentence after he called for more troops:

This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.

Why 18 months? Would it have something to do with Obama’s reelection prospects? Now Taliban leaders have a clear date they can use to inspire their troops. In fact the Taliban already seem emboldened:

Obama will witness lots of coffins heading to America from Afghanistan.

Their hope to control Afghanistan by military means will not become reality. The extra 30,000 troops that will come to Afghanistan will provoke stronger resistance and fighting.

They will withdraw shamefully. They cannot achieve their hopes and goals. Qari Yousuf Ahamdi, Taliban Spokesman

Obama failed to use the word “victory” even once in this speech, while using the personal pronoun “I” 45 times. Obama mentioned the word “cost” eight times in the course of this speech. Only once in the context of lives lost, but seven times in regards to financial burden:

“Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.”

Over the past several years, we have lost that balance. We’ve failed to appreciate the connection between our national security and our economy. In the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our neighbors and friends are out of work and struggle to pay the bills.

He then went on to campaign for his social agenda. A significant portion of the speech was spent denigrating earlier US attempts in the war on terror.

All in all the tone of the speech was academic. Perhaps that was fitting for an address at an educational institution, but not for this type of address. Entirely missing was the fire of Obama speeches when addressing SEIU or causes that he really believes in, like “we are 5 days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” (View the videos linked in this paragraph and decide for yourself.)

Obama agreed to send 30,000 more troops. Let’s not forget that McChrystal originally asked for 50,000 and was pressured to revise his request down to 40,000. So our troops are receiving a little more than half the number McChrystal really wanted.

For this speech we had to wait 90 days? We are keeping the NIP McChrystal Clock ticking until the boots hit the ground. We are hoping reinforcements arrive to support our troops before they are called home. With only 18 months, we are not so sure.

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  1. MacDriver48
    December 2nd, 2009 at 22:25 | #1

    The Taliban and Al Queda are just going to order pizza and beer and wait 18 months.

  2. Marine Dog Man
    December 3rd, 2009 at 13:47 | #2

    The single issue lacking in our “War on Terror” is the absence of a leader, civilian and military, that, with tenacity, absolute determination and immediate urgency, speaks of victory.
    We hear of military strategy, training police and military forces, negotiating with the enemy, accepting corrupt government leaders and a time to exit. Our president did not speak of victory!
    It is not possible to win wars if victory is not paramount. The enemy must be found and destroyed. It is not possible to win wars if warriors must be politically correct when they engage enemy forces. The threat of being punished by superior officers will cause a warrior to pause before he acts, due to fear of reprisal. The pause results in our men dying.
    We are not willing to win this war. It is time to get our men out. NOW!

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