Some of the reaching that has been done to praise Obama’s Afghanistan speech have been amusing; or would have been amusing if the stakes didn’t involve so many people losing life and limb.
Repeatedly I have heard him applauded for beginning by taking the subject back to 9/11, “back to the origins of the conflict.” The idea, it is claimed, is to remind the public of why we are at war there.
Except we’re not there because of 9/11; that is the one thing we can be pretty sure is not why we are there. The al Queda cadre was chased out of Afghanistan years ago and we are not even possibly going to capture or kill them there now. The pursuit of the apprehension of the 9/11 perpetrators was valid for the original invasion of Afghanistan, and it would be a valid purpose now if that’s what we were doing. But we are not, because we know very well that they are not there, and that “safe haven” thing is jingoistic nonsense. Obama “taking it back to 9/11” was nothing more than inflammatory rhetoric.
Keith Olbermann last night, defending the proposed withdrawal date from Afghanistan, reminded us regarding Iraq that “to this date, virtually none of the scenarios the Republicans warned would come to pass there with a timeline in place had happened.”
Keith, the scenarios had to do with what would happen after we withdrew and we haven’t withdrawn yet. So they might still happen, or they might not.
I support the setting of a withdrawal date, of course, and disagree with the President only in that I think it should be set earlier. In defending that policy, however, I really want to see honest and legitimate arguments being used; otherwise we descend to the level of the demagogues who use lies and slander.
Good policy doesn’t need to be defended with bad arguments.