For a man who can give such a rousing campaign speech, when he steps up to that podium in the White House he can be unbelievably dull; eyes unfocused as he monotones words that someone else has written for him, pretty words designed not to inform but to read well in history books. He strives to look authoritative as he speaks of “meeting our goals,” of dim lights shining in the distance, of wars which “will end responsibly” in a manner and at a time undisclosed, and of how we must be “as pragmatic as we are passionate” when we decide to use our military power in whatever manner is the latest definition of “not war.”
In his first sentence he tied together 9/11, terrorist planning in Afghanistan, and the Taliban. But 9/11 was not planned in Afghanistan, it was planned in Germany. In fact, when Bush tried to tie Saddam Hussein to 9/11 he set the bogus meeting not in Afghanistan, but in Germany, because that’s where the plot was formulated. Osama bin Laden was head of the group that perpetrated that plot, but he had no more to do with its planning than Lee Iacocca had to do specifically with planning the Chrysler Imperial.
And still Obama holds on to the myth that we are in Afghanistan to assure than they will have “no safe-haven from which al Qaeda or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland.” That is simply nonsensical. For one thing, no actual attack upon this nation has ever been “launched from” Afghanistan, and for another good point, as Barney Frank put it later on
The Last Word, “We can’t plug every rat hole in the world.”
And 9/11 was "launched from" Boston, right here in the United States.
Obama talked about how “We have learned anew the profound cost of war,” as if the Iraqi and Afghan people had not learned that cost far better than we, because they learned that lesson on their own soil not for one day, but for ten long years. He talked about how that cost “has been paid by the nearly 4,500 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq, and the over 1,500 who have done so in Afghanistan” and didn’t mention the cost paid by the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He talked about our “responsibility as an anchor of global security,” which may be a phrase original to him; I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before. It translates to permission to build and man military bases all over the world, including in countries which don’t really want us to, and to spend more on military that all of the rest of the world put together. He also referred to us as “nation of law,” except for when a president wants to start a war and the law doesn’t allow him to, and said that we “extend justice to every single citizen," except the ones we arbitrarily assassinate.
And then he ventured into “America’s singular role” and words which, if meaningful at all, were certainly obscure. Something about “rallying allies” without a “single soldier on the ground,” which is certainly singular but is of questionable accuracy. Then something that was supposed to make us believe that all these wars abroad created opportunity at home, which sounds good but is somewhat at odds with observable reality.
Then he told us at great length how wonderful our troops are and closed with “the little engine that could” thing about “no hill is to steep and no horizon is beyond our reach.” Go team.
Oh, and as for Afghanistan? The troops will come home, but not very fast, and the war will end, but not any time soon. Get used to it, there are many more freedom bombs to come.