I wrestled with the title of this for a while. God only knows why. But I couldn't really come up with anything better than that. Which is unfortunate. I thought I was better at this.
So anyway, I couldn't watch Obama's speech because unlike anywhere from 10-20% of the citizenry (depending on where you live.) I had to work. So I downloaded a copy of the President's speech and read it. Highlighting along the way the things that I picked out that I liked and agreed with, along with the things that bugged the shit out of me. So from here on out I'll start with a quote and then tell you why I liked it or thought it was complete bullshit.
"As we know these men belonged to Al Qaeda-a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world's great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents."
Complete bullshit. I've read the Koran. All that shit about smiting the infidels necks and killing those who will not convert and subjecting non-believers to dhimmi status (look it up) is all true. So any religion that will espouse tactics and actions like that is not a great religion. Don't worry, I'm not real thrilled with any organized religion. It just so happens that right now we're talking about Islam.
"After escaping across the border into Pakistan in 2001 and 2002, al Qaeda's leadership established safe haven there."
Totally agree. They roam freely across that border. I watched them do it. This is somewhat akin to a snowball fight between your kids and the neighbors kids. Except in this case there's a rule that says your kids can only throw snowballs at the neighbor kids when they are on your property. So long as they are in their own yard your kids can't do anything to them. They roam freely across that border, and Pakistan is claiming (and Obama is claiming) that they are our allies. Well then let us come and stomp around in your yard a little bit and find these animals.
"Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards."
Agreed. Corruption in the government is rampant. I mean the things they have going over there would make Mayor Daley of Chicago blush. The police and military are making strides but they still have a way to go. The simple truth is that so much was put into Iraq, that there wasn't much left over for Afghanistan. Resources, intellectual, military, financial, diplomatic, and otherwise were poured into Iraq when they rightfully belonged in Afghanistan. So maybe now that Iraq is winding down there will be the resources that Afghanistan so desperately needs.
I'm going to skip around the speech and put a few of these together now. They focus on the same point.
"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."
"I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what we can achieve at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests. Furthermore, the absence of a timeframe for our transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government."
Agree/disagree. Now there is the standard argument that's been flying around all the 24 hour news channels that you can't put a timeframe on it. You just have to stay until its done. But anyone who has ever been in the military knows, the more work you get done, the more work they'll make you do. That's pretty simple.
I disagree with the 30,000. General McCrystal asked for (I think) 40,000. If a commander asks for something, within reason, give it to him. I don't think that shaving off 10,000 troops is anything more that bowing to Democratic party. I don't know for sure, but that's what it seems like. An effort by Obama to make this a little more palatable for his party.
The timeframe on the other hand, I can get on board with that. 18 months might be a bit quick, but that sense of urgency that he talked about is something that will be a master motivator. If you've ever read Robert Greene's ,the 33 laws of war, you'll know that one of the laws is "Back yourself into a corner." Its a simple rule of animal instinct. When you chase a dog, it'll run. When you back a dog into a corner, it will fight like a fucking lion.
18 months is a pretty small corner to be backed into. I like the psychology here. Obama is blatantly backing US military commanders and Afghan government and military officials into a corner. He's basically telling all of them, "You've got 18 months to get this shit done, and if you don't pull it off by then I'm pulling the rug out from underneath you." I like that. Light a fire under their asses. Maybe it will loosen things up a bit over there. Get some of those rules of engagement changed so that we're not hamstrung with what we can do. Maybe inspire a little outside the box thinking from US and Afghan commanders. Maybe get them to start saying to themselves, well this hasn't really been working the past 8 years, its not going to work the next 18 months so we HAVE to come up with something new.
"We will support efforts by the Afghan government to ope the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens."
Complete bullshit. Sorry, but this sounds an awful lot like you are installing a valet at the door to the henhouse and he's supposed to just let all the foxes in. If you can find the Taliban, kill them. Simple. These men will not change. This is where I get really angry. Allowing people that tried, and will continue to try to kill Americans to become a part of the Afghanistan that we are partnering in building. Its sorta like setting up a rollaway bed in the basement for the guy who banged your wife. Its an all around bad idea.
Last one I want to leave you with for today is this...
"Let me be clear, none of this will be easy."
WELL THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUS.
Overall, I think the Prez has some good ideas. Some of his ideas are bullshit. Some are misguided, some are a little goofy. But the man's got a plan. Now at least there's that. A plan, and not some dopey old man in a flight suit on an aircraft carrier telling us "mission accomplished" right as the whole thing was really kicking off.
My ideas for winning in Afghanistan are simple.
1. Send enough troops to secure the Pakistan border. You put enough guys over there that NO ONE can get over that border without bumping into some GI sleeping on guard shift. No one can come over the border, set the IED's and slink back undetected. No one can hit American convoys without running into several hundred, heavily armed, pissed off Marines. Security will improve exponentially with this simple, but exceedingly difficult step.
2. We've got enough guys to train the Afghani government. The entire US military police corps should be dedicated to training the Afghani National Police, and set aside a few battalions of infantry to handle the Army.
3. Finish that fucking ring road and get that country interconnected. Commerce will improve and the entire country's economy will benefit. When the money starts to flow and there are jobs and economic development I think it would be a bit easier to keep recruits away from the Taliban.
4. When the Afghani's are ready, pass the torch and roll on home. If you ask me, so long as the Pakistani border is secured this wouldn't take very long. It might even go as fast as 18 months.
Now the final question I have is this...I don't remember for certain, but at any time in his speech, did Obama mention the word "Victory"?
Anyway, I'm done.
I love you Mom...