Highlights and recommended reviews of Obama’s Afghanistan speech

I have recently reported on what the experts were saying about the War in Afghanistan (see series of notes here). Today, we bring you a few links and excerpts from commentators following President Barack Obama’s speech yesterday announcing his plans for sending more troops.

A Speech Unbecoming of the Cause

The Heritage Foundation

During the month of November, while President Barack Obama was dithering on whether or not to embrace General Stanley McChrystal’s strategy for winning in Afghanistan, something unexpected happened in American public opinion on the war. According to Gallup, the American public switched from 42% for and 44% against sending more troops to Afghanistan, to 47% for and only 39% against a troop build up. It is unclear why the American people came to support an increase in troops last month, but it is safe to rule out strong leadership from the White House as the cause. Hopefully the President’s incoherent address to a muted West Point audience will not reverse America’s growing support for victory.

Read this entire post here.

The Afghan Escalation

Now the President needs a political surge to rally public support.

The Wall Street Journal

One of the media’s least accurate tropes is that, with the President’s speech last night, Afghanistan is now “Obama’s war.” No, it isn’t. Nations go to war, not merely Administrations, and President Obama’s commitment of 30,000 more troops to that Southwest Asian theater is a national investment in blood and treasure on behalf of vital U.S. security interests.

We support Mr. Obama’s decision, and this national effort, notwithstanding our concerns about the determination of the President and his party to see it through. Now that he’s committed, so is the country, and one of our abiding principles is that nations should never start (much less escalate) wars they don’t intend to win…

Above all, as a war President, Mr. Obama will have to spend more of his own political capital persuading the American public that the Afghan campaign is worth the price. One speech at storied West Point isn’t enough. The President needs his own political surge.

Click here to read the entire article.

Dean Obama

By Victor Davis Hanson

That was such a strange speech. Deploring partisanship while serially trashing Bush at each new talking point. Sending more troops, but talking more about when they will come home rather than what they will do to the enemy. There was nothing much new in the speech, yet apparently it took the president months to decide whether even to give it.

Ostensibly the talk was to be on Afghanistan; instead, the second half mostly consisted of the usual hope-and-change platitudes.

Still, the president, to his credit, is trying to give the best picture of the Afghanistan war. Obama started well in his review of why George Bush removed the Taliban. But that disinterested narrative lasted about two minutes. Then came the typical Obama talking points that characterize his reset-button foreign policy and don’t offer a high degree of confidence that our commander in chief wants to defeat the enemy or believes that he can win the war…

Click here to continue reading.

Note: the following paragraph – the last in the article – is probably the most important thing I’ve seen written on the topic today. Where the heck are Congressional Republicans? They’ve learned nothing from their failure to lead on Iraq.

Is This Victory We Can Believe In?

To save his domestic agenda, the president has settled for managed failure abroad.
By Stephen Yates and Christian Whiton

Now is a time for the loyal opposition in Congress to articulate clear alternatives to Mr. Obama’s foreign policy. Rather that providing deference to the president for finally arriving at a decision on this matter, they should work to define the mission we ought to have in Afghanistan and globally – the mission to keep America safe and ultimately ablate Islamist jihadism itself. The threats we face will not go away through a managed drawdown in Central Asia, nor are they limited only to Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Republicans need to articulate a vision for containing the threats we face – and oppose Mr. Obama’s further curtailment of American power.

And finally this, from the German publication Spiegel Online:

Searching in Vain for the Obama Magic

By Gabor Steingart

Obama’s magic no longer works. The allure of his words has grown weaker.

It is not he himself who has changed, but rather the benchmark used to evaluate him. For a president, the unit of measurement is real life. A leader is seen by citizens through the prism of their lives — their job, their household budget, where they live and suffer. And, in the case of the war on terror, where they sometimes die.

Political dreams and yearnings for the future belong elsewhere. That was where the political charmer Obama was able to successfully capture the imaginations of millions of voters. It is a place where campaigners — particularly those with a talent for oration — are fond of taking refuge. It is also where Obama set up his campaign headquarters, in an enormous tent called “Hope.”

In his speech on America’s new Afghanistan strategy, Obama tried to speak to both places. It was two speeches in one. That is why it felt so false. Both dreamers and realists were left feeling distraught.

Also recommended:

Uncertain Trumpet

By Charles Krauthammer

Five Unanswered Questions about U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan

By Mackenzie Eaglen

A Commander-in-Chief & His Lieutenant

By Kori Schake