Thursday, December 3, 2009

This Wasn't Supposed to be a Political Blog

So I’ve read the president’s speech a couple of times and listened to it a couple more and I’ve come to a couple of realizations.

We are ungrateful bitches with the long term memory of a gypsy moth.

Also, we’re lazy.

No really. When Obama was campaigning he talked about the wars all the time. He made his intentions clear. He laid it out in bullet points.


2007 was the most violent year in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001. The United Nations estimated that violence increased 30 percent last year. Al Qaeda has built a stronghold in the tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan. Terror groups affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda are flourishing around the world. As president, Barack Obama will:

Redeploy American Troops to Afghanistan: Barack Obama will deploy at least an additional two brigades (7,000 personnel) of rested, trained American troops to Afghanistan to reinforce our counter-terrorism operations and support NATO’s efforts to fight the Taliban.

Strengthen NATO’s Hand in Afghanistan: NATO currently has about 41,000 troops in Afghanistan. However, the force is short-staffed and some countries contributing forces are imposing restrictions on where their troops can operate, tying the hands of commanders on the ground. As president, Obama will work with European allies to end these burdensome restrictions and strengthen NATO as a fighting force.
Train and Equip the Afghan Army and Police: Barack Obama will strengthen the training and equipping of the Afghan army and police and increase Afghan participation in U.S. and NATO missions, so that there is more of an Afghan face on security.

Increase Non-Military Aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion: To prevent the country’s backsliding into chaos, Barack Obama would increase U.S. non-military aid to Afghanistan to $3 billion. This aid would fund reconstruction, police and army training, embassy operations, and local projects including efforts to impact the lives of ordinary Afghans and to give farmers alternatives to growing opium poppies. The aid would also be tied to better performance by the Afghan national government, including anti-corruption initiatives and effort to extend the rule of law across the country.

Strike Al Qaeda: Last summer, Barack Obama was criticized for challenging conventional thinking and saying that as president, if he had actionable intelligence about the whereabouts of al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan–and the Pakistanis cannot or will not act–then he will use highly targeted force to do so. At the time Senator Clinton said Obama’s statement was a “very big mistake.” Over the last few months, the wisdom behind Clinton’s assertion was called into question as the Central Intelligence Agency successfully took out senior al Qaeda leader Abu Laith al Libi, in North Waziristan, Pakistan, in January.

He gave speeches about it.

He told us exactly what he was going to do and we voted for him. We gave him 365 electoral votes and 52.92% of the popular vote. We cheered when he won and I at least cried.

Now he is doing exactly what he said he would do when he was running for president. He’s doing exactly what we told him we wanted him to do when we voted for him. He’s keeping his campaign promise.

Yet everyone has decided that he’s wrong. Either he didn’t think it through or he thought it through for too long or this is another Vietnam. Which is fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, I would hope that at some point we, the viewers, readers and listeners of political pundits start demanding that they get their damn facts straight.

Because, for real, I’m long past tired of having to set out the actual facts of an issue before I can talk about an issue. Tired of it but I’ll do it again because I have to.
This wasn’t his war. He didn’t start it but he wants to get us out of it in such a way that we don’t leave Afghanistan and their nuclear armed neighbor Pakistan, totally alone in the face of Muslim extremism.

He told us he was going to do this and we voted for him anyway. See above.
Sometimes war is necessary. I’m sorry but it is. It’s abhorrent but still, a practical necessity.

Given these facts, I’m happy with the speech last night. I still want some more details, like what his plans for Pakistan are and what he considers a successful conclusion to the conflict in Afghanistan. I’m down with helping out Pakistan. I was down with helping out in Kosovo too and I’m proud to have served during a conflict that was predicated on largely humanitarian grounds. It makes a lot of sense to stand up for Pakistan because, again, they’re nuclear power.

I would also like him to connect his definition of a successful conclusion to the time line that he laid out for withdrawal. And it seemed to me that he was conflating the Taliban with al Qaeda which is just wrong.

I was, however, very proud to have voted for him last night. He took responsibility for his own decision last night. He told us that he didn’t like the decision that he had to make but he made it and will do his best with it, though it might cost him a second term. Our president did what he thought was best for the nation and the world after considering his options and he stood up in front of the future officers of his military and took responsibility for that decision.

As of right now, he’s still got my vote.

P.S. Dick Cheney needs a smack in the mouth the cowardly son of a bitch.


Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Take this to the bank:

We will lose the war in Afghanistan. Just as in Iraq, every serviceman or woman who has died there has died for no reason. Russia and merrie old England learned this lesson a long time ago. You would think....Never mind.

Suffice to say, on my best day I do not receive one tenth of the information that President Obama receives. I don't read any of the Presidential Daily Briefings that are placed on his desk every morning. Obviously he is in possession of a wealth of intelligence that you and I are just not privy to. Maybe we should be giving him the benefit of the doubt - and I have been doing just that, I promise you. But from my vantage point it appears to me that this president has failed to learn the lessons that have been passed onto us down the decades by the administrations of Franklin Delano Rossevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson - lessons involving bold action in times of economic crisis (more on that another day) and the utter folly of waging wars that cannot be won.

Let this be etched in stone:

Any country that would view its women as inferior beings not entitled to basic human rights is not worth one drop of ANYBODY'S blood.

I want to believe in this president. He is the chief executive I worked harder to elect than any other in my lifetime. I realize that it is simply far too early in this administration to write a final assessment of his term of office. That being said, my confidence in the Obama White House is ebbing rapidly. Where in the hell is all of this change I could believe in? Is the Bush Mob still in charge? What gives?


No, I am still exceedingly grateful that John McCain and Gidget von Braun did not win the election last year. Have another sip.

Tom Degan
Goshen NY

Emerald said...

Good to see you are still feisty. Dig the blog.

Snarkopotamus said...


"Any country that would view its women as inferior beings not entitled to basic human rights is not worth one drop of ANYBODY'S blood."

Our country spent the majority of our histiry denying various groups basic human rights and viewing them as inferior beings. Let's not be hypocritical about other nations.

That said, I don't think that there is any reality based situation wherein we can "win," in Afghanistan. I don't even think that there is a way to define "win," in Afghanistan.

However, the pretend surprise that people who supported the president exhibited was not valid. He made his position clear many, many times.