Dec 01 2009
As the father of a newly minted MarineÂ Lance Corporal who will, in all likelihood, deploy to Afghanistan sometime in the coming year I hope people appreciate this post. As I watched our President’s speech tonight I saw for the first time the office of the President settle upon Barack Obama’s shoulders. It was a critical moment, and I am glad to see it finally happen.
President Obama’s speech was very eloquent and honorable. He began by doing an excellent and fair job of spelling out how we came to this point in history. He reminded us the of the post 9-11 unity that initiated overwhelming votes of support for the Afghan war in both houses of Congress, how 9-11 activated for the first time Article 5 of NATO and brought the UN to rapid consensus. He touched on the war in Iraq in a very even handed and positive manner, using it as the example of success he wishes for Afghanistan. He noted his opposition, yet noted the success of Iraq. He acknowledged America is ready to deal with pressing problems at home, just when we need resolve in our battle against al Qaeda.
At first I thought the venue of West Point was a cheesy photo-op, but when he looked at those young kids (just like my young son now in training for the Marines) he acknowledged the burden he was putting on them and their families. It was an incredibly honest moment.
The President noted his personal pain of dealing with the sacrifices of war and openly admitted his desire to order everyone home to safety. He noted this as a foil to the weight of the decision he made to increase forces and break the back of Islamo Fascism. You could tell he wanted another, less painful solution. Thankfully he conveyed that to those young Americans. There is no more important gift to those going into harm’s way than to acknowledge their sacrifice and honor it.
The President noted the terrorists we have discovered inside our borders, trained and supported by the remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban now hiding in the lawless regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He rightfully made the case that to let this cancer fester was to leave us all at great risk. He was gracious in acknowledging Pakistan’s efforts to clean out that part of the cesspool inside their borders. Something long overdue from us.
I do Â not like is 18 month plan to pull forces back, but every plan has benchmarks and goals. If he is sincere to the goals, the schedule will adjust itself. We have time to see on that point.
And I understand his defensiveness on the 2010 deployment. No sane military strategist is going to mount an offensives in the southern regions of Afghanistan in the winter. That is not the time or place to make a risky move. I doubt any plan he has been given requires troop build ups by December 2009. The real battle plan is probably targeting March 2010. He is right, his need to discuss and challenge the plan did not delay anything. I would rather he get it right and get behind it than rush.
He has put all his political capital on the international front in making this work. President Obama is not doing this out of naivetÃ© or inexperience. For the first time I saw a man rise to the stature of the office he holds. He knows how much rides on this.
I do not want my son put in harms way for nothing. And yet I will go to sleep tonight feeling that our President has thought this out seriously and feels this is important – as do I. I go to sleep with my regular concerns and fears (I am a father after all), but at least I can dispense of the feeling this is all show and not serious.
I salute Mr. President – well done my friend.