By Jedediah Bila, Author and Political Commentator
America’s always poised, often apologetic, occasionally patriotic President took the West Point stage on December 1, 2009 and delivered what I would depict as a vague, selectively motivating discourse that fell just short—by about fifty miles—of Reaganesque. Infused with numerous comparisons to Iraq, from the “rifts between America and much of the world” he claims it evoked to implications of fault on the part of President Bush, Obama’s speech was at best ambiguous and at worst contradictory.
I’m somewhat perplexed by the ease with which our President’s declaration of “Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan” can be so comfortably succeeded by a pre-determined exit date of July of 2011. I’m not sure what history books he’s been reading (perhaps the same ones that keep causing him to repeat that “worst economic crisis since the Great Depression” inaccuracy), but I can’t recall a single successful counterinsurgency in a time frame as slight as eighteen months. I also can’t quite be at ease with a Commander in Chief attempting to inspire row after row of heroic cadets by discussing his plan of retreat in the same breath as his order for them to deploy. That would be like encouraging small businesses to grow and prosper while talking about redistributing wealth. Oh wait, never mind.
Let me be clear: I most definitely support our President’s decision to deploy an additional thirty thousand troops (in fact, I would have gone with the forty thousand requested by McChrystal), and I salute his uncharacteristic acknowledgment of American exceptionalism in having “underwritten global security for over six decades.” However, I do believe that it takes a certain kind of audacity—interesting word choice, no?—for someone who stands behind a $2.5 trillion health care agenda and a $3.5 trillion budget to suddenly be concerned about “reasonable costs” and operating “beyond our means” when it comes to issues of national security.
Bottom line: You made the right choice, Mr. President…but next time, say it like you mean it.