Candidate bush's stance (circa 1999) against "nation building" was just about the only thing I ever agreed with him on. Of course, this "stance" turned out to be about as solid as "compassionate conservatism" was to anyone who disagreed with him, or more importantly, his party. Failure 43's "war president" focus left the unfinished, and internationally supported, war in Afghanistan to focus in on the invasion of Iraq. A war for regime change he, and his, were planning before they figured out the justifications and rationalizations for rushing us into it. Now after 8 years, elections fraught with fraud, and reports of corruption, the weak Afghan government established and secured by the US and others receives little, if any, faith or respect from the public who are starting to think back to the taliban days of, albeit Oppressive, security and stability. With no exports, but heroin. No jobs, but fighting. Afghanistan needs to be rebuilt, but can we stay and rebuild it? Should we stay and rebuild it?
The President's speech "on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan" was a straight forward, "somber" one. No anecdotes about soldiers he's met. No big applause lines. A history of what brought us there, and I'm sorry but "September 11th" did. It's al qaeda's headquarters, though some would say that has moved across the border to Pakistan, which the President mentioned several times. He also mentioned, to a lesser extent, Somalia and Yemen. He also admitted to the fraud and corruption in Afghan elections, and repeated the need to support the Afghan people in restoring their government and country. But while speaking to those who compare Afghanistan to Vietnam, the President showed, what I believe is his real rationale for staying and "escalating".
"And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now -- and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance -- would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies."I know it is echoes of the last guy, and I don't know if we need 100,000 soldiers and 100,000 contractors to do it, but for some reason I have more faith in the current guy in the White House than the last. I hope I'm not just misOverestimating him. That is not to say I agree with escalating the war in Afghanistan. I Do Not. Al qaeda is not locked down to a country, so neither should our "war" on them be, and right now it's hard to think of building another country while Ours is in, though relatively speaking much less, dire straits. I also think that using the Afghanistan border as a doorway into Pakistan is a big part of this, and that scares me.
Agree with it or not, President Obama's decision to increase troop levels in Afganistan while decreasing Our numbers in Iraq should come as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention during his campaign. He made it clear several times. Supporters who thought he would immediately withdraw, despite his campaign rhetoric, are more wishful than even I am when it comes to Barack Obama. The President put a lot of time and thought into this decision. He had a lot of input from all sides. But how does a Nobel Peace Prize winner end a war? I guess We're going to find out. First, slower than some expected, in Iraq. And now, hopefully in two years, in Afghanistan. Achieving that, righting the economy, passing a meaningful health care bill, and moving us toward alternative energy, would make a "heckuva" first term. We'll have to see if any of it comes true. I still have the Audacity to Hope.