Where’s the “Mission Accomplished” banner, Mr. President?
The President addressed the cadets at West Point tonight taking a play out of his predecessor’s playbook: surround yourself with troops, and appeal (six times) to 9/11:
To address these important issues, it’s important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of passengers onboard one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.
He states himself that al Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistan:
As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda — a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world’s great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents. Al Qaeda’s base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban — a ruthless, repressive and radical movement that seized control of that country after it was ravaged by years of Soviet occupation and civil war, and after the attention of America and our friends had turned elsewhere.
It’s also nice to be reminded just how horrible those Taliban are: “ruthless, repressive and radical.” Nice alteration, Mr. President. Excellent work on painting the enemy as less than human.
So the occupation that has lasted for the past eight years will continue for at least another 19 months. We’re barely two years shy of the total occupation that the Soviets managed (and that we condemned while we funded and armed the opposition) during the 80’s. But this shouldn’t be viewed as a new Vietnam:
First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we’re better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. I believe this argument depends on a false reading of history. Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. 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.
The United States officially had soldiers in Vietnam from 1965-1975. This is not like that at all.
Mr. President, on September 23, 2001 I stood in a pulpit and spoke to a people who were afraid and angry. I read Romans 12:20-21:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
What I said then is true today: We cannot defeat terror by being more terrifying. It was true for President Bush. It’s still true for President Obama. This increase of soldiers in Afghanistan is a horrifically bad idea.