Obama’s Speech: What He Should Say – June 22, 2011

Tonight President Obama is going to deliver his vision on the war in Afghanistan.  There is pressure here due to the fact that we are facing a massive deficit AND we have killed Bin Laden.  Some feel that we have achieved the mission.

Obama is going to have to deliver this message during the Republican Primary battle.  What he says tonight not only will shape America’s involvement in Afghanistan, not only will hint at Obama’s thoughts on our other wars but will define the Republican’s campaigns for their nomination.  In short, it will have the result of drawing the battle lines the Republicans will employ against Obama’s policy.

So, what should Obama say?

Our Goals:

I have always felt that the Bush administration, and now this one, have been silent on the topic of what we are really trying to achieve.  What is the criteria for “winning” and “losing”.  The American people are very keen on competition, sacrifices and “knowing the score”.  Perhaps on purpose, to avoid accountability, government rarely sets concrete and firm mission statements.

Obama is in a unique position now.  He can set one retroactively.  In short, tell us why we went, tell us we did what we said we were gonna do, and now we need to reasonably leave.


Our Role in the World:

America has a role to play.  And we need to know what that is a events unfold around us.  Are we the world’s cop?  Is it our job to keep the peace?  Will we act when asked?  And if the answer to any of those questions is yes, then we need to know how that action will look.  I’m confused and I think America in general is confused as to why we acted in Libya but not in Syria.  Why are we ignoring Yemen?


We Will Leave Afghanistan Better Than We Found It:

Face it, we’re Boy Scouts.  We wanna feel like we do good things.  We resonate with the idea that we stand up for the right thing and then finish doing that right thing.  To an extent, this is a similar point to the first; stating our goals, but it’s critical that America feels we finished the job and the job was done right.

Now, do I think Obama is going to be able to address these points?  I don’t.

In his heart, I think Obama has seen the insides of power and doesn’t like what he saw.  In his heart, Obama shuns force and military might in favor of words.  In his heart, Obama saw that what he faced in Afghanistan was going to require that force.

True, he did embrace building up his Afghan presence, but I suspect that it was advisers telling him that he needed to, needed to demonstrate some form of strength.  So he acquiesced.  I now have the feeling that he’ll drift back to the peace loving, we can all get along advocate that he is.

Further, I don’t think that Obama will be able to articulate his vision of America’s role in the world.  For two reasons:

  1. He doesn’t have one.
  2. In so far as he does, it won’t sell well on the coming campaign trail.

I’m not sure Obama himself knows why he supported Egypt, then called for a new administration.  Why we enforced a “no fly zone” and the allowed it to expand to bombings and outright attacks.  I don’t think Obama knows why he has taken action in Libya and not in Syria.

To expect a man to do a thing he can’t is foolish.  You don’t ask your staff ace pitcher to play short stop.

Obama will announce that we’re leaving.  He’ll mention or nod to his commanders that we can’t do it too soon.  He’ll mention sacrifice and success and that it’s time we brought our boys home.  I doubt he’ll sum up what we did and why we’re done.

I have low expectations.

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