Thursday, December 03, 2009


You may not think so, but on Tuesday night from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in his first prime-time presidential address to the nation, Barack Obama surrendered. It may not have looked like that: there were no surrender documents; he wasn’t on the deck of the USS Missouri; he never bowed his head. Still, from today on, think of him not as the commander-in-chief, but as the commanded-in-chief.

And give credit to the victors. Their campaign was nothing short of brilliant. In the summer of 2008, the U.S. only had about 28,000 troops in Afghanistan. In other words, in less than two years, U.S. troop strength in that country will have more than tripled

He essentially agreed to subordinate himself to the publicly stated wishes of his field commanders. This is called “politics” in our country and, for a Democratic president in our era, Tuesday night’s end result was remarkably predictable.

There has been surprisingly little discussion about the president’s decision to address the American people not from the Oval Office, but from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

It was there that, in 2002, George W. Bush gave a speech before the assembled cadets in which he laid out his aggressive strategy of preventive war, which would become the cornerstone of “the Bush Doctrine.”

Certainly, the choice of venue, and so the decision to address a military audience first and other Americans second represented a kind of symbolic surrender of civilian authority.

For his American audience,the president did put a significant emphasis on an exit strategy with eerie echoes of the years in which George W. Bush. Paraphrasing: “As Afghanis stand-up, we will stand down.”

Finish the job in Afghanistan? Based on the plans, administration’s record, the quiet reassurances, this war looks to be all job and no finish.

After all, three cabinet ministers and 12 former ministers are under investigation in Afghanistan itself on corruption charges. a country that one Russian expert recently referred to as an “international drug firm,” where at least one-third of the gross national product comes from the drug trade.

In addition, the Taliban now reportedly take a cut of the billions of dollars in U.S. development aid flowing into the country, much of which is otherwise squandered, and of the American money that goes into “protecting” the convoys that bring supplies to U.S. troops throughout the country

One out of every four Afghan soldiers has quit or deserted the Afghan National Army in the last year,

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