Foreign and Defense Policy

Mission Accomplished in Afghanistan

The president has announced what we were all aware he was going to announce: a drawdown of 10,000 troops surged into Afghanistan last year by this year’s end and the departure of the remainder of those troops by summer’s end 2012. Nowhere in the speech did the president explain his decision. Nowhere did he explain his deliberation process. Nowhere did he explain how we will execute the strategy he put in place with fewer troops than he ordered. Rather, this was a campaign speech-cum-Hallmark card, a pablum-filled address that told the American people “we are fulfilling our commitment” (how?), “meeting our goals” (which ones?), “starting our drawdown from a position of strength” (in the East?), but “huge challenges remain” (duh).

The president spoke of the goal of denying safe haven to al Qaeda, but didn’t outline how that will be done in the provinces in which we have not yet begun to fight due to troop shortages. Rather, we are simply to “take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding.” Apparently, “the light of secure peace can be seen in the distance.” Seriously, who writes this stuff?

Earlier, I wrote that Obama had made a dangerous and political decision, a play to elevate his own re-election above the accomplishment of our goals in Afghanistan. Tonight’s address only underscores that calculus. Obama gave a campaign speech, content free, principle free, and leadership free. The only thing missing from this travesty was a banner announcing “mission accomplished.”

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