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 December, 2009


 Obama's Faulty Afghanistan Strategy

Obama’s Empty Battle Cry

In matters of war, Barack Obama has become George W. Bush, except for a bit more eloquence.

His speech last Tuesday night was well-crafted and thoughtful, but it still left my ears ringing with the hollow sound made by empty propositions.

The president had hoped that Americans would find a certain justifiable resonance in his words. I couldn’t find any.

On Sunday, October 7th, 2001, Americans stopped what they were doing to cheer as Operation Enduring Freedom (the War in Afghanistan) began. To most Americans, that fight seemed honorable, since only 26 days had elapsed since our country had been attacked – and the man who attacked us was thought to have been hiding there.

“It is easy to forget that when this war began, we were united - bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear,” Obama told the assembled cadets at West Point and an increasingly war-weary American public at home on their couches.

But today, 3009 days have gone by since 9/11. At least 930 Americans have lost their lives. More than 8,400 Americans have been injured.
Osama Bin Laden isn’t even thought to be hiding in Afghanistan.

The War in Afghanistan has gone on for far too long, with no real recognizable results. To send more troops there as a means of ending it doesn’t make much sense to me.

A trucker can’t hope to stop his runaway 18 wheeler by stomping harder on the gas pedal.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had WWII. Harry Truman had WWII and the Korean War. Dwight D. Eisenhower ended the Korean War, but he was the first president to send troops to Vietnam. Kennedy had Vietnam and he sent American air support into that ill-fated Bay of Pigs fiasco. Lyndon Johnson – Vietnam. Richard
Nixon – Vietnam. Gerald Ford – ended Vietnam, but only after he’d sent troops there.

Ronald Reagan invaded Grenada in 1983. George H.W. Bush invaded Panama in 1989-1990, and he started and ended the Persian Gulf War the following year. Bill Clinton – Somalia.

George W. Bush rightly started the invasion of Afghanistan, and then he allowed it to languish, while he blustered his way into Iraq.

Over the past 65 years, only one president – Jimmy Carter – didn’t send American’s fighting men and women into battle.

So I had little hope that Obama would be that rare American president who’d never wage war.

But to officially re-start a war that has, for many months, lost its stated purpose, makes me wonder if Obama has listened to too many generals – but not the American public.

I am not in agreement with those right wing Obama detractors who blindly supported Bush’s Iraq folly, but who see no good reason to support Obama’s Afghanistan “surge”.

Additionally, I don’t agree with those liberals who support everything Obama does, but attacked Bush’s every move.

I think I’m being consistent.

I did not agree with Bush regarding Iraq, and I don’t agree with Obama – period – on the subject of spilling American blood when there is no proof that spilt blood will keep us safe.

Then there’s Dick Cheney. He seems to think Obama has been “dithering” when it comes to Afghanistan. If Bush (and himself) had “dithered,” perhaps there wouldn’t have been 4,367 American lives lost in Iraq.

Cheney has no standing here. He can’t even find the moral high ground. He needs to step off the stage – and for good.

“I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. I believe with every fiber of my being that we - as Americans - can still come together behind a common purpose,” Obama claimed near the end of his speech.

I do believe we cannot summon that unity again. Not, at least, on the subject of Afghanistan. Too many Americans are facing the loss of their jobs, the bleak future of their already lost jobs, and widespread bankruptcies resulting from an unforgiving health care system.

Those things should be our call to unity.

Edward A. Owens is a three time Emmy Award winner and 20 year veteran of television news. E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net