A hand up … and you have 17 mos.

I’d like to give my personal interpretation of what I heard the President say, but first I’d like to add a quote that I recently fell in love with that sums up what I think our young nation is feeling.

“In every truth there is liberation.  Freed from the burden of explaining American origins, the values of (classical) liberalism have much to commend them.  But can they be retained without the certainties of Western metaphysics and scientific positivism?  And when American nationalism and liberalism have gone their separate ways, will the nation flounder without its heroic birth in enlightenment freedom? Do the robustly male virtues of (classical) liberalism depend on a belief in their universality in order to continue as the promoters of constructive change? Can a hatred of injustice, once premised on the concept of inalienable natural rights, coexist with an understanding of cultural differences? These questions pull us back to the foundational sites of our history, where memory and imagination play a part in the closing and opening of the American mind.  But in returning to our historic roots we should not forget that the spirit invoked at Independence was that of experimentation and hope, tolerance and outrage, common sense and uncommon expectation.” –Joyce Appleby

Those interested all watched the same speech.  And, each got something different out of it.  What I noted a lot of was analysis – military, civilian, pundit, politico, and otherwise.  There are diametrically opposing views, philosophically nuanced differences of opinion, and outright short-term memories.  So, may as well tell everyone what I heard, too … in Billie-ese.


Hey, let’s talk about Afghanistan.

First, there was the 9/11 attack, and we pretty much know al-Qaeda was responsible, and the Taliban played no small part, and basically that’s kind of the Soviets’ fault.  So, for the first time in history pretty much everybody agreed punishment was in order, and it was necessary to track them down.  So, the Taliban were asked to hand over bin Laden, and they said no.  While some progress was made w/ defeating al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan … there somewhere was a dumb idea to invade Iraq and waste a whole bunch of time and resources.

So now, while our soldiers are great, but their time was wasted in Iraq, and Afghanistan went to shit, and AQ and Taliban have teamed up again.  Now, our allies agreed that Pakistan somehow is an easy place to hide for these guys, so let’s figure out a way to combat these pockets of terrorists while building up the military in Pakistan.  And we pretty much have done what we promised, and Pakistan’s military is doing much better.   Also, while Afghanistan’s government itself may be fraudulent, those who seek to terrorize failed in taking over the elections.  Basically, it’s up to the Afghanis to figure out how its government should operate, but we certainly don’t want terrorists taking over what could be an even more legitimate government if it’s given the chance.

So, with all of this conflict … our troops haven’t had the means in which to help the Afghani people because we’ve been helping with security.  Oh, and by the way, no one gave me any manner of plan that would call for extra troops before next year, so I wasn’t ‘dithering.’

Here we go … the goal is to send 30k more troops to build a stable force in Afghanistan so Americans can get outta Dodge.  Also, being in Iraq sucks, and the economy sucks as a result, so we’re leaving that to the Iraqis in July 2010.  There’s really bad stuff going on particularly around Pakistan and Afghanistan … and, the threat is palpable.  If we don’t increase the self-sufficiency of Afghanistan and Pakistan we’re gonna be in trouble.   Since Pakistan has nuclear arms, and Afghanistan is basically a battlefield, and pockets of extremists are hiding in the nuclear armed country, it’s important to not underestimate the likelihood that they would take advantage of the arms if they could.  To that end  “we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future. ”

So we’re gonna send a bunch of troops in to work with Afghanistan’s troops, on a pretty short term basis considering how long we’ve been in both Afghanistan and Iraq, “to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. ”  But, hey, Afghanistan has pretty much this timetable until we’re out … because it’s its own country, with its own responsibilities, and while we’re happy to help them get back on their feet, this is a hand up, not a hand out.

Pakistan has finally figured out that we’re all on the same side, here.  It took them a while, but we’ll continue the hard work to ensure a stable region- to the best of our ability and conscience –  before we leave.

This isn’t Vietnam since it’s not the majority at work here, rather a disaffected troublemaking minority, and since we already are there, it would be foolhardy to leave if we can do our best to eliminate the problem quickly, and train the other countries’ troops to take over ASAP.

So, to close … basically, Iraq was a bad decision probably, we’ve wasted way too much money there, these next 17 months are going to suck, but we have a plan to get out … and get out quickly without sending a bunch of people to their deaths if we leave tomorrow.

Flourish flourish flourish.

God Bless.

And, there you have, almost paragraph by paragraph, my interpretation of what President Barack Obama said.  Feel free to follow along here.

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