Pretty much sums up my thoughts:
Charles Krauthammer: I thought it was a rather strange speech. It was defensive and it was a lot of hedging. the president said at the end that our resolve is unwavering. He said in August this was a war of necessity. And then he gives us all of the reasons that we need to start leaving in a year and a half. And among the reasons he gave was that it was a very expensive war and we have a bad economy and that’s at least of equal importance. It’s not exactly the kind of speech you would have heard from Henry V or Churchill. And it’s not exactly the kind of speech you heard from George Bush when he announced his surge.
Stephen Hayes: The most important role of a president is Commander in Chief. This felt very small to me. The president in one sentence called this the common security of the world is at stake. And literally in the very next sentence he said we’re going to get out in July 2011. If it is the case that the common security of the world is at stake you don’t say that we need to figure out the problem in 18 months or we’re out of here.
I would add to what’s already written that Obama’s speech reminded me of Bill Clinton’s last year at the DNC. It sounded obligatory and lacked passion and emotion – and, more importantly, determination, three key factors that are normally present in both Obama and Clinton when talking issues that are important to them respectively. There was no heart in Obama’s speech. It’s something he “had” to do but would rather be addressing more “important” issues, like healthcare “reform” and cap and trade. It’s exactly the kind of toneless speech you’d expect from a solidly anti-war President who is trying to make the case for escalating a war.
I’m aware that the right has serious issues with certain aspects of Obama’s plan, but it makes no difference if we’re operating on the best plan in the world if the man in charge of it all doesn’t demonstrate the resolve and determination to see the mission through to a successful conclusion. For whatever Bush’s faults were, you never doubted that he understood the big picture and new that it was imperative for us to win. The inclusion of a timetable in Obama’s plan is deeply troublesome, for reasons that are obvious to all but those on the anti-war left who have never gotten it and never will. A timetable sends a signal to the opposition forces that if they just tough it out for a little while longer, eventually the US will give up and cut and run, exit stage left – leaving the door wide open for the violent hostilities and lawlessness to resume. It also sends a signal to allied forces that the United States is only committed to a year and a half time frame for success, and that beyond that, well – too bad. What country would want to send additional troops into a situation where their allies were not committed to success – even beyond a specified timeframe for withdrawal?
That said, regardless of what I feel ideologically about most of this President’s policies – both foreign and domestic – it’s in this country’s national security interests in seeing our mission in Afghanistan succeed. And regardless of how some are now describing this war as “Obama’s war,” I reject that characterization. This is “our war” – America’s war, and one that we’re in to win, and most of us are praying that our President, though anti-war, feels the same way.
Time will tell. In the meantime, please continue to keep our military in your thoughts and prayers – the ones who are already there, and the ones who will be there when the Afghanistan surge is officially implemented.