As soon as President Obama had finished his West Point speech in which he pledged to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, conservative pundits started poking at the president's demeanor and message. Big mistake. If Obama's delivery seemed, well, unenthusiastic, so be it. What is important is that Obama delivered a policy that will keep Afghanistan from devolving into a terror pit. He offered the best plan that conservatives possibly could expect.
Before the speech, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore wrote an open letter to Obama warning him not to become a "war president." And: "With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics."
I can only assume Moore and his co-believers weren't listening to Obama on the 2008 campaign trail. At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the then-Illinois senator promised to "finish the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan."
Said Obama, "When John McCain said we could just 'muddle through' in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights.
"You know, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives."
In flexing muscular rhetoric on Afghanistan, Obama quelled fears that he might be soft on national security issues. With a different platform, Obama may not have won in November.
Events since the election have served to reinforce the need to stabilize the Afghanistan-Pakistan region (AfPak in foreign policy circles). As Obama noted, in the last few months, American authorities have arrested extremists believed to have been sent from the region to commit new acts of terror on American soil, and in Denmark in retaliation for a newspaper's publication of cartoons that unfavorably depicted the Prophet Muhammad.
And these guys were caught after U.S. troop levels more than doubled to around 70,000 -- alongside 30,000 NATO troops. Do I wish Obama would use the word "victory" more, or any other word that exhibits a resolve to do what it takes to win? Yes. When the American president talks, he should put some fear into the jihadists.
When he's ramping up the war against al-Qaida and the Taliban, he doesn't need to reserve hiding-in-caves jabs for political opponent John McCain.
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