WASHINGTON -- With all the preparations for the biggest, most expensive and most restrictive inaugural celebration in history, this is probably not the time to remind our president-elect of things he said and wrote, promises he made, or commitments he pledged. Perhaps one of his new aides will clip and save this for his perusal later next week.
Candidate Obama repeatedly described Afghanistan as "the central front in the war on terror." Sometimes he included neighboring Pakistan, which he occasionally threatened to attack. After a brief visit to Afghanistan in July 2008, he said that "one of the biggest mistakes we've made strategically" is failing "to finish the job." He used a sports metaphor -- "we took our eye off the ball" -- to accuse his predecessor of being "distracted by Iraq." Then he pledged that if elected, he would "once and for all dismantle al-Qaida and the Taliban." That is what we were told by once-Sen., now President-elect, soon-to-be commander in chief Barack Obama. But that's not what he is saying today.
This week, he announced that despite 61 released detainees returning to commit more atrocities, the Guantanamo Bay detention facility will be closed. He likely will make it official in his inaugural address. He authorized his secretary of state-designate to testify in congressional hearings that he will be "engaging with Iran" soon. Though Obama has given the nod to deploying 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, the soon-to-be vice president, standing in Kandahar this week, spoke nothing of victory. Instead, Sen. Biden said just that he is "very interested in what becomes of this region because it affects us all."
All of this demonstrates a frightening naivete about who our adversaries are, what is at stake, and what to do about it. After Tuesday, the ball is in Obama's court -- and in the hands of a new set of advisers, some of whom I have known well for decades. I hope they will be willing to apprise our new chief executive of some hard realities.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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