The Afghan War may be the first one we lose primarily because our civilian leadership did not understand the effect of its public words on our government, our allies and our enemy. Throughout the summer and fall of 2009, as experts were getting more pessimistic about success in Afghanistan, President Obama began having second thoughts. He was conflicted between his campaign statement that Afghanistan was the good and necessary war and his supporters' concerns that America not get bogged down in another unwinnable Vietnam.
Finally, he announced his decision in his December 2009 speech at West Point, where he stated: "(A)s commander in chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.
"... (T)aken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us 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. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We will continue to advise and assist Afghanistan's security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government -- and, more importantly, to the Afghan people -- that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country."
So was born a conceptual confusion that is leading us to defeat in that war. As I and many others observed a few weeks after the speech:
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.
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