Jillian Bandes
Obama's Afghanistan address sounded vaguely Bushian. He said the U.S. had underwritten international security for decades, and that "moral authority" gave us the power to do what we thought was right. He sounded like he viewed the threat from Al-Quaeda as real, saying the American effort will "involved disorderly regions, failed states, diffused enemies." He also emphasized exit strategies: from Iraq by 2011, and from Afghanistan by the end of his Presidential term.  To this, Sen. John McCain responded: "Success is the real exit strategy."

The speech was was littered with rhetoric:
"The status quo is not sustainable," and "As a commander in chief, I owe you a policy that is worthy of your service." He was speaking to cadets at West Point, and the looks on their faces over the television screen was mixed. Some seemed scornful, but there was several moments of applause, once after the exit from Iraq was announced.

The speech focused on finances, but didn't provide a clear solution to the economic problems associated with maintaining the war.
It didn't provide an answer with what to do in Iraq now that we've made it known we're getting out. And there's no way of telling if Obama achieved his most important goal: getting the American people's approval back.

Play-by-play of the speech follows.....
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8:08PM

Big news: we're getting out of Iraq. Combat brigades will leave by 2010, and everyone will be gone by 2011.
We will remove troops from Iraq by next summer. That we are doing so is a testament to the men and women in uniform.
Obama trotted out 9/11 at the very beginning of his remarks, and the almost unopposed Congressional endorsement of invading the country.
The vote in the Senate was 98-0. The vote in the House was 420-1.
This is obviously to try and garner some support for flagging Afghanistan policy. After all, this speech doesn't really exist to announce policy; he could've done that via his press secretary, or Congress. This speech is being given solely to win over the favor of Americans, who currently oppose the war by a ratio of 7-3.

UPDATE, 8:15PM

More Obamanisms:
The status quo is not sustainable.
And —
As a commander in chief, I owe you a policy that is worthy of your service.
Then he announced the anticipated addition of 30,000 troops.
I do not make this decision lightly.
"Years of debate over Iraq and terrorism" have left us in tatters, he said. Economic woes are dominating Americans minds. He is sympathetic to those concerns. But Obama claimed to actively fear Al-Quaeda.

We must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region... the stakes are even higher because of a nuclear armed Pakistan.

UPDATE, 8:23PM


Obama laid out three goals: to deny Al-Quaeda a safe haven, to reverse the gains of the Taliban, and to increase the stability of the Afghani government. These are not new goals. He also wants to increase the Afghani economy and put the country on the path towards self-sustainability. He wants to work with the UN. And he wants accountability.
This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over.
He addressed the Afghani people, saying he wanted to "to hasten the day when our troops will leave and to forge a lasting friendship, where America is your partner, and never your patron."

He also linked Afghanistan success to Pakistan.

Except for the Iraq announcement and the increase of troops, this speech is virtually identical the one he gave in March of 2009, when he said basically said that he was "committing to winning" while keeping troop levels the same. Politically, he's being forced to pursue an approach that's not quite as aggressive as the Bush administration, but certainly has more similarities to it than most Democrats would like.

UPDATE, 8:34


Guantanamo is closing. Obama is worried about the deficit — though how he plans on bringing costs down with each soldier costing a million dollars apiece is less than clear. Apparently, "working with Congress" will magically solve all our budgetary problems.

We can't continue to ignore the cost of these wars. Going forth, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. ... I'll work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.

Obama tried to say he was aware of the complexity of the problem.
Our effort will involved disorderly regions, failed states, diffused enemies.America will have to show our strength in the way we end wars and prevent conflict.
He also said that one of the central goals of his Presidency was to end nuclear disarmament. In front of televisions across America, heads shook in confusion.

America has apparently "forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim world" during Obama's Presidency. He used that as a segue towards lecturing the American people about the importance of appreciating different ethnicities at home.... something I'm sure will make the Taliban quake in their boots.


Jillian Bandes

Jillian Bandes is the National Political Reporter for Townhall.com