President Obama recently gave his big speech at West Point, “On The Way Forward In Afghanistan And Pakistan”. In this speech many strong words were uttered. He talked about our present economy (etc), and of course, Afghanistan, “our cause is just, our resolve unwavering.” He said, many things, but will those words result in action?
William McGurn with the Wall Street Journal says that most speeches may be considered great, but many are remembered because they were followed by strong and somewhat successful action. He says that when Reagan spoke against the Berlin Wall that, that speech is remembered because his policies reflected his beliefs.
‘Nobody remembers ‘Tear Down this Wall’ because I did an OK job of stringing the words together,’ says my speechwriter friend, Peter Robinson. ‘We remember the speech because Reagan meant it, because it expressed the principles that he acted on, and because history proved him right. We remember Reagan at Berlin because the wall did come down—and he did his part to help bring it down.'” William McGurn, WSJ, December 14th, 2009
McGurn also says that some are comparing Bush’s speech on the surge in Iraq favorably to President Obama’s recent speech. He says, “It’s amusing because that’s not the tone many of these folks were taking back when President Bush delivered those remarks.” And what caused the change? Because Bush followed up the words he said with taking action, that we could still obtain victory.
So now the questions with Obama’s speech are this, are there actions to burnish his words? Will they be successful? Well, he did promise to send 30,000 more troops over the next six months. The problem is that General McChrystal said that in order for victory 40-60,000 was necessary. Obama didn’t even meet the minimum. So then you must ask, can there still be victory? Well, if Obama didn’t even meet the minimum, probably not. This very well may be a waste of time.
American Thinker’s Abraham Miller says,
There is no way to win in Afghanistan without a massive commitment of troops, a willingness to stay there nearly indefinitely, and the ability to pursue insurgents across the country’s porous borders.
We have neither the military capacity nor the political will to do any of that. Indeed, we probably do not even have the financial capability to do it.”
We’ll see if Obama’s plan is successful. McGurn says that the “speechwriters around President Obama enjoy more than their share of talent.” He also notes that, “in wartime, people soon tire of lofty words that do not seem borne out by events.” If Obama wanted to win Afghanistan he’d make some actual cuts on unnecessary programs (better yet, get rid of them all together). He’d need to do something large to obtain the capacity to take on such a task. If he didn’t think that Afghanistan wasn’t worth it he wouldn’t have sent 30,000 troops.
Afghanistan is all or nothing. There is no in between here. If he does nothing more, it’s a waste of troops, time, finances, and face. He took all this time to make this decision, and this is it?
So, will Obama be remembered in history? Perhaps. But will he be remembered fondly? That’s a different question.