He had ten thousand men.
He marched them up
to the top of the hill.
And he marched
them down again.
And when they were up, they were up.
And when they were down, they were down.
But when they were only halfway up,
They were neither up nor down.
— Folk song
Our very own noble Duke of York has spoken. We are in Afghanistan until we're out. When we're in, we're in. When we're out, we're out. But when we're only halfway in, we're neither in nor out.
I didn't watch the Equivocator in Chief on the television. A matter of self-preservation: seeing and hearing him at the same time is overdose territory for me. It turns my liver into to boiled haggis (which makes me feel sheepish). By now you've seen (if you're made of stronger stuff than I), read about, and digested — eww, there goes my liver again — The Master's microscopically calibrated speech before the West Point cadet props. Cue the George M. Cohan song "Over There": We're going over, we're going over, and we'll be back when 18 months are over, over there.
Your blogger did consent to read the transcript. I won't elaborate on what the majority of commentators twigged: this was not a speech about geopolitical strategy, but an angle-playing, shape-shifting piece of calculation that followed the pattern of The Master's political career. Give everybody a generous helping of what they want, never mind they want contradictory things. "Give," of course, verbally, not necessarily actively.
I'm a political man and I practice what I preach
I'm a political man and I practice what I preach
So don't deny me baby, not while you're in my reach.
I support the left, tho' I'm leanin', leanin' to the right
I support the left, tho' I'm leanin' to the right
But I'm just not there when it's coming to a fight.
— The Cream, "Politician"
A few lines from the speech, with my comments boldfaced:
"On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. … As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda – a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world’s great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents." [Obligatory "religion of peace" boilerplate.]
"Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq War is well-known and need not be repeated here. It is enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq War drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention – and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world." [The mess we're in is Bush's fault. Although that's partly true.]
"… We have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people." [You can't claim success in advance. "Successfully" or not, we are leaving Iraq because it has sunk into enough brain pans that the human and financial costs of this misadventure were spent on a geopolitical folly — removing a distasteful government that was an enemy of the neighboring distasteful government in Iran, thereby removing the biggest check on Iran's malevolent ambitions.]
"Although a legitimate government was elected by the Afghan people, it has been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient Security Forces. … And as 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." [You got your fraudulent Afghan presidential election; you got your corruption; you got your drug trade; you got your under-developed economy. You got your 32,000 American military people already in Afghanistan. Send in another 30,000 for just about the length of time it takes The Master to make up his mind, and they'll see to it that those Afghans pull their socks up.]
"I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror." [And why were these "extremists" within our borders? Because people like The Master don't recognize borders, especially for the United States, and can't admit that some of our "diverse" population wants us dead or dhimmis.]
"We will support Afghan Ministries, Governors, and local leaders that combat corruption and deliver for the people. [If we can find any.] We expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable. [By their friends in Afghanistan.] And we will also focus our assistance in areas – such as agriculture – that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the Afghan people." [Hearts and minds. Farms, not arms.]
"Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action." [But with a handful of exceptions, they're not sending their own to Afghanistan, just standing back and watching.]
"To abandon this area now – and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance – would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies." [It would take too much space to analyze this fully, but it symbolizes The Master's basic lack of understanding the big picture. In the first place, al Qaeda is just the thin end of the wedge; militant Islam, which has a footprint you could lose a thousand al Qaedas in, is the ultimate threat. We could wipe every last Al Qaeda Club member from the face of the earth and it wouldn't slow Islamization if we did nothing else.
[In the second place, if "extremist terrorism" in the United States is the problem, 30,000 soldiers stationed on our borders (minus the Muslims among them) and the same amount of money spent on anti-terrorist activities domestically would be far more effective. We'd be fighting them on our turf, where we have the upper hand, instead of on their turf, where they do. If we don't fight the terrorists at home, we'll have to fight them in the Middle East.]