Saturday, March 28, 2009

Obama's Language Problem

As George W. Bush goes off to write his "authoritarian" version of the past eight years, we are getting the first glimpse of what could be a drawback in having an articulate president.

Barack Obama made a ringing statement yesterday about the US mission in Afghanistan, but we now learn how divided his Administration was over the decision, including the opposition of Joe Biden, who knows more about the region than anyone else involved.

“The United States of America," the President intoned, "did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan. Nearly 3,000 of our people were killed on September 11, 2001, for doing nothing more than going about their daily lives.

“So let me be clear: Al Qaeda and its allies--the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks--are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We have a clear and focused goal to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.”

As well-said and true as this is, it papers over a host, to use one of the president's favorite words, of difficulties. (See the post below.)

The Vice President, White House officials tell the New York Times, "was heavily influenced by the trip he took to Afghanistan and Pakistan just before the inauguration in January. He observed to Mr. Obama that if you asked 10 people on the ground what American objectives were, he would get 10 different answers."

In the end, the President overrode Biden's qualms and chose to broaden and intensify US involvement in the area. Americans can only hope that his decision accomplishes the goal he so eloquently expressed and that it does not turn out to be a triumph of rhetoric over reality.


Mike said...

At least Obama wants to do something to correct the mistake and moral wrong of invading Iraq. If the United States had not launched its wrong-headed actions in Iraq, so many more resources would have been available for the Afghan mission and NATO troops may even have been able to withdraw by now. And the U.S. wouldn't be nearly so hated by nearly so much of the Muslim world.

Shame on you, George Walker Bush. And shame on those Americans who re-elected him in 2004.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Obama has been saying that we should do exactly this since at least 2006 (and perhaps earlier, but I, like most of the country at that time, wasn't paying attention to him). He also expressed this intent in his acceptance speech.

Oddly, Afghanistan is the one thing the man can formulate a clear and coherent thought about without back peddling and waffling and pandering to this audience or that. I'm proud of him for this move, and like you, hope that it's successful, that we are successful.