An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘Taliban’

Obama Finally Does Something Smart?

There is one thing that people need to be more than anything else in this country – critical.  People need to be critical of those who we elect into government positions in this country because when a lack of critical thinking is present, problems are destined to follow.  This President who currently is in office has had a metric ton of criticism leveled at him.  He has been attacked on all sides.  I do think he has weathered it pretty well.  Granted, if you look the photos of the man before he went into the White House and then at him now, he has aged a lot, but for the most part, he has weathered the story in a pretty good way.

Now, last night, he came onto the national stage and made a speech.  It turns out that he has finally realized what all of us have realized (some sooner than others) that our military efforts in the Middle East are a waste of time.  He has called for the withdrawal of 10,000 troops.  The mission is to get the Afghan government to start standing on their own two feet without needing America to constantly give them a hand.  A good mission, to be sure.

For those who didn’t watch his very brief address, it was very insightful.  He addressed first what got us to Afghanistan – our mission to find Osama Bin Laden.  He then said we moved to Iraq.  Personally, I think it was smart that he didn’t really go into why we went there.  No need to poke more fun at Bush.  He’s already a disgrace.  The “weapons of mass destruction” bit was a joke, and we all know it.  Well, not a very funny joke, more of a bittersweet painful joke that over 4,000 of our young men and women have died for.  But he didn’t bring that up.  It was smart.

He brought up what he knew people would criticize him for – bringing more troops into Afghanistan when he came into office.  People were already calling for withdrawal back then.  He says it was to counter a growing and regrouped Taliban effort.  My contention here is that whenever we do leave (if ever), the Taliban is going to come back into power because Hamid Kharzai is a crook who is pretty much saying that he is in bed with the Taliban.  He’s in bed with everybody who has sway in that country.  It is a problem that Americans aren’t addressing enough.

Obama says that sending more troops was a hard decision for him.  I should hope so.  But he also says that it was done with clear objectives in mind.  This is a good thing.  The goal was to help train Afghani forces in order that they might also be ready to fight.  Yeah, when Kharzai opens the front door and welcomes the Taliban in, they’ll be ready to fight.  Sure.  But the key part, the best part, is that the plan is now to begin drawing down our forces this July.  For many Americans, this is a good thing.

Over 1,000 men and women have died in Afghanistan.  The media has never really been able to get why we were there.  As Bill Maher put it, “and the media loses the thread too because when they get to that point, they show the video of terrorists training on monkey-bars.”  So after the intial withdrawal next month, troops are going to start coming home at a “steady pace.”  This is a good thing.

It really is about time that Americans leave those countries to their fate.  There was a rather inspired moment in the film Green Zone where the Iraqi citizen, Freddy said, “it is not up to you what happens here.”  That’s a rather profound quote in more ways than one.  For one thing, Americans do tend to believe that we should have some massive effect on the world.  The President also seems to believe that America needs to have an effect on global politics.  This is an interesting, albeit misguided viewpoint.  The rest of the world is going to be the rest of the world.  We can’t help how people in other countries are.

The greatest example of that was when we tried to get it so that Afghanistan has a new chief export other than poppies that make opium.  It’s a noble goal, but foolish.  That country is set in the way that it has run for probably hundreds of years.  The Middle East is a very odd place because it has a very old way of thinking in a very new world.

But honestly, the real and best reason that Obama is doing this – the economy demands it.  These wars in the Middle East are massively sucking capitol out of this country.  He even said that himself.  I dig that.  It’s a important for people to understand why things happen.  The economy isn’t in good shape right now.  The military is the biggest and most blown budget in this country.  A lot of liberals like Bill Maher have realized that the best way to help the economy right now would be to slash the military budget, along with other things.  This is a very strange time in American politics because the economy is almost a war in and of itself.

The President didn’t let this address think we had lost.  This is a good way to do it.  It was much the way that American left Vietnam, no as a failure, but in success, and having done the best that we can.  He did say that this is the beginning of things we are doing, not the end, which is a good point, since we are going to be there until 2014 at least (according to his estimates).

One point that Obama seemed a little too hopeful on was saying that the Pakistani goverment was going to help us keep up our efforts against Al-Qaeda.  An episode of Frontline had people who were involved in this, in the intelligence sector, saying that Pakistan has been wishy-washy about things from the beginning.  Sometimes they would give people up, other times they would withold information.  Not a good situation for America’s efforts to be in, if they wish to continue them.

After talking about the plan of our activity in the Middle East, Obama talks about the conflicting ideas of America’s role in global politics.  He said something which actually was kind of cool – how America needs to be pragmatic as well as passionate.  That’s a pretty cool way of viewing things.  And with our economy the way it is, that is definitely a way of thinking that needs to be continued.

What happens next?  Now that is a really good question.

Peace out,

Eli

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