Obama rededicates U.S. to Afghan occupation

In last night’s highly-anticipated address, President Barack Obama defended his decision to deploy 30,000 more American soldiers to Afghanistan, arguing that it’s necessary for the common security of the U.S. and its allies.

Obama outlined a military strategy that seeks to beat back the Taliban and weaken Al-Qaeda, while strengthening the Afghan Government and its armed forces. The president said deployment would occur in early 2010, and he called for withdrawal beginning in July 2011, contingent on “conditions on the ground.”

In addition to military means, Obama stressed the need to improve humanitarian conditions for the Afghanis, who have suffered immensely under decades of civil war and foreign occupation.

He also urged Pakistan to increase its efforts against al-Qaeda, especially in the unstable border region of Waziristan, where Osama Bin Laden is believed to be hiding.

With a majority of Americans saying the war is “not worth fighting,” Obama revisited the justification for the invasion, arguing the U.S. was “compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan” in response to the September 11th attacks. Al-Qaeda, the suspected culprits, operate in Afghanistan (and Pakistan) and have been supported by the hostile Taliban.

“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. This danger will only grow if the region slides backwards,” the president said.

He defended his withdrawal timetable from conservative criticism, saying that he rejects an open-ended “nation building project” because it “sets goals that are beyond what we can achieve at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests.”

(Read the complete speech transcript here.)

3 Comments

  1. Ian

    He should have done it sooner.

  2. Chris

    Ian,
    If you believe Obama, it wasn’t even possible to send more troops until January 2010. So there was no need to announce or even come to a decision until now.

  3. Jordan

    I can’t say I was surprised. I’m not as negative over the speech as pundits on both sides of the aisle seem to be. He gave us his and his staff’s reasoning, a timeline, and reiterated some actual goals for once.

    If he was going to de-escalate then he would’ve done so when he entered office. I’d still like for him to stick by the whole closing Guantanamo thing but it seems that that will continue to be an albatross around our necks.

    I still don’t see what ‘victory’ will look like in this situation – what we have in Iraq now? You could tell from the wording in his speech that this isn’t something he really wanted to do but the policies (or lack thereof) of the former administration necessitated it.

    That’s my take

    Jordan

    p.s. This isn’t polite but I do hope Cheney’s heart clocks out soon. Full of bile that man.