Reposted and updated from Nov 25, 2009 — Edger
Barack Obama is scheduled to lay out his latest plans for the war in Afghanistan Tuesday evening, and by all reports will probably announce an escalation – a “surge” – of somewhere in the neighborhood of 35,000 troops, which will bring the total number of US Troops in Afghanistan to about 100,000 and will severely strain an already stretched military and leave the US with effectively no reserve forces.
For a taste of how mainstream US media will paint Obama’s moves, here is NPR’s take this morning (Nov 30):
As NPR’s Cokie Roberts told Morning Edition‘s Steve Inskeep, Obama will be addressing several audiences — including the American public, which wants to hear details about the goals and timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces; and Pakistan, which he will seek to assure that the U.S. won’t completely leave the region “for a good time to come”
Tom Engelhardt of The Nation Institute and TomDispatch.com has written an alternative speech for Obama that I would much prefer to hear from Obama’s own lips, that he calls “The Afghan Speech Obama Should Give (But Won’t)”:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
A New Way Forward:
The President’s Address to the American People on Afghan Strategy
For Immediate Release
My fellow Americans,
On March 28th, I outlined what I called a “comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” It was ambitious. It was also an attempt to fulfill a campaign promise that was heartfelt. I believed — and still believe — that, in invading Iraq, a war this administration is now ending, we took our eye off Afghanistan. Our well-being and safety, as well as that of the Afghan people, suffered for it.
I suggested then that the situation in Afghanistan was already “perilous.” I announced that we would be sending 17,000 more American soldiers into that war zone, as well as 4,000 trainers and advisors whose job would be to increase the size of the Afghan security forces so that they could someday take the lead in securing their own country. There could be no more serious decision for an American president.
Eight months have passed since that day. This evening, after a comprehensive policy review of our options in that region that has involved commanders in the field, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor James Jones, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, top intelligence and State Department officials and key ambassadors, special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, and experts from inside and outside this administration, I have a very different kind of announcement to make.
I plan to speak to you tonight with the frankness Americans deserve from their president. I’ve recently noted a number of pundits who suggest that my task here should be to reassure you about Afghanistan. I don’t agree. What you need is the unvarnished truth just as it’s been given to me. We all need to face a tough situation, as Americans have done so many times in the past, with our eyes wide open. It doesn’t pay for a president or a people to fake it or, for that matter, to kick the can of a difficult decision down the road, especially when the lives of American troops are at stake.
During the presidential campaign I called Afghanistan “the right war.” Let me say this: with the full information resources of the American presidency at my fingertips, I no longer believe that to be the case. I know a president isn’t supposed to say such things, but he, too, should have the flexibility to change his mind. In fact, more than most people, it’s important that he do so based on the best information available. No false pride or political calculation should keep him from that.
Read the whole thing here:
Tomgram: “This Administration Ended, Rather Than Extended, Two Wars”
by Tom Engelhardt