OK. I’ll admit it. I spent yesterday fly fishing with my son, Brian, high in the mountains in Colorado on an absolutely perfect day: bright sun, blue sky, temps in the high 60s and no humidity. In that environment, it’s tough to get your shorts in a knot over the issues — big and small, real and imagined — that I generally fret over.
Still, I watched Obama’s speech about withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. (Hey, by the time I sit down for my daily dose of Jameson because of the time difference it is already 7 or 8 p.m. in the East. If I lived here, I bet I would even be able to stay up late enough to watch Dancing With the Stars. I digress.)
As best I can tell, the Prez announced that he was sticking to the plan that he outlined previously. Good. But I would have liked to have seen us get the hell out of there sooner rather than later. We’ve done all we can in Afghanistan — thanks to the bravery and sacrifice of our men and women in the military. And no country — or group of invaders — ever wins in Afghanistan. Ask Russia.
And I recognize that not everyone agrees. Here’s from The Heritage Foundation, a conservative thank tank Inside the Beltway:
In the face of an unpopular war and an upcoming re-election campaign, President Barack Obama addressed the American people last night from the East Room of the White House to inform them of his plans to rapidly withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The President’s decision, though politically expedient, jeopardizes the successes made in Afghanistan over the last 10 months and will signal to allies and enemies alike that the United States is more committed to extricating itself from the fight than it is to ensuring that stability in the region is achieved.
The President’s decision to bring home 10,000 troops by the end of this year and a total of 33,000 troops by next summer comes despite requests from the Pentagon and General David Petraeus to limit the initial withdrawal to 3,000 to 4,000, as the L.A. Times reports. And as The Washington Postwrites this morning, the President’s decision isn’t based in a “convincing military or strategic rationale.” Rather, it is “at odds with the strategy adopted by NATO, which aims to turn over the war to the Afghan army by the end of 2014.”
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) also criticized the President’s decision to move for a rapid withdrawal, noting that “as our military commanders have repeatedly said, this progress remains fragile.”
Oh, boy. If we are going to wait until the situation in Afghanistan is not fragile, we’ll be there forever. Just sayin’.
So maybe Stephen Colbert has it right. He opines that we should end the Afghanistan war — by calling it something else. Here’s from a story on Mediaite:
Last night President Obama addressed the nation to clarify his latest plan to draw down troops from Afghanistan. And while Stephen Colbert taped his show before Obama’s speech, he still found a way to make some useful suggestions on how the White House could simply improve the nation’s foreign policy, focusing on the semantic opportunities provided by the War Powers Act. How best to end the war? Just change the name to something like a “heavily armed semester abroad.” Done!
The semantic gamesmanship was first raised by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who recently defined US military operations in Libya as a “limited kinetic operation,” and not a war. So it only stands to reason that if our nation is openly admitting to playing with words (and meaning?) why not go all the way? Watch the clip, courtesy of Comedy Central.
“Heavily armed semester abroad.”
I kinda like that. At least it would allow us to win the word games that are being played over our involvement in Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere.