Liveblogging the President’s Afghanistan Speech

Pres. Obama addresses cadets at West Point
Pres. Obama addresses cadets at West Point

I’ll be liveblogging the president’s speech tonight. Here are the excerpts that are available at the moment:

“The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 – the fastest pace possible – so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They will increase our ability to train competent Afghan Security Forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.”

“Because this is an international effort, I have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what’s at stake is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility – what’s at stake is the security of our Allies, and the common security of the world.”

“Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We will continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s Security Forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government – and, more importantly, to the Afghan people – that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.”

 

7:03 p.m. – September 11. Note: Al-Qaida is not in Afghanistan. Just saying.

7:06 p.m. – The president says we’ll have combat brigades out of Iraq by the end of next summer.

7:07 p.m. – The president just said, I kid you not, that the Afghan government is legitimate. Again, not so much.

7:11 p.m. – President refuting the right-wing talking point that he is “denying resources” via deliberation. Ah, there it is. 30,000 troops. Question, Mr. President: Where exactly will those troops come from? VoteVets:

By deploying an additional 34k troops, without speeding up the departure from Iraq, our force will remain overstretched. How does the administration reconcile this issue? …Where do these troops come from, and what does it leave to take care of any emergencies in Korea, Iran, or at home?…Additionally, will this strategy mean a return to deployments longer than 12 months? It is hard to see how deployment times don’t go up again. We’ve seen a record rate of suicide in the Army, linked to longer and more frequent deployments, making this a top consideration.

Richard Allen Smith at VetVoice is also liveblogging, BTW.

7:18 p.m. – “taking into account conditions on the ground” …There’s the line that means this isn’t a real exit.

7:18 p.m. – “President Karzai’s inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction” –Too bad his election fraud sent a whole other set of messages.

7:23 p.m. – “Public opinion has turned…” This public opinion?

7:24 p.m. –

Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now – and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance – would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.

Can someone explain to me how this affects the Vietnam comparison re: our prospects for success?

Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. You can learn more about the dangers posed to U.S. national security by the war in Afghanistan by watching Rethink Afghanistan (Part Six): Security, or by visiting http://rethinkafghanistan.com/blog.

Liveblogging the President’s Afghanistan Speech

I’ll be liveblogging the president’s speech tonight. Here are the excerpts that are available at the moment:

“The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 – the fastest pace possible – so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They will increase our ability to train competent Afghan Security Forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.”

“Because this is an international effort, I have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what’s at stake is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility – what’s at stake is the security of our Allies, and the common security of the world.”

“Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We will continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s Security Forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government – and, more importantly, to the Afghan people – that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.”

7:03 p.m. – September 11. Note: Al-Qaida is not in Afghanistan. Just saying.

7:06 p.m. – The president says we’ll have combat brigades out of Iraq by the end of next summer.

7:07 p.m. – The president just said, I kid you not, that the Afghan government is legitimate. Again, not so much.

7:11 p.m. – President refuting the right-wing talking point that he is "denying resources" via deliberation. Ah, there it is. 30,000 troops. Question, Mr. President: Where exactly will those troops come from? VoteVets:

By deploying an additional 34k troops, without speeding up the departure from Iraq, our force will remain overstretched. How does the administration reconcile this issue? …Where do these troops come from, and what does it leave to take care of any emergencies in Korea, Iran, or at home?…Additionally, will this strategy mean a return to deployments longer than 12 months? It is hard to see how deployment times don’t go up again. We’ve seen a record rate of suicide in the Army, linked to longer and more frequent deployments, making this a top consideration.

Richard Allen Smith at VetVoice is also liveblogging, BTW.

7:18 p.m. – "taking into account conditions on the ground" …There’s the line that means this isn’t a real exit.

7:18 p.m. – "President Karzai’s inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction" –Too bad his election fraud sent a whole other set of messages.

7:23 p.m. – "Public opinion has turned…" This public opinion?

7:24 p.m. -

Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now – and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance – would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.

Can someone explain to me how this affects the Vietnam comparison re: our prospects for success?

7:26 p.m. – I just choked on my soda. Did he say he’d be addressing the war-driven deficit while adding 30,000 troops at the cost of $1 million per troop, per year?

7:27 p.m. – "Not open-ended." See 7:18 p.m.

Coda:

We are picking up speed on the slippery slope of escalation. During the campaign, President Obama led the public to believe that he would consider sending “two, maybe three” additional brigades to Afghanistan. That’s about 12,000 troops, or about 5,000 fewer than he ordered in his first escalation. For his second escalation, he’s sending roughly three times the total troop increase on which he campaigned. Gone are the “he said he was going to do it before we elected him” defenses. Please point me to the moment in the campaign where we were debating 50,000 more troops.

7:30 p.m. – Theologizing about the "special burden" born by the U.S. in world history. This portion of the speech is about is totally whitewashed as American history gets. This is my favorite:

We have not always been thanked for these efforts

7:34 p.m. – He’s nodding to the intense opposition to further escalation. He should:

The president faces a big challenge in convincing the American public that sending new troops to Afghanistan is the right thing to do. Support for sending more troops has increased over the last several weeks, which is good news for Obama. The not-so-good news is that, even with the recent shift, less than half of Americans would tell Obama to send in more troops. The rest either say that he should begin withdrawing troops, or keep the troop level as it is.

But now he’s conflating "unity" in favor of his policy with the American creed.

7:37 p.m. – And we’re out. A note to the president: if you’re looking for the exit from Afghanistan, it’s behind you.

7:42 p.m. – Post-game, Rachel Maddow gets it totally wrong. The left is not appeased by this milquetoast mirage of an "exit date." Obama did not set an end date in this speech, period. I’m still angry. You?

Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. You can learn more about the dangers posed to U.S. national security by the war in Afghanistan by watching Rethink Afghanistan (Part Six): Security, or by visiting http://rethinkafghanistan.com/blog.