Tonight as I listened to President Obama’s Speech On Afghanistan and why we need to commit more troops, I found myself asking “Where’s the trust? Where’s the credibility?”

His pledge to send another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan while simultaneously declaring troop withdrawal in 18 months is bound to please no one.

Obama said “I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. … If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.”

Excuse me, but if the mission is vital to our national interest how can it possibly be correct to give a precise deadline to bring the troops home in 18 months?

Not that I am arguing for an unlimited commitment (because if it was up to me I would declare the war was won and leave), but let’s face it, if something is of “vital national interest”, then deadlines are senseless.

Apparently Afghanistan is vital to our interests for the next 18 months, after which “who cares?”

Does that make any sense? The only way it can possibly make any sense is if he has no intention of leaving after 18 months unless the war is won. Given there is no mission statement, no measure of victory, and nothing but nebulous goals, there is absolutely no reason to believe the war will be won in 18 months.

Moreover, one cannot help but wonder if Obama simply does not want the rising unemployment that would undoubtedly accompany the return of all the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. If that is a possibility, then he is willing to commit troops in harm’s way, just to keep them employed.

Obama goes on to say “We are in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That is why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border.”

Sadly, that sounds much like the totally discredited “Domino Theory” that had us in a Vietnam quagmire for a decade. The Vietnam war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities, including 3 to 4 million Vietnamese from both sides, 1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians, and 58,159 U.S. soldiers. For what?

So tonight I am asking president Obama the same question “For what?”

“Exactly what is our vital interest, and how can anyone possibly know that our interest will be satisfied in precisely 18 months?” I would also like to know how we pay for the effort. Of course I am not expecting any answers.

Remember how everyone though Vietnam was vital? It wasn’t so vital was it?

Obama says “It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.”

I wholeheartedly agree. Not only do we not have any interest in “fighting an endless war in Afghanistan” we should have no interest in fighting a war now, or for the next 18 months, or more likely until political expediency forces an end to the war, just as happened in Vietnam.

I have a hint for Obama. Nation building by brute force never works. The money and the will to fight stupid wars always run out first.

Obama’s Approval Rating Freefall

Heading into tonight’s speech, Obama’s ratings have been in a freefall.

Please consider Obama Approval on Afghanistan, at 35%, Trails Other Issues.

“The decline in Obama’s approval rating on Afghanistan is evident among all party groups, with double-digit decreases since September among Republicans (17 points), independents (16 points), and Democrats (10 points).”

Obama’s Afghanistan Approval

Obama’s Approval On Other Issues

By attempting to appease both the hawks and the doves, Obama looks like a wishy-washy fool, hoping our vital interest in Afghanistan will be solved in 18 months.

That’s quite a gamble with lots of soldier’s lives at stake, so it should not be surprising to find a “trust deficit” creeping up, even among Democrats.

The sooner we realize we can no longer afford to be the world’s policeman with troops stationed in 150 countries, the better of the US and the rest of the world will be.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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