Essentially here's what he said: Vital American interests ... need to secure Afghanistan ... sending additional 30,000 combat troops ... 18 months ... then withdrawal. So very precise! We know better.
Let's look at the numbers in terms of people and time. First of all, it ain't just 30,00o additional Americans who will be put at risk of their lives and limbs in that benighted and god-besotted land. Nope: Don't forget about that silent head-count of support personnel. As pointed out earlier (DM #167) in connection with his "troop-surge" in March, Obama will have to send an auxiliary 18,750 people-worth of engineers, intelligence experts, medical staff, military police, etc. That's the pentagon formula: 2500 non-combat folks for every 4000-member brigade in the field. BUT AN I.E.D. LAND-MINE DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE.
Obama tried to get away with this technicality last March, until it was leaked that his "modest" figure of 21,000 new troops really involved 34,000 Americans going off to war. And now he's doing it again. We are free therefore to revise his latest "surge" of 30,000 to a corrected figure of 48,750 soon to be in harm's way, on foreign soil. We can perhaps forgive his increasing the troop strength very early after taking office. It was Bush's war after all; maybe extras were necessary to help get the thing over with. But it's been eight months since then. He's self-admittedly had plenty of time and counsel for deliberating the decision of probably his administration, if not his life. There can be no pretense anymore of cleaning-up his predecessor's mess--this is stark ESCALATION. None dare call it aggression, I suppose.
As for the time involved? Fuggedaboutit. After 18 months we'll have to get out the carbon-dating kit. And the imaginary withdrawal period after that? We've got to pretend to win/lose the war first, and yet we've been on the verge of withdrawing for the last eight years. Really, I'd rather not take up any more "time"addressing an almost a self-ironic proposition. Except for this: At not a single moment during the decade we were at war in Vietnam did anyone ever dream that it would go on year, after year, after year. Until it did.
And THAT, Blogmanfans, brings me to the biggest disappointment in his speech. His dismissal of the lessons of Vietnam. In fact, I was shocked when he came out with the following:
First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we are better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. Yet this argument depends upon a false reading of history. Unlike Vietnam ...
And I was truly amazed at the sophistry employed in making his argument from that point on. Even the "Giuliani" mantra of 9/11, 9/11 could appeal at this point only to the die-hard chicken-hawks over at Fox News--who faulted him, by the way, for not sending enough troops--or the jingoistic wing-nuts in Congress (and their tiny, absurd constituency) to whom he seems to have capitulated. Okay, not only is there a difference in pronunciation, but Afghanistan is not spelled the same as "Vietnam"--the former requires, first of all, a greater number of letters from the alphabet, some of which quite dissimilar from those of the latter, and arranged in a different configuration altogether. Most telling, I suppose , is that the two countries do not occupy the same planetary space.
But "a false reading of history"? Ye gods ...