Wednesday, December 2, 2009




Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don't stand in the doorway

Don't block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There's a battle outside

And it is ragin'.

It'll soon shake your windows

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin'.[1]

Promises: what are they worth? While election promises sound in the emotional tenor of sacred covenants, Americans have learned through weary experience that when shorn of their sanctimony, election promises are better described as snake oil. Why do politicians break solemn promises made to Americans? Broken promises are not restricted to a specific party or ideology, but like weeds, appear everywhere. Perhaps the breaking of promises resides in the disheartening corruptibility of human character, in the easy abandonment of virtue and in the narcissist’s unquenchable thirst for self-aggrandizement. Lord Action had it right when he wrote, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Thomas Sowell wrote, with a well distilled and dry humor, that most politicians, while they may appear stupid to some, are near geniuses when it comes to the only two issues that matter a wit to them: election and reelection.

In America, election promises are set to infinitely malleable, words. When the Greeks asked of the Delphic Oracle the outcome of their pending war with Rome, the Oracle replied, “The Greeks the Romans shall conquer.” a prophecy satisfactory to both the Romans and the Greeks depending, of course, on how they interpreted the Oracle of Delphi.

President O’bama damned with words incendiary and inappropriate a President at war who ordered the invasion of Iraq and the surge, which ultimately stabilized its new democracy.

By refusing to end the war in Iraq, President Bush is giving the terrorists what they really want, and what the Congress voted to give them in 2002: a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

In August of 2008, President O’bama then explained simplistically that while Iraq was the wrong war, Afghanistan was the right war.

The first step must be getting off the wrong battlefield in Iraq, and taking the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America.

In March of 2009, President O’bama announced a new, excellent and implacable war strategy.

This marks the conclusion of a careful policy review that I ordered as soon as I took office…. So let me be clear: al Qaeda and its allies - the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks - are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the U.S. homeland from its safe-haven in Pakistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban - or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged - that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can….

For the American people, this border region has become the most dangerous place in the world.…. The safety of people around the world is at stake. For the Afghan people, a return to Taliban rule would condemn their country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralyzed economy, and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people - especially women and girls. The return in force of al Qaeda terrorists who would accompany the core Taliban leadership would cast Afghanistan under the shadow of perpetual violence.

So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That is the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: we will defeat you

How the times, rhetoric and promises are a-changin. General Stanley A. McChrystal, in order to avoid the specter of military failure in Afghanistan, has requested of the President an additional sixty to eighty thousand American troops. The President hesitated for more than three months so as to repeat the comprehensive review commenced when he was sworn into office and completed in March of 2009. Since then, the Presidential commitment to war seems to have weakened. Where is the President’s sword and where his shield? Where have all the words gone, that once so eloquently described the impending destruction of terrorists, and an American victory in Afghanistan?

The President in response to General Mchrystal’s request for at least sixty thousand troops, after hesitating for more than three months, has promised to send thirty thousand troops. However, he has also announced that troop withdrawals will begin in a year. General McChrystal, of course, is eminently better qualified than the President to determine the strategies and tactics of war. He has applied his knowledge to the killing of America’s enemies. We may assume that the thought of killing terrorists, as an alternative to reading them Miranda rights and lawyering them up for televised show trials in New York City, is a pleasant thought indeed to this talented killer of terrorists. Newsweeks Evan Thomas wrote a description of “McChrystal… a purebred warrior”,

the son of a two-star general, West Point class of '76, a former commander of the elite Rangers Regiment, and, from 2003 to 2008, the head of hunter-killer black ops in Special Operations. [A man who] eats one meal a day, works out obsessively every morning at 5, and is so free of body fat that he looks gaunt. Lately, as commander of the war in Afghanistan, he has become a kind of Zen warrior, preaching that often "the shot you don't fire is more important than the one you do." He is a student of what he calls "counterinsurgency math." If you encounter 10 Taliban members and kill two, he says, you don't have eight remaining enemies. You have more like 20: the friends and relatives of the two you killed.[2]

The President, by his own admission, has abandoned his election promise of victory in Afghanistan. His eloquent commitment to the people of Afghanistan, his unequivocal promise to protect the Afghans and Americans from terrorist immolation, in fact, to kill out Al Qaeda, is now subject to a timetable for American withdrawal from the field of battle.

But there are so many questions. What if the Afghanistan government is unable to train its troops sufficiently to stop the Taliban and al Qaeda? What will happen to the Afghan people? Will the President set aside his timetable despite certain and severe repercussions from his leftist supporters? Is the President’s promise so well and truly made to the people of Afghanistan and Americans now broken? Is his new speech really a complex flurry of words intended sotto voce to express a new Presidential worldview: That Afghanistan was not the right war after all. And will nations vulnerable to terrorists, nations that rely on America for their national security say of this new strategy that, for all the Presidential elegance of its expression, it is transparently, a plan to Cut and Run. Or is it that the times really are a-changin?

The Afghan people must know that our commitment to their future is enduring, because the security of Afghanistan and the United States is shared. We cannot tolerate a terrorist sanctuary, and as President, I won’t. We need a stronger and sustained partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan and NATO to secure the border, to take out terrorist camps, and to crack down on cross-border insurgents. We need more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones in the Afghan border region.

President O’bama. July 15, 2008

WASHINGTON –Contending that the U.S. is not pursuing a sound strategy for keeping Americans safe, Democratic presidential candidate Barrack Obama said Tuesday that fighting al-Maida and the Taliban in Afghanistan would be his top priority after ending the war in Iraq. Obama says of Afghanistan, “This is a war that we have to win.”[3]

What do you think?

[1] Bob Dylan

[2] By Evan Thomas | NEWSWEEK Published Sep 26, 2009

From the magazine issue dated Oct 5, 2009

[3] Glen Johnson, Associated Press Writer. July 15, 2008.

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