Mainstream conservatives respond to the speech
While Lucianne Goldberg seemed very supportive of the speech, referring to the speaker with unwonted respect as “our President,” the picture at National Review is more mixed. Most of the NR-cons seem pretty unhappy with Obama’s newly announced Afghanistan policy. The Corner offers a chorus of discontent, both over the fixed 18-month deadline for withdrawal and the restricted scope of the mission (no counterinsurgency, no nation-building). A good example of the criticisms of the speech is this entry by Kori Schake, a professor at West Point and former staff person at the NSC and the State Department:
The president was underwhelming at West Point. On one of the gravest strategic issues of our time, the golden orator of our political scene labored through his compulsories to make the case for why we should win a war that if we lose will invigorate the jihadist cause, put untenable pressure on the governments of Pakistan and India (to say nothing of the tragedy for Afghanistan), potentially put al-Qaeda in possession of nuclear weapons, and increase the risk of future attacks on our homeland. It was not a performance that will give heart to Afghans, countries in the region whose security depends on our success, or allies with forces committed to this fight. Or, I suspect, persuade many Americans who do not already support his policy.Here is an entry supporting the speech, by someone named Jamie M. Fly, executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative.
There will be time to criticize various inflection points and question details, but the fact of the matter is that Barack Obama has accepted the mantle of wartime president and even overcome his aversion to American exceptionalism to employ some rhetoric that is worthy of George W. Bush. General McChrystal will get most of the troops he requested and the time required to implement a counterinsurgency strategy that offers the best chance of success.Curious as to whether Jamie is a he or she, I went to the website of the Foreign Policy Initiative, and Fly’s a he, and the outfit is led by uber neocons William Kristol and Robert Kagan.
Richard Lowry is also on balance pro the speech:
Is Gen. McChrystal in Kabul regretting that Obama didn’t strike a more Churchillian tone, or is he very glad to have the troops and the time—at least 18 months before the start of any draw down—to try to turn around the war? Surely, it’s the latter.
What is Obama doing that is substantively any different than president Bush’s program? Why are we even in the Taliban area of afghanistan? If you want a presence in central asia then build some bases in the Uzbek and Tadjik region where we are liked and wanted. Also get U.S. troops out of Europe. Let the Europeans defend themselves. Germany can afford to build a bigger army and as they do the french and other europeans will come to like us more. Get out of Yugoslavia. Why are we protecting Kosevo and Bosnia. What geopolitical sense does it all make. Some areas are vital to U.S., protect them but don’t try to be the policeman for the entire world.Paul K. writes:
I listened to the president’s speech. There was a line that jumped out at me, but so far I’ve heard no comment on it among the TV talking heads or on the net. He said, “This is no idle danger, no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror.”
Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 02, 2009 01:17 AM | Send