President Obama appeared at West Point to give his speech this evening. It seemed different than when former president Bush spoke surrounded by members of the US military wrapping himself in the flag to portray himself as one of the troops and not as their leader. Tonight, the Commander in Chief told the cadets "I owe you a mission that is clearly defined and worthy of your service". I wonder how many of those cadets, will return home in a flag covered casket from serving in Afghanistan. Will Obama go to Dover AFB to witness the dignified transfer of their remains as they return to their final resting place?
Obama tells us that General McChrystal finds condition in Afghanistan "more serious than he anticipated" and McChrystal's escalation is the path our new President has chosen. What about Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry's and other's serious reservations about deploying more troops to Afghanistan in the face of widespread corruption in Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government?
This Afghanistan strategy is not a "New Way Forward" as the White House tells us. This strategy is rolling back 9 years ago and starting over with the strategy we should have had in 2001- remember back in December 2001 when Bush spoke of bin Laden's capture and said he doesn't care how the suspect is brought to justice. "I don't care, dead or alive — either way," Bush said. "It doesn't matter to me." Apparently nothing in Afghanistan mattered to Bush. The U.S.squandered any opportunity to be successful in the pursuit of bin Laden and in fighting al Qaeda/ the Taliban in 2003, when the Bush administration took their eye of the ball and moved their little green army men over to Iraq. Troops in Afghanistan have carried a terrible burden of being the red-headed step child when they were abandoned, with the lack of troops to accomplish the original mission of capturing Osama bin Laden. While we have a new administration, I am not convinced that we haven't lost our opportunity for a military success in Afghanistan.
I believe that President Obama when he said I do not make this decision lightly. I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions. We have been at war now for eight years, at enormous cost in lives and resources. Years of debate over Iraq and terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort. I just believe that he made the wrong decision.
Our country has been at war for 9 years in Afghanistan or Iraq or both. My mind was not changed by Obama's speech describing his new strategy. I only have one question- How many more? How many more flag covered caskets? How many broken families; how many children who will endure much of their childhood without one parent or the other? How many new Gold Star families? How many more billions of dollars should be spent? How many needless deaths to support a corrupt, dysfunctional government? How many more wounded veterans and their families will go without care or without sufficient care when they return? How many multiple deployments must our military serve while so many Americans sit on the sidelines with no skin in the game?
HOW MANY MORE?