Monday, November 30, 2009

Obama at West Point

Interesting that Barack Obama has decided to give a speech laying out his strategy for victory in Afghanistan (no, he never said that, I did - God forbid the Obamanauts ever conceive of an American "victory" over another nation) in the cozy confines of West Point.

Cozy? Yes, because as commander-in-chief, he will have a captive audience. There will be no Joe Wilson calling him out as a liar; no quiet heckling or even uncomfortable murmurs. He is in fact the commanding officer of all of the attendees that will be present; they would no sooner heckle the president than a General, and regardless of his message, the military audience is virtually obliged to support him.

Former National Security advisor Richard Allen:

President Obama's choice of West Point as the venue for announcing his long-awaited and much- delayed decision about additional troops to Afghanistan appears contrived; it is surely designed to provide an "authentic" and apparently supportive backdrop for a consequential national security decision. It is a fine venue, but it is the wrong one. And the decision to use it is telling about Mr. Obama himself.

An announcement on which so much rests must be made from the President's own unique and highly symbolic center of authority, The Oval Office. It has meaning. It should be made by him alone, without the props of thousands in an audience and the hoopla of presidential travel and a massive press entourage. This President surely does not need the device of an audience to authenticate and legitimize his message or to bolster apparent support. But it would appear that he will seek solace, if not a measure of safety, in a large audience over which he has command.

The responsibility to make the decision is his alone, and he needs to look the nation squarely in the eye when he makes and justifies it.

Well, Obama knows a good photo-op when he sees one. He's hoping that whatever half-baked strategy he rolls out, three months on the late side, will be seen as having widespread military support due to the cheering crowd of soldiers under his command, and the military men who will doubtless be asked to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him.

It's another cheap Obama trick (remember the doctor's "rally" for health care at the White House,?) that the public has seen repeated ad nauseum since the opening days of this administration. The people will judge Obama's plan for Afghanistan based upon its merits and not upon the contrived pomp whipped up by an insecure and vain president.

Has Obama realized we has reached this point yet? We'll see, over the upcoming weeks, if he is smart enough to adapt, or if he will drown gazing at his own beatific expression reflecting back at him from the water...


Anonymous said...

You might also consider, and comment on, President Bush's stunt of flying to a carrier and showing up in a flight suit with the huge "Mission Accomplished" banner hanging as a backdrop. Obama is going to West Point because the cadets, my son included, will be the ones who will have to execute this strategy and I think it is honorable of him to look these cadets in the eyes and tell them he is sending them to a faraway rathole because it is important, and that he knows that some of them will return under a flag, and that it is a decision he did not make lightly. As a WP grad myself, who has served in Korea, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, I agree with his choice of venue and also disagree with you about his avoidance of the term "victory." You cannot use the term "victory" in this context, because this is a struggle that has many fronts and will go on for a long time. You won't see troops marching under the Brandenburg Gate or sailors on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. This "war" is not like that at all. If you disagree, I'd like you to define "victory" in Afghanistan. What, realistically, can/should the US do in order to bring all our troops home and have a huge parade down Pennsylvania Avenue?

Anonymous said...

It was interesting watching the TV camera pan around the audience of cadets. Not a single smile, not a glance of admiration, several taking naps ... it's like they were ordered to attend and ordered to be polite. They sure didn't seem at all pumped up.

The JerseyNut said...

Spot on, annoymous. See post today, with excerpts from German media....