There were two reasons for President Obama to deliver a speech on the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and sign an accord with the Afghan government for ongoing cooperation after U.S. troops leave. The first, obviously, is to grab some more of the spotlight. (Had he not ridiculously overplayed his hand by insinuating Mitt Romney would not have killed bin Laden, no one would have thought much of it.) But the second reason and the substance of the speech were more objectionable.
Obama would have us believe with bin Laden dead we can now just “end” the war. He used “end” a lot in the speech. He didn’t say “win” or “victory.” And in fact he redefined his own mission, now saying we were only concerned about defeating al-Qaeda. His determination to root out the Taliban, which he reiterated at the onset of his Afghan surge? Airbrushed out of history.
In 2009 he told the cadets at West Point: “We must deny al-Qaeda a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future.. . . [W]e will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban’s momentum and increase Afghanistan’s capacity over the next 18 months.”
Today his goals had been trimmed. “To build a country in America’s image, or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban” would “require many more years, many more dollars, and most importantly, many more American lives,” he told us. No mention made of the other terrorist networks on the prowl in Afghanistan.
His emphasis was on bringing troops home, getting out. He tried to have it both ways, insisting we were behaving responsibly, but do our enemies believe that? Do our allies, nervously listening to him confirm we are “tired of war”?
Maybe the Afghanistan forces will be sufficient to take over security from the Americans. Maybe Afghanistan will sort of hang together as a semi-functioning state. But more likely it will head the way of Libya, Mali, Yemen and others — a failed state where terrorists have free reign. But that will be some other president’s problem, Obama hopes.