President Obama once again waxed eloquent this week at West Point– he is one hell of a good orator, I’ll give him that! (Text of speech HERE.)
It was also an exceptionally pro-American speech — for Obama that is; his obsessive need to pound his chest and scream Mea Culpa (figuratively of course) on behalf of the US was definitely under control. Well I guess it had to be in front of several thousands of future military officers.
But it was also an overly optimistic speech, which is understandable — when you’re asking for money from Congress and asking for support from U.S. citizens, you try to avoid reality and focus on optimism.
The 30,000 additional troops Obama has promised to Afghanistan will help keep out troops safe but, as in Iran, our mission in Afghanistan is not just fighting terrorists, it’s getting Afghanistan into a position where the Afghan military can fight their own battles. Some call this “nation building” and say we shouldn’t bother with expense while our own country is in such economic trouble. What they don’t understand is the thing that’s not talked about much but is the overwhelming “elephant” in the Afghan situation: their neighbor, “nuclear Pakistan.”
Pakistan has had nuclear capabilities and weaponry for years and the last thing the world needs is ‘nuclear Pakistan’ falling into the hands of the Taliban. I’m hardly a middle-east expert and I’m certain that there are many aspects of the situation I don’t understand, but it makes sense that “building-up” Afghanistan’s military, where the Taliban and al Queda are supposed to be strongest and decimating them there, is a good step in the direction of keeping Pakistan out of the hands of the Taliban. That objective, if met, is well worth the money that will be spent to meet it.
A thought on meeting that objective:
On the Mark Davis radio show this morning, a caller made a very important point about what we are doing in Afghanistan — this caller has first-hand knowledge, she has been there and is going back there next week, she is a US Air Force officer who trains Afghan Air Force pilots.
When asked by the radio show host (Mark Davis) if she thinks the Afghan Air Force will be able to do the job, she made the point that, we have to realize that these are not Americans and we shouldn’t expect that they will do things the way Americans do things; they will probably be able to do the job but it won’t be anything close to the way we would do the job. They are people of a different culture and have to take what they are taught and sublimate (in a sense) those things into their own ways of thinking and acting. In other words, we are not making Americans and we can only hope that we are making effective soldiers.
The broader point is: When dealing with people, in any situation, who have their own beliefs, practices and methods we can’t expect to be happy with the process they use or judge the immediate results by our standards but we can only hope that the final objectives are met.