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From TomDispatch: “This Administration Ended, Rather Than Extended, Two Wars”

Posted by Tom Engelhardt on November 19th, 2009

From TomDispatch this morning: A unique way to look at the Afghan War option not on the table in Washington. I’ve written the speech President Obama might give, if he had decided to take an “off-ramp” from the war now: Tom Engelhardt, “The Afghan Speech Obama Should Give (But Won’t)”

As I point out in my latest post, “It’s common knowledge that a president — but above all a Democratic president — who tried to de-escalate a war like the one now expanding in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, and withdraw American troops, would be so much domestic political dead meat. This everyday bit of engrained Washington wisdom is, in fact, based on not a shred of evidence in the historical record.”

As a start, I explore just why that Washington “wisdom” does not hold water and then, knowing that in the coming weeks President Obama will indeed tell us his Afghan War decision, I write his Oval Office prime-time speech for him — “A New Way Forward: The President’s Address to the American People on Afghan Strategy” in which he chooses the “minus option” and begins winding down the Afghan War.

This is, of course, my fantasy, but thanks to weeks of leaks from the President’s endless “comprehensive review of war strategy,” we — the rest of us — have had all the disadvantages of essentially being in on the president’s councils, and none of the advantages of offering our own advice. Personally, I don’t see why we shouldn’t weigh in. I prefer not to leave the process to his speechwriters and advisors.

Here’s just a taste of “his” speech, written in something like Obama’s voice (I hope), a passage, just after he’s present seven aspects of the Afghan disaster that all of his advisors agree upon:

“These seven points have been weighing on my mind over the last weeks as we’ve deliberated on the right course to take. Tonight, in response to the realities of Afghanistan as I’ve just described them to you, I’ve put aside all the subjects that ordinarily obsess Washington, especially whether an American president can reverse the direction of a war and still have an electoral future. That’s for the American people, and them alone, to decide.

“Given that, let me say as bluntly as I can that I have decided to send no more troops to Afghanistan. Beyond that, I believe it is in the national interest of the American people that this war, like the Iraq War, be drawn down. Over time, our troops and resources will be brought home in an orderly fashion, while we ensure that we provide adequate security for the men and women of our Armed Forces. Ours will be an administration that will stand or fall, as of today, on this essential position: that we ended, rather than extended, two wars.”

I hope you find this piece provocative and, in its own way, enjoyable.

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