When you’re wounded and left on
And the women come out to cut up what remains
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
And go to your Gawd like a soldier
Go, Go, go like a soldier
A Soldier of the Queen.
Not very cheery, that. And perhaps altogether misleading, as it leaves out armored infantry and close air support. But recommended reading all the same.
President Obama has announced an apparently muscular policy on Afghanistan. In a pretty good speech, he lays down the markers. This juicy bit from the speech, recorded by the New York Times:
I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That is the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: we will defeat you.
I think that first line carries a bit of campaign baggage that Obama should have chucked by now. See my last post. It serves no purpose to tell people you have a clear and focused goal. All that counts is to announce one, lay out the path to it, and then follow that path.
The United States had no reasonable choice but to make war on the Taliban/al Qaeda government in Afghanistan. They attacked us. Bush took them out of power. His invasion of Iraq may have been a mistake, but he largely succeeded in his goals and that laid the groundwork for the present policy. President Obama would have looked more serious and more presidential if he acknowledged what his predecessor did right. But the policy he states is clear and, I think, correct.
It’s a big bit of jerky he is biting off. Afghanistan is about as isolated, geographically, as a country can be. Pakistan is a basket case, only the basket holds nuclear weapons. What happens in the region is vitally important to the civilized world, as the President points out:
[T]his is not simply an American problem – far from it. It is, instead, an international security challenge of the highest order. Terrorist attacks in London and Bali were tied to al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan, as were attacks in North Africa and the Middle East, in Islamabad and Kabul. If there is a major attack on an Asian, European, or African city, it – too – is likely to have ties to al Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan. The safety of people around the world is at stake.
Very good. But he might have pointed out how ridiculously bad the world response to the region has been. While the U.S. was patrolling the skies over Iraq for twelve years, the French, Russians, and probably the Germans were selling arms under the table to Saddam. Support for American efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq has not been absent, but it has been woefully inadequate.
The safety of people around the world is indeed at stake, as the President puts it, so maybe it’s time for the rest of the world to step up. And it isn’t just in this place that world trouble is brewing. Somalia looks like a combination of The Road Warrior and Pirates of the Caribbean.
President Bush was blamed for alienating the world. Candidate Obama was greeted by the rest of the world as a deliverer. Okay. Deliver. Show that you can bring the nation’s behind you in a serious effort to clean out the world’s infected wounds. If they continue to stand around with their hands in their pockets, well, maybe the problem wasn’t Bush at all.