Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The soaring rhetoric of shitty choices?

Kevin Drum wonders where the oratory has gone. Me, I thought it was a persuasive speech that hinted at the sausage-making that was the strategic assessment the White House just concluded. To expect lofty phrase-making for what is, in essence, expanding a campaign that had been neglected for eight years, that the citizenry has grown tired and skeptical of, and that has no really good outcome other than "we hope after a year Karzai's government can begin to stand on its own," isn't likely to inspire. The best Obama could do was convince us that his decision-making was sound and that he'd chosen the least worse option.

As for the (expected) attacks from the Right over a "timetable" that will give the Taliban the opportunity to "lay low" until we leave, they seem to forget the timetable in Iraq that Bush implemented. We're in a relative position of strength in Afghanistan now -- such as it is -- waiting for another year of frustration would put us in a much worse position. And given that these attacks are against a plan that actually gives the Pentagon everything it wanted, only faster, makes them even more pro-forma than usual.

What did rankle in the speech was Obama repeating the hoary old Beltway complaint that distills opposition to expanding our presence in Afghanistan (or any of our perpetual wars) to Vietnam comparisons. That's ridiculous and I feel pretty certain that Obama knows that (he probably raised those comparisons himself during his deliberations). It turns opposition to the expansion (opposition his own vice-president voiced), to the usual Dirty Fucking Strawman Hippies.

Truth is, the comparison to Vietnam (and Iraq) is a valid one. We are supporting, with increasing blood and treasure, a notoriously corrupt regime in what has always been a civil war (I know, I know, we're not to consider history that preceded Sept. 11 2001) It's a comparison that I hope after the two additional Friedman Units Obama has just called for, isn't even more stark than it is now.

UPDATED for your syntactical and reading comprehension pleasure

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