Afghanistan: How 'long' really is Obama's 'long road ahead'?

I barely survived watching President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan. I almost had about three brain aneurysms, followed by an onset of mild depression and an extended attack of bitter cynicism centered somewhere in my spleen or gull bladder region. I didn’t even think I would have the stomach to blog. Over the past year, I’ve tried to raise just about every logical and emotional objection I could come up with  for escalating the war in Afghanistan. Didn’t work. Luckily, I had pretty low expectations for myself to begin with. I’m now left with the not so satisfying knowledge that in a few years I’ll be able to say, along with plenty others, I told you so.  

So it’s going to take me a few days before I have the mental capacity to prepare a new barrage of criticisms. I’ll just pick the low hanging fruit, something Obama said in his conclusion:

The road ahead will be long.There will be difficult days. But we will seek lasting partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan that serve the promise of a new day for their people. And we will use all elements of our national power to defeat al Qaeda, and to defend America , our allies, and all who seek a better future.    

Now, according to Obama, we actually know the length of that road–he says we’ll start getting off it in July 2011. So, the road is at least 18 months long, which isn’t really that long when we’re talking about nation building and fundamentally changing the societies of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here’s what’s funny about that 2011 date–every expert and military official I’ve ever talked to has said the war in Afghanistan will take much longer than 18 months, obviously. They toss around phrases like “generational commitment” and “at least four or five years” or “a decade or more.” These are war supporters, too, some involved in the planning of the war. Throwing 2011 out there as a date seems a bit disingenuous, like Obama is trying to sell the war by saying, ‘Hey, it’s really not going to take that long. Just 18 months!’ (That’s when we’ll start withdrawing troops, a  process that will take–if Iraq is a guide–a good two or three years more.) But the president seems to be hedging his own July 2011 timeline by warning that “the road ahead will be long.” Trying to have it both ways–that we’ll actually be fighting a short, long, war.

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About michaelhastings

Journalist
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6 Responses to Afghanistan: How 'long' really is Obama's 'long road ahead'?

  1. Mr. Hastings,

    Mr. Obama’s strategy is exactly the same as Mr. Bush’s in Iraq, and Mr. Nixon’s in Vietnam: Escalate US troop levels, create the temporary illusion of a reasonable facsimile of something called “victory”, then get the hell out before the place blows up. It is called “Peace with Honor”.

  2. shawngilbreath says:

    I believe in honor. I believe in peace. I also believe that there is honor in saying that what was vital before is now being done merely to save face. And that is the problem, not just with this idea, but with this country.

    Understand, I have no qualms about being an American. I firmly believe we are a great nation. We can be even greater though, and the road from here to there involves simple things. Things like being able to say we were wrong. Things like following and respecting other countries customs. Things like realizing that we are A great country, not THE great country. The most important thing though, would be the ability to say all of the above and not be called un-American. To be able to admit that we as a country have not always acted out of our self-professed ideals. To apologize. For a supposedly Christian nation, we surely don’t listen to that warning about pride do we?

  3. stevelaudig says:

    Hey, hey, BHO
    All the troops have got to go.
    If BHO=LBJ,
    then RMN=”X”

    Solve for “X”.
    Unless BHO becomes his own RMN

  4. andylevinson says:

    You all don’t question Obama on taking over and running the health care of 300,000,000 americans which has no Constitutional basis….why would you all question his decision on sending 30,000 more troops to war, which in fact does have a constitutional basis….

    • shawngilbreath says:

      Sorry for going off topic for a bit. I’ll try and make it quick. I’m not going to argue with you because I’m tired of it in general, but I do have an honest question. From the beginning of this situation until now, with everything that’s been said, do you really see the reform debate as Obama taking over health care? I don’t mean what you think may happen, I mean as the bills stand now, you equate that with a government takeover? If so, then I need you to point out to me where it is, because like I said, I’m tired of beating my head against a wall trying to convince people that public option does not equal nationalized care.

  5. andylevinson says:

    Answer to your question: how long is Obama’s long road ahead?

    Now, on to health care

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