Krauthammer’s devastating critique of Obama’s Afghan Speech

#1
Krauthammer’s devastating critique of Obama’s Afghanistan speech

By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: December 4th, 2009

Charles Krauthammer, the most influential conservative columnist in the United States today, has written a damning indictment of Barack Obama’s West Point speech for The Washington Post. The whole article deserves to be read widely on both sides of the Atlantic, and here are some key excerpts:
What a strange speech it was — a call to arms so ambivalent, so tentative, so defensive.
Which made his last-minute assertion of “resolve unwavering” so hollow. It was meant to be stirring. It fell flat. In August, he called Afghanistan “a war of necessity.” On Tuesday night, he defined “what’s at stake” as “the common security of the world.” The world, no less. Yet, we begin leaving in July 2011?
Does he think that such ambivalence is not heard by the Taliban, by Afghan peasants deciding which side to choose, by Pakistani generals hedging their bets, by NATO allies already with one foot out of Afghanistan
More
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/n...ting-critique-of-obama’s-afghanistan-speech/?

Speech http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/03/AR2009120303605.html
 
#2
Hmmmmmmmm

Right wing reporter writes a right wing article on a democratic politician, for a right wing newspaper - reported on by . . . . . . a right wing newspaper.

Huge story - deserves a thread.

:roll:
 
#3
Krauthammer is an idiot but the speech was flat. He does nail the rhetorical money shot: "because the nation that I'm most interested in building is our own.".

This speech was not meant to soar. It was aimed at Barry O's base who are none too keen on this going abroad to slay dragons shtick. He's in the run up to 2012 and watching the dismal numbers on support for the venture. You could read it less as military strategy but the best balance of options and spin for getting him over the next electoral hump something that his predecessor was equally obsessed with to disastrous affect. I recall Fallujah#2 being shamelessly choreographed around an undeserved second term.

Barry is not pumping his troops up for victory or even selling the long grind that realistically would be necessary. As in Iraq victory is being defined down to getting out without a regional collapse. Making some space for political progress which is exceedingly unlikely to happen in these corrupt middens.

He did a very poor job on pimping the vital Pakistani side of the equation and that may be because any sort of grand bargain with the Pak Military is vapor. If this speech was aimed at anybody abroad it's them. The sordid reality is the chaps in Rawalpindi are none too pleased either with DC signaling its patience and commitment is limited or even a modest escalation North of the Durand. They have their own opposed interests to look after and are confidently preparing to be pandered too.

As for their chums the "good talibans": those boys waited out the Red Army and you can bet their default assumption is they'll do it again with Uncle Sam. It's not the electorally useful desire to draw down in 2011 or even exit in 2017 that will encourage them so much as any sign of the lack of an enduring and serious commitment. Let's face it that started to fade the moment we cakewalked to Baghdad.
 
#4
Skynet said:
Krauthammer’s devastating critique of Obama’s Afghanistan speech

By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: December 4th, 2009

Charles Krauthammer, the most influential conservative columnist in the United States today, has written a damning indictment of Barack Obama’s West Point speech for The Washington Post. The whole article deserves to be read widely on both sides of the Atlantic, and here are some key excerpts:
What a strange speech it was — a call to arms so ambivalent, so tentative, so defensive.
Which made his last-minute assertion of “resolve unwavering” so hollow. It was meant to be stirring. It fell flat. In August, he called Afghanistan “a war of necessity.” On Tuesday night, he defined “what’s at stake” as “the common security of the world.” The world, no less. Yet, we begin leaving in July 2011?
Does he think that such ambivalence is not heard by the Taliban, by Afghan peasants deciding which side to choose, by Pakistani generals hedging their bets, by NATO allies already with one foot out of Afghanistan
More
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/n...ting-critique-of-obama’s-afghanistan-speech/?

Speech http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/03/AR2009120303605.html
So the right-wing Telegraph prints an article by even more right-wing Nile Gardiner praising an article by neo-Con Charles Krauthammer.

Hold the Front Page!

Sorry whet. Should have read yours first!
 
#5
So the right-wing Telegraph prints an article by even more right-wing Nile Gardiner praising an article by neo-Con Charles Krauthammer.

Hold the Front Page!

Oh right, we'd better only discuss news articles from entirely objective sources who have absolutely no personal political viewpoint whatsoever.


That'll leave a pretty empty current affairs forum.
 
#6
HH_2 said:
So the right-wing Telegraph prints an article by even more right-wing Nile Gardiner praising an article by neo-Con Charles Krauthammer.

Hold the Front Page!

Oh right, we'd better only discuss news articles from entirely objective sources who have absolutely no personal political viewpoint whatsoever.


That'll leave a pretty empty current affairs forum.
We are discussing it aren't we? Whet an I are pointing out that it has less than zero credibility when two Faux News commentators publish an article in a rightist paper attacking a speech by a centrist.

You'd be better off here:

President Obama channels George W. Bush in his speech announcing the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/daily-show-30000
 
#7
#8
I think it does deserve a thread - Skynet is simply producing a point of view article that inevitably leads to very interesting debate
 
#9
hairyarse2 said:
It's not just The Right Wing websites that are not too happy.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/12/4/810851/-Slouching-Towards-Afghanistan

As much as I hoped for great leadership from Obama, my greatest fears about that have come to pass. He told some huge * whoppers Tuesday night. How do you look someone in the eye and say, "We do not seek to occupy other nations" when you are ordering 30,000 more of your troops into their country?
There you go. You can either quote an article in a right-wing newspaper written by a right-wing Faux news contributor extolling the virtues of a diatribe by a neo-Con, or you can watch Jon Stewart, or even read the Daily Kos. None of them are particularly happy with the speech - but for completely different reasons.

Krauthammer, BTW, is a nut.
 
#10
ashie said:
Krauthammer, BTW, is a nut.
Seconded, along with other non-serving chickenhawk commentators
like Mark Stein who have been consistently wrong over these last eight years.

It does not matter what Obama decided he would still be criticised.
Funny how those who neglected Afghanistan for their other dire diversion are always overlooked when blame is apportioned.
 
#11
RhodieBKK said:
Funny how those who neglected Afghanistan for their other dire diversion are always overlooked when blame is apportioned.
Can you expand on your comment. I take it you are commenting about George Bush, and his strategy on Afghanistan after 11/9.
What would you have done different?
 
#13
Obama would love to have a situation where the only sides he has to balance is the left and right wings of the United States. The left are a long way from defecting and will catch themselves on as soon as they figure out that their ideas about who Obama was were radically different from what he actually presented himself as in the campaign.

Unfortunately, though, Obama has a number of other games going on. Not only does he have the rather nebulous Pakistani situation to try and fathom- and running off at the gob too far one way or the other could land him in all kinds of bother there, but he also has to somehow convey to Karzai et al that sooner or later they'll be on their own and will have to sink or swim by themselves. The speech also had to speak to the tribal leaders and it had to speak to the Taliban. Obama's opponents have argued that announcing a timeline for withdrawal will just make them lie low until 2011, at which point they can bounce back, but it's not that simple. They need money and they need support to keep going. If they hide out, they're not going to be able to control the opium crop, they're not going to be able to mount attacks that keep them in the news and keep the money rolling in from outside.
Meanwhile, we'd get to control the news with fluffy bunny stories about putting them on the back foot (even if they are just hiding) and rebuilding the place. Coupled with an idea of when the op will draw down this makes the war an easier sell for other NATO Governments to sell their publics on the value of contributing forces. We've already had Rasmussen announcing that the increased NATO commitment will be about 40% above what the Seppos were hoping for.

And there is no way Krauthammer is the most influential Conservative columnist in America. He's a dyed in the wool neocon who holds about as much sway as Dick Cheney does these days- he gets talked about by Fox Noise and the rest of the country might look up with an air of "What's that cnut saying now?" and then go back to what they were doing before.
 
#14
hairyarse2 said:
RhodieBKK said:
Funny how those who neglected Afghanistan for their other dire diversion are always overlooked when blame is apportioned.
Can you expand on your comment. I take it you are commenting about George Bush, and his strategy on Afghanistan after 11/9.
What would you have done different?
First you don't start another war until you have the first one under control and properly resourced.
But in truth the possibility of "winning" Afghanistan was all but lost when the bombing started in October '01,
and the choice of the Northern Alliance as partners.

Compounded by ignorance, arrogance and emotion, a number of crucial decisions were made in these early months that set Afghanistan on the slippery slope to where it is today.
The choice of Karzai is a case in point - pushtun-lite with no real tribal following - don't forget he had to be extracted a number of times before Bonn.
There were other credible Pushtun strongmen options.

The merits of the Iraq calamity don't require rehashing in this thread.
However, there is a correlation of this military diversion with the resurgence of the Afghan Taliban,
coupled with the birth of a Pakistani Taliban that has even graver consequences today.
 
#15
theprior said:
I think it does deserve a thread - Skynet is simply producing a point of view article that inevitably leads to very interesting debate
I of course agree with this. If we take the point of view of Whet we would all have a very restricted number of threads on the site. The point of starting a thread is surely to stimulate debate which of course is the life blood of ARRSE. I think we call it democratic debate!
 
#16
crabtastic said:
Obama would love to have a situation where the only sides he has to balance is the left and right wings of the United States. The left are a long way from defecting and will catch themselves on as soon as they figure out that their ideas about who Obama was were radically different from what he actually presented himself as in the campaign.

Unfortunately, though, Obama has a number of other games going on. Not only does he have the rather nebulous Pakistani situation to try and fathom- and running off at the gob too far one way or the other could land him in all kinds of bother there, but he also has to somehow convey to Karzai et al that sooner or later they'll be on their own and will have to sink or swim by themselves. The speech also had to speak to the tribal leaders and it had to speak to the Taliban. Obama's opponents have argued that announcing a timeline for withdrawal will just make them lie low until 2011, at which point they can bounce back, but it's not that simple. They need money and they need support to keep going. If they hide out, they're not going to be able to control the opium crop, they're not going to be able to mount attacks that keep them in the news and keep the money rolling in from outside.
Meanwhile, we'd get to control the news with fluffy bunny stories about putting them on the back foot (even if they are just hiding) and rebuilding the place. Coupled with an idea of when the op will draw down this makes the war an easier sell for other NATO Governments to sell their publics on the value of contributing forces. We've already had Rasmussen announcing that the increased NATO commitment will be about 40% above what the Seppos were hoping for.

And there is no way Krauthammer is the most influential Conservative columnist in America. He's a dyed in the wool neocon who holds about as much sway as Dick Cheney does these days- he gets talked about by Fox Noise and the rest of the country might look up with an air of "What's that cnut saying now?" and then go back to what they were doing before.
not to mention support for them will drop to zero when people start enjoying the effects of the rebuilding and security
 
#17
Busterdog said:
Krauthammer an idiot Alib? I think not. Obama a centrist? Who's the idiot?
It would be generous to call Obama a centrist on foreign policy choices he actually resembles Bush in his last term, a chastened hawk given to caution by necessity rather than inclination. Domestically he's often a good deal to the right of Ike or Dick Nixon. He has a very unfortunate tendency to offer pointless conciliatory gestures in almost every situation.

On Krauthammer, he does dwarf most of the folk on Fox but Bill Buckley he ain't, he's not even a match for David Brooks. He's an increasingly inept cold war fossil. He often advocates for very strange policy choices unless you think DC's primary national interest is giving Israel a free ride.

He was the author of the “The Unipolar Moment”.
Summary --

Thinking about post-Cold War US foreign policy has been led astray by three conventionally-accepted but mistaken assumptions about the character of the post-Cold War environment (1) that the world is now multipolar, whereas it is in fact unipolar, with the USA the sole superpower, at least for present policy purposes (2) that the US domestic consensus favours internationalism rather than isolationism (3) that in consequence of the Soviet collapse, the threat of war has substantially diminished.

Charles Krauthammer is a syndicated columnist. This article is adapted from the author's Henry M. Jackson Memorial Lecture delivered in Washington, D.C., Sept. 18, 1990.
From these words come all the assumptions that started DC's march of folly.

He was still at it in 04 as American power was so obviously hemorrhaging away in desert sands.

Democratic Realism: An American Foreign Policy for a Unipolar World
...
The anomaly is not the world of today. The anomaly was the 1990s, our holiday from history. It felt like peace, but it was an interval of dreaming between two periods of reality.

From which 9/11 awoke us. It startled us into thinking everything was new. It’s not. What is new is what happened not on 9/11 but ten years earlier on December 26, 1991: the emergence of the United States as the world’s unipolar power. What is unique is our advantage in this struggle, an advantage we did not have during the struggles of the twentieth century. The question for our time is how to press this advantage, how to exploit our unipolar power, how to deploy it to win the old/new war that exploded upon us on 9/11.

What is the unipolar power to do?

Four schools, four answers.

The isolationists want simply to ignore unipolarity, pull up the drawbridge, and defend Fortress America. Alas, the Fortress has no moat--not after the airplane, the submarine, the ballistic missile--and as for the drawbridge, it was blown up on 9/11.

Then there are the liberal internationalists. They like to dream, and to the extent they are aware of our unipolar power, they don’t like it. They see its use for anything other than humanitarianism or reflexive self-defense as an expression of national selfishness. And they don’t just want us to ignore our unique power, they want us to yield it piece by piece, by subsuming ourselves in a new global architecture in which America becomes not the arbiter of international events, but a good and tame international citizen.

Then there is realism, which has the clearest understanding of the new unipolarity and its uses--unilateral and preemptive if necessary. But in the end, it fails because it offers no vision. It is all means and no ends. It cannot adequately define our mission.

Hence, the fourth school: democratic globalism. It has, in this decade, rallied the American people to a struggle over values. It seeks to vindicate the American idea by making the spread of democracy, the success of liberty, the ends and means of American foreign policy.

I support that. I applaud that. But I believe it must be tempered in its universalistic aspirations and rhetoric from a democratic globalism to a democratic realism. It must be targeted, focused and limited. We are friends to all, but we come ashore only where it really counts. And where it counts today is that Islamic crescent stretching from North Africa to Afghanistan.

In October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we came to the edge of the abyss. Then, accompanied by our equally shaken adversary, we both deliberately drew back. On September 11, 2001, we saw the face of Armageddon again, but this time with an enemy that does not draw back. This time the enemy knows no reason.

Were that the only difference between now and then, our situation would be hopeless. But there is a second difference between now and then: the uniqueness of our power, unrivaled, not just today but ever. That evens the odds. The rationality of the enemy is something beyond our control. But the use of our power is within our control. And if that power is used wisely, constrained not by illusions and fictions but only by the limits of our mission--which is to bring a modicum of freedom as an antidote to nihilism--we can prevail.
A neocon repeatedly and viciously mugged by reality he still bumbles on in his late 20th century dream scape. He still bangs on about his dangerous fantasy of a unipolar world not realizing Amercan influence steeply declined when the Berlin wall fell.

I rest my case.
 
#18
That we have a debate on what Obama said is only right - I have no problem with that. Basing the debate on an oh so right wing talker of bollox who would have slagged PUS off if he had said 'march on Moscow' was, to say the least, silly.

Even sillier, Skynet, was your comment about my wanting the subject of threads restricted. I will debate with anybody about anything - and I frequently do.

:roll:
 
#19
It occurs to me that in some areas of AFPAC theatre, things are going fairly well.

The UAV campaign to assassinate enemy commanders and spread dismay through the various command structures is effective. Hence the video response from Yemen.

The Pakistani Government is responding positively to intense diplomatic pressure. Their army is fighting hard in South Waziristan, having previously cleared the Swat Valley.

ISAF has a green light to implement a strategy at last and some reinforcement of men and materials.

On the other side the various insurgencies are effectively holding ground inside Afghanistan.

But and this is the elephant in the forum, the American president has reassured both his domestic supporters and his most implacable foreign enemies that he will effectively withdraw the US army from the contest in the near future.

Yes he has other priorities, foreign and domestic, obviously, but surely an experienced player would not lay such an important card on the table.

Perhaps his plan is more than just extending the presidency to a second term. In any event it will have to be a grand and noble design to overcome the harm to western national prestige by a precipitate withdrawal from combat operations.

The image of the last Huey from the embassy roof is an enduring one and not something that should be engaged lightly.

B
 
#20
Not really, Bakerlite. There will be a symbolic handover of the softest area in Afg for domestic effect at home. Interestingly, having spent a couple of days in US last week, the democrats are disillusioned because they believe the commitment could be open ended. I fully expect Brit Forces to be involved in some kind of symbolic handover of control as well. Brown is similarly being hammered by this unpopular war at home.

One of the posters said he thought Afg was lost way back in October 2001 when the bombing started. I couldn't disagree more with this point of view. (And I was there very early on). The real elephant in the room, that EVERYONE appears to be ignoring, is the fact that the Afghan people themselves drove out Taliban between Oct 01 and spring 02. OK SF were in there and an impressive amount of air support, but it was a popular campaign, SF merely orchestrated the show. What worries me the most is that popular support has been lost. Obama talks of US troops fighting and winning this war. It can only be won when the Afghan people become full engaged. Their lack of engagement leads me to conclude that the chances of the West winning, whatever that means are slim at best.

Going back to Bakerlite's post, it is striking how few people Obama impressed last week. He appears to have annoyed those on the right, those on the left and a great many people in between. He is not shaping up to be such a great president after all...
 

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