Obama: “We Can See the Light” in Afghanistan
In address to the nation, President to thanks men and women in uniform, say “we have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda.”
Obama: “This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.”
Adds new strategic agreement allows for troop commitment beyond 2014 and/but insists “our goal is not to build a country in America’s image.”
Read the President’s address here.
There are are lot of substantive questions begged by the President's speech and the agreement, especially the extent to which Karzai will be a reliable partner. But the politics of what was announced is wicked smart, and almost certainly gets Obama through November without Afghanistan being a political liability for him. The Left gets to believe that the President is committed to ending the war (Look! He went half way around the world to say it.). And critics from the Right, like John McCain, don't have much to grasp onto, given the new scheme's long time horizon. Mitt Romney might try to make up some basis for criticizing the plan as too vague or weak, but with Karzai's signature, the apparent support of the US military, and a something-for-everyone agreement, Obama has had a very good Tuesday. Happy anniversary, Mr. President.
The President is taking a page right out of Karl Rove's playbook. By saying the war is winding down while the continued troop presence protects his right flank, Obama can effectively carry the Afghanistan debate through November. It doesn't help that Romney has no military service and no obvious position of strength from which to attack the incumbent. And now with Karzai's signature, Obama has effectively checkmated the issue.