“I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war,” proclaimed a freshman Senator Barack Obama shortly after the deeply unpopular U.S. led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Six and a half years later standing as Commander-in-Chief before the cadets at West Point, Obama announced a troop increase of 30,000 to be deployed to Afghanistan to stifle advances made by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda; even as the American public grows wearily impatient of the military’s nearly decade-long presence in that country.
Although decidedly less candid and more eloquent than his predecessor, the clock may well have been turned back eight years to when Bush addressed the West Point graduates where he defiantly praised American superiority and the necessity for total American involvement in the “war on terror.”
In his speech, Obama appeared confused by his own plea to the American people. Essentially, he proposed to increase our presence in Afghanistan so Pakistan will take notice of how serious we are about fighting the Taliban. However, since most Al-Qaeda operatives reside in Pakistan along the mountainous border, the Pakistanis will need to work with us to prevent terrorists from ever obtaining nuclear weaponry – but without allied forces ever entering Pakistan to stop such efforts. If you too are confused, then don’t worry, so is your president.
Translation: Our troop increase will serve no true purpose given Pakistan will not allow forces to enter the country. Thus, they will serve as a “lynchpin” for further Al-Qaeda recruitment as Afghans unite against their foreign occupiers.
The result: A failed “surge” strategy that never appeared realistic and billions more spent in the face of a historic recession. Most tragically though, thousands more allied and Afghani men, women and children will inevitably die further paralyzing the region’s path to peace.
Though I don’t always agree with him, filmmaker Michael Moore could not have been more accurate when he wrote to Obama shortly before the speech:
“With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they’ve always heard is true- that all politicians are alike. I simply can’t believe you’re about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn’t so.”
If this sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve seen this movie before, it was called Vietnam and there is no surprise ending.
Daniel Medina is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.