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My Reactions to Obama’s Afghanistan Plan December 7, 2009

Filed under: Foreign Relations — Larry E. Stuckey II @ 3:55 am

I must admit that I did not watch all of Obama’s speech regarding next steps in Afghanistan.  However, I caught quite a few clips and I thought I would share a few thoughts.  However, I would first like to state what I see as the outcome of any strategy in Afghanistan.  Overall, I believe America’s goal should be to disorder terrorists networks that may harm the United States.  Let me state what I don’t think it should.  Fighting in Afghanistan is not about building a perfect democracy.  The realist in me simply believes that we do not have the resources to make this happen (it is the consultant in me – I’m all about scope control).  Anyway, here is a Republican blogger (yes, I read items from both parties), Liz Mair, that worked on McCain’s communication staff that I think states it best regarding a realist strategy in Afghanistain.  Here is the take-away quote:

“The objective should be to dismantle and disrupt terrorist networks and keep them weak enough to not take hold of Afghanistan and use it as a base from which to launch attacks on the US aimed at taking the country as a whole down– and if that is genuinely not achievable, then the objective should be to preserve our strength and otherwise secure ourselves by avoiding ongoing losses and engagement that will weaken us.”

In terms of actual strategy itself, I think Obama is placing faith in his military leaders to give them what they need so they can deliver on the objective I state above.  Here is a good assessment from Andrew Sullivan regarding Obama’s next steps in Afghanistan:

“By giving McChrystal what he wants and giving him a couple of years to deliver tangible results. If McChrystal delivers, fantastic. I will do a ritual self-flagellation and bow down to the man with no body-fat and a close relationship with 33 Kagans of various generations and genders. If McChrystal does his best and we still get nowhere, Obama will have demonstrated – not argued, demonstrated – that  withdrawal is the least worst option.

The far right will accuse him of weakness – but they will do that anyway. All he need do is remind Americans of what the far right version of “strength” is: engaging an enemy on his own turf, sustaining an insurgency by our very presence, draining the Treasury of trillions, sacrificing more young men and women to shore up one of the most corrupt governments on earth, and basically returning to Bush-Cheney land. And that will be a very telling argument in 2012: do we want to go back to Cheneyism? To torture and endless occupation and a third war with a Muslim nation, Iran?

On reflection, Obama was saying something quite simple: one more try, guys.”


Success in Iraq – Did You Hear About This One on the Nightly News? November 15, 2009

Filed under: Foreign Relations — Larry E. Stuckey II @ 8:37 pm

An item that seemed to pass without much fanfare is the face that the Iraqi government passed election laws that now allows a national vote to occur January 2010.  This movement demonstrates that Obama’s strategy may be working (even as he considers new ones in Afghanistan).  Here is the key quote:

“The deal getting done is clearly good news . . . The election law deal has obvious implications for Obama’s commitment to withdraw combat forces.  The American withdrawal timeline was long ago pegged to the elections, with force levels kept relatively high in order to provide for security during the elections and in the immediate aftermath. If the elections had been postponed, it would have posed a major problem for the withdrawal planning.  So from that narrow perspective, getting the elections done in January under any laws was really important – and Obama today affirmed that the deal keeps the withdrawal on schedule.  Getting a law which seems to include most of what the U.S. wanted substantively is a bonus.”


Obama Awarded Nobel Peace Prize October 11, 2009

Filed under: Foreign Relations — Larry E. Stuckey II @ 11:51 pm

Well – I had not planned to discuss Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize.  I really did not think that I had a lot say about it.  However, it has brought many reactions from many people (See this NY Times article that summarizes).  So, I figured that I would post a few thoughts.  Overall, does it seem a bit early?  Yes.  Is it deserved?  Yes.  So, you may be asking – why do I think it is deserved?  I suppose when I heard that Obama had won I instantly thought – “Wow – that was unexpected (I sense Obama felt the same).”  However, then I reflected upon what Obama has moved this country past and how he has changed America’s reputation in the world.  So, I felt that it was time to reflect upon those items.

1.) He has pledges to close Guantanamo Bay, which is a human rights travesty that should make all American ashamed.  I will not exhaust this one too much, but here are three simple facts.  a.) We tortured people here (by the way – read this great open letter from Andrew Sullivan to George Bush that asks him to take responsibility for this travesty.  b.) We kept shoddy records of why these people were in Guantanamo in the first place.  c.) Because we managed this place poorly, it damaged the US reputation in the world

2.) He has engaged America with the Muslim world (a much needed step for peace). 

3.) He has helped us redefine race relations within this country.  I still believe that his speech about race that he gave during his campaign in Philadelphia is one of his finest

Overall, here is a quote from an Iraqi (Hussein Ali Harrif, the head of the artistic education department at the University of Baghdad) that I feel summarizes this award succinctly: “He really deserved it, he is more than a politician. Even though not enough time has passed for a full judgment, we can see that through his speeches, some decisions he made and his legislation that he is trying to mend the faults which his predecessor has created. Obama is trying to make his words meet his acts and he has a genuine intention in building good human relations, especially with the Muslim world.”

In the end, Obama still needs to deliver.  I think this award says we believe in his promise and recognize how quickly he changed the mood of the world.  If anything, I think it places more accountability on him, which is never a bad thing!