Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Liveblogging the President's Afghanistan Speech

I'm a USMA grad - class of 94. I've spent a lot of time in Eisenhower hall. It looks like they covered up the orchestra pit to create the thrust stage. That's my theater geek side showing through.

It's 7:01 CDT, so I'll start my comments here...

7:02 - It really looks like he's got a teleprompter problem.

7:03 - Recalling 9/11. A little history to introduce this as the "right" war.

7:04 - Once again defending Islam. Invoking the Congressional use of force. Also invoked Article V of the NATO treaty.

7:05 - I would guess the shots of cadets are intended to keep him from looking like he's playing teleprompter ping-pong.

7:06 - "Bringing the Iraq War to a responsible end." By the way, cadets don't clap at political points. That single clapper you heard was probably part of the entourage.

7:08 - "a fraction of the troops that were in Iraq" - so he's blaming Bush for not properly resourcing Afghanistan. OK.

7:09 - Objectives: kill Taliban/AQ leaders, have an election. Those aren't strategic objectives.

7:10 - First talk of securing the population.

7:11 - Never had an option in front of him to deploy troops before 2010. But, the longer you wait, the further in the future the deployments have to be made. 18- month deployment. Embrace the suck.

7:13 - I have signed letters, I have read letters, I have visited...stay classy, B.

7:14 - Shinseki, Gates, and Clinton. Shinseki is the king of not lowballing troop levels.

7:15 - Goal: disrupt, defeat AQ and Taliban. And other stuff.

7:16 - Rapid deployment, train Afghans, transfer responsibility, then a miracle happens....poof...world peace!

7:17 - Addressing corruption, addressing agriculture. Why am I thinking that I'm not hearing anything else here. There was only 1 reference to securing the population.

7:18 - He's got a 3rd teleprompter in front of the camera riser.

7:21 - He's addressing Pakistan but not listing many specifics, it seems to me.

7:22 - Dismissing the Afghanistan/Vietnam comparison. 1. Coalition fight, 2. Unpopular insurgency, 3. We were attacked from Afghanistan.

7:24 - He wants the Afghans to have a sense of urgency. Good luck with that. Sit down. Have some chai. We'll get to business sometime next week.

7:25 - "Cannot ignore the price of these wars". He's trying to blame the wars for our inability to recover economically. I don't buy it.

7:28 - Damn you Stephen Green!

7:29 - Another promise to close GTMO.

7:30 - Sounds like the wrap up. Recalling America's past achievements.

7:31 - UN, NATO, and the World Bank in the same breath? Really?

7:32 - Once again, cadets don't clap. You can make them laugh, though.

7:33 - If you're wondering why the cadets look so enthused, they should be doing homework right now. Losing 2 hours of homework time for a guest speaker really disrupts a timeline.

Overall, some tough talk. Not a lot of specifics beyond announcing 30,000 troops and an 18 month timeline. I didn't really hear what his vision was, though. He says our resolve is unwavering....we'll see.

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