Naturally, there has been lots of response to that speech, as well as the location in which Obama chose to have it. Here is one of my favorite All-Stars, Charles Krauthammer on the Speech:
Uh, yeah. Krauthammer followed up this panel with a commentary, "Uncertain Trumpet," which lays it all out.
And how about our friends across the pond? What did they think of Obama's big speech? Well, the headline alone gives it away, "Barack Obama Is No Churchill." Nope, not even a little bit:
One of the first decisions President Obama made upon taking office was to remove a bust of Sir Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and send it packing to the British Embassy. The gift, a present from the British people in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, was pride of place in the White House under George W. Bush, but was seen as surplus to requirements by his successor. Hardly a good omen for an increasingly unpopular president, whose nation is actively engaged in a global war against a brutal enemy that seeks the destruction of the free world.
Speaking at West Point last night, Barack Obama badly needed to display some Churchillian grit, but there was none on offer. As Commander in Chief President Obama has to project leadership, strength and determination before his country and his foes, as well as offer reassurance to Washington’s international allies. All were in short supply in front of the assembled cadets .The speech was less a rallying cry for victory over barbarism, than a dull professorial-style lecture that sought to justify his confused approach to the US mission in a cold and clinical fashion that simply failed to convince or inspire.
Ah, yes - the bust of Churchill that Obama could not WAIT to get out of the Oval Office. Talk about telegraphing tone - yikes.
Back to the speech itself:
Parts of the highly defensive speech were heavily partisan in nature, involving attacks on the Iraq War, as well as the previous administration’s approach to Afghanistan. He also could not resist a boast that “I’ve prohibited torture”, and that he has pledged to close down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. For a 40 minute speech there was barely any applause from the largely muted audience, except towards the end when he spoke of American values and its distinguished history.
The president went to great lengths to avoid referring to the enemy as terrorists, and refused to use the word Islamists, preferring to refer to the war as a “struggle against violent extremism.” At times it was a weak-kneed address better suited to a group of adoring left-wing students in Paris, Strasbourg or Berlin than the US military academy. Even the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was stone-faced throughout.
After nearly three months of painful dithering over whether to launch an Iraq-style surge against the Taliban, the president disappointingly offered less than half the number of troops that his own commander on the ground had requested. General Stanley McChrystal had sought up to 80,000 soldiers to guarantee success, but was given just 30,000.
"Dithering" would be the operative word. Or, you could use "hemming and hawing," if that suits better. The point is, a decisive president Obama is not. But there is something else he is:
There was also deflating talk from the president of a clear timetable for withdrawal of forces by July 2011, a hugely risky move that hands the initiative to the Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies. In justifying his withdrawal strategy he declared America could not afford to ignore the cost of the war, which at $30 billion this year is massively dwarfed by Obama’s $800 billion pork-laden stimulus package.
Significantly, there was no mention at all of the British contribution, and the Anglo-American Special Relationship was not even on Obama’s teleprompter, let along his radar screen. Great Britain will shortly have over 10,000 troops on the battlefields of southern Afghanistan, and has lost more than 230 brave servicemen and women alongside their American counterparts. The sacrifices made by America’s closest friend deserve to be acknowledged by the US president but were met last night with callous indifference.
And there it is. Do you get the impression that the UK is not so enamored (enamoured - to be inclusive) of Obama? No doubt, it started with the removal of Churchill's bust from the Oval Office. Then came the numerous slights to Prime Minister Brown who got not so much as a State sandwich on his first visit (in stark contrast to the big huge State Dinner for the Indian Prime Minister). And then the failure to acknowledge the sacrifice of our allies in theater with us.
It all comes down to leadership:
America and the free world need stronger leadership than this. Instead of turning to Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill as role models Barack Obama has so far chosen a middle way of compromise and uncertainty. That must change if the West is to triumph in Afghanistan. The addition of tens of thousands more troops is a step in the right direction, but is simply not enough to secure victory and is dramatically undercut by the bizarre announcement of an exit in 18 months.
The war in Afghanistan is ultimately a battle between good and evil, and is essential to the defence of the United States, Great Britain, Europe and all who believe in the cause of liberty and freedom. It is a war that is vital to keeping our cities safe from attack by Al Qaeda. It must be led by a president who firmly believes that it can be won, and who is willing to commit the resources necessary to bring the enemy to its knees. Today was a huge opportunity for Barack Obama to outline a clear, coherent strategy for victory, and he spectacularly failed to grasp it.
I would have to concur with the final assessment - Obama is not a world leader. He may be a world PLACATER, or a World Courtier, but a Leader? No, most definitely is not, not by a long shot. Spiegel's take is summed up in this paragraph:
Never before has a speech by President Barack Obama felt as false as his Tuesday address announcing America's new strategy for Afghanistan. It seemed like a campaign speech combined with Bush rhetoric -- and left both dreamers and realists feeling distraught.
One could say that.
Since I mentioned the West Point cadets, and in case you didn't know this already:
Just minutes before the president took the stage inside Eisenhower Hall, the gathered cadets were asked to respond "enthusiastically" to the speech. But it didn't help: The soldiers' reception was cool.
One didn't have to be a cadet on Tuesday to feel a bit of nausea upon hearing Obama's speech. It was the least truthful address that he has ever held. He spoke of responsibility, but almost every sentence smelled of party tactics. He demanded sacrifice, but he was unable to say what it was for exactly.
An additional 30,000 US soldiers are to march into Afghanistan -- and then they will march right back out again. America is going to war -- and from there it will continue ahead to peace. It was the speech of a Nobel War Prize laureate.
Many of us are not the only ones to acknowledge the timing of the withdrawal:
For each troop movement, Obama had a number to match. US strength in Afghanistan will be tripled relative to the Bush years, a fact that is sure to impress hawks in America. But just 18 months later, just in time for Obama's re-election campaign, the horror of war is to end and the draw down will begin. The doves of peace will be let free.
Yes, so coincidental, Obama's time-frame and his re-election bid. Hahahahahaha. (Click HERE to read the rest.)
At least now others in the world are beginning to awaken to the reality that many of us knew: Obama is a Poseur, completely incapable of governing, much less acting as the Commander in Chief. His continued use of our military, including the West Point Cadets, as a "photo op" to prop him up is disturbing.
Worst of all, though, he has managed to give aid to our enemies by telegraphing to them exactly how long they will have to go underground. He has aided them in his bid to play both sides. He's not just a failed leader, but his announced withdrawal time line is detrimental to the effort, thus to our military, possibly our country. And for that, he is a disgrace.