Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Obama delivers on another promise: Afghan troop withdrawals begin

President Obama has just announced troop withdrawals from Afghanistan of 10,000 this summer and another 23,000 by the summer of 2012. He also indicated
  • that the allies "are meeting their goals" in that country,
  • that the Afghans themselves have mounted some 100,000 troops and security forces to protect their own country,
  • that the allies are already working toward a peace settlement that will incorporate the Taliban in the governance of that country and that will protect the U.S. from future attacks initiated by Al Qaeda
  • that the U.S. must engage in nation building right "here at home"
  • that the U.S. will host a conference in July in Chicago to focus on the future of Afghanistan
  • that the U.S. will honour the sacrifice of those 4,500 men and women who died in Iraq and the over 1,500 who died in Afghanistan
  • that those returning with the wounds and injuries of war, including the "demons who followed them home" will receive both the treatment and the opporunities they deserve from their nation
  • that the U.S. will continue to work with Pakistan to ensure that no terrorist is given "safe haven" in that country
And with his wife and daughters just yesterday having a historic visit with Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and today, Michelle Obama delivering an address to Soweto township women that if and when anyone suggests they cannot secure their freedom and take moves to secure their legitimate opportunities, they are to reply, in the words of her husband's campaign slogan, "Yes we can!" The phrase was chanted by the hundreds of women in the audience for television cameras.
My wife's observation about the President's address was that it was "clipped" in style and in delivery. My response to her observation is that the president had to get in and out of the speech (it was about 15 minutes) and express himself in a completely business-like manner, because from now until November 2012, he is really in campaign mode. And the Republicans are after his neck. It was Michelle Bachmann who declared in the debate last week in New Hampshire, "Obama will be a one-term president" and "I will not stop until Obamacare has been rescinded."
Any of us watching from a distance know two things about the next presidential race:
  1. That Barack Obama is one helluva campaigner, whose plate was overflowing in 2008 and who believes in the policies, programs and strategies, in both domestic and foreign policy that he and his administration have enacted
  2. That the Republican's, no matter who their candidate will be (don't count of Jon Huntsman, former Ambassador to China, former two-term governor of Utah), will raise billions to fight Obama and will use every dirty trick in their arsenal to topple him in November 2012.
The world will be watching, including Obama supporters in Canada, in whose number this scribe is proud to count himself, and hoping for her re-election. Tonight he took a major step in reducing the drain on the federal purse strings, and thereby relieving some of the pressure on debt and deficit reduction that is facing both the White House and the Congress.

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