-By Warner Todd Huston
President Barack Obama came before the American people tonight to unleash his latest campaign speech disguised as a foreign policy address. It was a presentation that even Politico calls "boring and predictable, balanced to please critics," and one that "did not change the debate about the war." But, one thing does seem like news. Obama never used the word victory and he also said we'd negotiate with the Taliban - an enemy he annoyingly insists on calling the Tahleebahn.
One singular theme emerged from this speech. Apparently, to President Obama, "victory" does not mean a win, but it only means a settling with negotiations with our enemies. Very Chamberlainesque, isn't it?
But there were quite a few odd statements made by the president tonight. One was his claim that Usamma bin Laden was the "only leader al Qaeda has ever known." This is absurd. There have been dozens of al Qaeda leaders and we killed many of them long before we finally got to bin Laden. He then went on to say that as we go forward we'd engage in close negotiations with the political leaders in Afghanistan "including the Tahleebahn." Including our enemies? This is the demeanor of a losing nation, not a nation in victory. It is fitting that Obama did not even use the dreaded "V" word, isn't it? "Victory" never emerged from his lips.
The president invested a lot of trust in the international community, negotiations, and talk of coalitions. This fits well with Obama's constant refrain that under his thumb, America leads from the rear. Obama intends to preside over, and indeed has been presiding over, a nation in decline, a nation in retreat from international leadership. This speech tonight propagates that theme well.
Many like to parrot the claim that Afghanistan has never been conquered and Obama obviously ascribes to this base assumption. But as Walid Phares said in his analysis after Obama's speech, Afghanistan was won by Alexander the Great and has been fully taken over by the Caliphate. It is simply untrue that Afghanistan has never bowed to foreign influence.
In any case Obama was correct to say that the Afghanis themselves are increasingly taking responsibility for their own nation, to be sure. But it should be remembered that Obama torpedoed General Petraeus' plan to train 400,000 Afghan forces. It should also be noted that none of our commanders are confident that the progress, though there has been much, is anywhere near enough to leave the country on its own.
Naturally, Obama used this occasion to veer off into a campaign speech. Obama called the "one trillion dollars" that these wars have cost a cost that should be turned toward "nation building here at home." This, of course, is mere campaign-speak. First of all we don't need to build a nation at home. We have one already. And what is with this business about "jobs," anyway? He's been there three years and done precisely zip about jobs yet now he shoehorns the topic into a foreign policy speech? The man has no sense of propriety.
Amusingly, in his campaign speech portion Obama essentially said that we need to live within our means, but this is interesting talk from a man that leads a party that has gone over 780 days without bothering to propose a budget. This is even more interesting talk from a man that proposed two, count 'em, TWO, failed budget ideas -- both of them stuffed full of a bacchanalia of spending and higher taxes.
Once again we have a failed attempt to make policy. Obama's is a policy of veering wildly from one idea to another without satisfactorily finding a "doctrine" or central theme other than "we lost."