Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day and the Road Ahead

This is a day to thank the many men and women who have served this nation in uniform through the years. I'd particularly like to thank those who have signed up during times of ongoing threat, especially any who've signed up since Friday because of Friday. Bloggers can pontificate but they are not going to win any wars (some of us are lower than dogs).

But bloggers can offer their opinions, for what they are worth. On this day of honor the military faces an uncertain road ahead. The public seems to understand the Hasan attack but also seems confused on what to do going forward, just like the Commander-in-Chief. Perhaps that's why the Hasan attack has become controversial--political factions on both sides know it shines more light on the future.

Bush approached Af-Pak with a light footprint, condemned by most but in hindsight perhaps not so foolish. His foray into Iraq diverted attention to a battlefield we could more easily manage and where the people were more capable of affecting a change on the culture of the middle eastern terror swamp. Despite the many tactical and strategic errors made there it was never just about WMDs--the resistance in Iran attests to the basic need for freedom and self-governance inside all decent human beings.

Obama should now understand that gaining the good graces of world opinion is not all it's cracked up to be. The countries he tried to sway with his self-immolating Cairo speech or refusal to use the phrase Islamic terrorism are not now vigorously standing to condemn the Ft. Hood attack and reaffirm their solidarity with the USA to fight extremism. The Euros are not announcing more contributions to the NATO forces in Afghan. In many ways we continue to be the last best hope.

The argument over Hasan's motive exemplifies a sort of brutal truth that brings back the unpleasantries of 9/11--there is a demented set of ideologues unafraid to die who will wantonly slaughter innocents for their barbaric vision of God, which threatens the order of free society. Tools of their trade come right out of horror movies, and just like horror villains they must be killed with prejudice in the end. Appeasement doesn't work.

That said, and while my disagreements with Obama will not change much going forward, we only have one Commander-in-Chief. Regards Af-Pak I can only hope he makes the right call. It's not clear whether adding more troops into that theater will necessarily stop the Hasans of the world, but history suggests a wholesale departure would certainly embolden more of them. It's a legitimately tough call, one far removed from campaign politics and likely the reason this uber-deliberate president is taking so long.

But during the Bush years this blog repeatedly reminded folks that the GWoT was not a political issue. The same holds true today. While Obama used it politically to get elected he's in command now and our fate largely rests with his decisions. That doesn't mean he shouldn't get hammered for politically calculated decisions--he should--but at the same time 'hoping he fails' is not an option here. The memory of the fallen demands it.

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