This article originally appeared on TomDispatch.
Next Tuesday, President Obama is slated to address the American people in prime time about the war in Afghanistan from West Point. “It is my intention,” he said in a press conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, “to finish the job.” Every sign indicates that he will be sending 30,000 or more new American troops into that country.
Undoubtedly, the president’s speechwriters are already preparing the text for his address. In the nearly three months since he began his strategic review of the Afghan War–with leaks pouring out almost every day–the rest of us have had all the disadvantages of essentially being in on the president’s councils, and none of the advantages of offering our own advice. But I don’t see why we shouldn’t weigh in.
What follows, then, is my version of the president’s Afghan announcement. Here’s my President Obama–in, I hope, something like his voice–doing what no American president has yet done and what, unfortunately, he’s not going to do. So sit down, turn on your TV, and see what you think.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
A New Way Forward:
The President’s Address to the American People on Afghan Strategy
For Immediate Release
8:01 PM. EDT
My fellow Americans,
On March 28th, I outlined what I called a “comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” It was ambitious. It was also an attempt to fulfill a campaign promise that was heartfelt. I believed–and still believe–that, in invading Iraq, a war this administration is now ending, we took our eye off Afghanistan. Our well-being and safety, as well as that of the Afghan people, suffered for it.
I suggested then that the situation in Afghanistan was already “perilous.” I announced that we would be sending 17,000 more American soldiers into that war zone, as well as 4,000 trainers and advisers whose job would be to increase the size of the Afghan security forces so that they could someday take the lead in securing their own country. There could be no more serious decision for an American president.
Eight months have passed since that day. This evening, after a comprehensive policy review of our options in that region that has involved commanders in the field, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor James Jones, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, top intelligence and State Department officials and key ambassadors, special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, and experts from inside and outside this administration, I have a very different kind of announcement to make.