The transcript of Obama’s much anticipated decision to send more troops to Afghanistan is out. You can find it here among other places. After a quick read I have only a few remarks:
1. Obama completely glosses the US role in the destabilization of Afghanistan and its direct responsibility for the rise of Al Qaeda.
2. Those of you who have read Woods’ essay will likely hear echoes of her criticisms of “democracy as the ideology of empire”:
And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom and justice and opportunity and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are. That is the moral source of America’s authority.
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For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for – and what we continue to fight for – is a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity.
3. He has totally rejected the notion of a political settlement which would include the Taleban.
4. Obama makes a vague gesture at increasing military aid to Pakistan though he does not specify what shape that aid will take. Predator drones?
5. Is it possible that the US will increase its “overseas contingency operations” in Somalia and Yemen?
Where al-Qaida and its allies attempt to establish a foothold – whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.
6. Despite the fact that only a few weeks ago James Jones suggested there were as few as 80 or 100 Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan, Obama chooses to emphasize them as a threat.