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Waiting to See What Obama Says on Afghanistan

The nation awaits an announcement from President Barack Obama tonight that will confirm that Obama has, in fact, pledged to send 35,000 more troops to Afghanistan to escalate war.

We await confirmation that some soldiers for Christmas will be getting the gift of deployment to an American theater of war in Afghanistan.

Just weeks ago, Obama was able to, with the support of the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, reject four military options that were on the table and send them back to the drawing board so that when they were resent to his desk they would have exit strategies in them.

None of this action, which seemed to indicate at least a personal conflict with the war, involved a plan for immediate withdrawal. None of this involved bringing an end to the quagmire we now face in Afghanistan and will surely expand if we send any more troops to Afghanistan.

And, now, this nation sits at a conjuncture waiting for Obama’s primetime speech at West Point, which will be sliced, diced, dissected, disemboweled, and re-cut for mass consumption by the people of America.

Those who saw Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment on Countdown Monday night or Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s appearance on On the Record w/ Greta van Susteren on Friday night know American minds need to be captured in the interest of this idea that this war should be continued or else this nation’s sleazy adventure in Afghanistan will become very untenable.

I cannot know or sympathize with the position for opposing Obama’s current actions on the Afghanistan War, which are surely evident among Republicans who as a party find they can never support anything the president does. But, I do have the capacity to see the folly of the liberals and Democrats who have the ability to steer Obama into a more humane direction than escalation.

As Democratic supporters or supporters of Obama did a year ago after Obama won and as they did for most of 2009 if not all of 2009, Democratic Party supporters and supporters of Obama are willfully adopting a wait-and-see attitude to Obama’s speech tonight.

The motivation is that maybe something he says will convince me that I am wrong to have reservations about sending more of young men and women off to war, perhaps I am operating misconceived notions when I doubt our nation’s ability to afford this intervention, and it’s possible that I do not know something about how Afghanistan threatens our security that the Pentagon and President Obama knows.

But, there is scarcely more than 50% who support any kind of escalation at all. There are more people willing to consider withdrawal than an expansion of this intervention to continue nation building in Afghanistan.

This has been the case since February when Obama first escalated the war by sending 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan without outlining a clear strategy or set of mission objectives for his newly inherited war.

So, this is the second surge and that he is giving a primetime speech should send a signal to everyone that like the speech he gave in Cairo on the Middle East, like the speech on race that he gave, and like a speech he gave on national security he understands that he has to use his power to persuade Americans.

His power to persuade is required if we are to move forward as a nation. And so, we will see on the stage tonight a man employing talking points aimed at propagandizing a people into believing we are wrong to think ill of this “good war” in Afghanistan.

We are wrong to question generals like Gen. Stanley McChrystal who have “served” our country well even though they exploited the deaths of soldiers like Pat Tillman to increase support for wars in the Middle East.

We are wrong to question the sacrifices our soldiers are making and we must let them continue to sacrifice and we must support the troops even if they never succeed at the folly they are engaged in.

We are wrong to question the arguments put forth by policymakers on the threat Afghanistan (or Pakistan) poses to our country because the policymakers and military generals close to the battlefield understand the war better than we can and while they don’t know the language of peace America has no interest in cutting and running before we are able to stabilize a region that many empires have failed to stabilize for decades.

Obama steps up to the podium or lectern at 8 pm ET. He will be seeking public acquiescence. He will be pushing people to “trust” him and take the carrot he has offered — an exit strategy slated for 2017 that anyone familiar with politics know could easily become 2020 or 2025.

Many will doubt their opposition but there is no doubt that this nation’s lack of moral courage to stand up to further acts of brutality and violence in Afghanistan committed in our name will damn our nation far more than any acts of military withdrawal or diplomatic cooperation aimed at bring this war in Afghanistan to an end ever will.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."