Lingering Questions for the President

Caroline Wadhams discusses the Obama administrations strategy for Afghanistan at Democracy Arsenal.

The Administration hit the right tone in terms of making the case for why the United States should remain engaged in Afghanistan while acknowledging our own economic crisis and that “we are passing through a time of great trial.”  His timeline for transitioning security to Afghans beginning in 2011 was key and matches with a position a few of us have taken at the Center for American Progress – that the war in Afghanistan can no longer be open-ended and that we need to establish a timeframe for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Obama’s rhetorical skill was again on display with his remarks to foreign publics, especially to the Afghans when he stated, “I want the Afghan people to understand – America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country.”  He reached out to the Pakistani public, reminding them that we are the biggest contributor to their displaced population and that “going forward, the Pakistani people must know: America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.”  But he also rallied the American public around good old traditional American values.  I especially liked this line:  “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.” This was a delicate juggling act appealing to such a diverse audience.

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Caroline Wadhams

Senior Fellow