"I think that right now the debate surrounding Afghanistan is presented as either we get up and leave immediately because there's no chance at a positive outcome, or we stay basically indefinitely and do quote unquote whatever it takes for as long as it takes."
Obama's policy falls somewhere in the middle, thereby pleasing few. He reiterated that a July 2011 date to begin withdrawing troops does not mean the U.S. will "suddenly turn off the lights and let the door close behind us." Under Obama's policy, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will first climb to 98,000.
Obama offered a rationale for the nation's very presence in Afghanistan.
"You'll often hear, why are we in Afghanistan when the terrorists are in Pakistan?" Obama said.
He contended America would be less secure if al-Qaida still could be housed in Afghanistan, and contended there remains "a vital national interest that Afghanistan not be used as a base to launch terrorist attacks."
The president said his focus is on making sure that the mission in Afghanistan is successful. Why he can't say "victory" is beyond me. But I digress.
The president is at least getting closer to accurately portraying our July 2011 deadline as what it is--the start for hopefully turning over the fight to Afghan forces that eventually will let us scale back our direct role in the fight over time.
But his base doesn't want to hear that. Hopefully, the president says this loud enough to make the Left squeal. That sound should reverberate all the way to Afghanistan so that the people who need to hear this message--both enemies, friends, and neutrals--have no doubt that we are in for the win.
UPDATE: Via Real Clear Politics, send a copy to the Speaker, too, who unsurprisingly already has her running shoes on:
In some of the strongest terms she has used to date, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared last Friday that the United States will see "a serious drawdown" of forces in Afghanistan by July 2011 and that the House may use the power of the purse to ensure the drawdown takes place.
You didn't really think she believed Afghanistan is the "good war," did you?