President Obama laid out his plan for sending 30 thousand more troops to Afghanistan during a speech last night at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. He wants to start the deployment quickly, within six months, with a goal of beginning a pullout in mid 2011 and having most troops out by 2013.
Some highlights of the speech:
- Obama called Afghanistan and Pakistan “the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by Al Qaeda.”
- He rejected parallels to Vietnam, noting that we have a broad coalition of allies, that the insurgency isn’t popular in Afghanistan and that we were attacked from Afghanistan.
- His goals are to “deny al Qaeda a safe-haven…reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government…and strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government.”
In conclusion, the president insisted, “It is easy to forget that when this war began, we were united — bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again.”
Republicans were generally supportive, though most questioned the president’s 2013 deadline. Democrats were split, with many asking whether more troops is the answer to defeating the Taliban and Al Qaeda.