EDITORIAL: Obama’s midnight madness / President campaigns at the expense of the nation and national security (WASHINGTON TIMES) 05/03/12)
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Americans witnessed a bizarre made-for-TV event Tuesday night.
President Obama travelled 14,000 miles to Afghanistan to engage in a
midnight marathon of election-year photo-ops. Never has U.S. national
security been so twisted to fit a personal political agenda.
The pretext for Mr. Obama’s visit to Afghanistan was signing the
strategic-partnership agreement that was rushed to completion 10 days
ago. The document purports to be a “legally binding executive
agreement” between the two countries, which it is not since it was
never approved or apparently even viewed by the U.S. Congress. It
pledges the United States to a series of vague guarantees intended to
inspire confidence in Afghanistan even as the Obama administration
seeks the quickest possible exit. It’s also the only major
international agreement ever signed in the middle of the night so a
U.S. president could make a speech during American waking hours.
Afghanistan was simply the backdrop for the performance, and Afghan
President Hamid Karzai was an extra, forced to stay up to the wee
hours to sign an agreement that could potentially spell the end of
his regime, if not his life.
Mr. Obama later spoke from an empty hangar at Bagram air base. He
tried to make the case that conditions in Afghanistan have improved
to the point where it was time for the coalition to leave. But
instead of peaceful streets of Kabul, viewers saw a backdrop of
military vehicles, with an American flag draped incongruously over
the netting used to deflect enemy hand grenades. “Why doesn’t he have
any heart in this?” a soldier said, watching the speech on
television. “He’s like a robot. And how ridiculous that backdrop
looks. If you are trying to say Afghanistan is on the path of peace
and security, why have huge armored vehicles that clearly are still
needed there? It belies what he says.”
Mr. Obama claimed the effort in Afghanistan was failing before he
took office, “but over the last three years, the tide has turned.” If
so, he has turned it in the wrong direction. Things were going so
well during the George W. Bush years that in June 2005, Rep. Nancy
Pelosi, San Francisco Democrat, declared, “The war in Afghanistan is
over.” Now the war is more deadly than ever. During 87 months of the
Bush administration, the American death toll in Afghanistan was 630,
an average of seven troops killed per month. Over 40 months of Mr.
Obama’s leadership, 1,327 Americans have died, more than four times
the previous death rate.
The O Force’s “secret trip” to Afghanistan was supposed to cap a week
of celebratory events centered around the one-year anniversary of the
Osama bin Laden takedown. The exaltation of the commander in chief
did not work out as planned. Blowback from active-duty and retired
military, political commentators and the general public forced Mr.
Obama publicly to deny that the display of self-adulation was
excessive. Yet the more the White House tried to draw attention to
the president, the less significant he seemed. He loped away from the
lectern at Bagram on Tuesday dwarfed by the tools of war that loomed
before him. (© 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. 05/03/12)
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