I thought it an excellent speech, and one that cannot be ignored.
So, of course, the mainstream media is trying to ignore it, with Bozos such as Jim Acosta of CNN sneeringly dismissing it in a tweet as not worthy of a presidential address to the nation:
Jim Acosta @Acosta Typically a presidential prime time address comes with major policy announcement or marks pivotal moment for country. We didn't get that.Clearly, Cosmo didn't listen to the speech or had his tweet all ready to go, and wasn't going to cancel sending it.
The speech had lots of meat, both visible and some, I think, cooking away in the bottom oven out of sight.
He also did something very significant: he acknowledged that he had changed his mind about pulling out of Afghanistan after spending time studying the situation. It's not often you hear that from a politician.
The President summed it all up quite nicely here,
[T]he consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable: 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan, because that country was ruled by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists. A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda, would instantly fill just as happened before September 11th. And as we know, in 2011, America hastily and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq. As a result, our hard-won gains slipped back into the hands of terrorist enemies. Our soldiers watched as cities they had fought for, and bled to liberate, and won, were occupied by a terrorist group called ISIS. The vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit, and launch attacks.
We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq. Third and finally, I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan, and the broader region, are immense. Today 20 U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The highest concentration in any region, anywhere in the world. For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. <...>
Another fundamental pillar of our new strategy is the integration of all instruments of American power—diplomatic, economic, and military—toward a successful outcome. Some day, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen. America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society, and to achieve an ever-lasting peace. We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.That is the essence of the threat and job we face. It is not enough to confine the jihadis to some remote place; they will kill us in our homes if we don't kill them in theirs.
Back in the nineteenth century, for example, most of the world could ignore some lunatic such as the Sudan's self-proclaimed Mahdi, aka Muhammad Ahmad, and his followers -- sort of an ISIS/AQ of its day. His apocalyptic pronouncements and promises to build a Caliphate probably did not resonate much in London and New York. In the end, of course, the British defeated this caliphate (Madihya) in 1898, nearly 15 years after the Mahdi himself had died. That jihadi movement of the nineteenth century posed a very limited threat to core Western civilization.
Not so today.
They might be born and raised in fetid caves and hovels in some of the most benighted countries on earth, but thanks to modern technology, progressive immigration laws, and the pronounced suicidal bent in today's Western civilization, the jihadis are welcomed into our midsts, paid to live among us, and protected by our enlightened legal and political systems. Then, in return, well, you know what happens then: Paris, Barcelona, Turku, San Bernardino, Malmo, Orlando, London, Madrid, Boston, New York, Ft. Hood, Sydney and on and on. They kill us. It seems Trump is promising to return the favor.
President Trump also has, it seems, stopped pulling the punches when it comes to Pakistan.
[T]he next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach in how to deal with Pakistan. We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe-havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.
Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists. In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner. Our militaries have worked to together against common enemies. The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism. We recognize those contributions and those sacrifices. But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars. At the same time, they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change. And that will change immediately.He had a big shout out to India, reminding them of all the benefits they derive from their relations with the USA. That has to have them with sweaty palms in Islamabad.
The President also said he was unleashing our military and dropping many of the restrictions that had hampered them before. He also refused to announce deadlines or troop levels. All good.
OK. You can read the text for yourselves and decide.
Let me just add, that I think we are slowly moving to the Diplomad solution for Afghanistan: get out of nation-building (the US Army is not the Salvation Army); stop threatening them with Democracy, and use, even pay, the traditional warlords to help us to keep ISIS, AQ, Taliban in check; keep a potent military fist in Afghanistan that can strike quickly to provide either back-up or punishment for local authorities who don't keep their side of the bargain. This is not too dissimilar from how the British ruled South Asia. All that is new . . .
It is a good vision, well, as good as we can get given the mess we have this century. We, after all, are stuck with Afghanistan for the foreseeable future so might as well have a realistic approach to that particular mess.