I've been thinking about it all day. I haven't listened to the radio or political talking heads and the sports guys are all caught up in Tiger's privacy statement so I've gotten no input from that angle, either. The local paper is filled with the usual crime and mayhem and good deeds being done around town and the Wall Street Journal didn't offer much more than a recap of the speech itself. These thoughts, therefore, are totally my own.
I love listening to President Obama speak. He is the very best of teachers and explainers and convincers. He looks me right in the eye and tells me that he refuses to believe that we can't recapture that feeling of all being in it together that we had after 9/11 and suddenly I want to go out and hang the flag as I did all through September and October and November of 2001.
He tells the Afghan people straight out that he has no interest in occupying their country nor of becoming a permanent military presence and I almost-nearly-not-quite-but-I-really-want-to believe that they will hear it and see it and know it for the sincerity that I see there. There's a refreshing lack of cynicism in his tone. He understands the skepticism and he meets it head on.
He has high expectations of America and Americans. His take on the Melian Dialogue was interesting; Right makes Might when those who are right are also the most powerful armed force on the planet. Can we shock and awe and be done in 18 months? And am I too crass when I immediately did the election cycle math with the deployments and then the return of the troops? He must mean what he says - he certainly can't relish running for re-election if he hasn't kept that promise.
I know he says it's not Viet Nam, but looking at the young young young faces of the cadets in Eisenhower Auditorium last night brought me smack dab back to 1969 and I was sad. Some of those kids will lose their lives fighting in a place that thwarted even Alexander the Great. I understand the need to root out al Quaeda but there's a reason that they're hiding in the caves along the Pakistani border..... I don't want to think about impenetrable and impossible but it's really hard to avoid it.
Our goals are laudable, necessary, reasonable and self-protective. Are they achievable? Will they have long term benefits? Will we be able to turn the trillions of dollars we're investing in wars abroad to developing our infrastructure at home?
I guess we'll find out in July, 2011.