Thursday, February 11, 2016

Obama's speech: A missed opportunity

I am at a loss to understand what President Obama was trying to do with his speech tonight.

Obama's speech: A missed opportunity


I am at a loss to understand what President Obama was trying to do with his speech tonight.

The speech appeared aimed at reassuring the public that things were going just dandy in Afghanistan and that we would end that war within three years, just as we’re pulling out of Iraq this year. And Obama promised a transition to Afghan security control by the end of 2014.

Yet that war is seriously troubled – in a way the president finessed. It’s not clear that this transition will work, especially if public pressure rises for an even swifter withdrawal.

By overemphasizing the positive, and bypassing the continuing threats, the president missed an opportunity to explain to Americans why the withdrawal should proceed at a moderate pace. He failed to explain why it’s vital to  keep the bulk of 33,000 “surge” troops in Afghanistan until next summer, and to draw down the remaining 68,000 troops gradually.

More coverage
Podcast: Trudy Rubin on Obama's speech
Say What?: Pace of troop withdrawal matches polls

I write more about these issues in my Thursday column and will talk about them in a video linked to my blog tomorrow morning.  Let me know what you think.

And click here to listen to my commentary yesterday on WHYY on President Obama's speech.

Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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About this blog

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. Over the past decade she has made multiple trips to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank and also written from Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea and China. She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Reach Trudy at

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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