OxBlog

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

# Posted 5:47 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHY BOTHER LISTENING TO OBAMA'S SPEECH? The front page of the Washington Post has already announced that 34,000 new troops will deploy to Afghanistan. The front page of the NY Times says "about 30,000".

So tonight's speech isn't about the decision Obama has made. It's about how he will justify it to his own party and to the American people. Here are five things to listen for:

1. "A war of necessity" Obama made those words famous. Will we hear them again tonight? If it is a war of necessity, failure is not an option.

2. "Counterinsurgency": Will Obama give his strategy its proper name? Or will he present his approach as a compromise that reflects the input of skeptics?

3. "Victory": Will Obama say that he wants to achieve "victory" or even "success"? What is our mission? What must we achieve before we even think about an exit strategy? If winning isn't essential, why should we sacrifice American lives?

4. "Exit strategy": Obama has the thankless task of explaining how escalation actually means he wants to end the war sooner. Which phrase will Obama use? Will there be any specifics? Will Obama tell us how, 6 or 12 or 18 months from now, we will be able to distinguish success from failure?

5. "9/11": Will Obama justify this escalation as the continuation of what started on 9/11? That may infuriate the skeptics in his own party. But if he doesn't invoke 9/11, how will he explain why success is worth the loss of more American lives?

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
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