Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


President Obama Speaks to West Point Graduates … and the Nation


(Transcript below the fold)

From the White House Blog: “”America Must Always Lead”: President Obama Addresses West Point Graduates

This morning, President Obama traveled to West Point to congratulate the newest officers in the United States Army and to reflect on America’s foreign policy agenda. In the President’s remarks, he acknowledged that our world is changing with accelerating speed and that America must be equipped to respond to an increasingly dynamic environment.

   It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world. The question we face; the question you will face; is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also to extend peace and prosperity around the globe.

The President spent most of his speech outlining his vision for how the United States, and our military, should lead in the years to come. The four elements of American leadership included:

1.   Using military force when our core interests are at stake or our people are threatened

2.   Shifting our counter-terrorism strategy by more effectively partnering with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold

3.   Continuing to strengthen and enforce international order through evolving our institutions, such as NATO and the United Nations

4.   Supporting democracy and human rights around the globe, not only as a matter of idealism, but one of national security

President Obama articulated that the United States is a global leader – a nation that “must always lead on the world stage.”

   Ultimately, global leadership requires us to see the world as it is, with all its danger and uncertainty. But American leadership also requires us to see the world as it should be – a place where the aspirations of individual human beings matter; where hopes and not just fears govern; where the truths written into our founding documents can steer the currents of history in the direction of justice. And we cannot do that without you.

Hubris — if only it were just a bad dream

Last night, I watched the much-awaited documentary Hubris, narrated by Rachel Maddow, which laid out for us all how the Iraq war was sold to the American public. I had to watch this show, not to help me make more sense of a war that has deeply and probably permanently affected/afflicted me, but to fill in some of the blanks, and there are many, because I was very disinterested in politics at the time I was deployed. I was just a happy Reservist, enjoying my Microsoft career and my weekend drills (along with the special interpreter missions that occasionally sent me to France, ooh la la!).

After 9/11, everybody knew we’d be going to war. I was just as surprised as my Microsoft teammates and managers when I showed up for my next shift — we all kinda suspected that anybody in the military would be immediately ordered to duty or something. But that’s not how it happened — I know now that Bush and company needed time to prepare their lies case for invading. And I just wasn’t paying attention to all that. I knew I’d be proud to serve my country in that way if called upon, but all that politics stuff was boringgg, and I trusted that those in positions of power were doing the right thing, protected by all the checks and balances our wonderful system of government puts in place. I didn’t even own a TV set, only listened to contemporary French music, not radio, got all my news via the Internet, but glossed over anything pertaining to Congress, the President, all those people up there doing Very Important Work.  

Afghanistan Draw Down – Open Thread

So it’s happened. Despite protests from the Pentagon, Obama has announced his intention of making the surge of two years ago truly a surge, and to draw down 33,000 US troops from Afghanistan by September next year.

The current Afghan President Hamid Karzai has just welcomed the news.

“The Afghan people’s trust in the Afghan army and police is growing every day and preservation of this land is the job of Afghans…. I welcome the decision of the US president today on pulling out [some of] … its troops from Afghanistan and I consider this a right decision for the interest of both countries.”

The news has created an unusual consensus and been welcome by the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as well as NATO, and the governments in London, Paris and Berlin.

Late Monday Night Open Thread

Thought it was time for an open thread.

Thanksgiving is over. If you are a political junky then the next month will give you plenty to cheer or moan and groan about.

First up is Afghanistan. I wish I could wave a magic flag and bring the troops home tomorrow. I wish we could find an honorable way out of the region. But, wishes are what you resort to when reality isn’t cooperating. All I can really say about this mess is that I’m glad we have a President who thinks through his decisions even when pressured to do otherwise. Don’t doubt this man’s backbone. Brains and courage. Great combination.

Health care is about to heat up, also. You betcha. The opposition is going to throw everything they’ve got into the gears to try to bring it screeching to a halt. The advantage held by the pro-reform side is razor-thin. It will take supreme effort to see it through to success.

Anything else on your mind?

A Moose Murder: Friday Open Thread

Not a great week for this vagabond Brit to return to the progressive online community. After three months living out of suitcases, I return to find that everything has fallen apart since I’ve been away.

1. War escalates in Afghanistan.

2. The Senate pass a heavily watered down health care reform bill.

3. Obama has to confront the reality that the Copenhagen talks on climate change and man made emissions are heading nowhere.

Jeesh. I’ll be careful next time I move. There’s lots to be said about all these things, and having experienced this meme in the British media, I’m sure you’re all getting in the neck too. The line goes like this (I’ve seen it in the Guardian Blog today)…

Karzai sends Women's Rights back to the Stone Age

Two short weeks ago, in a speech on International Women’s Day, President Hamid Karzai gave a rousing speech on the need to fight the specter of the institutionalized marginalization, violence, and rape that Afghani women faced during the reign of the Taliban.

In a speech commemorating International Women’s Day on Sunday, President Hamid Karzai challenged Afghan religious leaders to denounce violence against women and reject traditional practices that treat women as property.

“The forced marriages, the selling of women these are against Islam,” Karzai told some 600 women gathered in a high school auditorium in the capital, Kabul.

How quickly things change. Seems Mr. Karzai’s not so sure he’s got the coalition build to support him in the upcoming Presidential election. So, what’s the answer, here? Why, some very disgusting electioneering- by signing the Shiite Personal Status Law.

Their Silent Suffering

According to Reuters, U.S. Army suicide rates are at their highest since the military first began tracking them in 1980. With 128 soldiers having committed suicide in 2008, and 15 additional deaths still under investigation, this is the first time the number of military suicides has been higher than the adjusted rate of suicide in the general civilian population since Vietnam.

A Letter from Helmand

What follows is an edited diary sent to me by a friend, Chris Lincoln Jones, who has spent the last eight months in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He would have posted this himself, except for communication problems. Hopefully his account will help to inform and inspire debate about Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan.

The good intentions of writing lots of pieces about life here never really survived contact with the enemy; the enemy being a daily diet of office work involving constant writing. Yesterday was rather different, as I have taken on the rather grandiose title of Brigade Patrol Master.  

I am looking across Helmand and trying to identify the patterns we set that are subsequently exploited by our enemy when he lays his mines and I try to devise ways to counter his wickedness.

So yesterday I went out on patrol with J Company…