President Barack Obama addressed the nation on Wednesday night to announce he would be drawing down 33,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by next summer. Mr. Obama’s decision comes after he ordered 30,000 troops to the middle-eastern nation back in December of 2009. In his speech Mr. Obama focused on not just foreign policy but domestic policy as well: (bolding is mine)
In all that we do, we must remember that what sets America apart is not solely our power -– it is the principles upon which our union was founded. We’re a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all our citizens. We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others. We stand not for empire, but for self-determination. That is why we have a stake in the democratic aspirations that are now washing across the Arab world. We will support those revolutions with fidelity to our ideals, with the power of our example, and with an unwavering belief that all human beings deserve to live with freedom and dignity.
Above all, we are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens here at home. Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource –- our people. We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industries, while living within our means. We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy. And most of all, after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war. For our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong no hill is too steep, no horizon is beyond our reach.
America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.
Congressman Allen West, Florida Republican, who also served in Afghanistan as an Army colonel told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday following the President’s speech, “Well, I think one of the things that you saw to night was a highly politicized mission accomplished speech that was absent of the aircraft carrier and the banner. And I think that you saw the facade of a president that wanted to get involved in the combat theater of operations in Afghanistan but really that was not his comfort zone.”
He added, “I think when you look at this speech, the money line that the president used was that, ‘America, we’re going to start nation building at home,’ which was exactly what he’d like to have his focus on. This ended up being more of a campaign speech than, really, a strategy speech for that combat theater of operations.”
House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, responded to President Obama’s speech on Wednesday night, but cautioned in a statement:
“I am pleased the President recognizes that success in Afghanistan is paramount. Continuing to degrade al Qaeda’s capabilities in Afghanistan and the surrounding region must take priority over any calendar dates. It’s important that we retain the flexibility necessary to reconsider troop levels and respond to changes in the security environment should circumstances on the ground warrant. It is my hope that the President will continue to listen to our commanders on the ground as we move forward. Congress will hold the Administration accountable for ensuring that the pace and scope of the drawdown does not undermine the progress we’ve made thus far.
President Obama’s strategic foreign policy decisions continue to haunt him and the latest seems to be his choice on who he was listening to for help on Afghanistan.
CNN is reporting that a number of critics of Mr. Obama’s Afghanistan’s policy are pointing out that General David Petraeus, who is currently being considered to head up the CIA, may have been ignored by the president in lieu of taking advice from Vice President Joe Biden. Such a move can very well politically hurt the president even after getting a quick political boost following Osama bin Laden’s death last month.