Argh. What to think, what to think? It was a long speech that boils down to 30,000 additional troops going to Afghanistan with the goal of stabilizing the country within 18 months and then leaving the former factional warlord-and-druglord driven shithole of corruption as a shiny new intact unified nation with a nice new transparent government and equal rights for women and people who can read and a marked lack of support for Taliban and roses instead of poppies.
No word as yet on where Obama plans to find the pod people for the replacements that will be necessary for this to work.
I am torn here. The Afghanistan adventure was doomed from the outset when Rumsfeld and his ilk decided to go in on an economy plan that was light on troops and heavy on cash payments to bribe warlords, tribal leaders, and drug dealers, with an exterminator's mindset rather than a community organizer's. The NATO alliance failed to focus on infrastructure building and thus failed to address the underlying issues creating the climate that made the Taliban such an attractive option to the populace in the first place, and whose resolution would have eliminated the conditions that allowed the Taliban to maintain a stranglehold on the people when they replaced the original despair with a newer, Sharia version of misery.
If you have not yet picked up Ahmed Rashid's Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, please do so now and spend the next week reading it, as well as hoping fervently that either Obama or someone with his ear has done the same. Eighteen months to undo decades of pure chaos and malfeasance? I hope it works. Without a parallel level of effort, money, and manpower on the part of just about every country in NATO, directed as much at infrastructure and civil affairs as military objectives, I'm not sure how this happens in eighteen months, if at all.