Will Obama Use PowerPoint And Other Afghan Questions

More

So it looks like the long awaited Obama speech on Afghanistan is coming up next week. A smart Pentagon observer I know thinks the increase in troop strength will be about 25,000 but there will be all kinds of reviews and metrics used to judge progress. It won't be the 40,000 that Gen. Stanley McChrystal advocated, and it won't be the withdrawal that The Nation seems to want but it will be the work of a president who doesn't want to lose Afghanistan on his watch and doesn't want an open-ended commitment. If you're speechwriter Jon Favreau trying to eat turkey with your laptop this weekend, these are the elements you probably want in:

1. Why We went to Afghanistan in the first place. A useful reminder of 9/11, the Taliban and their guests, Al Qaeda.

2. What's working and what's not.

3. The Karzai government. You have to walk a fine line between calling it a democratic government and saying they need to do more.

4. Make it clear that we're not staying forever but we're staying long enough to finish the job. See Bush in Iraq, circa 2005.

5. Explain how we'll pay for it.

6. Explain what the plan is and how it's not just military but also involves building up Afghan institutions, training Afghan army, etc.

7. Salute the troops and their sacrifice.

8. Invoke the allies. Make it clear we're not alone.

9. Make it clear that the whole region depends on this too, including Pakistan.

10. Don't promise Afghanistan will be a perfect democracy, only that it'll be relatively stable and won't be an Al Qaeda base.

11. Don't promise the Taliban will be vanquished because they may end up in the government before it's all over.

In an age of PowerPoint and YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, the Oval Office address is still one of the great presidential tools--a chance for a directness and clarity without fanfare. It's a drama without a soundtrack. You get maximum TV impact and because it's short all the networks take it without fussing.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Death of Film: After Hollywood Goes Digital, What Happens to Movies?

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In