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.
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