But what was most compelling was the speech's tone. Its almost Kissingerian focus on national self-interest and realism. There weren't Wilsonian-Bushian flourishes about democracy. About the best he could say about Hamad Karzai was that his eleciton complied with the laws of Afghanistan. Women's rights? Bush laced his Iraq speeches with talk of Saddam's rape rooms. And the lifting of the burqa was one of the things that gave our mission to Afghanistan its nobility, even if it was born of retaliation. The open invitation to individual Taliban to defect was built on the idea, seen in Iraq, that you can buy off your enemies.
The logic is the same as health care: we must spend more now to save later. It's a difficult notion to sell but it carries with it the hope of something better. This wasn't Bush on an aircraft carrier or Obama in Iowa railing about Iraq or Hillary and Iraq. This was a community organizer turned war president. He had always argued that Afghanistan was the good war, the one that should have been the center or our attention. For years the Left in America echoed that line until Iraq started to ease, and now many of the Afghanistan-only shouters have become advocates of a full retreat. That's their right. But if Obama lost Mother Jones and The Nation and Salon tonight, he's hoping he can get them and everyone else back with something resembling victory on the ground, however incomplete. Let's hope he's right.
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