Live-Blogging West Point


8.35 pm. "Not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes."

I confess I do not feel those highest hopes. I do not share his confidence in American military and civilian power to turn the roiling region of Afghanistan and Pakistan into something less threatening. I see no reason after the last eight years to see how this can happen, even with these new resources. But if you rule out withdrawal right away, then this seems to me to be about the smartest strategy ahead. But I see absolutely no reason to believe that it will mean withdrawal of any significant amount in Obama's first term.

8.34 pm. "I refuse to accept that we cannot summon that unity again." He will have to overcome Cheney.

8.32 pm. Is he choking up? I get a sense that these cadets in front of him are affecting him. He seems different now than before he became president: a commander-in-chief of a different timbre.

8.30 pm. A reprise of liberal internationalism, and a Niebuhrian mix of military realism and global hope. "We do not seek to occupy other nations." And yet we do. And we will.

8.29 pm. The reiteration of America's commitment to human rights and dignity, in stark - and unspoken - contrast with the war crimes of his immediate predecessors.

8.27 pm. "The nation I am most interested in building is our own." But Afghanistan is a close second. Yes: Afghanistan.

8.25 pm. Here's the insistence on a limited commitment to keep the pressure on Pakistan to cooperate. It makes no sense to me. Why would they not wait for us to leave? And if we recommit now, won't that take the pressure off the Pakistani and Afghan governments?

8.23 pm. The argument for staying on offense is pure Giuliani. If you thought you were voting for a peacenik last year, you weren't paying attention, were you? The notion that we do not face a popular insurgency as in Vietnam is also unconvincing.

8.22 pm. The Pakistan pivot: what sounds like a major reset with a critical country. But the description of Pakistan sounds hopelessly utopian to me, does not address the extremist forces within Pakistan's military.

8.20 pm. A direct straight to camera appeal to the Afghan people declaring an absence of any desire to occupy the place for longer than, er, a decade. I have no idea how many actual Afghans will see this statement. Or how they will respond.

8.18 pm. And now an unconvincing passage on Afghan responsibility for their own country. If so, why can they not do so already?

8.16 pm. He has stated that no war plan he contemplated advocated deploying more troops before 2010 and he has now also said that he has approved the fastest possible pace of deployment next year.

8.15 pm. A statement that there remains a clear threat to the security of the United States. But at what cost? And by what means?

8.14 pm. A somewhat moving account of how seriously he takes this decision.

8.10 pm. An utterly and self-evidently convincing defense of the deliberations Cheney has called weakness.

8.09 pm. An utterly and self-evidently unconvincing defense of the legitimacy of the Karzai government and the recent rigged elections.

8.06 pm. A careful repetition of the Iraq diversion without any direct criticism of the last president. Classier than Cheney, though that isn't exactly a tough bar.

8.05 pm. A reprise of the original rationale - under domestic and international law - for invasion.

8.01 pm. I'm watching it on FNC to see how the far right will react. So far, the GOP position is that the new strategy is great because it means more troops and war, but not great because, well, the president is a patsy who is not interested in staying there indefinitely. They will target him as weak because they know how to do that. and they will ensure that if the war fails, he will be blamed, and if he succeeds and tries to withdraw within three years, he will be blamed. The Republicans are out to get this president, whatever he does.