Wednesday, January 29, 2014

State of Union Thoughts

I didn't watch the speech, but followed on twitter and then read the speech.

Canada was omitted again.  What a surprise!  Well, not so much.  Again, the speech focuses on the troublemakers and despite Stephen Harper's best efforts to be a pain in the ass with his more-supportive-of-Israel-than-Israelis-are stance, Canada is not causing much trouble.  And why should Obama mention Keystone?  More trouble than it is worth to bring up at the SOTU.
If the Afghan government signs a security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan with NATO allies to carry out two narrow missions: training and assisting Afghan forces and counterterrorism operations to pursue any remnants of al-Qaida. For while our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country. 
Big If.  Notice though that it is Afghan government not President Karzai, so I guess we might want until the election and see if the new President of Afghanistan is a bit less crazy more cooperative.

large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism.
If this was a tweet, this would be a subtweet directed at the Bush Administration and points the finger at the Iraq decision, and rightly so.

I think the most important part was the reminder that American diplomacy can produce good outcomes without or without the deployment of force.  

Cory Remsburg had ten deployments to Afghanistan!  Much tweeting about how awful that is, and it is awful. Why?  Why does the same guy have to go back ten times?  Basically the S in SOF--special operations forces imply small.  Ye olde: not everyone can be special, because if everyone is, then no one is.  So, we relied heavily on SOF to do raids and such.  Very successful, I guess, at killing folks, but not sure whether that made a dent in the war.  Whack-a-mole it has been called.  It raises questions about how we do this stuff.  And whether to do this stuff.

I understand people's qualms about the use of a wounded soldier to illustrate a political point, but I do think this is a good political point to end a SOTU:
America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged.
But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress: to create and build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice and fairness and equality under the law, so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen.
I wish his administration followed through better on this stuff, such as regulating (but not ending) the NSA, like cutting back on the drone strikes even more (although not ending them entirely), and so on. 

Anyhow, those are my two cents on the SOTU 2014.

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