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The Obama Speech America Is Dying to Hear: "This Administration Ended, Rather Than Extended, Two Wars"

Any day now, Obama will make an announcement about the number of soldiers he wants in Afghanistan. Here's the speech he should give.

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While there may be "off-ramps" and an "end game" for the Afghan War lurking somewhere in the distance in his plan, we know, as a start, that he's not going to recommend a minus option. We have long been assured that any proposals for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan were never "on the table." And despite Ambassador Eikenberry's near zero-option position, we also know that the president is likely to choose some form of military escalation (even if these days, unlike in the Vietnam era, the word used is usually "surge"). We don't know how many U.S. troops will be involved or whether they will be weighted toward trainers and advisors or combat forces, but it seems clear that some will be sent. It's not for nothing that the Pentagon is ramping up new Afghan bases and reinforcing old ones.

Undoubtedly, the President's speechwriters are already preparing the text for his Afghan... well, we don't really know whether it will be "remarks," an announcement as part of a press conference, or a more formal address to the American people. In any case, we -- the rest of us -- have had all the disadvantages of essentially being in on the president's councils, and none of the advantages of offering our own advice. But I don't see why we shouldn't weigh in. Personally, I prefer not to leave the process to his speechwriters and advisors.

What follows, then, is my version of the president's Afghan announcement. I've imagined it as a challenging prime-time address to the American people. Certainly, the subject is important enough for such an address, even if the last time Obama did this, in March, it was via an unannounced appearance on a Friday morning. So here's my President Obama -- in, I hope, something like his voice -- doing what no American president has yet done. Sit down, turn on your TV, and see what you think. Tom


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

A New Way Forward:

The President's Address to the American People on Afghan Strategy


Oval Office


For Immediate Release

December 2nd

8:01 P.M. EDT

My fellow Americans,

On March 28th, I outlined what I called a "comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan." It was ambitious. It was also an attempt to fulfill a campaign promise that was heartfelt. I believed -- and still believe -- that, in invading Iraq, a war this administration is now ending, we took our eye off Afghanistan. Our well-being and safety, as well as that of the Afghan people, suffered for it.

I suggested then that the situation in Afghanistan was already "perilous." I announced that we would be sending 17,000 more American soldiers into that war zone, as well as 4,000 trainers and advisors whose job would be to increase the size of the Afghan security forces so that they could someday take the lead in securing their own country. There could be no more serious decision for an American president.

Eight months have passed since that day. This evening, after a comprehensive policy review of our options in that region that has involved commanders in the field, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor James Jones, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, top intelligence and State Department officials and key ambassadors, special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, and experts from inside and outside this administration, I have a very different kind of announcement to make.

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