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Fearless Obama?

The American president, who has been talking about democracy, did not have the basic courtesy to inform another democratic president that he planned to visit his country. Barack Obama made an unscheduled visit to Afghanistan, skirted the capital Kabul and landed straight at the Bagram Air Base where his increasing number of troops are stationed.

Forget what they say, and I mean American commentators, about his concern following the Wikileaks. His comments are enough to raise questions even if they are taken within the context. Here are a few quotes deconstructed:

1. “I know it’s not easy for all of you to be away from home, especially during the holidays. But here’s what I want you to know. As President of the United States, I have no greater responsibility than keeping the American people secure. I could not meet that responsibility, we could not protect the American people, we could not enjoy the blessings of our liberty without the extraordinary service that each and every one of you perform each and every day.”
How many Taliban fighters have been knocking on the doors of the US? Are they a security risk to the American people? There was an act of terror committed on 9/11. It wasn’t the Taliban. Not the Taliban that is at war with its own people. Americans need to be protected from the policies of their government – policies that have taken away their jobs, their homes, their welfare schemes, their healthcare facilities. Many Americans would not know where the heck Bagram is. Check with Sarah Palin.

2. "We said we were going to break the Taliban's momentum and that's what you're doing, you're going on the offense, tired of playing defense."
There are several soldiers lying wounded in the hospitals. Why? Were they not supposed to defend themselves? I know that’s not what he meant. I am just flipping the argument. Soldiers may 'tire' of defensive tactics if they get orders from above or their job clearly states so. They do not attack on their own. Later, there could well be tremendous psychological pressure and they may indulge in forms of offense beyond the front, especially with prisoners.

3. “America is not defined by our borders. We are defined by a common creed. And this holiday season, it’s worth remembering that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are the right to life, and liberty and pursuit of happiness.”
If America is not defined by its borders, then why does Mr. Obama want to secure the US borders, even due to imagined threats? What common creed is he talking about when social and racial disparities exist in the land of opportunity and political opportunism, as in lands all over the globe? What about the right to life, liberty and happiness of the civilians killed in air strikes in those lands? Oh, of course, this was to ensure that democracy prevailed.

One reads that the US-propped Hamid Karzai regime is terribly corrupt. It is not sponging on American money, but the money of its own citizens. The US Ambassador in Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, said: "The meeting with AWK highlights one of our major challenges in Afghanistan: how to fight corruption and connect the people to their government when the key government officials are themselves corrupt.”

This should clearly indicate that it is failed US foreign policy. Obama should have met those government officials instead of the PR exercise of three hours with the troops.

4. “So we may face a tough enemy in Afghanistan and we’re in a period of tough challenges back home, but we do not become the nation that we are because we do what’s easy, as Americans, we’ve endured and we’ve grown stronger, and we remain the land of the free only because we are also home of the brave.”
How tough is it to send other people’s fathers, brothers, husbands, sons out to fight an enemy they don’t care about in a place they may barely have any interest in? It is a pity, Mr. President, that you believe the freedom of your people is possible only by the bravery of spreading your armed forces wide.

And, there are other lands that are free in their own way and it is not nice, really, to just drop in to meet your troops without saying hello to the guy who makes it possible for you to be ‘brave’.