Following is the speech Barack Obama should present to the American people:
“We are entering the ninth year of the war in Afghanistan. In the fall of 2001, the Taliban was crushed by US forces and there were several opportunities to capture Osama bin Laden but they never were pursued. This is not the time to discuss what should or should not have been done over the past eight years. This is not the time to assess blame for to do so would only create anger and bitterness. My obligation tonight is to present to the American people a sensible plan dealing with the situation in Afghanistan. I do not intend to lie, distort or offer a pie-in-the-sky plan that promises victory in that far off land.
My primary responsibility as president is to ensure the safety and security of this nation. My second priority as president is ensuring the safety and security of the brave 1.5 million men and women who risk their lives every day for this nation. I can not and will not allow these gallant soldiers to be placed in harm’s way if it can be avoided. I have been presented plans and options on dealing with the current situation in Afghanistan. Frankly, no plan sent to me has even the promise of victory in the for seeable future. I have heard many voices in the past several months discussing “victory” or “defeat” in Afghanistan and arguing we can not afford to lose Afghanistan to terrorist groups. Afghanistan is not ours to lose. It belongs to the people of Afghanistan and only they can decide their future.
I am going to be bluntly honest with the American people. As commander in chief of the armed forces I can not sanction sending our men and women over and over on one deployment after another. These wonderful young men and women have done more than anyone can ask of American citizens. If I authorize another 30,000 or 40,000 troops to be sent to Afghanistan there is no guarantee additional troops will not be requested six months or a year from now. I have decided we can not send our troops on still another deployment. The choice is clear-either we dramatically increase the size of our armed forces or we adopt some form of draft. I have informed General McChrystal that we will not send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.
What then remains to be done in Afghanistan? We do have some choices:
1. We will meet with officials of the Pakistan government and leaders of their army to discuss possibilities of having Pakistan assume leadership in discussing with Taliban leaders an arrangement that will end fighting in Afghanistan.
2. We will work with the government of President Karzai to ensure corruption and incompetence is put to an end in his government. Only after Karzai government provides clear evidence it has rooted out corruption and incompetence and created a government run by honest officials will I authorize dispatch of an additional 10,000 troops to serve as trainers for the Afghanistan army.
3. We will investigate a proposal to purchase the entire poppy crop of Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from using it to obtain needed money.
4. We will initiate a program of providing arms and equipment to local tribal leaders who we expect to assume responsibility of maintaining security in areas under their control.
5. General McChrystal will be asked to reorganize American troops into fewer areas and those containing large populations. This will end dispatching American troops to outlying isolated areas where they are subject to surprise attacks.
Our goal is assisting in creation of a stability in Afghanistan within two years. At that point, American forces will begin the process of withdrawal from that nation.”