Presidential Address at West Point

First things first, a few notables:

*"Hope" mentioned three times (once as 'hopes')
*At a few points, Obama paused and basically stood in that classic three-fourths profile view. I swear he's made turning one's head sideways iconic, even if it was for the teleprompter.
*AFGHANISTAN NOT IRAQ. How hard is that?! --he seems to be saying.
*Best of all? He actually mentioned that it's not like the Great Powers of the 20th century anymore! Finally! One of the biggest things that annoyed me about Bush--besides everything else--was that he insisted on fighting an amorphous "war on terror" by invading countries. Yes, Obama still defines the areas that the terrorists are in by the borders of the countries they inhabit--but that's sort of necessary when one is either violating the sovereignty of or allying with a state.

He began the speech with saying that America was right to invade Afghanistan, 9/11--for a moment, I thought I was hearing Bush; except that a) he can pronounce things and b) he still does not approve of our involvement in Iraq. Also, he very clearly right away made the point that neither race nor religion should be an issue, and went on to mention the improved relations with the Middle East. No crusades here.

Three key points guaranteed to appeal to the military, all beginning with d's--disable, dismantle, destroy.

Much better: a specific month (July 2011) for when the U.S. will be out of Afghanistan. Only 2010 specified for Iraq.

Justifications for troop surge (30,000 more), besides having allies: our responsibilities, *I forget the second one*, and interests. (It might have been security. The new rationale for being in the Middle East

Basically, he makes no move to hide the fact that the U.S. has "interests," but never says what exactly these interests are. I'm sure oil is a top assumption on everyone's list...but what about that Cold War relic of spreading democracy? Obama did argue against key objections like the idea that Afghanistan is secretly Vietnam, but there's a reason that comparison has been made, and it's not necessarily a misreading of the history following the end of the conflict.

OH. And he included a bit about the economic significance of waging war! YES! (He even went so far as to name the cost of the war this year--$30 billion--but said nothing about how much we'd be spending in the next two years, just that it would be closely watched and made transparent--a word he didn't use; just "honesty.")

All in all, it's very satisfying to have a President who can make references, not just to political science but to key historical periods--using merely the name of past presidents and certain statements ('bringing down walls'--sound familiar?). He mentioned FDR at the end, and it's hard not to wonder why specifically; the Great Depression was mentioned earlier, but what about FDR's role in entering WWII, especially since he was only able to do it after Pearl Harbor? Would Obama have entered Pakistan (by the way, he can actually pronounce some of the places there) and Afghanistan if he had been President during 9/11?

This aside, and even ignoring all the questions raised by what Obama didn't or, sometimes, did say, I have to wonder: how do people in the Middle East react to this? Not necessarily the terrorists, as many of them are too far gone to consider a more diplomatic solution (nor can they be recognized as dignitaries, considering that they generally don't represent states), but everyone else.

Dear Middle East: How do you feel about America the superpower?

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