Invoking September 11, as weary as that has become, had to be done, but Barack did it in a much better way.? Barack invoked Article 5 of the NATO treaty – the provision that binds NATO allies to defense of each other on occasion of attack.? The last time we heard Article 5 mentioned this prominently was in the first days after September 11, when Colin Powell used the phrase “teed up”, to describe the US invocation of it.
Using Article 5 in this speech, tonight, on national television, not only reminded Americans of the stakes, it reminded our allies.? That is a big deal.? We are not in Afghanistan alone, never have been, and we are there for a reason so commanding it triggered NATO’s only effective provision, in fact NATO’s reason for existence.? By putting NATO credibility this explicitly on the line, Barack not only made an argument against withdrawal, he made an argument for the escalation, and completion of the mission.
Pakistan was discussed more in this speech than in any speech any US president has made on national TV.? That’s also a big deal, and it puts enormous pressure on the Pakistani side of the border, whether Pakistanis like it or not.? I cannot imagine George W. Bush being this explicit about making demands, military and political, on Pakistan.? Another repudiation.
Tying this speech so tightly to the economy was politically smart, a practical necessity, executed well, and a mission critical vision for our forces to whom Barack is issuing his orders.? The price tag was clear, transparent, and explicit.? It seemed to sink in to the cadets, too.? Over time, this rationale will probably take hold within the day to day narrative from the White House.? Good.
The most important takeaway for me is that next summer will be the hottest in Afghanistan since the war began.? The new troops will all have arrived, and a spring offensive will certainly be coming from the Taliban.? That means this strategy will succeed or fail by the end of 2010.
I expect it will succeed.