On his first trip to Afghanistan, President Obama said the following words to the troops (transcript):
You are part of the finest military in the history of the world, and we are proud of you. And so I want you to know that everybody back home is proud of you. Everybody back home is grateful. And everybody understands the sacrifices that you have made and your families have made to keep America safe and to keep America secure in this vital mission...
So I want you to know, I want every American serving in Afghanistan, military and civilian, to know, whether you’re working the flight line here at Bagram or patrolling a village down in Helmand, whether you’re standing watch at a forward operating base or training our Afghan partners or working with the Afghan government, your services are absolutely necessary, absolutely essential to America’s safety and security. Those folks back home are relying on you.
We can’t forget why we’re here. We did not choose this war. This was not an act of America wanting to expand its influence; of us wanting to meddle in somebody else’s business. We were attacked viciously on 9/11. Thousands of our fellow countrymen and women were killed. And this is the region where the perpetrators of that crime, al Qaeda, still base their leadership.
Plots against our homeland, plots against our allies, plots against the Afghan and Pakistani people are taking place as we speak right here. And if this region slides backwards, if the Taliban retakes this country and al Qaeda can operate with impunity, then more American lives will be at stake. The Afghan people will lose their chance at progress and prosperity. And the world will be significantly less secure.
And as long as I’m your Commander-in-Chief, I am not going to let that happen. That’s why you are here. I’ve made a promise to all of you who serve. I will never send you into harm’s way unless it’s absolutely necessary. I anguish in thinking about the sacrifices that so many of you make. That’s why I promise I will never send you out unless it is necessary...
Our broad mission is clear: We are going to disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al Qaeda and its extremist allies. That is our mission. And to accomplish that goal, our objectives here in Afghanistan are also clear: We’re going to deny al Qaeda safe haven. We’re going to reverse the Taliban’s momentum. We’re going to strengthen the capacity of Afghan security forces and the Afghan government so that they can begin taking responsibility and gain confidence of the Afghan people.
And our strategy includes a military effort that takes the fight to the Taliban while creating the conditions for greater security and a transition to the Afghans; but also a civilian effort that improves the daily lives of the Afghan people, and combats corruption; and a partnership with Pakistan and its people, because we can’t uproot extremists and advance security and opportunity unless we succeed on both sides of the border. Most of you understand that.
Many of the troops that I ordered to Afghanistan have begun to arrive, and more are on the way. And we’ll continue to work with Congress to make sure that you’ve got the equipment that you need, particularly as we complete our drawdown in Iraq. We’re providing more helicopters, we’re providing more intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities, more special operations forces, more armored vehicles that can save lives.
So thanks to you, there’s been progress these last several months. But we know there are going to be some difficult days ahead. There’s going to be setbacks. We face a determined enemy. But we also know this: The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something. (Applause.) You don’t quit, the American armed services does not quit, we keep at it, we persevere, and together with our partners we will prevail. I am absolutely confident of that. (Applause.)
Well...damn. That's exactly what I wanted to hear. I've been listening to dispiriting defeatist rhetoric from liberals for so long that I almost don't know how to act when one actually acts like a real American leader who stands up for this country. This may be Obama's most presidential moment to date. Sure, there was another little swipe at Bush in there, but remember, Obama is seeing Iraq through to the end as well.
Well done, Mr. President. I really hope you mean those words.
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