From Abu Muqawama
The man who made this speech had lost his son in Afghanistan four days prior. While that is certainly tragic, and his decision to give the oration regardless should be praised, it does not exempt the content of the speech from criticism. Nor should it.
Simply put, this is one of the worst, dishonest speeches I have read in recent times. It is bad not just for the dishonesty, but for the fact that is very much purposeful dishonesty. There is much about this speech I do not like, and for the sake of not complicated matters, I’ll take it one at a time as it comes up.
“…their response was a commitment to protect the nation swearing an oath to their God to do so, to their deaths.”
No atheists in the Armed Forces?
“When future generations ask why America is still free and the heyday of Al Qaeda and their terrorist allies was counted in days rather than in centuries as the extremists themselves predicted…”
It’s a big leap between days and centuries. You can apply this same logic to the Vietcong, but no one measures their existence in days. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are no different. They’ve already been around for decades and its looking increasingly likely they’ll last a good bit longer.
“As we sit here right now, we should not lose sight of the fact that America is at risk in a way it has never been before…”
Nonsense. The Revolution? The Civil War? Ring a bell?
We did not start this fight,
“If they persist, these terrorists and extremists and the nations that provide them sanctuary, they must know they will continue to be tracked down and captured or killed.”
Excellent. I look forward to the upcoming invasions of Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Somalia and every other country in the Middle East.
“America’s civilian and military protectors both here at home and overseas have for nearly nine years fought this enemy to a standstill and have never for a second “wondered why.” …America’s warriors have never lost faith in their mission, or doubted the correctness of their cause.”
Not true. Of course it isn’t. The General knows this, but he said it anyway. The idea that every member of the US Armed Forces is 100% behind the War on Terror is idiotic in the extreme. You can follow orders in Iraq and Afghanistan but not be happy with the war.
“Since this generation’s “day of infamy” the American military has handed our ruthless enemy defeat-after-defeat…”
Yet they are still there.
“And, ladies and gentlemen, think about this, the only territory we as a people have ever asked for from any nation we have fought alongside, or against, since our founding, the entire extent of our overseas empire, as a few hundred acres of land for the 24 American cemeteries scattered around the globe.”
How about the majority of what we today call the United States? Texas? New Mexico? California? How about Guam, Puerto Rico? How about the Philipines and numerous Pacific islands? Hawaii? Midway? Guantanamo Bay? And all those military bases all across the world?
“Yes, we are at war, and are winning, but you wouldn’t know it because successes go unreported, and only when something does go sufficiently or is sufficiently controversial, it is highlighted by the media elite that then sets up the “know it all” chattering class to offer their endless criticism.”
The media very purpose, many would argue, is to be a check and balance against this sort of thing, of Generals acting as if the mission is going better than it really is. When your Commander-in-Chief says Mission Accomplished with 9 years of war and counting still to come, don’t be surprised when the media is skeptical of the fact that you “are winning”.
And if what’s happening in Afghanistan is “winning” I hope to God we never see the Generals vision of defeat.
“These self-proclaimed experts always seem to know better—but have never themselves been in the arena.”
You cannot make a song and dance about your men protecting the rights and freedoms of “billions” then bitch and moan when they exercise those rights.
“If, and most in the know predict that it is only a matter of time, he acquires nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons…”
Alarmist in the extreme, and needless threat aggrandizing. You entered a war under this false assumption, so you should be careful about throwing it out again.
“Regardless of how much we wish this nightmare would go away, our enemy will stay forever on the offensive until he hurts us so badly we surrender, or we kill him first.”
Thinking like this will keep the US in the Middle East until the end of time.
“To him, this is not about our friendship with Israel, or about territory, resources, jobs, or economic opportunity in the Middle East.”
I think there are many Taliban and al-Qaeda members who would disagree with this sentiment. Your enemies are not Saturday morning cartoon villains.
“He cannot be deterred…only defeated. Compromise is out of the question.”
America can deter the Soviet Union for 50 years but not the Taliban?
Oh and compromise is exactly what America has been doing for years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Talk to General Petraeus, I’m sure he’ll fill you in on the Awakening and the Taliban negotiations.
“It is a fact that our country today is in a life and death struggle against an evil enemy…”
Good Lord. The idea that the United States of America could actually be completely destroyed by the peasant guerilla fighters of the Taliban, or the handful of al-Qaeda cells operating would be laughable to me, if I wasn’t so worried that the General actually believes this sentiment. Imagine what you can justify doing to the enemy under this argument?
It’s needless threat aggrandizing to push a hawkish agenda and it is a disservice to the Armed Forces you are sending out to fight it. They are not fighting in a life or death struggle for their country. The threat of terrorism is serious and it needs to be met but do not delude yourself, or attempt to delude others, that the threat is enough that it could conceivably come anywhere close to ending the “American way of life”.
“None of them have every asked what their country could do for them, but always and with their lives asked what they could do for America. While some might think we have produced yet another generation of materialistic, consumeristic and self-absorbed young people, those who serve today have broken the mold and stepped out as real men, and real women, who are already making their own way in life while protecting ours…”
He’s talking about Marines here. Generation Kill? One Bullet Away? Heard of them? You mightn’t like what the Marines inside their covers say and do.
The General ends by relating a story about two Marines killed by a suicide truck bomber while guarding the entrance of barracks. They opened fire on the approaching truck, stood their ground and presumably killed the driver. The truck exploded outside the base, killing the Marines but the safety of the men inside the compound was secured.
Commendable and certainly in keeping with the Marine spirit. The General praises them for the fact that they did not flinch, or even think about flinching, simply did their job and ignored the fact that they would not make it out of the brief engagement alive. Exactly what you would expect from Marines.
He emphasis that point. He says they “didn’t have it their DNA to run from danger.”
All true. But, can we not say the same for whoever was driving the truck? Was he not just as heroic, knowing his life was about to end, driving his vehicle directly into a withering fire? He did not flinch or step aside either. I do not condone, in fact I will condemn such tactics, but the fact remains: we are talking about bravery here and American Marines do not have the monopoly. In this officers mind, that driver was “evil” and wanted to end America. He does not deserve to be understood.
Acting like that driver is a bad guy from a Bond movie is the exact reason the US military has found itself in such a mess that it has in Afghanistan and Iraq.
This speech is inaccurate, dishonest, threat aggrandizing and jingoistic in the extreme. I find its message, from the condemnation of criticism of the war to the deification of the US Armed Forces extremely disturbing. Something to remember, the next time the sabers start rattling. These are the people leading the worlds strongest military.