You've embraced the challenges of your life with courage and guts. Even before you were in the public eye, time after time you did the right thing no matter how much the deck was stacked the other way. This one might be the big one.
It's time to extricate us from the mess we're in halfway around the world. You didn't start it and you didn't screw it up. But you wanted the job, and you knew you'd face this. We hired you because we believed you'd face it correctly, and well. I still believe that.
I know this is very serious. I know there are some actual dangers in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region of the world. None of us wants a terrorist to get his hands on Pakistan's nukes. Yet as I ponder this and study it and discuss it with people far smarter than, and far more credentialed on these things than I am, I've come to believe that the chances of that happening are slim to none. It's a nice scary excuse for a lot more death and destruction, but it's not an honest one. Those weapons are extremely well guarded -- far better guarded than the Soviet nukes that nobody worries half as much about, much less sends 80,000 troops to protect. The notion that there's an actual national security reason for 80,000 American uniforms to be in Afghanistan is a very hard one to defend. An additional 40,000? Insane.
You have the finest minds in the world on these matters at your fingertips -- ask them how likely a scenario that is. And when you are choosing who you'll listen to as you struggle to make the right decision, please discount any encouragement to escalate this ungodly mess that comes out of the military industrial complex. If you're a hammer everything looks like a nail. They have everything to gain by staying in Afghanistan forever and they don't give two hoots how many idealistic American soldiers die so they can keep raking in American cash. They are the conscienceless ghouls who are running this once-great-and-could-be-again country into the ground. For the love of all that's sacred stand up to them. You were born to do that. Honor your destiny and do it.
Give equal time to those who oppose this entire mission. There are a few voices of reason in Congress, but you may have to look beyond the beltway. There are some very good, very wise, very smart people out in the real world and there are more pathetic sellouts per capita in Washington than anywhere else. And then listen to the smart, principled people and kick the stupid, craven people to the curb. I beg you.
Here is what the man we elected would do about Afghanistan:
He would say that the use of our blood and treasure to keep trying to do something -- whatever the hell it is -- with so little chance of success defrauds the inherent nobility of those who wear the uniform. All of us believe in the greatness of our country – those folks are willing to die for it. We owe them a mission that matches their character. Iraq didn't and neither does this.
It is always a noble cause to help a smaller, poorer nation to be secure and prosperous. And the man we elected would say, in that clarion voice that we were all so sure we would be privileged to hear for at least the next 4 years, that such an effort simply does not require a major theater land invasion, a subsequent odious occupation, or the bizarrely overblown, ungodly expensive military presence we currently have there. Do not send a single one of McChrystal's 40,000 over there. Bring the 80,000 already there back. Allow them to remain at the ready to serve in a less futile mission if and when it becomes necessary. They were never intended and they are not equipped to do what needs to be done to help Afghanistan. It's horribly unfair to ask them to try and it's the wretchedest of frauds and waste as well. End it now. Please.
The man we elected would announce that it all stops now. All the lies, all the pretense, all the utter amorality of this entire mess -- it all stops now. That the money we throw at countries halfway around the world to accomplish something no amount of money can ever accomplish, will now be reserved for the use of the people it was confiscated from. It will be used to rebuild crumbling bridges and horrible schools. It will be used to put an end to the grotesquely unjust atrocity that is American health care delivery. And it will be used to provide a national defense that is somehow commensurate with the amount of money it has cost us i.e., there will never again be even the remotest of chances that non-military airplanes hijacked within the borders of this country will be the tools of a devastating attack on us. This country's air space, most especially Washington's air space, ought to be the best-protected air space in the world, and as it turns out, a bunch of hacks with boxcutters executed a wildly successful attack on us anyway. You promised to bring some sanity to this equation. We believed you with all our hearts. Please don't cross over to the other side.
We believed you would to put a stop to this madness. To the confiscation of our hard-earned money to commit war crimes against people who have never done anything to us. Our very presence in Afghanistan makes the mission to reinvent Afghanistan futile. You can't not know this. They detest and despise us and with good reason. We blow their cities and their children to bits and that's pretty much it. It's obscene. It's beneath us. Or it used to be. We used to ride to the rescue of people who were being victimized. Now we're the one they need protection from and there's no one to answer that call. You could take the first step on the road to righting that wrong. And you'd be a hero to millions if you did. You've got politicos yammering in your ear that's not the case. Shrug them off. They've ruined many a president with their certainties that never materialized. You're in that Washington bubble now and you're only human. Anybody could start to believe that the messages they throw around in that bubble are somehow meaningful, or are the only ones that matter. Don't let that happen. It's a lie too.
I implore you to do what must be done to return us to who we were -- who we all so desperately want to be again. You promised us you would. I don't envy you the task of settling on how that will be done -- but I know you can do it. You have the finest minds and the most credentialed experts in the world on foreign policy, military science, and history at your fingertips. There are also some, also at your fingertips, who masquerade as experts who are something else. I believe you can tell the difference. I hear from reliable sources that you, unlike our previous president, have no problem asking for their help, and that you listen carefully when it's given. They tell me that the fact that you're doing that, and agonizing over what to do, is why it's taking so long. Please Mr. President – after you've listened and pondered and maybe even prayed a little, please do the right thing. Begin ending the catastrophe George Bush set in motion so we can focus on what we need to do next.
You are taking some flak right now for what's perceived as inaction and delay. I defend you on all all quarters -- I tell people you have done absolutely nothing to support a conclusion that you're nothing but Bush redux and they have got to keep believing. But the truth is it's getting to me too.
I anxiously await your decision on Afghanistan. I pray you will stride out onto the deck of history and confound all those who say you're just not up to it. I pray hard for that. And I want to remind you that it's remarkable how often that kind of courage results in deafening applause from the entire country and from the four corners of the earth outside it. Remarkable. Sometimes it results in declining approval ratings and the loss of a second term too. But the man we elected weighed his decisions based on right and wrong – not whether or not the stupid people of the world would like it or not. We were so hungry for that kind of integrity. We were so sure you had it. Please reassure us we were right. End the bloodbath over there and help us heal our wounded country here.
Because we're running out of time.