Political Book Summaries, Reviews and Opinions

Political Book Summaries, Reviews and Opinions

Tag Archives: George Bush

Book Review: The War Within by Bob Woodward


The fourth book of the Bush at War series by Bob Woodward, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008, covers the years the final two years of the Bush Presidency and recounts the decisions and internal strife of that period. The War Within picks up where State of Denial left off, with Iraq declining into a violent cesspool of sectarian war and the U.S. with no decisive strategy. Read more of this post

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Book Excerpt:Worse Than Watergate by John W Dean


Book Excerpt: Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Book Excerpt: Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Book Excerpt from Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush by John W Dean

The George W Bush administration will probably give historians something interesting to discuss for decades to come, easily longer. Love him or hate him, he changed America. Starting with 9/11, two occupations, a global war against islamic extremism, and a crippled economy. Here’s a book excerpt from several years ago detailing the more secretive side of the Bush Administration. I thought it was appropiate in relation to the current wikileaks controversy. Read more of this post

Book Review: State of Denial by Bob Woodward


State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III by Bob Woodward is a definitive break from his two previous Bush at War books which we reviewed here and here.  Finally, instead of being a dispassionate chronicler, Woodward takes a critical look at the bungled Iraq War.  Read more of this post

Book Review: Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward


Plan of Attack: The Definitive Account of the Decision to Invade Iraq by Bob Woodward is the second installment of Woodward’s Bush at War series and picks up where Bush at War left off, that is after the initial entry into Afghanistan and prior to the Iraq War. Plan of Attack focuses mainly on the build up to war in Iraq after 9/11 at the Cabinet level of the Bush administration. As in Bush at War, Woodward maintains his role of a chronicler more so than an analyst. Woodward gives a good account of how events unfolded and the interactions between all the main players but never dives seriously into one aspect, such as the issue of the WMD intelligence. Read more of this post

Book Excerpt: A Journey: My Political Life by Tony Blair


This is essentially a memoir by Tony Blair, who’s most famous in America for helping Bush invade Iraq. He’s sorta the Brittish version of Bush. Sorta. This is about 9/11 from his perspective and how he viewed it. Worth a read. Additionally, it’s well written. I found it very easy to read, nothing surprising, but definetely an interesting light into his mind.

Book Excerpt: A Journey: My Political Life by Tony Blair

Book Excerpt: A Journey: My Political Life by Tony Blair

CHAPTER TWELVE
9/11: ‘SHOULDER TO SHOULDER’

It is amazing how quickly shock is absorbed and the natural rhythm of the human spirit reasserts itself. A cataclysm occurs. The senses reel. In that moment of supreme definition, we can capture in our imagination an event’s full significance. Over time, it is not that the memory of it fades, exactly; but its illuminating light dims, loses its force, and our attention moves on. We remember, but not as we felt at that moment. The emotional impact is replaced by a sentiment which, because it is more calm, seems more rational. But paradoxically it can be less rational, because the calm is not the product of a changed analysis, but of the effluxion of time.

So it was with 11 September 2001. On that day, in the course of less than two hours, almost 3,000 people were killed in the worst terrorist attack the world has ever known. Most died in the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center that dominated the skyline of New York. It was a workplace for as diverse a workforce as any in the world, from all nations, races and faiths, and was not only a symbol of American power but also the edifice that most eloquently represented the modern phenomenon of globalisation.

The explosion as the planes hit killed hundreds outright, but most died in the inferno that followed, and the carnage of the collapse of the buildings. As the flames and smoke engulfed them, many jumped in terror and panic, or just because they preferred that death to being on fire. Many who died were rescue workers whose heroism that day has rightly remained as an enduring testament to selfless sacrifice.

The Twin Towers were not the only target. American Airlines Flight 77, carrying sixty-four people from Washington to Los Angeles, was flown into the Pentagon. A total of 189 people died. United Airlines Flight 93, bound from Newark to San Francisco with forty-four on board, was hijacked, its target probably the White House. It came down in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Its passengers, realising the goal of the hijack, stormed the cabin. In perishing, they saved the lives of many others.

It was an event like no other. It was regarded as such. The British newspapers the next day were typical of those around the globe: “at war,” they proclaimed. The most common analogy was Pearl Harbor. The notion of a world, not just America, confronted by a deadly evil that had indeed declared war on us all was not then dismissed as the language of the periphery of public sentiment. It was the sentiment. Thousands killed by terror—what else should we call it?

Opinions were forthright and clear, and competed with each other in resolution, not only in the West but everywhere. In the Arab world, condemnation was nearly universal, only Saddam ensuring that Iraqi state television played a partisan song, “Down with America,” calling the attacks “the fruits of American crimes against humanity.” Yasser Arafat condemned the acts on behalf of the Palestinians, though unfortunately, most especially for the Palestinian cause, the TV showed pictures of some jubilant Palestinians celebrating.

The most common words that day were “war,” “evil,” “sympathy,” “solidarity,” “determination” and, of course, “change.” Above all, it was accepted that the world had changed. How could it be otherwise? The reason for such a description was also not hard to divine. The first attempt to attack the World Trade Center, in 1993, had been foiled, but the planning this time had obviously been meticulous. The enemy had been prepared to wait until it had accumulated the necessary means and opportunity.

However, more than that, a terror attack of this scale was not calculated to do limited damage. It was designed for maximum casualty. It was delivered by a suicide mission. It therefore had an intent, a purpose and a scope beyond anything we had encountered before. This was terror without limit; without mercy; without regard to human life, because it was motivated by a cause higher than any human cause. It was inspired by a belief in God; a perverted belief, a delusional and demonic belief, to be sure, but nonetheless so inspired.

It was, in a very real sense, a declaration of war. It was calculated to draw us into conflict. Up to then, the activities of this type of extremism had been growing. It was increasingly associated with disputes that seemed unconnected, though gradually the connection was being made. Kashmir, Chechnya, Algeria, Yemen, Palestine, Lebanon; in each area, different causes were at play, with different origins, but the attacks, carried out as acts of terror, were growing, and the ideological link with an extreme element that professed belief in Islam was ever more frequently expressed. Until 11 September, the splashes of colour on different parts of the canvas did not appear to the eye as a single picture. After it, the clarity was plain, vivid and defining.

We look back now, almost a decade later when we are still at war, still struggling and managing the ghastly consequences which war imposes, and we can scarcely recall how we ever came to be in this position. But on that bright New York morning, not a cloud disturbing the bluest of blue skies, we knew exactly what was happening and why.

We knew that so far as we were concerned we had not provoked such an outrage. There had been acts of terror committed against us: Lockerbie, the USS Cole, the U.S. embassy in Tanzania. We had tried to retaliate, but at a relatively low level. They were individual tragedies, but they did not amount to a war. They were the price America paid for being America. The other conflicts we reckoned were none of our business; or at least they were the business of our diplomatic corps, but not of our people.

So those carrying out such acts were wicked; but they weren’t changing our world view. George Bush had won the presidency after the controversies of the most contested ballot in U.S. history, but the battle between him and Al Gore had focused mainly on domestic policy. At my first meeting with him — Camp David in February of the same year — his priorities were about education, welfare and cutting down on big government as he saw it.

So there was no build-up to 11 September, no escalation, no attempts to defuse that failed, no expectation or inevitability. There was just an attack — planned obviously during the previous presidency — of unbelievable ferocity and effect. No warning, no demands, no negotiation. Nothing except mass slaughter of the innocent. We were at war.We could not ignore it. But how should we deal with it? And who was this enemy? A person? A group? A movement? A state? I was in Brighton that day, to give the biennial address to the Trades Union Congress. Frankly, it was always a pretty ghastly affair for both of us. As I explain elsewhere, I was frustrated they wouldn’t modernise; they were frustrated with my telling them how to do their business. Not that they were ever slow in telling me how to do mine, mind you. And sure-fire election-losing advice it was too. They ignored my counsel; and I ignored theirs. For all that, we sort of rubbed along after a fashion, and in a manner of speaking, and up to a point.

The great thing about Brighton is that it is warm, closer than Blackpool to London, and retains the enormous charm of yesteryear. Blackpool can be a great town and has a unique quality, but it needs work done on it. Brighton was where Neil Kinnock, posing for photos on the pebble beach on the day he became Labour leader in 1983, lost his footing and fell in the sea. You can imagine the pleasure of the assembled press. It must have been replayed a thousand times and became a slightly defining misstep; unfairly so, of course; but such things are never fair. In public, you are always on show, so always be under control. The trick, actually, is to appear to be natural, while gripping your nature in a vice of care and caution. Don’t let the mask slip; don’t think this is the moment to begin a new adventure in communication; don’t betray excesses of emotion of any kind; do it all with the ease and character of someone talking to old friends while knowing they are, in fact, new acquaintances.

Over time, I began to think there was never a moment when I could be completely candid and exposed. You worried that even sitting in your living room or in the bath, someone would come to photograph, question and call upon you to justify yourself. I became unhealthily focused on how others saw me, until, again over time, I refocused on how I saw myself. I realised I was considered public property, but the ownership was mine. I learned not to let the opinion of others, even a prevailing one, define my view of myself and what I should or should not do.

The TUC took place in early to mid-September, and the party conference a couple of weeks later. Both always made September a little nerve-tingling. From the TUC you could get a sense of where the party were liable to be in terms of contentment and/or otherwise. Trouble at the first usually presaged trouble at the second. The 2001 TUC was no exception. Having just won our first ever consecutive full term, in a second landslide victory, you would have thought it an occasion for general rejoicing. “I think mostly they’ll want to congratulate you on the victory,” Alastair said to me, po-faced, as we boarded the train.

“Do you think so?” I said, perking up.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he replied.

Sure enough, the mood as I arrived at lunchtime was the usual mixture of sweet and sour, but with the sweet a decided minority. I went straight to the Grand Hotel. We had an hour and a half before I had to go to the new Conference Centre a hundred yards or so along the beachfront. I worked in the bedroom as the team gathered in the living room of the suite. Just after a quarter to two, around 8:45 Eastern Standard Time, Alastair was called out of the room by Godric Smith, his very capable deputy. Alastair came back in, turned on the television and said, “You’d better see this.” He knew I hated being interrupted just before a speech, so I realised I’d better look. The TV was showing pictures of the Trade Center like someone had punched a huge hole in it, fire and smoke belching forth. Just over fifteen minutes later, a second plane hit, this time graphically captured live on-screen. This was not an accident. It was an attack.

At that moment, I felt eerily calm despite being naturally horrified at the devastation, and aware this was not an ordinary event but a worldchanging one. At one level it was a shock, a seemingly senseless act of evil. At another level, it made sense of developments I had seen growing in the world these past years—isolated acts of terrorism, disputes marked by the same elements of extremism, and a growing strain of religious ideology that was always threatening to erupt, and now had.

Within a very short space of time, it was clear the casualties would be measured in thousands. I ordered my thoughts. It was the worst terrorist attack in human history. It was not America alone who was the target, but all of us who shared the same values. We had to stand together. We had to understand the scale of the challenge and rise to meet it. We could not give up until it was done. Unchecked and unchallenged, this could threaten our way of life to its fundamentals. There was no other course; no other option; no alternative path. It was war. It had to be fought and won. But it was a war unlike any other. This was not a battle for territory, not a battle between states; it was a battle for and about the ideas and values that would shape the twenty-first century. All this came to me in those forty minutes between the first attack and my standing up in front of the audience to tell them that I would not deliver my speech but instead return immediately to London. And it came with total clarity. Essentially, it stayed with that clarity and stays still, in the same way, as clear now as it was then.

Book Review: Bush at War by Bob Woodward


Bob Woodward set out to write about George W. Bush’s first year as President, covering his tax cuts and domestic agenda, but when September 11th happened it changed the focus of his book.  Instead Woodward covered the Administration after 9/11 occurred and their implementation of the War on Terror, specifically on the Afghanistan front.  Read more of this post

Letter to a new President: Summary (Chapters 4-6)


Letter to a new President

Commonsense Lessons for our Next Leader

By: Robert C Byrd with Steve Kettmann

Chapter 1

Chapters 2 – 3

Chapters 4 – 6

Chapters 7 – 10

Review

Quotes

Chapter Four
A big Lie is still a Lie: Tell the Truth

“We can not shy away from calling a lie a lie.” Letter to a new President, Page 88 

 “The Bush Administration, not to put too fine a point on it, built much of its program around a basic commitment to lying.” Letter to a new President, Page 93 

“I do not think that we as a nation can afford any more of that.” Letter to a new President, Page 96 

“False not upset you lied to me,” quipped Nietzsche, “I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” Lies at the top of our government hurt our democracy. It is a slippery slope New President, please set an example. Politicians can sometimes slip up and use the wrong word, but sometimes a lie is simply a lie. It’s important that Politicians never mislead. When the President inserted a clear falsehood into a State of the Union, that is a lie.   

I liked Bill Clinton, but he lied. I made sure to treat the case of his lying seriously, as it was a serious matter. I voted against the impeachment in the end, but only after agonizing over it long and hard. I say this, because we must stand up to lies no matter who speaks it. 

Telling the truth isn’t always easy, but the frequent lying of the last President hurt the country, and it’s important you set a better example. ‘The truth will set you free.” (John 8:31) 

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Robert Byrd

B-Note | Posts | Wiki 

George Bush

B-Note | Posts | Wiki 

BushLies.Net 

The Greatest Story Ever Sold
Summary | Review 

One thing I didn’t like about this was that after setting up the lie about Clinton, Byrd basically just drops it to the side and says “blah”. Mind you, I understand, I think most Americans thinking back about him lying about a BJ tend to think “blah”. Still, he’s talking about lying, specifically brings it up to make the point that you need to stand up to lies, and then he backs down instantly without adequate reason. I know why I think impeaching a President is stupid over a simple BJ, but since he brought the issue up, I expected him to answer why he did so. The thing I liked the most was the several quotes. I like how he quotes lots of other wise people to make points. He’s got the bible, Nietzsche, Mark Twain, even Plato! It’s very cool. I like that a lot. Better, he uses those quotes very well to move his point forward. The point being, George Bush lied to America frequently with big and bold lies that were believed and that hurts Democracy, so please, New President, don’t lie like Bush did.

On the left I put in a link to Bushlies.net I do not endorse the site, I only breiefly read it. But they’ve gathered the assorted “lies” people accuse Bush of and you can judge the merit of them on your own. Additionally, I put in a link to the Greatest Story ever Sold. The entire book is about how the Administration mislead America. 


Quotes

Chapter Five
Build your Presidency around Accountability

“THE BUCK STOPS HERE!.” Letter to a new President, Page 99 

 “The example of Harry Truman, once dismissed as an accidental President, now held aloft as a paragon of presidential greatness by Democrats and Republicans alike, illustrates the positive impact of establishing accountability…” Letter to a new President, Page 102 

“I do not think that we as a nation can afford any more of that.” Letter to a new President, Page 96 

Harry Truman was an earthy man, a humble and great man. He was also an accidental President, Vice President for only 83 days before Roosevelt died. He rose up to the challenge and faced some of the toughest decisions any President ever has. But he faced those challenges. He famously said the “the Buck stops here.” That was accountability.

The Iran-Contra scandal was more than just dishonesty, and there was certainly a lot of lies told, both to American and to Congress, but it was a break down in accountability. Reagan broke the law to supply Contra rebels and pay a ransom for US citizens. To do this, he hid the truth from everyone, including Congress. When this came to light, he hit from accountability by pardoning those who were guilty to protect George H. W. Bush. The Bush 43 Christmas Eve pardons changed the course of our history by curtailing a criminal investigation, covering up a crime, and protecting our leaders from accountability. 

These are important pieces of our history New President. Please make yourself an example of accountability that would make Harry Truman proud. 

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  DemocratsB-Note| Posts | Wiki 

Republicans

 

This chapter deals mostly with a comparison between Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. Harry Truman, it seems, was a very good man. Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush are less so. Specically, the (criminal) actions surrounding the Inra-Contra scandal and the cover-up at the very top where Bush pardoned six people to protect himself from his own criminal behavior. 

Now, one could make the argument that by making the pardon himself and not just doing some back-door sneakyness is a level of accountability. Who is to blame for those 6 guys walking? George H. W. Bush. There’s no ambiguity about it. But that’s aside the point, which is that our elected leaders broke very important laws involving them interfering in other countries and selling weapons to our enemies. These serious actions were under investigation when those being investigated were pardoned so they’d not testify against thoes who gave them their orders. The result is a loss of accountability. Which is a compelling narrative.

Of course, politicians doing everything they can to avoid getting in trouble is hardly limited to those of Byrds opposing party. The only example he can think of is Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich. Regardless, it was a decent chapter. 

Quotes

Chapter SixLet the Press do it‘s job, even when that might sting

“Those reporters in the postwar years at least minded when they were told lies.” Letter to a new President, Page 109

 
“I would suggest to you, new President, that a healthy and probing press corps is vital to your success or failure in leading the country.” Letter to a new President, Page 121 

 

There was a time when America could depend on their fourth branch of government, the Press. Those reporters would hardly recognize the reporters of today. There was a time when reporters questions to the President were unscreened. That changed with Bush. There was a time when a loud reporter, by the name Sam Donaldson would call out questions to Reagan as he was getting on Marine One, and get answers. That changed with Bush, declaring he didn’t have to answer questions from “has-beens”. The Press has become timid and excitable, they have lost their desire to learn all the facts.  

The dismissive behavior of the Bush Administration, matched with their lies, manipulations and control of the Press Corps has led to a decline in the Fourth Branch. That decline is partially responsible for why America got caught up in the Iraq war, and that has to change. So New President, please remember, that though you will inevitably have to present positive interpretations of events, always remember that being accountable and answerable to your people is for the good of the country.

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Category: Media Failure

Post: Media Fails us: It was a fender bender

A nice chapter. There is a bit of awkwardness as the author is trying to tie in the failure of the media to the president. I don’t think it’s really fair to blame Bush for the media being useless. That’s like complaining that the kid who stole a cookie is to blame for his mom not watching him better.

That said, the chapter chronicles a few instances of how the Bush Administration did they’re part to help the Media down the pit into uselessness.

Letter to a new President: Summary (Chapters 7-10)


Letter to a new President

Commonsense Lessons for our Next Leader

By: Robert C Byrd with Steve Kettmann

Chapter 1

Chapters 2 – 3

Chapters 4 – 6

Chapters 7 – 10

Review

Quotes

Chapter Seven
We can do better than Photo-op Diplomacy

“My belief in the good of the average American has never changed, but these are dangerous currents and must be identified as such.” Letter to a new President, Page 127
 
“Historians are unlikely to be kind to Powell’s successor, Condoleezza Rice.” Letter to a new President, Page 130
 
“It’s time we learn again just how to use [our] influence so that we may not have to use [our]power.” Letter to a new President, Page 134 

 

People are moved inherently to obey authority. It’s human nature. This obedience is part of how Americans (69%) came to believe that Saddam Hussein was in some way responsible for 9/11. This absolute failure in our system to communicate foreign policy and issues to people needs to be seen for what it is, a disaster.

 

Madeline Albright was the model of a successful Secretary of State. At first, I was worried that her frequent press briefings would lead to a decreased focus on the hard work that needed to be done. I was relieved though to see that she balanced the hard work well with the desire to help foster a national debate on foreign policies. Condoleezza Rice focused almost entirely on the image of foreign policy, rather than the handwork required to accomplish our goals. Despite being a supposed expert on Russia, she and Bush were outplayed by Putin year after year. We need to more back to a Foreign policy and level of Diplomacy that centers on a willingness to listen to their concerns, not atmospheric photo ops

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Robert Byrd

B-Note | Posts | Wiki

George Bush

B-Note | Posts | Wiki

The Greatest Story Ever Sold
Summary | Review

I did not like this chapter very much. It was really unorganized and the thoughts seemed to ramble and lose cohesion. It starts with Nazi’s and obedience, ties that into 9/11, complains about the press, segues to negative campaign commersials being less about substance than emotion, does the same about campaigns, and then disses Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and elevating Madeline Albright.

 

There isn’t really any discussion at all of photo ops. I re-read the chapter and don’t see any clear definition of what “photo-op diplomacy” means. So, the chapters not a waste, but it doesn’t carry any sort of driving point and then ends in whimper.


Quotes

Chapter Eight
A new approach to the rest of the world: Influence

  “Powell was absolutely correct: Promicing elements had been left on th table.” Letter to a new President, Page 137 “The sad saga of recent U.S. relations with North Korea offers a case study in the need for eac and every administration to worry first and foremost about getting the kob done.” Letter to a new President, Page 139

There my have been flaws in Clinton’s foreign policy, but in regards to achievments in North Korea, it was a resounding success. Due to a 1994 agreement, North Korea made exactly zero progress towards nuclear weapons while on Clinton’s watch. Towards the end of Clinton’s terms they were moving towards a more longterm agreement, one Colin Powell was excited about moving forward on. But the Bush team followed the ABC strategy, Anything But Clinton. They quickly froze all diplomacy with North Korea, threw empty threats at North Korea labeling them an axis of evil, and then personally mcking their leader. The result was North Korea abandoned the 1994 agreement and now has nuclear bombs. In those final years of the Clinton Administration, Pew Polls conducted around the world showed positive Opinions of America amongst most of the world. Bush put an end to that too.

 

Turkey, a key muslim nation and member of NATO, with the largest standing army in Europe and close US ally, was insulted by the Bush Administration. In this important country, prior to Bush, 52% of Turks held a positive view of America. In 2007, the last polls showed that number had fallen to 9%.

 

Use your diplomats new President. Strengthen America’s influence and use it wisely. Don’t excercise knee-jerk diplomacy that insults our enemies and decreases our influence. For many years many presidents have appointed friends and donors and cronies to diplomatic missions, but diplomacy is too important to be passed off to mere donors.

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Positive Opinions world wide, before/after Bush Poland: 86/61
Brittain: 83/51
Argentina: 50/16
Canada: 71/55
Germany: 78/30
Turkey: 52/9 Page 140

This was a much better chapter. The best one so far. I had no idea how close Clinton was to treaty with North Korea, nor how badly Bush F’d that up. It was also creepy seeing the numbers of positive opinions of America drop the world over. You have to wonder if that has really made us safer. How has it helped us for Bush to have insulted North Korea and their leader? How did it help America to drive away Turkey? Isn’t that the exact right country to get closer relations with?

Quotes

Chapter Nine
Less Partisan Warfare, more debate

“I prefer, however, to urge that we take it as a given that both sides have become far too committed to partisan warfare…” Letter to a new President, Page 155,

 
“That’s where power really is. It’s about time we go back to that again.” Letter to a new President, Page 121
Long ago as former-Majority leader and then current-Minority Leader, I was met on the Senate floor by the new Majority Leader. He offered me a deal of bipartisanship, I took it and I’m gad I did, for I felt at the time as I do now, that the country benefits more from bipartisanship than endless partisan wrangling. I could recall and list the numerous partisan barbs that I have noted in the past few years, instead, I’ll assure you it wasn’t always this bad, and it needs to get better.In 1985 I went to meet with Mikhail Gorbachev to hand deliver a note from President Reagan. It might be strange in today’s political landscape to imagine a Republican President sending a ranking Democrat on such an important diplomatic mission, but whatever our political differences, I was there to work hand in hand with our President for the same goals. Attorney General Ashcroft too, in the end, demonstrated a zeal for bipartisanship.

I would ask that you move beyond this partisanship. Go to the good book, heed the words, and find forgiveness. Now is the time to look forward, not back, to move beyond partisan war rather than seek political revenge.

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Democrats

B-Note| Posts | Wiki

Republicans

B-Note| Posts | Wiki

A decent chapter. There’s a big part in the middle about Attorney General Ashcroft. I’ve never been particularly impressed with the whole story. I mean, Ashcroft approved the thing lots of time. He wasn’t standing up on principle, he agreed with the thing, he was standing up for work-place ettiquette. Essentially, it’s my offday. Talk to my assistant. So maybe if someone reads this they can explain for me why it’s such a big deal that the encounter has been in several books and discussed so much on cable tv. (hmm, sorry for the rant)Otherwise it’s a decent chapter. But everyone always talks about how bad Partisanship is. Just before and after they engage in it. Only a few chapters before this he was  comparing the Republicans to Nazis. Ah well. Politics my friends, politics.

Quotes

Chapter Ten
Don’t forget the basics: Have the time to reflect

“You must lead us towards a new concensus on not settling for fake discussion and fake debate.” Letter to a new President, Page 172,

“My humble and profound hope is that [this letter] may leave you with, if nothing else, something to think about. – Senator Robert C. Byrd” Letter to a new President, Page 173

When I was a boy I accidentially broke a neighbors window, afraid of getting a wupping, I pleaded for the neighbor to not tell my dad and let me pay for it instead. It took a long time for me to earn up the money to replace the window. Night after night I slept on my problem, and how I’d make up the money to fix it. I have come to appreciate a good nights sleep in helping to come to a fresh perspective on various problems I face. New President, in the ever increasing speed of this world it’s easy to forget to stop, pause, and think on a matter. So take the time to reflect on the problems facing our country.

Patience is a virtue that, in many ways, our society is losing. You see it in our entertainment and our behaviors. And you saw it in the previous administration. The example was the rush to war. When the international community was asking for patience to come up with a US resolution and for the inspecters to find real evidence, Bush declared his patience was out. We know how well that decision worked for America.

You must move us beyond this. You must move beyond the dog-and-pony shows we’ve been given, you must be able to think deeper than that.

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The book ends on a bit of a personal reflective tone. He talks about his past, and (swear I’m not teasing) complains about the kids of this generation moving too fast. He gives several examples of how everything has spead up and how he prefers the movies of the thirties, which were slow enough you “could sit down and enjoy”. It was very amusing in the sense that he’s an old man complaining about the “those darned kids now-a-days”
. But the larger point was interesting, and that was essentially, sit down, think the matter over, and don’t be impatient.

Presidents and Near Presidents I have known: Summary (chapters 4-6)


This is the book summary of Presidents & Near Presidents I have known. It is a digital book I was given a chance to read. What follows is a summary (a fair non-biased summarization of the content of the chapter) and then a review of the chapter. The idea is that you can read the summary and reviews in about fifteen minutes and get the gist of the book, if you think you’d like it, go buy it.

Presidents & Near Presidents I have known

By: Lionel Rolfe

Chapters 1 – 3

Chapters 4 – 6

Chapters 7 – 9

Chapters 10- 14

Reviews

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Quotes

Chapter Four: An Apocalypse Is Just What This Sinful World Needs

“To Bush, it was OK to kill Iraqis if you dismissed them as collateral damage.”  Page 16

“The plain and simple truth was that Bush was a Taliban. It’s just that he was a Christian Taliban rather than a Moslem Taliban. His vision was that of a Christian fundamentalist who venerated ignorance and hated science. It’s the same vision that Moslem fundamentalists have.” Page 17

Today’s youth have joined me in protesting the war George Bush sent us into, and protesting the apocalypse he seemed interested in bringing about. They’re not the same kind of protesters that we had in my day, they have less hope than we did.Even Nixon didn’t want war. When America turned on France because they didn’t want to kill Iraqis we learned just how debased his followers were. George Bush is a Christian Taliban, he’s violent, hateful, stupid and takes joy in killing Iraqis.

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Lionel Rolfe Writings

Lionel Rolfe does not like George Bush. Doesn’t like him at all, several accusations are made without proper documentation and argument, analogies are made (such as the Christian Taliban) but only at the end, and then almost as if a throw-away line, an afterthought. This was a disappointing chapter.

Quotes

Chapter Five: A Most Unappetizing Gang of Hypocrites and Liars

“Bush and his gang of four are truly the American Taliban.” Page 18

“Had Bush had his way, social security would be totally insolvent by now.” Page 20

“And being Calvinist rather than papists, their Christianity is harsh and mean and warlike.” Page 27

Bullying and intimidation is a political tool well used, and frequently, by the “Gang of four“.

Rush Limbaugh, after preaching about the evils of drugs was forced to admit to being a drug addict, while attacking Clinton for the Lewinsky affair, is a three-time divorcee. He cares not one bit for truth, is racist and sexist, and regularly attacks his opponents in the most base, most bully-ish manner possible, mocking their appearances or comparing them to enemies of state. 

Newt Gingrich lead the attack on Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinski, he did this while cheating on his wife, and then serving her divorce papers while she was still in the hospital. She eventually went on to require charity for their children because Gingrich was a deadbeat dad. More important than being merely caught cheating several times, was his greed and corruption. His book deal, 4.5 million, was little more than a bribe as Rupert Murdoch needed Gingrich’s help.

Jerry Falwell, and his ilk, are on a mission to Christianize this country. Their stated goal is to completely get rid of public schools and have al children educated by Christians, he founded the Moral Majority, a group set up to fight abortion, feminism, homosexuals and pornography. 48 hours after the terror attacks of 9/11, he would blame those groups for attacks.

The last member of the Gang of Four is former Representative Henry J. Hyde. While standing on the Senate floor and leading the charge to impeach Clinton for the Lewinsky affair, a man watching at home recognized him as the man that had lead a 5-year affair with his wife. Shortly there after Hyde retired from the House. Hyde is known for the Hyde amendment, a bill that prevents federal spending on abortions, though he had tried to ban all abortions.

Together, these four men, their ilk, and President Bush, have been trying to turn America into a Christian fundamentalist nation.

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Now this was a meaty chapter. The author uses the Clinton impeachment episode as a board against which to bounce the hypocrisy of four men whom he names the “gang of four” though exactly how they connect to each other is never really clarified. The first three make sense, the Media leader, the House Leader, and the Religious Leader. How Hyde fits in, except as a simple example of hypocrisy, I’m not sure.

What follows is a long discussion (but wandering and often disjointed) discussion of numerous examples of these four being, well, bad. Hypocrites, racists, sexists, liars, etc. For the most part the examples are pretty damning. But one of the things I hate about Ann Coulter is how she’ll throw an attack at someone she doesn’t like, and then boom, walks away. Same idea here. There was no documentation on several things in here, such as Gingrich’s wife collected money from charity for her kids. I’d not heard that before. Source please? If there’s no source, just the Author saying it, it’s hearsay. I suppose I could Google it, but if I’m reading someone’s book, I shouldn’t have to go to Google to get the information.

Also, the well-discussed bad things about these four people only not withstanding, I don’t think the argument is well made they constitute an American Taliban.Also, as a simple fact check, the wall street crash would not have left social security insolvent for the simple three facts that

A only new people could put their money into wall street

B only 25% of their money could be put into stocks the rest would stay government

C the Wallstreet crash, though bad, was nowhere near bad enough to wipe out even what would have been in there.


Quotes

Chapter Six: The New American Fascism

“Republicans, a majority of Americans finally figured out, are for the most part a collection of hypocrites, thugs and pious thieves. That is why they are not just old-fashioned conservatives, but American fascists.” Page 32 John McCain’s son did drugs. Most Republicans are hypocrites and American-fascists. Bush started a war, made everyone but the rich pay for it and crippled our economy all at the same time. While Obama provides intellectual leadership, the Republican Party has been hijacked by the same know-nothings that plagued Roosevelt’s time. Bush and McCain, with Palin in tow, may not be Manchurian candidates, but are the result of massive corruption and worship of ignorance.

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I’m not sure what to say about this chapter. I had hoped, after the last one, that the book was about to get a lot better. It didn’t. This chapter is titled “The New American Fascism” but rather than make any kind of argument towards that end, the chapter is basically name calling aimed at Bush, McCain, Palin, and Pat Buchannan.

Presidents and Near Presidents I have known: Summary Chapter 1


Presidents & Near Presidents I have known

By: Lionel Rolfe

Chapters 1 – 3

Chapters 4 – 6

Chapters 7 – 9

Chapters 10- 14

Reviews

Quotes

Chapter One: Wallowing In Pessimism

“He was the first player to perform for the survivors of Auschwitz, as well as the war-weary denizens of Germany.” Page 5

“What with global warming, starvation, drought and wars and military coups, the future was bleak.” Page 5

“What When you foreigners hear the word ‘conservative’ you think of kindly old men hunting foxes. They’re not, they’re fascists.” Page 7

Twenty years ago my uncle, Yehudi Menuhin, told me something that left me “shaken and grim beyond belief’. My uncle was one of the two best violinists of the 20th Century. He was made a Lord by the Queen of England, lead London’s top musicians, introduced Yoga to the world, and played the Beethoven Violin Concerto at the first meeting of the United Nations. He told me to expect the years ahead to be difficult ones. .I have recently had an epiphany surrounding the election of Barack Obama. It brings to memory Isreali politics in 1995. Benjamin Netanyahu gave speeches against the incumbent accusing him of treason, subtly calling for his death, and that is precisely what he got. The nation, founded by socialists was being taken over by fascists. It was a pattern the Bush Administration attempted to copy in 2000.

So don’t think I’m overeating and when I see the pathetic tea-party rallies and see in them the same beginnings that lead to the assassination of John F Kennedy, the first of the lone Assassinations. The lone-assassin-narrative is a lie. Kennedy challenged the ruling order, and was killed for it. So please forgive me my pessimism when I see Obama win a Nobel Peace Prize and remember than Martin Luther King’s prize was treated the same way Obama’s was, and he was killed 4 years later by another ‘lone gunman.’

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This chapter reads mainly as history of his uncle and a warning his uncle came him concerning the future of the world. He lists the interesting and impressive things his uncle did and then.He then segues from that memory to current affairs, and how he sees parallels in the current tea-partiers and right-wing extremists as those who opposed John Kennedy and MLK. Those charges are loaded for sure, and I hope following chapters elaborate a lot more.

Quotes

Chapter Two: I Was The Fat Man On The Left

“He found whatever it was that made the heart of darkness of the Republican Party beat, and by the beginning of the Obama presidency, he had become the anointed de facto leader of the Republican Party.” Page 8

“He was a blowhard when he was a local radiojockey, and he’s a
blowhard now that’s he’s a national celebrity.” Page 9

In the late 1980’s I first started listening to Rush Limbaugh. He was little more than a fat bully in those days. Despite the sometimes-gentile manner he practices now, he is the perfect man for his times, a fat bully. He has risen high with his trade, becoming the defacto leader of the Republican party. We have two things in common, we are both strongly political, far to the flanks of America, and we are both fat, so I have named myself the Fat Man on the Left.

I believe capitalism is okay, but when it comes to the most important stuff, be it education or medicine, a mixed economy would be best. The more we focus on the bottom line, the more deflated our society becomes, a trend seen our collective declining culture and politics.

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Rush Limbaugh

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Lionel wants the reader to compare him to Rush Limbaugh, and he has a point. Only he’s not (yet) the Liberal version of a flame-throwing salt-the-earth Rush Limbaugh, with all his talk of violins and (almost?) anti-capitalism he couldn’t be much further Left of Limbaugh on the political landscape.He position and thoughts on Capitalism and the down-side of society based entirely on the bottom line, appears fair-minded at first read, but it’s also horribly vague. What does “mixed” economy mean? I think most people with an Econ 101 class under their belt would agree that we do need regulations and laws on corporate behavior, but that doesn’t detract at all from Capitalism. So though I find it easy to agree with some of the words he put down, it’s not clear yet exactly how far Left he is indicating here.But I’ll end this chapter the way he does: (because he did end the chapter well):

“By the way, heard the one that was in Doonesbury where someone asks do you know the difference between Rush Limbaugh and the Hindenburg? The answer: one is a flaming Nazi gasbag, and the other is just a dirigible.”


Quotes

Chapter Three: The Bush Coup

“But damn it, civility is a very unimportant virtue when someone has just stolen the Democracy, and then wants you to be “civil” about it.” Page 11

“Of course it wasn’t hard to figure out why they fought the recount so fiercely.
They did because they knew Gore had the votes and they didn’t.” Page 13

Al Gore probably won the Florida election by 20,000-30,000 votes. Fortunately for Bush, his brother had sent the worst voting machines to the districts most likely to vote for Gore. Then the Supreme Court substituted their will for the will of the people and gave power to Bush.We are getting back to where we were with FDR, all the media owned by Republicans. Liberal bias? It’s the opposite. The Media crowned Bush before he won, after he lost, and attacked Gore for not taking the robbery better. My only hope was that this would lead to a new Civil Rights Coalition, to protest the clear theft of the Presidency.

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2000 Election (wiki)

I didn’t like this chapter. The 2000 election is simply too big to handle well in so few pages. There’s nothing here other than the repeated claims of hundreds (thousands? Millions?) of other liberals that George Bush stole the Election. If you can’t spend time dissecting and/or putting forth a unique and new take on it, don’t write a chapter on it. The only part of interest was his thoughts about how that can/should move people to push back harder than they have.

Letter to a new President: Summary


Letter to a new President

Commonsense Lessons for our Next Leader

By: Robert C Byrd with Steve Kettmann

Chapter 1

Chapters 2 – 3

Chapters 4 – 6

Chapters 7 – 10

Review

Quotes

Chapter One: Bring Back the Fireside Chat

“This is, in short, a time which begs for true leadership.” Letter to a new President, Page 56

,“Presidents have for years been giving Saturday radio address, but these have as much in common with Roosevelt’s eloquent, earchingly composed address as a form letter from a ntional politkical party has with a handwritten love letter.” Letter to a new President, Page 61

“Above all, they require a national figure that can treat them with dignity and honesty and trust them to understand the real problems of this nation and world, not merely cook up faniciful scare schemes.” Letter to a new President, Page 63

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. He could talk with the loftiest of ideals and rhetoric, but always sought to address his speech to the commonsense of the everyman. FDR was always honest to the American people, never condescending, something that should shame the Bush Administration. For all the threats we face from zealots hiding in caves, the only people who can undermine our democracy is ourselves.We must always watch against our leaders, our own government, turning our democracy into a nation known for torture, the abandonment of law and the embracement of extreme actions based on irrational world views.

Fear mongering and scare tactics have been a cycle without end. Since fear works so well, it will take the rare politician to end it. For all the dangers in the world, from Osama bin Laden to those homegrown, now is the time which begs for a true leader to step up and show the audacity to speak straight to the American people and end the cycle.I hope that leader is you, new President, and might I suggest that you citing the words of FDR in your own inaugural address. “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly,” he said. “….So first of all let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance… support of the people themselves [is] essential to victory.” New President, that support is what you must now ask for and receive.

It was once said that we were the child of Europe, but we are no longer a child. As we approach middle age as a country, we’ve lost our youthful innocence, pride and our ideals have given way to doubt and a loss of optimism. FDR never lost his optimism, and through him, neither did the American people. Through the radio, he reminded us of the foundation of our great principles, the Constitution.

The hijacking of Democracy under Bush succeed where all other attacks failed. We must restore the constitution to it’s place of honor. To move forward we need to do more than accept the damage done, we must actively seek new consensus on the problems we face and the methods on how we solve them. I don’t believe we as a country will ever grow beyond our optimism.

Eight days after his inaugural address FDR gave another memorable talk, a folksy down-home talk over the new medium of radio. That was the first of about 30 such speeches he gave in what called his “Fireside Chats.“ It might be hard to imagine in our current world of instant information that a nation would wait for the familiar voice to come on the radio and staking so very much on every word. But I was there, I remember it. I remember how his words could imbue the people with optimism. His voice conveyed integrity and humanity, and everyone believed him. He was more than a President. New President, the American people crave a leader who can let in the light on our fears, a leader who can treat them with dignity and honesty, trust them to understand the real problems we face. Look to the American people and trust them, you will not be disappointed.

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I feel silly saying that I like the old guy. I mean, I think “Robert Byrd” I instantly think “He’s the guy that was the KKK guy.” Can you imagine what the Democrats would do to him if he were a Republican? *grimace face* But there is something nice about his writing. I want to use the word quaint. He reminds me of an elderly grandfather sitting around chatting. It’s hard for old people to chat without lecturing, and certainly, Mr. Byrd spends most of the chapter lecturing. But it comes across as from a guy so old, it’s nice. It’s comforting almost to listen to this guy explain events he lived through but I consider ancient history. Part of that is also the content of the chapter.

I think I let my summary run away with me. I’ll make a point to keep the upcoming chapter summaries shorter (it’s a very short book after all). The chapter talks about how the president should be a calming influence, not a fear monger prodding people along from the back. It’s a very good chapter, and I think the fact I let the summary run away from me speaks to that. Looking forward to finishing the book. 🙂

The Full Transcript of Obama’s Speech on Afghan and Pakistan


The Full Transcript of Obama’s Speech on Afghan and Pakistan

 

Eisenhower Hall Theatre
United States Military Academy at West Point
West Point, New York

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our Armed Services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan — the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion. It’s an extraordinary honor for me to do so here at West Point — where so many men and women have prepared to stand up for our security, and to represent what is finest about our country.

To address these important issues, it’s important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of passengers onboard one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.

As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda — a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world’s great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents. Al Qaeda’s base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban — a ruthless, repressive and radical movement that seized control of that country after it was ravaged by years of Soviet occupation and civil war, and after the attention of America and our friends had turned elsewhere.

Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them — an authorization that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98 to nothing. The vote in the House was 420 to 1. For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5 — the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all. And the United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks. America, our allies and the world were acting as one to destroy al Qaeda’s terrorist network and to protect our common security.

Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy — and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden — we sent our troops into Afghanistan. Within a matter of months, al Qaeda was scattered and many of its operatives were killed. The Taliban was driven from power and pushed back on its heels. A place that had known decades of fear now had reason to hope. At a conference convened by the U.N., a provisional government was established under President Hamid Karzai. And an International Security Assistance Force was established to help bring a lasting peace to a war-torn country.

Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war, in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq war is well-known and need not be repeated here. It’s enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq war drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention — and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world.

Today, after extraordinary costs, we are bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end. We will remove our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next summer, and all of our troops by the end of 2011. That we are doing so is a testament to the character of the men and women in uniform. (Applause.) Thanks to their courage, grit and perseverance, we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people.

But while we’ve achieved hard-earned milestones in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. After escaping across the border into Pakistan in 2001 and 2002, al Qaeda’s leadership established a safe haven there. Although a legitimate government was elected by the Afghan people, it’s been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient security forces.

Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government. Gradually, the Taliban has begun to control additional swaths of territory in Afghanistan, while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating attacks of terrorism against the Pakistani people.

Now, throughout this period, our troop levels in Afghanistan remained a fraction of what they were in Iraq. When I took office, we had just over 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, compared to 160,000 in Iraq at the peak of the war. Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive. And that’s why, shortly after taking office, I approved a longstanding request for more troops. After consultations with our allies, I then announced a strategy recognizing the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan and the extremist safe havens in Pakistan. I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and pledged to better coordinate our military and civilian efforts.

Since then, we’ve made progress on some important objectives. High-ranking al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed, and we’ve stepped up the pressure on al Qaeda worldwide. In Pakistan, that nation’s army has gone on its largest offensive in years. In Afghanistan, we and our allies prevented the Taliban from stopping a presidential election, and — although it was marred by fraud — that election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan’s laws and constitution.

Yet huge challenges remain. Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards. There’s no imminent threat of the government being overthrown, but the Taliban has gained momentum. Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border. And our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan security forces and better secure the population. Our new commander in Afghanistan — General McChrystal — has reported that the security situation is more serious than he anticipated. In short: The status quo is not sustainable.

As cadets, you volunteered for service during this time of danger. Some of you fought in Afghanistan. Some of you will deploy there. As your Commander-in-Chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service. And that’s why, after the Afghan voting was completed, I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy. Now, let me be clear: There has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war during this review period. Instead, the review has allowed me to ask the hard questions, and to explore all the different options, along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and our key partners. And given the stakes involved, I owed the American people — and our troops — no less.

This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.

I do not make this decision lightly. I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions. We have been at war now for eight years, at enormous cost in lives and resources. Years of debate over Iraq and terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort. And having just experienced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people are understandably focused on rebuilding our economy and putting people to work here at home.

Most of all, I know that this decision asks even more of you — a military that, along with your families, has already borne the heaviest of all burdens. As President, I have signed a letter of condolence to the family of each American who gives their life in these wars. I have read the letters from the parents and spouses of those who deployed. I visited our courageous wounded warriors at Walter Reed. I’ve traveled to Dover to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans returning home to their final resting place. I see firsthand the terrible wages of war. If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.

So, no, I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.

Of course, this burden is not ours alone to bear. This is not just America’s war. Since 9/11, al Qaeda’s safe havens have been the source of attacks against London and Amman and Bali. The people and governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan are endangered. And the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.

These facts compel us to act along with our friends and allies. Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.

To meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al Qaeda a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future.

We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban’s momentum and increase Afghanistan’s capacity over the next 18 months.

The 30,000 additional troops that I’m announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 — the fastest possible pace — so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They’ll increase our ability to train competent Afghan security forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.

Because this is an international effort, I’ve asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we’re confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. And now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what’s at stake is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility — what’s at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world.

But taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We’ll continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government — and, more importantly, to the Afghan people — that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.

Second, we will work with our partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy, so that the government can take advantage of improved security.

This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over. President Karzai’s inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction. And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance. We’ll support Afghan ministries, governors, and local leaders that combat corruption and deliver for the people. We expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable. And we will also focus our assistance in areas — such as agriculture — that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the Afghan people.

The people of Afghanistan have endured violence for decades. They’ve been confronted with occupation — by the Soviet Union, and then by foreign al Qaeda fighters who used Afghan land for their own purposes. So tonight, I want the Afghan people to understand — America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country. We will support efforts by the Afghan government to open the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens. And we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect — to isolate those who destroy; to strengthen those who build; to hasten the day when our troops will leave; and to forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron.

Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan.

We’re in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That’s why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border.

In the past, there have been those in Pakistan who’ve argued that the struggle against extremism is not their fight, and that Pakistan is better off doing little or seeking accommodation with those who use violence. But in recent years, as innocents have been killed from Karachi to Islamabad, it has become clear that it is the Pakistani people who are the most endangered by extremism. Public opinion has turned. The Pakistani army has waged an offensive in Swat and South Waziristan. And there is no doubt that the United States and Pakistan share a common enemy.

In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear. America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan’s democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistan people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.

These are the three core elements of our strategy: a military effort to create the conditions for a transition; a civilian surge that reinforces positive action; and an effective partnership with Pakistan.

I recognize there are a range of concerns about our approach. So let me briefly address a few of the more prominent arguments that I’ve heard, and which I take very seriously.

First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we’re better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. I believe this argument depends on a false reading of history. Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now — and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance — would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.

Second, there are those who acknowledge that we can’t leave Afghanistan in its current state, but suggest that we go forward with the troops that we already have. But this would simply maintain a status quo in which we muddle through, and permit a slow deterioration of conditions there. It would ultimately prove more costly and prolong our stay in Afghanistan, because we would never be able to generate the conditions needed to train Afghan security forces and give them the space to take over.

Finally, there are those who oppose identifying a time frame for our transition to Afghan responsibility. Indeed, some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort — one that would commit us to a nation-building project of up to a decade. I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what can be achieved at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests. Furthermore, the absence of a time frame for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government. It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.

As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I don’t have the luxury of committing to just one. Indeed, I’m mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who — in discussing our national security — said, “Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.”

Over the past several years, we have lost that balance. We’ve failed to appreciate the connection between our national security and our economy. In the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our neighbors and friends are out of work and struggle to pay the bills. Too many Americans are worried about the future facing our children. Meanwhile, competition within the global economy has grown more fierce. So we can’t simply afford to ignore the price of these wars.

All told, by the time I took office the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars. Going forward, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion for the military this year, and I’ll work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.

But as we end the war in Iraq and transition to Afghan responsibility, we must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry. And it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. That’s why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended — because the nation that I’m most interested in building is our own.

Now, let me be clear: None of this will be easy. The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will be an enduring test of our free society, and our leadership in the world. And unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that defined the 20th century, our effort will involve disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse enemies.

So as a result, America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict — not just how we wage wars. We’ll have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power. Where al Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold — whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere — they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.

And we can’t count on military might alone. We have to invest in our homeland security, because we can’t capture or kill every violent extremist abroad. We have to improve and better coordinate our intelligence, so that we stay one step ahead of shadowy networks.

We will have to take away the tools of mass destruction. And that’s why I’ve made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and to pursue the goal of a world without them — because every nation must understand that true security will never come from an endless race for ever more destructive weapons; true security will come for those who reject them.

We’ll have to use diplomacy, because no one nation can meet the challenges of an interconnected world acting alone. I’ve spent this year renewing our alliances and forging new partnerships. And we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim world — one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict, and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.

And finally, we must draw on the strength of our values — for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not. That’s why we must promote our values by living them at home — which is why I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom and justice and opportunity and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are. That is the source, the moral source, of America’s authority.

Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, and the service and sacrifice of our grandparents and great-grandparents, our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents. We have spent our revenue to help others rebuild from rubble and develop their own economies. We have joined with others to develop an architecture of institutions — from the United Nations to NATO to the World Bank — that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings.

We have not always been thanked for these efforts, and we have at times made mistakes. But more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades — a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, and markets open, and billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress and advancing frontiers of human liberty.

For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for — what we continue to fight for — is a better future for our children and grandchildren. And we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity. (Applause.)

As a country, we’re not as young — and perhaps not as innocent — as we were when Roosevelt was President. Yet we are still heirs to a noble struggle for freedom. And now we must summon all of our might and moral suasion to meet the challenges of a new age.

In the end, our security and leadership does not come solely from the strength of our arms. It derives from our people — from the workers and businesses who will rebuild our economy; from the entrepreneurs and researchers who will pioneer new industries; from the teachers that will educate our children, and the service of those who work in our communities at home; from the diplomats and Peace Corps volunteers who spread hope abroad; and from the men and women in uniform who are part of an unbroken line of sacrifice that has made government of the people, by the people, and for the people a reality on this Earth. (Applause.)
This vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue — nor should we. But I also know that we, as a country, cannot sustain our leadership, nor navigate the momentous challenges of our time, if we allow ourselves to be split asunder by the same rancor and cynicism and partisanship that has in recent times poisoned our national discourse.

It’s easy to forget that when this war began, we were united — bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. (Applause.) I believe with every fiber of my being that we — as Americans — can still come together behind a common purpose. For our values are not simply words written into parchment — they are a creed that calls us together, and that has carried us through the darkest of storms as one nation, as one people.

America — we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. (Applause.)

Thank you. God bless you. May God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

What he should have said….