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What Are They Saying?
[Image: hrs_20090606-a-8159f-584a.jpg]

Write a short descriptive narrative or script describing the socio-political discussion going on in this picture on the eve of Obama's West Point address.

To assist, there is this:

MICHAEL GOODWIN: 3 Keys to Understanding Obama's West Point Speech

By Michael Goodwin, -

"The president still must convince ordinary Americans he can be trusted to keep the nation safe.

When President Obama finally announces his Afghanistan decision Tuesday, the number of additional troops he sends will dominate headlines. But the real test of his leadership will depend on the depth of his commitment. Here are three keys to understanding the West Point speech:

#1: How Does Obama Define the Goal?
He's not likely to use the "V-word" because victory is verboten in a war on terror that doesn't exist to this White House. But if Obama doesn't say success is our goal and be specific about what that means, the commander in chief will be ducking his chief responsibility.
A mushy focus would undermine our troops, our allies and embolden the enemy. Unless our mission is clear and firm, major players in Afghanistan and Pakistan will see our commitment as subject to change without notice. Even the perception of shaky resolve will have negative consequences around the world, including in Iran and North Korea.
#2: How Does Obama Define the Enemy?
Last March, he announced a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and repeatedly referred to the Taliban as well as Al Qaeda. They were inseparable when he said, "If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban -- or allows Al Qaeda to go unchallenged -- that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can."
He was right then, but there is considerable doubt he still believes in that linkage. Vice President Joe Biden argued we should limit our mission to capturing or killing the relatively small number of Al Qaeda fighters. It's a convenient answer for those opposed to a big troop buildup, but history says it has no basis in reality.
The medieval Sharia government the Taliban wants to impose marches in lockstep with Al Qaeda goals. Obama himself cited 9/11 as proof of the connection. Any suggestion now that the Taliban is not part of the problem will reveal he has chosen the path of least political resistance at home.
#3: How Much Emphasis Will Obama Put on Getting Out?
Let's hope press secretary Robert Gibbs' comment that the president would focus on the exit strategy is only a sop to Democratic liberals opposed to more troops. While some explanation of the endgame is inevitable, a disproportionate emphasis could undercut the new troops before they are deployed.
Too much talk of getting out also would tell radical Islamists they can cause a faster retreat by inflicting more casualties on us. That is like painting a bull's-eye on our troops and will give Afghans little incentive to join our side, knowing we will abandon them if things get too hot.
Too much exit talk could also discourage NATO allies from contributing more troops. With public opinion in Canada, Australia and Europe against the war, political leaders won't support our surge unless they see we are firmly committed.
Obama, of course, has his own political reasons for needing a successful speech. His popularity is sliding as more Americans, especially independents, abandon his big-government, high-tax, high-spending approach. His fixation on health care as unemployment climbs has hurt him.
Yet whatever his domestic agenda, the president still must convince ordinary Americans he can be trusted to keep the nation safe. Instead of projecting our power abroad, Obama has been devoted to apologizing and genuflecting.
The stakes for Tuesday, then, are enormous. Beyond laying out the Afghanistan strategy, the speech will be an important test of whether our young president is growing into the job he so desperately wanted."

And this, from

"Seldom can a speech be called historic before it is delivered, but the one that President Obama will make tomorrow night already qualifies. In one address at the West Point military academy, the Commander-in-Chief of US Armed Forces must convince Afghanistan, Pakistan and his own generals that his commitment to prevailing against al-Qaeda and the Taleban is unwavering. Mr Obama must also persuade his party and the American people that he has settled at last on a strategy for extricating America from the Afghan conflict with US honour and security intact. For Mr Obama, it is the speech that must explain why Afghanistan is not his Vietnam....."

And this, from

"President Obama convened more meetings of key national security advisers Sunday at the White House, to prepare for the rollout of his new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. One matter accomplished in the meeting, a source said, was an agreement on some language to use in discussing the new way forward. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes gave the president a first draft of the speech Sunday, and the president is in the process of his red pen treatment, heavily re-writing the speech as is his wont. Sources say the speech will touch on these major points:
1) The president said last week it is his intention to "finish the job" in Afghanistan; he will have to explain to a very war weary public just what that job is and why it matters to them. The focus of the new strategy, sources say, will be going after al Qaeda and affiliated extremists, with less of an emphasis on nation-building.
2) President Obama will also acknowledge to the American people that the US does not have unlimited resources in terms of manpower and money to do this job; part of the president's challenge is explaining that while he's sending more than 30,000 new US troops to Afghanistan -- bringing the total to around 100,000 -- he is just as keenly focused on bringing them home. The idea is to convey that this mission is to complete the work; US troops will not be in Afghanistan in this number in eight years, he will say.
3) There is obviously an international audience for this speech as well, including our NATO allies, whom the president is trying to rally to contribute 5-10,000 more troops. So part of this speech will be that extremists in the Af-Pak region are not one country's problem, nor is it an issue impacting just that one region of the world. This must be an international effort, the president will say.
4) And finally the president will convey to the Afghan government that it needs to get its act together and improve governance and combat corruption, a push he will make by saying the US will insist on very strict benchmarks.
Very quickly after the speech US troops will be sent out for deployment in the South and East of Afghanistan, sources tell ABC News, especially Kandahar and Helmand Province."
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"

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