Obama West Point Speech on Afghanistan
For a long time, various religions have failed to agree with one another. Of these religions, the Islamic religion has been most outstanding for its extreme doctrines, which has led to evolution of criticism and misunderstanding between a section of its members and some of the world’s top leaders who associate certain vicious practices with the religious members.
Religion and Terrorism
President Obama in his West Point speech disapproved any relationship between al-Qaeda activities and Islam, terming the al-Qaeda group as a terrorist one whose objectives were to indulge in massive killing of innocent people. The base of al-Qaeda, Obama named to be Afghanistan (Huffington Post 1).
The place of faith in the life of some Muslim people was equally questioned by President George Bush in his September 20, 2001 speech. He termed the Muslim religion as being holy but declared that terrorists were hiding their real identity by professing to be Muslim. He resolved that the only way through which the war against terrorists would be won was by finding the terrorists individually or in groups and eliminating them all, regardless of whether the process would involve crossing with the Muslim religion.
The extent to which terrorism had spread world wide was a point of concern to the president. Activities of the Taliban terrorist group were highlighted in the speech where he clarified that Taliban group had a direct link with al-Qaeda, the leading international terrorism group. Both Pakistani and Afghan people, Obama noted, were suffering directly from the activities of the two organized terror gangs. The level to which the USA army was involved in the war both in Iraq and in Afghanistan was extensively elaborated in the speech by Obama.
Increase military Deployments
President Obama announced that the number of army officers in Afghanistan was to be increased by 30,000. This was to take effect as from early 2010 so that terrorism growth was curtailed in the right time and hence give peace to America, Afghans and Pakistanis as well. The president reported achievements in fighting terrorism saying that since the war against terrorism commenced, the al-Qaeda base had been dismantled, several Taliban officials had by then been captured and further investigation was ongoing. The allied forces had gained the larger control of the entire region. This was motivating, given that there were more army personnel who were yet to be deployed there.
The direct influence of army personnel in the war against terrorism was seen when President Bush elected Tom Ridge, an army officer to be in charge of combating terrorism. In the fight, it is notable that FBI, intelligence operatives as well as other security personnel was listed in the list of groups to take part in investigating and combating terrorism by the president. Both Presidents regarded the army as being paramount in the fight against terrorism.
Cooperation with other countries
Partnership was recognized by president Obama as one way in which the struggle against terrorism could be easily won. The president said there would be cooperation with relevant and willing parties including United Nations, Pakistan and other ally nations in achieving the target missions to combat terrorism. Another strategy that he emphasized in the speech was the extensive use of military effort in achieving faster solution to terrorist elimination. This is the reason why he was deploying more military personnel to the troubled Afghanistan. About 43 other nations were willing to give a back up in this cause.
President Obama also made it clear just like former president Bush did, that the war against terrorism was not one that would take a year or two. It was not one that would end in a few years-its end would culminate in world peace but its costs were in terms of time and money. It is a process that was launched by former president Bush but which was to continue for quite some years as long as the extremists still existed. Americans were therefore at every time, to be prepared to support this war at all costs, putting in mind that the final result would bring peace to them and to their future generations (Huffington Post 1).
However, unlike former president Bush, president Obama embraced dialogue and democracy. This involved holding meetings with members of the Muslim community, such as June 4, 2009 meeting in Egypt where he addressed several public meetings apart from meeting Egyptian leaders.
According to President George Bush in his September 20, 2001 speech, terrorism was not to be fought by America alone (CNN 1). It is a war that must be fought by the whole world combined. This way, intelligence information would be relayed faster hence easier identification of terrorists and easier monitoring of any terrorist activities. This view matched with that of president Obama in his West Point speech, seven years later.
Both President Obama and President Bush’s speeches attached considerable value to home guard security, insisting that it was impossible for the state army to eliminate every single terrorist. It was necessary that there be individual home guarding and taking up the responsibility as a patriot to help the government gather every bit of information about suspected terror activities or persons.
Both presidents reiterated that justice must be done to terrorists without fear or any favor. President Bush insisted in his speech that despite terrorists being a threat to the security of both USA and world development, it was the role of the USA to finance as well as be in the front line against terrorism since it had encountered direct impacts of terrorism in the 9/11 attack in which hundreds of its citizens died along with those of other nations, and in the 1998 bombings of both Kenyan and Tanzanian embassies.
Unity and role of other nations
President Obama also reminded all Americans that it was their duty to remain united in the struggle ahead, stating that the nation was mature in every aspect; it was not the young nation it once was in Roosevelt’s time. This implied uniting together to achieve goals and responding appropriately when called upon to aid in necessary areas geared towards the overall good of every one. It was every American’s responsibility to contribute towards unity he said, just as former president Bush requested in his Sept 20, 2001 speech. The need for every American to uphold brotherhood, he believed would lead to eventual elimination of terrorism through cooperation, be it in the army, home guard security, or availing information to the police regarding suspicious activities and individuals (Huffington Post 2).
Obama’s view of America in relation to the rest of the world
In his speech, Obama insisted that the Iraqi people were to be given a chance to govern themselves in an attempt to bring justice to the country. This was to be implemented through withdrawing all American troops in Iraq within the shortest time possible, in that case by the end of the year 2011. The speech also portrayed a picture of a USA that is mighty in every sense; economically, politically and in the strength of its military. This he illustrated when he stated that America would use all the available means to combat terrorism, one of them being to deploy more soldiers into Afghanistan, in which case 30,000 more soldiers were to be deployed. Economically, he said about $ 20 billion was to be allocated to military operations yearly to finance terrorism wars. This view concurred with that of former president Bush whose speech to the Congress on September 20, 2001 elaborated that USA still had the greatest potential to take on any threats by terrorist gangs despite the attack committed on 9/11. He said the USA would engage all its might; military and economically to ensure that terrorism was duly defeated.
In comparison, President Ronald Reagan in his speech on ‘National security’ on March 23, 1983 called on the increment of the budget to be allocated towards overall security tightening and protection of USA interests globally more intensively. These leaders implied that in every way, American perception towards the world was that of realism and a liberal one with all things possible, terrorism being an evolving issue that affected the entire globe negatively. On the other hand, president Obama’s speech indicated that USA was not really dependent on the rest of the world although the rest of the world mattered but it could still initiate and implement programs on its own hence its exclusive liberal state. Terrorism could be combated with the massive involvement of USA and allies. Former president George W. Bush in his speech called Britain ‘closest friend’
Obama seemed to care about the security of the Pakistan as well as Afghanistan people which reflect the overall perspective of the USA towards the rest of the world. This was indicated in his speech when he acknowledged that shortly after he became the president, his immediate action regarding the number of soldiers to be deployed to Afghanistan increased tremendously upon his approval. This was aimed at strengthening the security status in Afghanistan along with the neighboring Pakistan, to defend citizens of those nations by digging up, exposing and totally eliminating activities of terrorists, Taliban.
His fast reaction towards the deployment of more troops to this crucial area indicated his concern as an American to Pakistani as well as to the Afghanistan people. Both speeches emphasize the same thing: terrorism. In President Bush’s speech, the al-Qaeda terrorist group had just attacked America killing hundreds of passengers on a plane and in the process destroying the World Trading Center. Bush identified the origin of al-Qaeda to be in Pakistan and major focus would be in this nation which was hosting the deadly al-Qaeda terrorist group (CNN 1).
In his German speech, on July 24, 2008, Obama echoed the words said and emphasized by former president Ronald Reagan. Europe and America have a lot to benefit from one another hence there was need for the two sides to partner in various areas for mutual benefit (New York Times 1). He acknowledged that the two continents had basic differences in economies, security and political organization. Again, he seemed to be coming back to the same issue: security. The one issue that the two continents needed to cooperate more was in the protection of their common security since this was a determining factor in the prosperity of these continents. The fact that a lot could be accomplished by these continents within decades only to be destroyed through terrorism was a touching issue.
Obama in the speech addressed the need for Europe to take up a leading role in the revival and development of Afghanistan, in supporting the USA. His introductory statement, ‘I speak to you not as a presidential candidate but as a citizen, proud citizen of the USA’ (New York Times 1) is another indication of his patriotic nature, a depiction of every American.
Egypt speech: Coalition and cooperation
The Egyptian speech on June 4, 2009 highlighted the existing hostile relationship between the Muslim religion and the Western nations: Europe and America. He emphasized that there was no need for conflict between these two sides since there were mutual benefits to be gained, there were similarities on either side. He gave an account of how he himself is closely associated with both Islam and Christianity hence he had clear basis for his conclusions.
Obama in his in speech went on to address some of the issues that he considered were not only critical to the success of USA but to the peace, stability hence forward progress of the world. His speech touched on the same issue he focused on in the West Point speech- how terrorism negatively impacts on the USA and to the world security. He reiterated that despite the death of several American soldiers, the number of soldiers in Afghanistan was to be increased so that most, and if possible all terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be eliminated since their very existence was jeopardizing the peace of millions of people world wide, not just Americans. Those people already killed, were not just Americans, even Muslims. This meant forming a coalition with about 46 other countries so as to achieve this mission (New York Times 2).
Empowering People and Nations
America believes in giving people ability and a chance to exercise self rule. In this regard, the president talked about allocating more than $15 billion annually for a period of five years in building social institutions and general infrastructure development in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan. This empowers citizens of the involved nations hence enabling them to drive their economies, politics and to stabilize themselves socially.
Israel-Palestinian issue being another pressing issue was also encircled in the speech. The American stand on this issue, he said, was that both sides accept the right of the other to exist independently, given that the Arab world and Israel had never been in agreement. Obama’s views were that America was to adapt policies that would bring peace and ensure objective handling of the issue, justice on both sides (New York Times 3).
Comparison of the two speeches with the West-Point speech
All the three speeches touch on the crucial issues of international security, terrorism and the need for nations to cooperate with one another. President Obama emphasized the need for all countries to cooperate in all these speeches so as to succeed in one very important area; fight against terrorism. Equally, the president explicitly talked about terrorism without hiding back any fact, even if it hurt some people. He put it clear in the West Point speech that terrorists were hiding behind the Islam religion in committing their evil acts.
In the Egyptian speech, he said that in as much as Islam was a responsible religion, it was not to allow these evil acts to besmirch its reputation and it was in this regard that he was clarifying the misunderstanding that had existed between the Muslim world and America. Terrorists had a base in Afghanistan and Pakistan according to the West Point speech. The Egyptian speech reiterated world cooperation in ending Israel-Palestinian conflict, while in the German speech, he called on Europe to cooperate with America in attaining peace globally, starting with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The speeches were basically related; the target issues were terrorism and the need for international cooperation between nations in search for international peace and economic development.
In my opinion, President Obama’s approaches to leading issues such as security good and catches attention of the whole world. This is based on what he considered as priority issues, policies developed and how they handled each issue. He has made remarkable changes that could be pointed out from other speakers. President Obama, until now has not made any clear impressions in hardening the life of terrorists and eventually eliminating them. However, his tireless efforts are promising since he is negotiating with the entire world, all religions inclusive and this could result in positive results later.
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