“Let me be clear,” President Barack Obama is fond of saying. And his desire was on full display two years ago when he announced a “comprehensive, new strategy” for the war in Afghanistan — but only in the rhetoric.
Obama laced his speech of March 27, 2009, with nine uses of the words “clear” or “clearly,” but his protestations about clarity looked more like a smokescreen to obscure the image of him lurching naively into a Vietnam-style quagmire.
After his first “clearly” and just before the first “let me be clear,” Obama posed two rhetorical questions to which he promised a clear answer:
“What is our purpose in Afghanistan? … Why do our men and women still fight and die there? The [American people] deserve a straightforward answer.”
But we didn’t get one. As a substitute for explanation, we got alliteration — “a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country.”