Obama’s State of the Union address 2011

PRESIDENT Obama’s State of the Union Address 2011 has received mixed reviews in the US. One of the clear highlights was his call for massive national investment in new technologies—especially clean energy. Referring to renewable energy, Obama said that it was his generation’s “Sputnik moment”; the moment when the realization set in that Americans have fallen behind and the need is to redouble their efforts. However, environmentalists are disappointed that the US president never even mentioned the word ‘climate’ or ‘global warming’ once, despite coming off the heels of a year fraught with extreme weather events, that was tied for hottest ever recorded—and coming off of a decade that was indeed the hottest ever measured. The Daily Mail was more interested in what President Obama had to say regarding the region. He claimed that the US has taken the fight to al Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, US troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan Security Forces. The purpose of US is clear – by preventing the Taliban from re-establishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, it will deny al Qaeda the safe-haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11. He asserted that thanks to US heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But his administration is strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, the US will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, Obama will begin to bring US troops home. Regarding Pakistan, he maintained that al Qaeda’s leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe-havens are shrinking. And the US has sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: the US will not relent, will not waver, and will defeat Al-Qaeda.

The Daily Mail opines that President Obama is not fully cognizant of the ground realities in Afghanistan. His troops are facing defeat. They have neither been able to curb the freedom movement nor retake territory from the Taliban. The US-led efforts to negotiate with the Taliban has been half hearted, since neither the CIA operatives in Afghanistan nor his military commanders there know who to talk to. General Petraeus claims that he has managed to curb the insurgency to some extent. The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says the troop surge last year helped inflict “enormous losses” on insurgent networks, sowed discord among their leaders and put the groups on the defensive. But in a letter to the nearly 150,000 international troops in his command, General David Petraeus said they still have a lot of hard work to do. Thus a hint of realism has set in. President Obama should have taken his nation into confidence that they are fighting a losing battle in Afghanistan and Americans should brace themselves for more losses of human lives. Al-Qaeda has either left the region or is too few in numbers to matter anymore. The US and NATO troops are facing the Taliban who are fighting to liberate their homeland from the foreign occupiers and a majority of the Afghans are with them. The road to peace in Afghanistan is fraught with peril and can be achieved now with negotiation and not with force. Petraeus’ theory of negotiating from a position of strength is marred by folly in Afghanistan, since that moment of strength may not come without huge sacrifices, while the endgame can be brought closer through talks with the right people at the right time and involving Pakistan in them – Dailymailnews