Last Night the President spoke about the way forward in Afghanistan. I am always very proud to represent President Obama and the American People. But I was particularly proud last night.
The President reconfirmed our core goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al-Qaeda and to ensure that they do not return to Afghanistan or Pakistan. To do so, he announced a surge of 30,000 additional troops who will secure key population centers, train Afghan forces, transfer responsibility to a capable Afghan partner, and increase our partnership with Pakistan which is facing the same threats. Those new troops will join the 68,000 US troops and the 37,000 coalition forces including 2,830 from Canada who are already there. The President talked about how our friends have fought, bled, and died with us on the battlefields of Afghanistan and that certainly applies to our friends from Canada.
The President came to this conclusion as a result of a deliberate and disciplined process where he focused on the hard questions, and took the time to carefully consider all of the options. As part of that process he consulted with our allies, including Canada. Because he will send the sons and daughters and mothers and fathers of others into war, and because some of them will not return, he approached the decision with the greatest of care.
After watching the speech I had the opportunity to talk to the Canadian people via CTV News from their studio in Vancouver. The interview was my first experience with what the television business calls a “double-ender.” I sat alone in a dark room with a camera and earpiece in Vancouver and chatted with CTV host Marcia MacMillan, who was in Toronto. On TV we are next to each other on the screen. But when you are in the dark room alone you feel like you are talking off into space. I’m sure you can get used to it. But I’m not there yet.
Today, Julie and I are off to Whistler to see the preparations for the Games. I am particularly excited about seeing the venue for the sliding events. I wonder if I can convince someone to let me take a bobsled down a run. Something makes me think Julie wouldn’t be amused!