There was something unusual about President Obama last night when he spoke from Bagram military base in Afghanistan. His tone of voice seemed to capture the nation’s weariness of war without his own voice sounding listless. There was no bluster, no nonsense. Matter-of-fact, he sounded presidential. He did not rush to useless rhetorical heights. All of this should have resonated well within the HispanicLatino community, whose contributions to the Bush wars are well documented.
Obama embodied part of the common sentiment expressed to me by a family member a year ago. “We need to get out. We have done all we can. It will not work in the end, but no one has given it a better shot.” Indeed, the casualties within the country and within the HispanicLatino community will last for decades and entire lifetimes. It really is time to come home. It is hard to believe that we have spent more than $3 trillion in those wars and will spend trillions more to take care of the wounded and the families of the dead.
The message Obama delivered was a powerful as the one that went unstated: Get out, close that checkbook, open up another course at home. The hope is that the discredited neoconservatives, the ones who sat back while others fought and the habitual warriors who plunged America into these meaningless wars, get the message for all time.
Somewhere in his voice lay the possible reaction of a country were it ever attacked – God forbid – again as in September of 2011. Only the most ridiculous people would argue for some sort of land invasion – of what? More probably, we would step up what we are doing now: Keeping the pressure up and waiting for generational change to come in the Islamist world. Nations can change within a generation. Some can climb; others decline. Perhaps that is the reason for a longer commitment than most Americans want now.