Mar 31, 2009

Barbecuing with Barack in the Middle East

by Tim Mattingly

 Throw another war on the “barbie.”

After President Barack Obama’s recent speech, one thing is clear — Afghanistan and Pakistan are on our military’s terrorist-taming menu. Rumbling and grumbling are the bellies of Americans who have waited far too long to feast upon victory in the Middle East, but achieving this victory will be no picnic.

“Al-Qaeda and its allies, the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks, are in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Obama said, during his address on March 27.

Yet the additional cost of such a military venture has made some squeamish. No one wants further financial strain in these hard economic times. Everyone likes to eat a yummy picnic fruit but nobody wants the seeds associated with it. Or in this case, Americans want to defeat global terrorism but not if it is going to cost them money.

Unfortunately, there is no “seedless” road to victory in the Middle East. Instead, there is a hard path winding between mountains, rife with “un-yumminess.” But nevertheless, it is a path that we must take.

“Al-Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan,” Obama explained. “And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban or allows al-Qaeda to go unchallenged, that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.”

A major deterrent to Americans supporting Obama’s continued war is the view they hold of the previous president’s war. In May 2008, polls showed 70 percent of Americans disapproving of the military’s tactics in Iraq, according to Reuters. The ongoing conflict in the Middle East is like old potato salad in America’s refrigerator — we are not completely throwing it out, but no one really wants to eat it anymore.

But no barbecue is complete without this “potato salad.” No matter how old, moldy or unappetizing it may look we must eat it. For in its consumption we shall take the knowledge gained in the Iraqi war and hopefully regurgitate it back upon our enemies, for victory in Afghanistan.

“I have no illusion that this will be easy,” Obama said. “In Iraq, we had success in reaching out to former adversaries to isolate and target al-Qaeda in Iraq. We must pursue a similar process in Afghanistan, while understanding that it is a very different country.”

A major goal of Obama’s operation is to skewer Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. If all goes as planned, both Taliban and al-Qaeda operations will also be doused by the unquenchable fire of America’s spirit. The motives of terrorists are dark as charcoal and as such, we must set their operation aflame.

As part of the president’s strategy against terrorism, 17,000 soldiers and Marines have already been deployed to Afghanistan. Later in the spring, Obama plans to deploy 4,000 more troops for the purpose of training and supporting the Afghani army and police.

“We have a shared responsibility to act,” Obama said. “Not because we seek to project power for its own sake, but because our own peace and security depends on it.”

Middle Eastern tensions continue to sizzle as America carries on its anti-terrorist campaign. In this war, there can be no leftovers — global terrorism must be completely devoured if there is to be hope for a peaceful tomorrow.

Contact Tim Mattingly at


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