They say that the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was an odd venue for President Obama's Afghanistan speech. And indeed it was - after all, surrenders are usually offered to the enemy on the battlefield.
For that is exactly what the President proposed Tuesday night; surrender, abject and total.
And if that wasn't boon enough to our enemies, Obama offered them an extra token - before our announced withdrawal date of July 2011, he will generously offer them 30,000 more American soldiers to shoot at for the next year and a half. Surely target practice is all our soldiers will be, having been told in advance that they will be coming home scarcely before they can load their own weapons.
Obama's gall is nothing short of astounding: He dares to travel to a group of soldiers, to tell them to their face that he is sending them to fight and die in a battle that he has no intention of letting them win; that they will be pulled from the battle-field in time to placate his left-wing base for the 2012 election.
Imagine Abraham Lincoln saying to a group of soldiers in 1862, "Men, I'm sending you south to fight, but only for eighteen months; after all, we can't let this unpopular war jeopardize my re- election chances, can we?" How would the Union troops have reacted? How would the Confederate troops have reacted? How, indeed, could our nation have survived such a craven calculation?
It could not have, of course. Lincoln committed his full resources, and the full resources of the nation, to the fight against the Slave Power: "I expect to maintain this contest," he wrote "until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsakes me." Such manliness seems mythic in our Age of Iron; men of Lincoln's mettle seem as giants who once roamed the earth in a distant, Golden Age of spirit and courage. Certainly the man-child who now wields the awesome power of the Presidency is but the faintest facsimile of such a glorious creature.
Obama is blunt about the reason for his disinterest in the Afghan war: "The nation that I am most interested in building is our own," he told the cadets. By build, of course, he means dismantle - by nationalizing whole industries, for instance, and indeed, whole sectors of our economy.
Besides, he made clear to our soldiers, Afghanistan isn't much worth fighting for anyway. The Afghan government, he says, "has been hampered by corruption." This coming from a man whose allies recently bribed Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) with $300 million for her health care vote.
The end result of Obama's surge-then-surrender strategy is not hard to foresee. The Taliban will wait us out, then move in and butcher whichever poor Afghans were foolish enough to cast their lot with the United States. Girls and women will be re-enslaved; al-Qaeda fighters will flood in, confident that no matter how hard they hit us, we will never have the will to finish them off.
Having re-taken Afghanistan, they will plot their return to America, to once again paint our skies in fire and blood.
Matt Patterson is a National Review Institute Washington Fellow and the author of "Union of Hearts: The Abraham Lincoln & Ann Rutledge Story." His email is firstname.lastname@example.org