Heritage members and fans are discussing President Barack Obama’s State of the Unions address at Twitter and Facebook right now. And here are just some of our experts immediate reactions to parts of the speech:

State of the Economy
President Obama inherited a global recession and a global financial meltdown. So far, his enacted policies have had no beneficial effect as the 10 percent unemployment demonstrates in spades, and his threatened policies remain perhaps the greatest barrier to a strong economy. The economy will recover, and appears to have started to do so, thanks to the inherent strengths of the American economic system and the energy and hard work of American families and American businesses.

The President now says he is focused intently on getting the economy to create jobs, but his announced policies say otherwise. Altogether, they are little more than a series of benign sounding talking points substituting for serious action, similar in quality and nature to the proposals already advancing in the House and the Senate.
– J.D. Foster

President Obama is right to focus intensely on the economy and jobs. When he took office, the unemployment rate was 7.7 percent. One year and $1.4 trillion later (total deficit spending from February, 2009 to December, 2009), the unemployment rate stands at 10 percent, and 3.4 million jobs have been lost.

In addition to his ineffectual fiscal stimulus, Obama has proposed a variety of policies sharing the unified characteristic of being anti-jobs. He proposed higher tax rates on investment and small businesses. He proposed an immensely expensive and unpopular health care reform. He proposed massive additional taxes through cap and trade. It is fair to say the policies of Obama and his congressional allies, through the uncertainties and threats they make toward the producers in the American economy, are the single greatest impediment to economic recovery we now face.

Obama should remember to “First, do no harm.” In that spirit he should remove government barriers to hiring. An executive order suspending the Davis-Bacon Act, for example, would create 160,000 new construction jobs in 2010.

Then Obama should press for policies that will encourage investment and entrepreneurship – the activities that create lasting jobs and will bring unemployment down. His capital gains tax cut for small businesses is a step in the right direction, although he should apply it to all businesses. Tort reforms that make it more difficult for trial lawyers to extract multi-million dollar jackpots from productive businesses would also spur business investment and hiring.
-J.D. Foster

“Clean Energy” Jobs
The President apparently has dropped the term “green jobs” and instead has adopted the new term “clean energy” jobs. New words, same failed ideas.

Spain provides a case in point.  With a world-leading quantity of both wind and solar electricity (both highly subsidized), Spain’s green-job creation should be second to none.  However a study by Spanish economist Dr. Gabriel Calzada found 2.2 conventional jobs were destroyed for each green job created.  This finding is consistent with Spain’s overall employment situation.  At 19.4 percent, Spain’s latest unemployment rate is nearly double that of not only the United States (10.0 percent) but it is also nearly double the rate for Spain’s European neighbors, France (10.0 percent) and Portugal (9.8 percent).

Budget-busting subsidies and ham-fisted regulations will not help end the recession.  Instead, they will shrink economic activity and prolong the recovery.
-David Kreutzer

New Hire Tax Credit
The tax credit for new hires is another recycled idea from Washington. Last tried in the 1970’s, the tax credit proved to be a windfall for big businesses that were planning to hire anyway. Small businesses, the engine of job growth, did not use the tax credit largely because they were unaware of it and did not understand how to take advantage of the credit.

The small credit does not offset the larger tax increases that the government is threatening to impose through the health care plan and the potential expiration of the Bush tax cuts. The jobs tax credit proposal will likely also delay hiring since businesses that understand the tax credit now face an incentive to postpone hiring decisions to take advantage of the tax credit. Extending the Bush tax cuts and undoing the heavy taxes in the health care legislation is a better step to job creation than this tax credit.
– Rea Hederman

The Bank Tax
President Obama tonight called for a new tax on banks and other large financial institutions, “a modest fee,” he said, “to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.” That sounds great, but in truth, the new tax would do nothing of the kind. Mr. Obama knows that almost every major bank has paid back their bailout funds, with interest. Taxpayers made substantial profits on those repayments.

On the other hand, most of the companies that still owe billions to taxpayers, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and auto firms GM and Chrysler would not be subject to the tax. In short, Mr. Obama would tax those that have paid back taxpayers, and exempt those who have not.

Mr. Obama also calls for “serious financial reform,” to “guard against the financial recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy.” Again, that’s a nice sentiment, but most of his proposed reforms would do little or nothing of the kind. In fact, major parts of his proposals would only guarantee additional future bailouts, by treating some companies as “too big to fail,” and creating a resolution process for troubled financials that is so open-ended that it could be used in almost any situation. The better choice, ignored by the President in his speech, would be to amend U.S. bankruptcy law to create an open, expedited bankruptcy process in which an impartial court would oversee the restructuring or closure of large and complex financial firms.
– James Gattuso and David John

Health Care
Despite overwhelming public opposition, the President in his State of the Union restated his commitment to flawed health care legislation that would transfer more power and decisions to Washington and away from patients and families.

These flawed bills would nullify the President’s numerous promises, ranging from allowing Americans to keep their existing coverage to protecting middle class Americans from tax increases. Indeed, the congressional health care legislation would break his pledges for fixing the economy, bringing down deficits, and creating jobs. In fact, the health care bills would cost in excess of $2 Trillion over the next 10 years and increase, not decrease, health care spending. Moreover, projections show the bill, when taken in its entirety, would add billions to the already staggering federal deficit and record government debt. Finally, the bills’ taxes and mandates would weaken the economy and lead to fewer jobs.

All fair-minded Americans, regardless of their political views, have been appalled by process. This includes blatant special interest politics at the expense of taxpayers, including backroom schemes to exempt some groups from provisions of the bill while forcing the rest of Americans to pick up the tab. The subsequent decline in public trust has been aggravated by the cavalier violation of the President’s numerous and highly publicized pledges to guarantee transparency, including C-Span coverage of congressional negotiations.

Instead of overhauling one sixth of the US economy, Congress should stop, and take a step by step approach to increase competition, expand personal choices, and reduce costs for businesses, individuals and families. By reaching out to congressional conservatives, the President could achieve common sense reforms and improve the efficiency of health insurance markets and deliver better value for Americans’ health care dollars.
– Bob Moffit and Nina Owcharenko

The Spending “Freeze”
Obama’s spending freeze would apply to a narrow sliver of spending (somewhere around 1/8th of total spending) and at best, savings would be less than one percent of the total budget. Moreover, it explicitly exempts the very entitlement programs driving future deficits. At a time when the deficit is $1.4 trillion and we face a sea of even worse red ink as far as the eye can see, such a freeze is tantamount to bailing out – forgive the double entendre – the Titanic with a dixiecup. And it would start next year, conveniently after the elections. Freezing spending is the right idea, but this freeze falls short of real action.

This freeze would not be applied across the board, but rather some functions like so-called investment in job creation would increase and other functions like Judiciary (a core constitutional function of government) would receive cuts. This is a normal part of budget writing, setting priorities and making trade-offs. But it’s hardly a freeze. If Obama is serious, he should start with a freeze right now in the form of a rescissions package and demand Congress act on it in an expedited fashion.

If the President is serious about righting the fiscal ship, he needs batten down the hatches and take far tougher actions, like cancelling TARP, ending the stimulus program, and turning his attention to the tsunami of entitlement programs that threaten swamp our economy.

His proposed entitlement commission would have no teeth to tackle surging entitlement spending. It is a hollow gesture, designed to buy time for Congress to kick the can down the road again in an election year so they can pass another huge budget filled with new spending while his Commission dithers away behind closed doors. If he truly refuses to pass this problem along to another generations of America, he should to tell Americans the true cost of entitlement programs ($43 trillion in excess costs) and put these programs on a hard budget with trade-offs across all priorities – not just a narrow sliver of the budget. That’s how budgeting works.
-Alison Fraser

Automatic IRAs
In all the soaring rhetoric and misguided policy proposals in President Obama’s State-of-the-Union address, one,  the Automatic IRA, is a simple, easy to understand way to increase Americans’ retirement security.

Almost half of all US workers are employed by companies that don’t offer any sort of pension or retirement saving plan.  Social Security benefits alone are not high enough for a comfortable retirement, and the programs financial problems means that even those benefits could be lower.  Unless workers can save for their own retirement from the day they first enter the workforce until they retire, either they face retirement poverty, or will need to rely upon yet another new government program.

The Automatic IRA allows workers to save some of their own money in a simple, low cost savings plan.  Employers would deduct the contributions and send it on to a private sector funds manager just as they now deduct federal taxes from the workers and send it to the Treasury.  Investment choices will include a no-cost government bond for new savers to use until they build up enough money to transfer into privately managed funds.  Because an IRA is personal savings, employers would not be required – or even allowed – to match these savings.

The Automatic IRA has wide bipartisan support from the left and right, and was endorsed in 2008 by both the McCain and Obama campaigns.  It is a simple, practical solution to a serious problem.
– David John

President Obama was right to speak tonight about the urgent need to reform and improve American education. But the President is choosing the wrong responses, following failed paths that will put our country deeper in debt, expand dependence on government, and increase burdens on taxpayers — all while rejecting some of the most promising reforms.

A year ago, President Obama stated that his administration would
use only one test to decide which programs to fund — whether or not they worked. But his administration has consistently broken that promise. For starters, President Obama allowed Congress to end the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, which has proven to be one of the most effective federal education initiatives in history, improving low-income students’ academic achievement. And he pushed Congress to create a new $8 billion preschool program, while his administration buried a report showing that the federal Head Start program was a colossal failure.

If the President is serious about his commitment to education reform and fiscal discipline, he should press Congress to completely overall the
federal role in K-12 and early childhood education by terminating ineffective programs and reforming remaining ones to empower parents and local leaders use our precious tax dollars to best meet children’s needs.

The President also talked about the need to address the important problem of college affordability. But decades of experience have shown that his costly solution — increasing federal subsidies and placing more of the burden for paying college on taxpayers — hasn’t addressed the root problem of out-of-control college costs. Rather than increasing the burden on taxpayers and growing the deficit, federal and state policymakers should focus on reforming higher education to improve efficiency to lower costs.

That’s the right way to improve college access while reducing the burden on taxpayers.
– Dan Lips

War on Terror
More than 40 minutes into his State of the Union speech, Obama mentioned terrorism. If you weren’t listening carefully, you might have missed it. It was all about 10 sentences.

This isn’t surprising. Obama has at times in the past year seemed reluctant to embrace the responsibility of defending the nation against acts of terrorism. Thus far, President Obama has only given one speech on the war on terrorism in his time in office. He pledged early on to close down Guantanamo Bay and prosecute terrorists in civil courts. And at the same time, he has limited the tools of the CIA and done everything he can to distance himself from Bush era counterterrorism policies, remaining almost silent on reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, provisions which he is said to support.

These actions are of course cracking under the weight of the national security threats facing the nation. And this lack of enthusiasm for his national security responsibilities has caught the attention of the American public. The Christmas Day plot was a reminder to all of what can happen if an Administration fails in this duty. Americans are asking—will President Obama take the steps necessary to defend the United States against its enemies?

Tonight’s speech was light on rhetoric— and even lighter on substance when it comes to terrorism. What the public expects is for President Obama to be a President engaged in terrorism and ready to do what is necessary to stop attacks. This isn’t an easy job; it’s a no-excuse, 24-7-365 commitment, but it is absolutely necessary.
– Jena McNeill

Child Care Tax Credit
President Obama’s State of the Union proposals tonight to expand the Child and Dependent Care Credit by increasing its size for middle-income Americans goes about tax relief for a limited number of U.S. families in a thoroughly unacceptable way.

The credit discriminates among families with comparable incomes and work effort – simply on the basis of their decision to use or not to use paid day care providers. President Obama’s proposal is similar to one advanced in 1998 by President Clinton, and similar criticisms apply.

The Obama Administration proposal raises the value of the child care tax credit to 35% of allowable day care expenses for families making less than $85,000 a year (with smaller increases for families making from $85,000 to $115,000 per year).

To qualify, parents must pay someone else to care for their children. Parents who make different arrangements in order to maximize the amount of time they can spend with their children are left behind by the Obama proposals. These include families where one parent works full-time and the other works part- or full-time at a different time of day (split shifts) or on weekends, as well as families where one parent foregoes wage income entirely in order to stay home and raise the children.

The diversity of child care arrangements among U.S. families is great. Tax relief for families with children is a need that can be addressed in many ways as well, but whatever way is chosen should be equitable to all families and treat all work-family time options similarly. The Child and Dependent Care Credit fails this key test, and expanding it only aggravates the failure.
– Chuck Donovan

Defense Spending
For a speech well over an hour in length, it was hard not to notice the breezy and brief reference to military needs. The President spoke for only a moment about the need to provide the U.S. military the resources it needs during war and support when forces return home.

Both priorities are incredibly important to sustaining the long-term health of the America’s Armed Forces. However, the President made no mention of his long-term commitment to the military and the urgent demand to give our men and women in uniform a capable array of next-generation systems to defeat any threat in the future, as well as those threats in Iraq and Afghanistan today.

Not including defense spending as part of the President’s domestic discretionary spending freeze is important given ongoing wartime requirements. Yet the President’s 10-year budget plan would dramatically cut defense spending in real terms and as a percentage of the economy.

Providing for the common defense of the American people is the first job of government, not the second, third, fourth or even last responsibility.

When the President’s budget is released to Capitol Hill next week, members of Congress should demand robust resources and spending levels for the military until victory is achieved in combat operations overseas and for several years thereafter to rebuild the force strained by war and coming off a decade of underinvestment.
– Mackenzie Eaglen

The war in Afghanistan deserved more attention than the one paragraph it was allotted in the speech. Not only is it a crucial theater in the war against al-Qaeda, but the President himself spent a good deal of time in his first year in the White House on two separate policy reviews that produced two major decisions to commit more troops to that struggle. Success in Afghanistan requires the long term support of the American people. This cannot be taken for granted.

The President missed an important opportunity to shore up wavering public support for his Afghanistan policy by explaining how his strategy can bring success, appealing for steadfast public support, and underscoring the huge potential costs of failure in Afghanistan. His emphasis on U.S. troops beginning to pull out in 2011 undercuts the overall U.S. strategy by signaling to our enemies that we are anxious to withdraw. Wars are won by demonstrating resolve and commitment, not by telling our enemies that our patience for the fight is limited.
– Lisa Curtis

President Obama in his State of the Union address reiterated again that he wants to raise taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year. He says we can’t afford to. This is nothing new. He has reiterated his desire to raise taxes on high-earners time and again since he began campaigning for the presidency.

But the president’s insistence to raise taxes on high-earners conflicts with his also oft-repeated pledge that he won’t raise taxes during a time of recession. So which is it? If taxes shouldn’t be raised in a recession why is it alright to raise them on high earners?

The answer is it isn’t. Raising taxes on anyone in a recession is a mistake. Even if we are in the nascent stages of a recovery, now is not the right time to burden the fragile economy with higher taxes. Higher taxes on those making over $250,000 will not only hurt those high-earners, it will hurt those that make much less because there will be fewer jobs and lower wages as a result.

Congress and President Obama should extend the 2001 and 2003 for all taxpayers. The economy can’t afford to do otherwise.
– Curtis Dubay

On Inherited Budgets and Earmarks
The President’s claim that the long-term trillion-dollar budget deficits are “the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program” is clearly misleading. While these factors contributed to turning earlier surpluses into deficits, the budget deficit still stood at just $162 billion when the recession began in late 2007. The larger subsequent deficits have been driven by the recession, the financial bailouts, the President’s stimulus bill, and large discretionary spending hikes enacted by a Democratic Congress. Once the recession ends and its costs wind down, budget projections show permanent trillion-dollar deficits driven by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid growth, as well as the higher discretionary spending baseline, and growing net interest costs on this large debt – not even counting the President’s expensive proposals. While President Bush certainly spent too much, it’s not okay Obama would more than double down.

President Obama’s proposal to post all earmark requests on a single website is strong. Yet the President who promised to “slash earmarks to no greater than 1994 levels” – 1,318 earmarks at a cost of $7.8 billion – just signed into law approximately 10,642 earmarks at a cost of $15.4 billion. He clearly has a long ways to go keep this pledge.
– Brian Riedl

On the Constitution
The former law school lecturer left much to be desired concerning legal issues in his State of the Union address.

First, in addressing the White House’s signature proposal to date, the President failed to give any assurances that he will expend any effort to force Congress to address the serious constitutional failures of the health care mandates in the existing versions of the legislation.

Second, the President ridiculed the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Citizen’s United as opening “the floodgates for special interest.” Contrary to the President’s characterization, the decision properly rejected the idea that the government can decide who gets to speak and ban some from speaking at all, particularly those doing their speaking through associations of members who share their beliefs. Amazingly, he urged Congress to “right this wrong” – amazing because the “wrong” is First Amendment protection of speech rights.

Third, the President claimed that his administration “has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination.” This will come as news to anyone who has followed the Justice Department’s shenanigans in the New Black Panther Party case, one in which the Civil Rights Division chose not to obtain a default judgment to which it was entitled in an open-and-shut case against individuals caught on tape intimidating voters. Rather than prosecuting civil rights violations, the Obama Justice Department is seeking to evade subpoenas from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which is investigating the incident. If Obama is serious about showing that his Civil Right division follows and enforces the law, he should begin by fully complying with the Civil Rights Commission’s investigation.
– Robert Alt

President Obama used his State of the Union address to continue promoting his clean energy and green jobs agenda. His calls for new nuclear power, offshore oil and gas exploration, and other new energy technologies are certainly welcome. The problem is that his program of subsidies, special tax treatment, and government support will not work.

While government programs can create jobs in specific sectors, the President ignores the evidence that these programs end up killing more jobs than they create. Spain has already gone down this road and its experience should give the President caution. Between 2000 and 2008, the Spanish government spent $36 billion in taxpayers money on wind, solar and mini-hydro development. Each green job created cost on average $758,471.

And that is not all. Dr. Gabriel Calzada of the King Juan Carlos University in Spain found that, for every green job created, 2.2 jobs in other sectors were destroyed. While correlation does not imply causation, keep in mind the country’s unemployment rate is currently at 19.4%. This result is predictable because government programs do not yield commercially viable products. Indeed, they stifle the entrepreneurial activities that drive technological innovation in a free market place.

That is why the President should forge a new path for the United States that relies more on free enterprise and less on Washington handouts. If the President believes that the nation needs more nuclear power, then he should reform the regulatory system that continues to stifle progress in the industry. If he believes that we need to gain access to our domestic energy resource by drilling in our offshore waters, then he should lift the ban on those activities. And finally, if he truly wants to see wind and solar power to be commercially viable, then he must stop subsidizing those activities.
– Jack Spencer

Arms Control
President Obama alluded in his speech to the threat of nuclear weapons and his commitment to defending the United States. If only his policies matched the security challenges facing the nation.

First and foremost, he has yet to propose the establishment of a strategic posture that seeks to protect and defend the people, territory, institutions and infrastructure of the United States against strategic attack. He cut the missile defense budget in his first year by roughly 15 percent. He has demanded that the number of interceptors in Alaska and California to provide such a defense be reduced from 44 to 30. President Obama then terminated agreements with the Czech Republic and Poland to field defense facilities in both countries capable of protecting the United States and Europe against long-range missile attacks, particularly against those that are likely to be fielded by Iran. This is not the kind of protect and defend strategy that will effectively address the threats posed by world that is becoming proliferated with nuclear weapons

On the arms control front, President Obama’s policy of seeking a world without nuclear weapons provides virtually no guidance on how the United States will maintain its security as it goes down the disarmament path, given that Iran and North Korea are moving in the opposition direction and China and Russia are modernizing their nuclear forces. The nation’s nuclear weapons infrastructure continues to atrophy as the overall size of the force continues to shrink. He has pursued a new ambitious arms control agenda with Russia incompetently by setting an unrealistic deadline for the negotiations and failing to meet it.

It is all but impossible to avoid concluding that President Obama’s strategic policies are seeking to make American weakness a virtue. Such weakness will not be a virtue, but a danger to the security of the American people, America’s allies and ultimately world peace. If he continues down his present path regarding these issues, one wonders when and under what circumstances a dangerous world will remind him of this fact.
– Baker Spring

Public Diplomacy
In a speech that focused closely on President Obama’s domestic agenda, an hour into his first State of the Union address to Congress, the president got around to the issue of foreign affairs, terrorism and U.S. foreign military engagements. Many around the world have expressed concern that a US administration so focused on domestic priorities and troubles as the current one will be too inward-looking to be deeply engaged in the world. Judging by its placement in his list of priorities, foreign affairs did seem like an afterthought, briefly addressed.

Still, there were assertions of American leadership and a reach for ideas that seemed to be somewhat of a departure for this self-avowedly pragmatic president. “America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity,” Obama stated. “American ideas are its greatest source of strength.” And rather than naively reach out to the regimes of Iran and North Korea, the president emphasized their growing isolation, somewhat optimistically holding out the promise of tighter sanctions on Iran. In that sense, the speech reflected some of the hard earned experience of the past year.

In other areas, the speech seemed almost out of touch with reality. The United States has not, as asserted, become a leading nation on climate change — much to the dismay of the Europeans. In Afghanistan, allied nations are hardly coming together to support the president’s surge — indeed French President Nicolas Sarkozy very publicly stated this week that he would not be contributing any more troops to the endeavor, this on the eve of the Afghanistan conference in London. And the fight on terrorism has not, as stated, been advanced by the Obama administration — quite the reverse as the nation has become more vulnerable. Nor has the administration distinguished itself by its support for human rights in Iran — in fact it missed a critical moment to get involved during last summer’s uprisings against the Iranian regime. As for the president’s aspiration to control nuclear materials around the world, a goal to be reached through an international conference — that horse has left the barn a long time ago.

The Obama administrations record for its first year is so thin that improvement will not be hard to come by. Yet, the American leadership that the world needs to see is not likely to become reality before the president speaks again next January.
– Helle Dale

Economic Freedom
In his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama signaled no retreat from the big-government extravaganza of his first year in office. The three year “spending freeze” that he articulated is only a blip in the midst of a panoply of interventionist policies that would further restrain our economic freedom. Consider the followings. President Obama’s proposed “freeze” will not start until 2011, will only apply to only about one eighth of $3.5 trillion budget, and will not be relevant to any of the unspent $862 billion stimulus plan, his health care plan or the House of Representatives’ additional $156 billion stimulus plan.

The shortcomings of Obama’s first year economic policies have vividly reminded many Americans that government stimulus and big government can neither create more opportunity for people nor manufacture enduring prosperity. Unfortunately, rather than recognizing it is time for real “change” and a new approach, President Obama tonight eloquently asked us for more patience with his big government policies and renewed his own allegiance to an ineffective course of policy action. His words, rather than reassuring, have reminded us that our economic freedom is in greater peril than ever.

As the Index of Economic Freedom, an annual independent study by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, has documented, policy choices do matter in determining economic vitality. Unfortunately, America’s economic freedom has been falling–dramatically. While many countries around the world continue on the path of increasing competitiveness and flexibility, the United States is, in many respects, moving in the opposite direction, simultaneously burdening its economy with increasing government spending, uncompetitive tax rates, and barriers to trade and investment that stifle entrepreneurship and dynamic growth. As President Obama stated, “It’s time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.” Unfortunately, many of those problems are caused by government itself, under Obama’s leadership. Many small and large firms are currently postponing spending decisions and projects while they try to discern government’s latest intentions. Others are put off by anti-business rhetoric that demonizes those whose profit-seeking is the very foundation of investment and job creation.

It’s time to get government out of the way and let the American people get on with the business of building a better future.
– Ambassador Terry Miller

NATO and Afghanistan
During the Presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama stated that Afghanistan would be his primary focus in America’s battle against terrorism, and that he would rally the international ISAF coalition to recommit to the fight there. In the 12 months since his election, he has ordered 30,000 additional combat troops into Afghanistan, confirmed $2.7 billion in non-military aid from his 2010 budget and maintained broad bipartisan support for the war effort, despite huge tensions over domestic issues such as health care reform. However, he has been wildly unsuccessful in rallying additional international commitment to mission, save the same countries who have long shouldered a disproportionate share of the burden such as the UK. Several European members of NATO including France, Germany, Greece, Spain, and Turkey continue to shortchange the mission in Afghanistan, under-resourcing operations and restricting their troops with nightmare caveats.

During his address to the nation, President Obama stated, “In Afghanistan, we are increasing our troops and training Afghan Security Forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, and our troops can begin to come home. We will reward good governance, reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghans – men and women alike. We are joined by allies and partners who have increased their own commitment, and who will come together tomorrow in London to reaffirm our common purpose.” In order to reach NATO’s goal of handing over security, judicial, and economic responsibilities to the central and local government of Afghanistan, President Obama must first restore stability to Afghanistan. And he will need his Continental partners to support him in doing so. He must rally diplomatic support for the mission at a heads-of-state level, and demonstrate once-and-for-all, that ISAF has the strength, resolve, and staying power to win this war – without arbitrary withdrawal timelines.
– Sally McNamara