“I can’t be the only one who suspects that we got to 9,800 because it sounds a whole lot better than 10,000,” Thornberry said in a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “This is another example of the president calculating what the minimum necessary to get by is, but his heart really isn’t in it.”
Obama on Tuesday announced from the Rose Garden that the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which number more than 30,000 today, would drop to 9,800 by the end of December after America wraps up its combat mission in the country. The remaining force would be cut in half by the close of 2015 and reduced to a normal embassy presence in Kabul by the end of 2016, he said.
On Wednesday the president delivered the commencement speech at West Point, where he offered a wide-ranging vision of American foreign policy that placed greater emphasis on diplomacy and multilateral partnerships between nations and moves away from the use of military force.
“Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail,” Obama said.
Thornberry, by contrast, argued that the U.S. must employ the “full range of tools of national power and influence, so that you can use the right tool in the right situations. Some of those tools need to be big hammers.”
He said there is a “fear that the president thinks and acts like he can make things happen in the world just by giving a speech, that he can protect America with his rhetoric.”
“Even a president with rhetorical gifts cannot finesse his way out of military weakness or a loss of credibility in the world,” Thornberry told the audience, adding that Obama has taken the phrase “ 'speak softly and carry a big stick' and just turned it on its head.”
The Texas lawmaker said “we have to have military power, and it has to be credible."