Parliament House has been the entertainment venue of choice this week, and today looked like being another cracking family day out in the Senate.

But I decided to bypass the Liberal Party’s laugh-a-minute antics, and headed for the US Public Affairs Office in the National Press Club instead to watch Obama’s speech on “The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan” on their big-screen TV.

There were a lot of empty chairs, by the way. Perhaps people just decided to watch CNN at home, but I think that the rival political event up on the Hill just looked like too much fun to miss.

In describing both Obama’s West Point announcement and his Cairo address to the Muslim world, one word comes to mind: “well-briefed”.  Extremely well-briefed. Agree or disagree, the speech methodically ticked off the boxes on the list of AfPak talking points.

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Rationale for war? Check – compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan after 9/11, as opposed to –

Iraqcheck. The less said about that, the better (“The wrenching debate over Iraq is well-known and need not be repeated here.”

-which lead us to take our eyes off the ball in Afghanistan – check.

Afghan election a bit of an embarrassmentcheck. (“- although it was marred by fraud – that election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan’s laws and Constitution” – uh huh.)

Pakistan’s looking a bit of a worrycheck (“the stakes are even higher” given that’s it got nuclear weapons, and all).

So what are you planning to do? McCrystal wants a lot more troopscheck – 30 000 more, not quite as many as asked, but in that part of the world, you haggle…

– and what about Australia? Our Prime Minister’s been in Washington just when Canberra was getting funcheck. No specific mention of KRudd, but he’s been talking with “our allies”, common security of the world, etc.

and the “civilian surge”check – and a “more effective strategy”…

but haven’t we poured a shitload of money into that already? what the hell happen– check “The days of providing a blank check are over” given all the –

corruptioncheck. “those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable”.

and Pakistan, again? – check. It’s all AfPak, now – can’t do one without the other…

and so on. Response to those who disagree, check, secure key population centres, check, timeframe?check-  July 2011 drawdown, etc, check, etc, check, etc, check.

This requires more analysis than I can manage in a blog post, and possibly more than I could manage in a ten-volume book. I had a lot of questions in my head after listening to the speech, and one that underlay everything else: security in American, Europe, and Australia is certainly connected to violent conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere – but can you really safeguard security at home by sending more troops to Afghan battlefields?