Friday, October 2, 2009

Obama Fiddles While Afghanistan Burns

Before he gets to the important business of obtaining the Olympics for Chicago, President Obama felt obligated to schmooze with his advisers for a couple of hours about one of his campaign issues. Prior to the election, he promised his acolytes and converts that he would toss out the Bush mistakes and turn his attention to fighting the good war in Afghanistan.

In between his various muggings for the camera sessions, worldwide annointings, and joining the crazy fest at the United Nations, Obama has so far talked to his commander in the field in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, exactly once in six months.

Being God made manifest is very time-consuming, so Obama's friends in the Democratic Party have covered for him. "Presidents speak through the chain of command, they don't talk regularly to their field commanders," they say. Amazing how people who have never served in the military become overnight experts on military procedure. George Bush spoke to his field commanders at length at least once a month, and showed up personally when they least expected it, in-country. It's how he made his decision to replace his prime commander in Iraq with General Petraeus, and then backed him to the hilt despite all the carping in Congress and the press. And the surge worked. In other words, Bush made a decision.

Obama hand-picked General McChrystal, and then acted as if he's a digital watch with a battery--no attention required. Just like he's done with everything else since taking office, Obama makes a glorious speech, then leaves it to others to carry the load. He's too important to be involved in details. Even his favorite war. But all is well now. He had a meeting. Meetings are good. People talk. Things get said. Everybody feels better. I'm relieved.

Obama got together with his top advisers, and proved he hasn't learned the lessons of history. Just as Johnson did with Vietnam, it's quite possible that Obama is going to let his armchair warriors and policy wonks theorize and experiment while his troops are left hung out to dry. CBS Evening News led with "the Vice President led a parade of top advisors to the White House this afternoon for what could be one of the most important meetings of the Obama presidency." Would those be the advisors who agree with Crazy Joe that we should fight the war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan by flying drones in from the sea?

There was no summons for General McChrystal to appear in person, but he did get some say by conference phone, and his on-the-spot surrogate was Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen. Apparently, the Chiefs agree with General McChrystal that 40,000 additional troops, more or less, along with a surge strategy are needed to do the war in Afghanistan right. But they are countered by "stay the course, add the drones" advocates like National Security Advisor General Jim Jones, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel." Since Obama seems to prefer people whose credentials are all show and no go, there is a serious danger he will side with Biden and the 60s gang.

There is even talk of reducing the overall troop strength already in place while "pursuing a smaller-scale mission focused on hunting down Al-Qaeda figures." Most top U.S. military commanders are opposed to that plan entirely. But Obama's "surrender and declare a victory" crowd on the left in Congress intends to make it very uncomfortable to do anything much that's positive.

One of Obama's flacks told the Washington Post that "the administration is asking questions about the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan that frankly have not been asked over the last eight years." Given that most of Obama's hack advisers don't know the difference between strategy and tactics, that sounds like the beginning of another "it's all Bush's fault" scenario. For one thing, can someone tell me what possible questions could still be left unasked? We have the questions, Mr. President. You're supposed to have the answers. That's why you're the ersatz Commander in Chief. And if you don't have the answers, cancel the goddam round the world grinning tours, learn something about conducting a war, and do your job. You're not playing Candyland with your daughters, this is serious business for adults.

CNN reported with pomp and pomposity that "Obama and eighteen others on his national security team met in the heavyweight meeting in the secure Situation Room." Well, I'm glad something's secure. General Petraeus agrees with McChrystal that a form of the successful surge in Iraq must be tailored to the differing conditions in Afghanistan (a far more primitive conglomeration of warring factions with no genuine history of democratic self-government).

Both Petraeus and McChrystal agree that ultimately American boots on the ground will be far less necessary in Afghanistan--but not now. First, there must be a serious and successful military elimination of the major Al Qaeda and Taliban counterinsurgency, and an end to the easy passage from Pakistan into Afghanistan and vice versa. Meanwhile, Afghanistan must develop its own home security forces, and that is not going well at all. Obama's own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, appears to share this view. He is very skeptical of the "counterinsurgency only" approach, and even more skeptical about the "drones over Al Qaeda" concept.

With one of the largest egos in American history, Franklin Roosevelt still knew that he had to rely on his military commanders in the field for the best possible information. And when Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur disagreed, FDR had to make a decision. Likewise, FDR trusted his top military adviser, General Marshall, completely. Yet he regularly spoke directly to General Eisenhower, particularly prior to D-Day. Again he made a decision, supporting Eisenhower's plan. It's part of the job, you amateurish twit. It's not "above your pay grade." It is your pay grade.

Two things come out of this meeting. One was predictable as the sunrise, the other is truly ironic. First, as announced by an unnamed official of the Obama administration, "no decisions about increased troop levels were discussed; instead, the group focused on what the goals in that war-torn country should be." Nearly ten months into his administration, the leader who doesn't lead is thinking about forming a policy?! Oh, brother. Peerless leader, lead! This isn't a courtroom, it's a theater of operations. Men and women are being killed and a war is being lost because there is no strategy. Just a lot of talk about what the strategy should be. S--t or get off the pot. Somebody needs to drag out Harry Truman's desk ornament that says "the buck stops here," and plop it on the Lord High Waffler's desk.

Second, in the event that Obama can take some time from his more important duties (see above), and in the less likely event that he is actually capable of making a decision, the only way he is going to get the necessary troops for the surge is to go to the Republicans. That will be a fun sight. He's all but called the Republicans Nazis for opposing his crazed socialist policies at home, he is the most inept executive within most of our memories, he has played footsie with most of the anti-American dictators throughout the world (including Iran, a major supplier of materiel to the Taliban and Al Qaeda), and abandoned the European missile defense shield. Yet now we are expected to believe that the Republicans should forgive and forget, and help him out by providing the votes to put the surge over the top in Congress when they know that the moment something, anything, goes wrong, Obama will throw everybody under the bus.

Well, at least he made one decision. To take a trip to Europe to join Michelle. Hey, how about those Olympics!


AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I think it's hilarious that Chicago got knocked out in the first round of voting. I guess the Messiah forgot to bring his magic staff.

Thanks for the article on Afghanistan. It's a very good summary of the coming and goings of the current policy debate. I fear that Obama will fall for the idea of the drone over the horizon, which I think everyone knows can't work.

I don't know what the ultimate solution is in Afghanistan, I'm not even sure there is one. The problem, as I see it, is a religion that teaches stone-ageism and tribal hatreds that result in a perpetual cycle of violence and super corruption.

The only way to fix something like that would be to "separate the children" so to speak. Maybe the country needs to be broken up?

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: The man simply can't get anything right. He and his crew showed all those beautiful pictures of Chicago, and those heart-warming stories about people succeeding against all odds, and the diversity, diversity! And the committee didn't give a crap. They probably also had their own pictures of people getting off the Eisenhower Expressway in the wrong place on the South Side, and getting mobbed, mugged, and left for dead.

I only see one serious move in Afghanistan. Beef up the forces heavily, go into shock and awe mode, wipe out major terrorist encampments and Taliban centers, then get the hell out. That gives them the warning of what we will do to them every time potential terrorists rear their ugly heads, but doesn't require our continuing presence. I don't see any of the potential for a unified nation that I see in Iraq. Far too primitive and tribal. But of course someone might get killed under the shock and awe scenario, so Obama won't choose it (or let someone else choose it for him).

The left kept calling Iraq "the new Vietnam quagmire." What they don't realize is that if Afghanistan isn't quickly and efficiently pacified, if no major theater operations are launched, and if Obama can't bring himself to admit defeat, Afghanistan will be the correct parallel to Vietnam. And since he doesn't have any sense of history, Obama won't realize that it was his own Democrats who did Johnson in.

StanH said...

Barry should be kept away from sharp objects today, and probably Michele. The Exalted One has heard no a lot lately tisk ...tisk.

Afghanistan has been the death of many a army. If Barry doesn’t listen to Petraeus and McChrystal we need to get the hell out. Afghanistan will devolve into a political quagmire like Vietnam lickety-split, and fine young Americans will die, due to witless Barry and Joe.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--Actually, I'm surprised the videos that Obama and gang produced didn't have more of an effect. Political-correctness, pretty pictures, and practically no discussion of the sporting events themselves. That's just like the American coverage of the actual events. Three minutes of an event, followed by twenty minutes of touching and uplifting background stories on the athletes who are coming in last. I stopped watching about fifteen years ago. About the time the American basketball "dream teams" couldn't beat Lesser Urdistan.

I'm with you on big troop increase, surge, shock and awe, and get out.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: I'm feeling an inordinate sense of Schadenfreude today. I absolutely howled when I heard that Obama and Chicago didn't make it past round one. And I was born in Chicago! The magic of the messiah seems to be turning into the amateur vaudeville show of the century. I'm still waiting for the day when he finally wipes that idiotic grin off his face.

But look at the bright side. It gave him time to avoid listening to his field commanders and having to make an actual decision about Afghanistan. Obviously, he has his priorities straight.

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: Thanks for the laugh. I'm with you on that--the Olympics have become as exciting as cold oatmeal.

At least we've been spared the Chicago Olympics, with their opening festivities of waving red flags and huge pictures of the dear leader. And I'm not sure that the Chicago P.D. could be as efficient as the Chinese in removing the "undesirables" from the area during the events, nor as good at cleaning up the streets wherever the tourists might show up. Beijing is simply bigger than Chicago, and is more efficient in manipulating people and events than that toddling town.

As someone said on another site: "The Committee didn't just say no, it said the equivalent of hell, no."

CalFederalist said...

When I was in college, I took a course called "The American City." It dealt mostly with late nineteenth and early twentieth century cities. One of the required books was "Bosses in Lusty Chicago." The main characters were two famous aldermen, Hinky Dink Henna and Bathhouse John Coughlin. Henna was the sensible political grafter, while Coughlin was the off-kilter speechifier, and they were close friends. After Coughlin sang one of his Irish pub tunes, then made one of his wandering florid speeches, another alderman asked Henna "Has John gone dotty, or is he just full of dope?" As Obama was making his Olympic speech, guess who came to mind?

LawHawkSF said...

CalFederalist: As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm thinking Rahm Emmanuel and Barack Obama, only without the wit and charm of Henna and Coughlin. At least it appears those guys were funny, and probably did a lot less harm. Fortunately for history, neither Henna nor Coughlin got elected president.

ArmChairGeneral said...

"The devil went out to Demark, he was looking for a soul to steal. He was way behind the Country Line when he heard his woman squeal. She said to him "Obama dear, do you think they might find out?" He shook his head and laughed at the teleprompter and said "Woman let me tell you what..."

ArmChairGeneral said...

"I bet you didn't know it but I'm a telepromptin fool and I'll take one look at those capitalist goons and show them that I rule." (Chorus) "Obama can't you sign my bill my face is getting sad cause every time I try to write one the elephants think its bad but just so you know that I am behind you I'll get on the plane and ride to Denmark too!"

"The Prime Minister made an evil hiss and he said he guess what son? We debated your request for the gold and we decided to have some fun. I bet you didn't think we'd do it but the answer is a word that you cant stand. So get back on that plane and fly back home and say sorry to your boys in Afghanistan!"

Writer X said...

I feel sorry for the troops in Afgahnistan and Iraq. They have a Commander-in-Chief who behaves like the war is a pesky term paper that he keeps forgetting to research. Considering the outcome of the Olympics where he seemed to put a lot of his energy, the future doesn't look bright for Afghanistan, unfortunately. Hopefully he doesn't send Michelle and Oprah to the Middle East.

ArmChairGeneral said...

Exactly writer x but maybe if Oprah does go to the Middle East we can see ahmoud Ahmadi Nejad jumping on the couch about his love for Hugo.

Writer X said...

Good point, ArmChairGen! That could definitely be amusing.

LawHawkSF said...

ArmChairGeneral: Are you telling me that Carter stayed in Georgia? LOL

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: Maybe we could distract the Afghans by pushing for the Olympics in Kabul. I want to see the women's fifty yard dash, in burqas. Hopefully, he will send Oprah and Hillary to the middle east, preferably in bikinis.

Writer X said...

LawHawk, that is a disturbing visual. Maybe that's what Obama should use in lieu of sanctions--threaten the Iranian President with nudity. And not the good kind.

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: I hope you don't mean Obama showing off those man-boobs that the Democrats call a finely-sculpted body.

Writer X said...

LawHawk, "man" and "boobs" should never be in the same sentence.

Individualist said...


With regard to your Carter staying in Georgia comment.

I think maybe the reason Obama is so friendly with these dictators maybe that Carter still shows him up as their favorite US President.

Arm Chair General

Remember "better the devil you know that the marxist you don't" pretty much sums up the GOP choices in the 2008 Presidential election.

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