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When a President Hates Being Commander in Chie
The American ^ | September 22, 2010 | Tom Donnelly

Posted on 09/23/2010 6:54:10 AM PDT by IbJensen

Among the tidbits and outrages revealed in the trailer for Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book, Obama’s Wars, two patterns stood out. First, the president really hates being commander in chief in a time of war. Second, and perhaps related, the fight the White House most wants to win is the battle over who gets blamed for a defeat in Afghanistan.

Obama’s annoyance, amounting to anger, at the demands of wartime leadership are everywhere palpable in the piece. The strategy in Afghanistan is to get out: “There cannot be any wiggle room,” says the president. “I am not doing long-term nation-building. I am not spending a trillion dollars … In 2010, we will not be having a conversation about how to do more.” He does not think in terms of winning or losing: “I think about it more in terms of: ‘Do you successfully prosecute a strategy that results in the country being stronger rather than weaker in the end?’”

This is not just an attenuated, limited-war strategy; it is a reflection of the character of President Obama’s leadership. The Woodward book is advertised as reprinting in full a six-page “terms sheet” written by the president, an effort to precisely define what U.S. forces could and—perhaps more revealingly, we shall see—could not do in Afghanistan. When he cannot so closely control the horizontal and vertical, when people and events push back, Obama wonders “Why do we keep having these meetings?” I have made my decision—why isn’t reality following the plan?

The result is a strategy-making process that has ground down even Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus, two of the most publicly imperturbable and iron-disciplined figures imaginable. Anyone who has observed Gates in recent years or throughout his career will find it stunning to think, as Woodward relates, that he would be “tempted to walk out of an Oval Office meeting.” Equally remarkable is that Petraeus, who did not flinch through the darkest “General-Betray-Us” months of the Iraq surge, might mutter to his staff that “the administration was ‘[expletive] with the wrong guy.’”

That civil-military relations are headed toward a crisis is all but ensured by the second striking point in the Woodward revelations. In distributing the “terms sheet,” Obama summoned all his principal advisers and “went around the room, one by one, asking each participant whether he or she had any objections” and to “say so now.” The context is not consensus-building but threat.

One of the consistent themes of White House rhetoric has been that the generals have agreed in every particular with the president’s decision—and it’s not the president’s fault if things go badly. The most prominent proponent of this line has been Jonathan Alter, who elaborates on it at length in his book The Promise: President Obama, Year One, but it has been a constant refrain. The New York Times’ version of the Woodward preview includes yet another anecdote that makes this blame-battle clear:

The book recounts incidents in which Adm. Dennis C. Blair, then the national intelligence director, fought with Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, and John O. Brennan, the counterterrorism adviser.

During a daily intelligence briefing in May 2009, Mr. Blair warned the president that radicals with American and European passports were being trained in Pakistan to attack their homelands. Mr. Emanuel afterward chastised him, saying, “You’re just trying to put this on us so it’s not your fault.” Mr. Blair also skirmished with Mr. Brennan about a report on the failed airliner terrorist attack on Dec. 25. Mr. Obama later forced Mr. Blair out.

At best, administration policy is a coerced consensus. But beyond providing a weak foundation for strategy, the process seems almost inexorably headed toward destroying the trust upon which healthy civil-military relations depend. Obama and his advisers have a chip on their shoulder, and appear to have been spoiling for a fight, paranoid about being “boxed into a corner” from the start of the Afghanistan strategy review. So, far from avoiding a replay of Vietnam, the president and his political team are living out a more exaggerated version of their own nightmare.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: antipresident; creepinchief; evilregime; partyofdeath
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To: BobP

0bama is straining to keep his eyes open in that picture

His eyes have a hooded look, like he’s smoking something.

This is not the only time he has appeared like this in a photo; I’m convinced that he is on drugs.


21 posted on 09/23/2010 1:23:23 PM PDT by happygrl (Continuing to predict that Obama will resign)
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To: Patsygirl
That's a shame. My family is completely aware so we have no disagreements but I will tell you that I've severed ties with many friends and acquaintances. I cannot look at them knowing that they help cause this disaster. It's a matter of self control and controlling my mouth and I'm not good at the latter.

The thing is, this is all or nothing. If we don't get a handle on it this election cycle well, I don't even think I can type out the scenario.

Once Liberty is gone, it is virtually impossible to restore. Your brothers would be well to hear that.

Good Luck

22 posted on 09/23/2010 1:25:09 PM PDT by Outlaw Woman (Extremism in defense of Liberty is sometimes necessary...)
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