Skip to comments.When a President Hates Being Commander in Chie
Posted on 09/23/2010 6:54:10 AM PDT by IbJensen
Among the tidbits and outrages revealed in the trailer for Bob Woodwards forthcoming book, Obamas 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.
Obamas 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 Obamas 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 andperhaps more revealingly, we shall seecould 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 decisionwhy isnt 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 presidents decisionand its not the presidents 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, Youre just trying to put this on us so its 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.
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.
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.
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