Jennifer Rubin has two posts this morning, both of which illustrate my point about the dangerous relationship between our CIC and the military he’s supposed to be leading. In the first, she talks about the insane decision-making process in D.C., which seems to have little to do with either victory or troop safety:
The White House seminars on the Afghanistan war are continuing. The term papers assigned this quarter include a “province-by-province analysis of Afghanistan to determine which regions are being managed effectively by local leaders and which require international help, information that his advisers say will guide his decision on how many additional U.S. troops to send to the battle.” But there is a hint as to where this is headed. The military commanders are being phased out and the political appointees are taking charge:
The review group once included intelligence officials, generals and ambassadors, but it has recently narrowed to a far smaller number of senior civilian advisers, including Biden, Gates, Jones, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, among others.
But the game is obvious here. Extract information, second-guess the military, and lower the troop levels:
“There are a lot of questions about why McChrystal has identified the areas that he has identified as needing more forces,” said a senior military official familiar with the review, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations candidly. “Some see it as an attempt by the White House to do due diligence on the commander’s troop request. A less charitable view is that it is a 5,000-mile screwdriver tinkering from Washington.”
No wonder the process is taking so long. All this homework and micromanaging takes time. But in the end, will the American people believe that faux Gens. Biden and Emanuel were smarter than Gen. Stanley McChrystal? The voters in repeated polls have already said they trust the military commanders by a wide margin over the president to make the calls on Afghanistan. That isn’t how it should work in our system of civilian control. But the public has smelled a rat — and is right to conclude that the president and his team aren’t making decisions on the merits but rather are massaging the facts to get to a result they desire.
The seminar process has not inspired confidence. Moreover, the president’s failure to reiterate the importance of a successful outcome (he doesn’t like the word victory) has allowed public support for the war to erode further. It’s hard to see whether the president still believes in the effort, given that he’s decided that “the Taliban cannot be eliminated as a military and political force, regardless of how many more troops are deployed.” We are now in the business of half-measures and inconclusive outcomes.
As you can see, the president is involved in political calculations, with little concern for military outcomes. The war he said was a necessity is now a problem, and Emanuel, Kerry and Biden are trying to turn it into Kerry’s famous “police action.” This is how troops die — and, worse, die for nothing.
What’s even sadder is that, as Rubin also points out, the money that could have been used to win a war, save lies and create jobs has been piddled (if you count waterfalls of cash as piddling) away on pork:
This report tells us:
An early progress report on President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan overstates by thousands the number of jobs created or saved through the stimulus program, a mistake that White House officials promise will be corrected in future reports.The government’s first accounting of jobs tied to the $787 billion stimulus program claimed more than 30,000 positions paid for with recovery money. But that figure is overstated by least 5,000 jobs, according to an Associated Press review of a sample of stimulus contracts.
Forget the error rate and the funny double-counting. If we created 25,000 jobs, we’re talking $31.48 million per job created. (That uses the conservative figure of $787B, which does not include interest.) This is how the taxpayers’ money is being spent. And the administration declares this a success, beyond its expectations. We’re heading for double-digit unemployment, but we’re told this was money well spent.
Meanwhile, the Obama team can’t find the money — or is it the will to ask for the money? – to give Gen. McChrystal all the funding for troops he needs. We don’t have enough to continue the F-22 — which would create directly or indirectly 95,000 high-paying jobs. We need to chisel a billion here and there on missile defense. After all, we need to watch how we spend the taxpayers’ money.