Despite giving the generals almost 75% fewer troops than the 80,000 they really wanted (and even significantly less than the 40,000 they sort of wanted), and despite telling the Taliban and Al Qaeda exactly when the field is theirs, and despite dwelling morbidly on death in front of the men and women at West Point who will be going to the field of battle, Obama still couldn’t placate everyone on his side of the political spectrum. A couple of hundred gathered in S.F. to make their protests known — and Protest Shooter was there to capture them on film (or on digital images, I guess).
As I write this, Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but he has released excerpts from his speech. These are my first thoughts on his words:
“The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 – the fastest pace possible – so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They will increase our ability to train competent Afghan Security Forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.” [This is good. This is what Obama needed to do. It's one thing as a candidate to demand that the sitting president lose the war. It's another thing entirely for the former-candidate, now-president to preside over another 1975. Having spent ten, agonizing, demoralizing months trying to figure this one out, Obama is finally doing the right thing.]
“Because this is an international effort, I have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what’s at stake is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility – what’s at stake is the security of our Allies, and the common security of the world.” [Is it just me, or did Obama completely avoid that old-fashioned word "victory" or that nice little phrase "win the war"? Obama is such a Leftist he really cannot contemplate the possibility of a "we win, you lose" scenario. To him, success is manifestly a way out, victory or not (and see the next paragraph to get what I mean). Also, unless Obama expands upon it in his speech tonight, he's said nothing about the nature of the threat against us. To say that "security" is "at stake" is meaningless without explaining who the enemy is, and what an enemy victory means. Given the Islamists' willingness to spell out in words of one syllable their plans regarding the West, Obama should be able to articulate the danger they pose. Again, he simply can't seem to make himself say certain words: "The Taliban, a fundamentalist branch of Islam that sheltered and trained the terrorists who killed more than 3,000 Americans on 9/11, is resurgent and spreading. It must be cut out, root and branch, in order to ensure that its members' willingness to attack us directly, and indirectly (by taking over our allies, such as Pakistan), is destroyed." See? It's simple -- but not for Obama.]
“Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We will continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s Security Forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government – and, more importantly, to the Afghan people – that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.” [Here's the kicker to the two preceding paragraphs. Obama is not in this for victory against a determined and violent enemy that has already attacked America and Europe and that continues to threaten to West's security. Instead, he's adding troops as a predicate to an orderly retreat. He doesn't want to win. He wants to escape. Obama has also done something incredibly stupid by announcing his date of departure. If I were the Taliban, I'd simply retreat into caves for a couple of years, wait for Americans to withdraw, and then return to the field. Obama should announce that U.S. and allied forces will depart when the war against the Taliban has achieved certain milestones, not when a specific date hits on the calendar.]
Bottom line: Obama’s doing the right thing (thank God), but for the wrong reasons. The question is whether our strong and determined American military can achieve victory when the Commander in Chief (a) refuses to name the enemy and is afraid of the “V” word and (b) has given the enemy a specific time line, after which they are free to pursue their theocratic totalitarian goals?
UPDATE: Well, the speech is over and done now. I gather that Obama did spell out more clearly what the threat actually is, but for the most part that he tracked along the excerpts I discussed above. I also gather that I, although unversed in military strategy, pretty much caught onto the myriad flaws in the approach. Otherwise, how could I have tracked so closely with Steve Schippert’s informed analysis?
One of the best things George Bush did during his presidency was to appoint the late, great Tony Snow as his press secretary. Snow was a dream press secretary, straight out of central casting: handsome, intelligent, erudite, informed, charming and witty. Even the savagely anti-Bush press appeared to enjoy his statements and, once he was up there at the podium, they had a much harder time attacking George Bush’s policy initiatives.
Barack Obama, who is making a presidential career out of being the un-Bush, has also done a 180 when it comes to his press secretary. Robert Gibbs is the Bizarro World version of Snow. In place of Snow’s many virtues, Gibbs is visually unappealing, which would be meaningless if it wasn’t accompanied by an uninformed boorishness that permeates his every utterance. The White House press has been giving him a pass because he’s the front person for their idol, but any objective listener would have to conclude that the man is a fool — or, which might be even worse, he plays a fool in order to obfuscate entirely what his employer is doing.
Gibbs’ primary problem (or, if you incline to the obfuscatory theory, his primary virtue) is that he is unintelligible. Today, he gave a perfect example of a ten cent man using three dollar words (emphasis mine):
TAPPER: When more troops are sent into a country, inevitably it results in more casualties, when the military presence and fighting is increased. Is the president going to — is that going to be part of the president’s message tomorrow, to prepare the American people for the fact that, while an exit strategy exists, the next year or two is going to be perhaps bloodier than even the last six months?
GIBBS: Well, I — and we’ve discussed this before. I think the amount of sacrifice that we’ve seen from the men and women that we have there already is something that I know the president is assured by each and every day. I think — you know, he signs letters of condolence. He meets with the families of those that have been killed. Obviously, the trip to Dover is something that I doubt you ever truly forget. I think the president will reiterate the importance of why we’re there, but also, by all means, very early on, acknowledge the tremendous cost and sacrifice to our men and women in uniform. I don’t think there’s any doubt that we are all in awe of — of the commitment from our military and our civilian side in order to get this right.
What in the world does the above mean? The question is whether the president is going to prepare the American people for the fact that, with more troops, there’s more fighting; and with more fighting, we can anticipate more casualties. It’s a good question, because we saw precisely that result with the Iraq Surge. At the time, the press immediately fell into a hysterical dizzy about body counts, until it became obvious to them, and to the rest of the world, that, on the battle field as on the surgery table, a quick cauterization sees some significant initial trauma, but then completely stops the flow of blood. A smart president would help the American people understand this fact, so that they could support this mini-surge without panic.
Given the sensible question, Gibbs could easily have returned with a sensible answer. Instead, Gibbs tells us that Obama is “assured” by those troops who have already fought, been wounded and died on Afghani soil. Hey! He’s even written condolence letters. This talk isn’t merely non-responsive, it’s nonsense. What does the fact that the president finds American deaths “assuring,” and that he signs off on letters, have to do with the pragmatic issue of preparing Americans for the short-term hits and long-term benefits of a Surge?
Only after spewing the crude and painful nonsense does Gibbs make a stab at actually answering the question and, typically, he answers it wrong. Instead, of making the point I made, which is that the military is willing to make a short term sacrifice to assure a long-term benefit, Gibbs waffled on about how troops are going to die — and how the White House really, really appreciates the fact that they’re going to make this sacrifice to “get this right.” It’s unclear whether the “this” that the troops are supposed to die for in order to “get [it] right” is America’s national security, or Obama’s political stability.
Gibbs’ response is appalling at every level. It’s stupid, unintelligible, insensitive, and strategically and politically wide of the mark.
Gibbs doesn’t improve when Tapper asks about long-term political goals in Afghanistan. First, Gibbs has no idea what the issue is:
TAPPER: And just in terms of defining our terms, where does making sure that we have a stable Afghan partner and — and nation- building begin? What’s the line? Is it just — is it just a question of our responsibility, U.S. responsibility being training Afghan troops? It’s just — that’s the safe and secure part, the safe and stable partner part? Because we’ve heard a lot about what the U.S. intends to do, and I know you don’t want to get ahead of the president’s speech, but just in terms — if you could define the terms a little for us.
GIBBS: Well, I — I guess I would more ask you to — I don’t — I’m unclear as to what continuum you’re putting. Are you asking me to — to put them on a certain…
I’ll concede that Tapper got a bit wordy there, but the question is clear: He’s asking Gibbs to explain how the Surge will assure a stable Afghanistan. If Gibbs was at all intelligent, he’d seize the question and spout a party line: “The president anticipates that there will be X number of months of harder fighting until the situation on the ground is stabilized. Even as the Surge goes forward, however, we will be working with the Karzai government….” Simple. Anyone can do it, even someone who actually has no idea what the facts on the ground are. Gibbs, however, struggles visibly to figure out what the heck the question means.
When Tapper clarifies, Gibbs goes from bad to worse, lapsing eventually into complete incoherency:
TAPPER: Well, the president has said about the new strategy that it’s important that we have a secure, stable ally in the Afghan…
GIBBS: Right. Well, and a partner that is — and a partner that understands, as the president directly told President Karzai in a telephone call in the Oval Office, that it is time to turn — it’s time for a new chapter in our relationship as it relates to corruption and improved governance in order to address the security situation not just through training and security force needs, but also — look, it’s hard for a civilian — it’s hard for civilians to go in and improve areas — it’s impossible — that aren’t secure. So I would say this is all part of what has to be a partnership. And I think anybody would tell you that — that — and I’ve said this, and I think, quite frankly, you’ve seen this from Democrats and Republicans in Congress — without partners that are willing to do stuff in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, no number of American troops can solve all of those problems unless or until those steps are taken inside both of those countries where we see a change in the security situation.
Again, what in the world does Gibbs mean? There’s not a single declarative sentence in there. Let me translate what he said in simple English, so that you can see that he didn’t say anything:
Tapper question: How will the Surge work to stabilize the Afghani political scene?
Gibb-erish answer: A partner works with you. Karzai is the man Obama talks to. Obama talked to Karzai on the phone. He actually called him from the Oval Office. He said that Karzai needs to work on the corruption and governance thing, so that civilians can go places. (Bookworm here: It’s unclear whether Obama wants Karzai to do away with corruption or simply do it better. If it was any president other than Obama, I’d assume the former. Given our President’s background in Chicago politics and community organizing, though, I really am not prepared to assume what Gibb meant with this babble.) We need a partner. Everyone agrees we need a partner. Even troops aren’t partners. So, we need a partner.
Let me distill Gibbs’ puerile utterances even further. Tapper asked how the Surge will link to the Afghani political scene, whether in the short or long term. Gibb-erish responded by saying “we need a partner.” Objection, your honor. Nonresponsive.
During the campaign, Obama, holding tightly to his teleprompter and prepared speeches, seduced the audience with dreamy platitudes about the intangibles of hope and change, and with concrete lies about his actual political agenda. Now that the campaign is over, Obama has no deal with real issues and real problems. He’s had to fire Hopey and Changey, two dwarfs who have no place in actual governance, especially when the governance is trying hard to drag the country to a bankrupt Left. In their place, if Obama had demonstrated any of the smarts his acolytes attribute to him, he would have delegated the job of communications to a smart guy like Doc. Instead, he went for Dopey, with the obvious results. As for me, this whole thing is making me Grumpy.
UPDATE: In the first item in Monday’s Best of the Web Today, James Taranto suggests that Gibbs’ incoherence may originate with the boss.
Here’s our Commander in Chief speaking of the situation in Afghanistan while he was running for office: “We’ve got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.”
This post is not about the cognitive dissonance of a man who, now that he used that lie to become president, is refusing to act to send more troops to Afghanistan to take off that “enormous pressure.” It’s about his jaundiced view of the troops he hoped then to, and now does, lead.
At Flopping Aces, WordSmith has a detailed photo essay about the troops of whom Barack Obama spoke. It’s shocking. If I were you, I’d get out a handkerchief, because the images there may bring tears to your eyes. Also, after you’ve checked out Flopping Aces, you may feel compelled to go here and tell the troops exactly what you think of them. I’ve already done so, and will do so again and again. The feelings I have now deserve to be vented.
Obama has known for more than 12 months that he was going to become CIC, with responsibility for Afghanistan. This means 12 months of presidential advisers able to give this neophyte help in figuring out the best strategy for the war that he declared, during the campaign, was the essential, central battlefield in the war against those pesky insurgents. He’s also had two (or is it three?) months of specific recommendations from the general in charge of the Afghanistan operations.
And yet Obama has done absolutely nothing. He’s floated myriad and contradictory trial balloons: No troops was his first balloon, a strategy that played out when he played hide-and-seek with General McChrystal. This balloon got shot down by ordinary Americans horrified that their sons and daughters are in a turkey shoot. His next attempt at gauging public opinion was to say that he’d send some troops. This balloon also bit the dust when savvy political and military observers pointed out that, under the circumstances on the ground in Afghanistan, half a loaf would not be better than none. He then tried a completely different approach, announcing that he’d send lots of troops, albeit on a weirdly attenuated and pointless timeline. Even the attenuated timeline, though, wasn’t sufficient to assuage his Lefter flank, and Obama quickly drew back on that idea too.
And since we know that Obama has no fixed principles, except for the desperate desire to receive universal accolades and to socialize the American economy, there are no internal impulses moving him in any direction on Afghanistan. With his trial balloons grounded, he’s inert.
Or at least that’s what I thought. The AP explains to me that 12 months of inertia, interrupted only by sending up abortive trial balloons, avoiding generals, and having endless meetings, is actually a sign of Obama’s incredible foreign policy expertise:
President Barack Obama’s drawn-out decision-making on Afghanistan is sending messages. To the Afghan government: Clean up your act. To the Pentagon: I’m no rubber stamp. To the American public: More troops can’t be the sole answer.
Obama has been accused by some Republicans of “dithering” about whether to send more troops and deepen U.S. involvement in an increasingly unpopular war.
The slow process also has left him open to critics who recall his pronouncement in March, after developing what he called a “stronger, smarter and comprehensive” Afghan war strategy, that the situation there was “increasingly perilous.” He ordered more troops to battle then, with little discernible result so far.
This time, he’s making it clear he won’t be rushed. Or pushed. And the way the messages he’s sending play out could help determine whether the war effort is sustainable in the long run.
Thank God for the AP. Without their guidance, I never would have understood how subtle our President is. Obama’s not ineffectual. He’s engaging in a thrilling, practically telepathic, negotiation with just about everyone, simply by sitting still.
I’m sure that the troops currently serving in Afghanistan in unprotected positions as a resurgent Taliban contemplates the wonders of an apparently dormant president, are also delighted to learn that this is really all part of a grand plan intended to send marvelously nuanced messages to all sorts of people across the globe and right into the heart of the theater of war.
I’ll leave you with this Carole Burnett spoof of Brief Encounter, because it reminds us that Obama’s gone one better than these funny one-word lovers by doing away with words entirely:
UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, Big Lizards has a better post about the flight from reality than anything I could do, with his focus, not on the media, but on Obama himself.
UPDATE II: At American Digest, an excellent post suggesting that the media doesn’t need to spin so madly to cover up for Obama, since Obama really wants to do what he’s doing, and the resulting anarchy is a desired goal.
American Thinker is a site I check regularly, at least twice a day. It’s not just that the editors are kind enough to publish my work occasionally. It’s because the articles that appear there routinely range from really good to out-of-the-park stupendous.
Today, there are two that fall in the latter category. These are the kinds of articles that shouldn’t just be read, but that should be emailed to everyone you know. Indeed, the one regarding socialism should be required reading in every American classroom. So, without further ado, please, please, please read and discuss and forward:
What’s Wrong with Socialism, by Joe Herring
It Isn’t Political Correctness, It’s Shariah, by Pamela Geller
UPDATE: Add military analyst Steve Schippert’s All the King’s Horses (about Afghanistan) to the list of things that will widen your horizons today.
On October 22, 2008, I wrote this:
The MSM has been remarkably cavalier about Joe Biden’s bizarre statement regarding the “fact” that America will be attacked six months into a Barack Obama presidency and that people will be shocked and disappointed by Obama’s response (meaning that he’ll either collapse in a sobbing heap, thereby horrifying most Americans, or launch a nuclear missile strike, which will alienate his base).
The sobbing heap is well hidden from public view, but the collapse is obvious:
President Barack Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, a senior administration official said Wednesday.
(See also Hot Air.)
Narcissists have no strong inner sense of self. Instead, they have just a gaping hole of inadequacy. They compensate by elevating to staggering levels of importance the way in which others view them. Other people’s perceptions provide their mirror. Think about this for a moment: I bet you know who you are and what you stand for. If you think you’re a good or smart person, the fact that your wife is 10 pounds overweight or your husband has a stutter is irrelevant to your sense of self. For a narcissist, the spouse’s “failings” indicate to everyone that the narcissist is a loser. Remember, he has no inner guide to his own qualities. Despite (or because of) this internal emptiness, narcissists are obsessed with hierarchy, and with the need to remind themselves, and everyone else, that they are on the top of the heap. It’s the low self-esteem of the exceptionally arrogant person.
Clinton was a narcissist who filled the emptiness with female adulation. His little brain was ticking away with “I’m a charming stud. I’m a charming stud.”
Obama’s little brain says “Everyone can see I’m a genius. Everyone can see I’m a genius.” The problem with that definition, of course, is that it’s unanchored to moral beliefs or values or guiding principles or anything else decent and internalized. It’s a standard measured only by other people’s praise. The problem with this external measurement, of course, is that if you make a mistake the praise goes away. Narcissists cannot afford mistakes. And the best way to avoid a mistake is not to make a decision. And there you have it. Obama is being tested, and he cannot afford, because of his own self-image, to make a decision that might be wrong. So he does nothing at all, while the Taliban burnishes its strength, and our troops die.
I know I miss Bush, but I never thought I’d miss Clinton. The one had values, and was willing to make decisions, even if they were wrong; and the other, at least, had charm. All Obama has is a scarily impassive arrogance that may yet be the death of us.
I saw a headline at Drudge, to the effect that there is a photo of Afghan “insurgents” with U.S. ammo. The story, although I’m sure it’s interesting, interested me less than that word “insurgent.” We’ve all talked about the fact that “insurgent” a word that allows a politically correct, liberal media to avoid such words as “terrorist” and to shy away from any discussion about the religion those “insurgents” practice.
But most obviously, it’s a way of avoiding that old-fashioned word “enemy.” Try as they may, though, reporters cannot shy away from a central fact: Those Afghani “insurgents” are engaged in a war against American troops. They are our ENEMY.
1. a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.
2. an armed foe; an opposing military force: The army attacked the enemy at dawn.
3. a hostile nation or state.
4. a citizen of such a state.
5. enemies, persons, nations, etc., that are hostile to one another: Let’s make up and stop being enemies.
6. something harmful or prejudical: His unbridled ambition is his worst enemy.
7. the Enemy, the Devil; Satan.
It is staggering and disgusting that, despite the hits our American troops are taking, our media finds itself incapable of taking sides and calling those who would kill us “the enemy.”
Feh! And it’s no surprise, of course, that Barack Obama, who can demonize a news station and a radio personality, is incapable of uttering those words either. What a bag of poop he is — and pardon me for being crude, but on the eve of Veteran’s Day, I’m simply disgusted by the whole damn lot of them.
UPDATE: I finally figured out what this foolish word play reminds me of. One of the more brilliant Simpsons episodes has as its centerpiece a musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire which, not unsurprisingly, gets all of the emotional notes absolutely wrong. So it is that Blanche’s statement about her dependence on the kindness of strangers morphs into “A Stranger’s Just a Friend You Haven’t Met.” That song seems to highlight our media’s idiotic attempt to make sure that America has no real enemies (except for Rush, of course).
It’s like standing in line at the check out counter: You find yourself peering into the cart in front of you to see what people are eating. The obviously overweight person in front of you has filled his cart with junk food, sugary cereals, ice cream, no vegetables, lots of frozen pizza, no fruit, lots of crap — and you stand there silently shaking your head from side to side. You stifle the urge to say something, because you know that it’s none of your business.
I just got a peek at the Obama cart…..
This is from the White House visitor logs that check everyone who goes in and out. Here are a few individuals, with their number of visits:
George Soros – 4 times
Bill Ayers – 2 times [Although I think that this isn't that Bill Ayers]
Jeremiah Wright – 1 time
Micheal Moore – 8 times
Micheal Jordan – 5 times
Gen. David Petreus – 0 times
Unions Boss Richard Trumka – 8 times
Union Boss Andy Stern – 21 times
Alan Greenspan – 8 times
Gen. Stanley McChrystal – 0 times
I don’t often do this, as you know, but I’m going to quote Jennifer Rubin’s post in its entirety here. I think it’s important that people understand precisely what is going on in Washington and how it’s affecting men and women in Afghanistan. Rubin, unsurprisingly, does as good a job as anyone summing up the immoral behavior at home, which creates death abroad. This is even worse than Vietnam, because Obama’s conduct here is more deliberate and, in a twisted way, more informed about the risks of his conduct:
This sobering report comes from the Washington Post:
More than 1,000 American troops have been wounded in battle over the past three months in Afghanistan, accounting for one-fourth of all those injured in combat since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. The dramatic increase has filled military hospitals with more amputees and other seriously injured service members and comes as October marks the deadliest month for American troops in Afghanistan.
How many were killed or lost a limb, I wonder, while the president dithered and delayed implementing the recommendations of his hand-picked general? It is not an inconsequential question. The president acts as though there were no downside to the lethargic pace of his decision-making. He would have us believe that there is no price to be paid as he micromanages, province-by-province, the number of troops he’ll dispense. He seems content to entertain the recommendations of Gens. Joe Biden and John Kerry – drawing on their years of experience (in assessing nearly every national-security challenge incorrectly) while discarding that of the real experts.
What’s a few more weeks? Or months? Well, we know there is indeed a price to allowing our current approach to languish. There is a very real cost to delaying implementation of the new plan that is the best available to achieve victory as quickly as possible. The enemy is emboldened. More civilians die. The political and security situation in Pakistan worsens. And more brave Americans are asked to sacrifice themselves while Obama considers and reconsiders whether there isn’t any way to shave some money off the tab and reduce the number of troops his commanders say are needed. After all, health care is going to cost an awful lot.
The horrid reality of war is that parents send their children to die or to return in a condition they could not possibly have envisioned. But to sacrifice even a single American who was engaged in a fruitless exercise or an understaffed operation so the president can conduct a seminar and postpone a confrontation with his own party (which no longer can stomach the “good war”) is reprehensible.
At a certain point, you have to fish or cut bait. Either Obama fights a war, in which case he fights both to win and to ensure that our troops are adequately supported in that fight. Or, Obama withdraws from the fight, and takes our troops out of harm’s way entirely. To do what he’s doing, which is not fighting but leaving our troops there is unconscionable.
Charles Krauthammer goes on full throttle attack against Barack Obama based on Obama’s endless, weasely whining that everything that’s gone wrong with the first nine months of his presidency is all Bush’s fault. The central focus of this whining, of course, is Afghanistan, which candidate Obama claimed was the necessary war and which candidate Obama complained was the war Bush ignored. Candidate Obama also promised that he would take immediately action on Afghanistan and fix it. But now with his feet in the Oval Office, suddenly it’s not President Obama’s problem any more — because it’s all Bush’s fault:
Is there anything he hasn’t blamed George W. Bush for?
The economy, global warming, the credit crisis, Middle East stalemate, the deficit, anti-Americanism abroad — everything but swine flu.
It’s as if Obama’s presidency hasn’t really started. He’s still taking inventory of the Bush years. Just this Monday, he referred to “long years of drift” in Afghanistan in order to, I suppose, explain away his own, well, yearlong drift on Afghanistan.
This compulsion to attack his predecessor is as stale as it is unseemly. Obama was elected a year ago. He became commander in chief two months later. He then solemnly announced his own “comprehensive new strategy” for Afghanistan seven months ago. And it was not an off-the-cuff decision.
Given the non-stop whining and blaming, it’s sometimes hard to remember that Obama desperately wanted, and battled hard, to take on Bush’s job. For a year and a half, he promised voters — left, right and center — that, with his transformative, nay, God-like* powers, he would resolve those problems instantly and definitively. Apparently boasting about solving things is not the same as actually solving them. Indeed, even the ability to offer legitimate criticisms is not the same as the ability to solve problems. I’m famous for being able to take things apart, but singularly lack the ability to put them back together again.
The fact is that all candidates make abstract promises and then, if elected, have to deal with concrete realities. All candidates discover that there may be a chasm between those promises and the realities. Only Obama, though, is so childish and narcissistic that he is unable to accept that he’s in charge now, and that the realities are his problem. Placing blame is no longer a job for the President. It’s just one for the history books. (And if it’s any comfort to Obama, with the plethora of Leftist history professors, he’ll come out on top in there.)
*Have you ever noticed that Leftists really want a God? The traditional ones aren’t good enough for them, so they go out and create their own. I have to say that, if I were making up a God, I wouldn’t pick a jug-eared skinny guy who doesn’t like women and tends to engage in trash talk. (And that’s entirely separate from my profound disagreements with his policies and values.)
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.
I’ve said it a million times and I’ll now say it for the million and first time: You fight wars to win. If you’re not committed to winning, leave. If you don’t leave, and fight a half-assed war, you end with dead soldiers. That’s what happened in Vietnam, and that’s what Obama and Biden are planning to see happen in Afghanistan.
Although a liberal assured me I shouldn’t worry. He said that a “vast majority” (and who knew 53% was a vast majority?) of Americans voted for Obama and Biden and that those two can therefore be trusted to make the right decisions. I suggested, more politely than this idiot deserved, that Obama’s and Biden’s profound lack of military experience meant that Americans trusted them to following the generals (whom Americans do trust to know how to wage war), rather than to go their own way. “Oh, no,” he responded. “We have to have faith in Obama.” When I hit that religious wall, I knew all rational discourse was over.
Trust Jennifer Rubin, of course, to explain exactly what the problem is with the advisors to whom Obama is listening. Having given Biden a fair hearing, Obama’s now turned to someone else:
The bad news is that Kerry is Obama’s new best adviser. What this boils down to is chiseling on the troops by dragging the process out so as to “diffuse the political problem of asking Congress to fund 40,000 more troops — at about $40 billion — all at once.” Because, with a trillion dollars needed for a health-care bill the voters don’t want, we plainly don’t have $40B to win a critical war, right? And Obama can’t be expected to persuade Congress to do what is needed to win the war, so “diffusing” — denying his general the troops he says he needs — is the way to go.
My advice, and I never thought I’d say this, is that if you are a young person contemplating a military career, wait four years and see who our next president is. The current president has no care for your welfare. And if your enlistment is up, take the skills you’ve learned and go elsewhere.
UPDATE: Apropos my final suggestion, maybe military service is still worth the greater risks the Obami are creating. In a National Review Online interview, Dan Senor and Saul Singer, authors of Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, explain why the military is such an essential part of Israel’s incredible economic vitality:
LOPEZ: What’s the secret of its success?
DAN SENOR: Our book dives into many interacting factors, but one of the most important is the training and battlefield experience that most Israelis receive in the military. The military is where many Israelis learn to lead and manage people, improvise, become mission-oriented, work in teams, and contribute to their country. They tend to come out of their years of service (three for men, two for women) more mature and directed than their peers in other countries. They learn “the value of five minutes,” as one general told us. They even learn something more uniquely Israeli: to speak up — regardless of ranks and hierarchy — if they think things can be done better.
Certainly that jives with what I’ve seen of people who enter and leave our military.
When I was growing up, one of the neighborhood boys was a slacker before that term was invented. He was a bright kid who lay on the couch, watched TV and drank beer. When his parents kicked him out, he ended up joining the military because he thought it was a way to avoid “real” work. The military was the making of him. It gave him the discipline he’d sorely lacked before. When he got out, a long time later, he became one of the early dot com millionaires. He was never one of the huge players, but he also had moved so far beyond the couch slacker that it was hard to believe the two were the same people.
UPDATE II: Please see a further discussion in the comments section to this post regarding the pros and cons of staying, not in the military, but in Obama’s military. I think my point is valid, but I’m awfully impressed by the arguments coming in from the other side.
James Taranto nails what the President really meant to say when he spoke to troops about Afghanistan:
“I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm’s way,” FoxNews.com quotes the president as telling servicemen. As for the servicemen who are already in harm’s way: Jeez, guys, be patient! He’ll figure out what to do about Afghanistan as soon as he gets around to it.
There’ve been accusations and counter-accusations flying about Obama fiddling while Afghanistan burns. Cheney accuses him of being a do-nothing. Gibb claims Bush did nothing. Jake Tapper looked into the matter and discovered that, while Iraq was a priority, Bush indeed did little with troop requests, struggling to fill them, but only getting bout 1/5 of the way there.
Of course, that truth does little to put Obama into a better position. The entire point of Obama’s year-and-a-half long campaign rhetoric regarding Afghanistan was that Bush was fighting the wrong war, channeling his energies away unnecessarily from Afghanistan, and that it would take Obama to get it right.
And here we have Obama, ten months into his presidency, and he still can’t get it right — on the war he himself tapped as the single most important battle front. No wonder Lucianne is getting reams of hate mail just because she put on her home page that macho picture of Bush in a flight suit. That picture is a brutal reminder that, when it came to his primary goal (Iraq) Bush accomplished his mission; Obama, meanwhile, accomplishes nothing.
In Best of the Web Today, James Taranto politely savages Barack Obama’s absentee leadership as American troops live and die in the line of Taliban fire:
“The United States cannot wait for problems surrounding the legitimacy of the Afghan government to be resolved before making a decision on troops, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said,” Reuters reports from aboard a U.S. military aircraft:
Gates did not say when he expected U.S. President Barack Obama to decide on whether to increase troops, a decision complicated by rising casualties and fading public support for the stalled, eight-year-old war.
But he pointed out that further high-level deliberations would need to wait for the return of cabinet members from foreign travels through part of next week.
“It’s just a matter now of getting the time with the president when we can sort through these options and then tee them up for him to make a decision,” Gates said.
But Agence France-Presse reports the president hasn’t yet chosen whether to choose not to decide:
President Barack Obama has not yet determined whether he will make a decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan before the November 7 election runoff, a US official said Tuesday.
“The UN, NATO, the US stand ready to assist the Afghans in conducting the second round,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.
“Whether or not the president makes a decision before that I don’t think has been determined.
“I have continued to say a decision will be made in the coming weeks as the president goes through an examination of our policy,” he added.
It really bolsters your confidence in the president’s ability to achieve victory in what he used to call a war of necessity, doesn’t it?
But we suppose it’s easy to sit on the sidelines and snark. Barack Obama is president of the United States, and he is juggling all kinds of urgent responsibilities. Such as this one, reported by the New York Times:
Mr. Obama will fly to New York on Tuesday for a lavish Democratic Party fund-raising dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for about 200 big donors. Each donor is paying the legal maximum of $30,400 and is allowed to take a date.
And hey, if you don’t like it, grab a damn mop! As Obama said just last week at . . . uh, another lavish Democratic Party fund-raiser.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports from Washington that “frustrations and anxiety are on the rise within the military” as the president dithers over Afghanistan:
A retired general who served in Iraq said that the military had listened, “perhaps naïvely,” to Mr. Obama’s campaign promises that the Afghan war was critical. “What’s changed, and are we having the rug pulled out from under us?” he asked. Like many of those interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals from the military’s civilian leadership and the White House.
Shouldn’t it be the enemy that fears reprisals?
During the presidential campaign, Obama’s opponents mocked him for frequently voting “present” on difficult questions that came before the Illinois Senate. This is even worse. The commander in chief is absent without leave.
And, by the way, at least one New York Times reporter finally figured that those Taliban terrorists are not nice people.
Our President, too, is proving that he is not a nice person, but is, instead, a fairly reprehensible excuse for a human being.
I blogged last week about Bravo Troop 361 Cavalry, the unit that was overrun by a horde of Taliban, and whose members stayed to fight despite their wounds. As with all these stories, there’s a back story too, and the back story is that the guys in that fight didn’t lose just their friends, they also lost everything but the clothes on their backs. They did a supply and morale infusion. Some Soldier’s Mom has more information on what you can do to help. Alternatively, you can just go here and send money. Every penny counts, especially with the government pinching pennies at the troops’ expense.
Your help is enormously important. It’s not just the material things that matter to the troops. It’s the knowledge that people back home are paying attention, that we appreciate what our military is doing, and that we’ll do more than just sit around vapidly singing their praises.
Hat tip: Radio Patriot
As usual, the gal’s nailed it:
One almost gets the sense that the Obama team may have not learned anything from our recent experiences in two war theaters. It is not as if Donald Rumsfeld and a slew of generals didn’t try in Iraq to use the fewest possible troops, spend the least possible amount of taxpayer money, and get the most out of high-tech wizardry. Doesn’t the Obama team remember that this didn’t work, that a wholesale revision of strategy was needed and that only once a fully implemented counterinsurgency approach was employed did we achieve a victory? This sort of willful obtuseness is deeply troubling because there simply isn’t any viable military/strategic rationale for what the president is straining to do. It is a political approach plain and simple. He wants money for health care and he doesn’t want a revolt on the Left.
That’s what we expect of a commander in chief: set a strategy, hire the best generals, get their advice, and implement it. But that doesn’t seem to be what we’re getting. We get equivocation, agonizing, and timidity — because the president would rather spend hundreds of billions on a health-care scheme Americans don’t support. No wonder the generals have gone to the newspapers. They must be searching in vain for some way to get the president to focus on what it takes to win the war that he declared to be critical. One can imagine they must be at their wits’ end. How does one respond to a president who, in essence, says he’d doesn’t have another strategy but another place he’d like to spend the money instead?
The word that comes up ever more frequently in connection with Obama (in articles from the Right and the moderate Left) is feckless:
feck⋅less /ˈfɛklɪs/ –adjective
1. ineffective; incompetent; futile: feckless attempts to repair the plumbing.
2. having no sense of responsibility; indifferent; lazy.
It’s amazing how a single word can so completely sum up the president of the United States.
It was like a battle scene in an old Hollywood movie, when Americans still knew in their arts that American soldiers are ordinary Americans — good people — only braver and more honorable:
Fighting raged at two remote U.S. outpostsnear the Pakistan border this weekend, that left eight U.S. soldiers dead and 24 wounded. The battle was fought from Friday night through Sunday as hundreds of Taliban insurgents and their allies tried to overrun the Americans.
During the fighting, the insurgents succeeded in breaching the outer defense of the base at times before being repelled with the help of attack helicopters, fighter jets and drones. It was the bloodiest battle in a year for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Some of the injured refused to be MEDEVACED out of the combat zone and continued to fight despite their wounds, according to soldiers at the base. Soldiers told the MEDEVAC crew that troops were donating blood during the battle, so it could be transfused into wounded comrades.
Incidentally, the above story isn’t fronm the Military Times or another military paper that could be accused by jaded liberals of delivering propaganda to credulous American masses. It’s a first hand story by an ABC correspondent. Yes, that ABC, the one that, like the rest of the American media, really doesn’t like war and, by inevitable extension, isn’t so thrilled about the men and women who fight wars. Sort of like our Commander in Chief, who refuses to talk to the generals under his command and who, even as he is rushing to remake 16% of the American economy, just can’t decide about whether he really wants to support the American men and women who are fighting, bleeding and dying in Afghanistan.
When Bush was in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan was the good war and Iraq was Vietnam. Now that Bush is gone, and Iraq is holding stable (for the time being at least), the liberals can give over their pretense about the possibility of a good war and, instead, given in to their default and instinctive position, which is to recast Afghanistan at Vietnam. Fine. This is not the post I’m choosing to use to argue about whether or not the US should be in Afghanistan, or what its goals should be if it’s there.
Fortunately for me, I’m in the position to ignore things about goals, or troops, or any other big or small details about a War. For me, thoughts about the war are academic, because it’s not my responsiblity. It is, however, Barack Insane Obama’s responsibility and, to date, he’s shown that he absolutely refuses to step up to bat. In other words, the situation with Obama is so bad that he’s not even doing a 1974 redux that sees America run away from a war. Instead, our extraordinarily self-obsessed President is himself running away from the war.
You heard me right — Obama is staging his own retreat. He refuses to talk to his generals about the situation. Steve Schippert explains what’s going on, and also provides useful information about the things Obama thought were more important than even a quick phone call to those generals operating under him (because, though he’s pretending it ain’t so, he is still Commander in Chief).
UPDATE: Flopping Aces has a good timeline — with quotes! — showing the Obama’s own personal war game, from gung-ho blood lust to strategic retreat, all without any expenditure of actual energy on his part.
My belief, getting stronger by the minute, is that Obama’s sole Afghanistan policy was to be the un-Bush. Bush’s critics claimed Iraq was the bad war and Afghanistan the good war. So Obama immediately stated that he’d focus on Afghanistan. Obama, though, true Leftist that he is, and with his deep affinity for totalitarian rulers and Islamism, never had his heart in Afghanistan. So, as Bush’s presidency recedes into the past, Obama abandons Afghanistan — and our troops too. What a despicable man.
The American and world media go into a screaming frenzy whenever American or Israeli troops injure or kill a child. They do this despite the fact that such incidents are rare and, more significantly, they are aberrant: both the American and the Israeli military go out of their way to avoid injuring civilians, even if it means putting their own troops at greater risk.
The same media outlets conspicuously avoid reporting on an ugly little fact about the world’s Islamic fighters, whether those fighters are in Bali or Gaza or Indonesia or Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world: these fighters consider children either an integral part of the fight (whether as cover, junior fighters or propaganda instruments) or as completely irrelevant collateral damage in any fight.
The following video shows a Taliban fighter casually activating a rocket despite the fact that a child is directly in the line of fire:
In case you were worried, a worry that distinguishes you from the Taliban killer aiming at one of his own countrymen (or country-children), the child survived the bombing, American medics treated him on site, and he ended up being airlifted to America for further treatment.
Hat tip: Soldier’s Angels Germany
Bruce Kesler sent around an email asking whether we thought victory was possible in Afghanistan. My reply was that I don’t think the Democrats can conceive of victory as a possible outcome. As I wrote to him, I’m the child of parents who fought in WWII and the Israeli War of Independence. Although they were bone-deep Dems and loathed Goldwater, they too understood that the only way to fight a war is to win. Otherwise, you’re just sacrificing your own troops needlessly in an endless slow bleed.
I don’t think the Democrats are capable of conceiving an outcome to a war that is tantamount to “victory.” To them, all wars are failures because they are . . . wars. This means that there are no strategic goals that the Democrats can contemplate that will justify continuing to fight a war. They will therefore approach war in a half-hearted way, waiting, not to win, but to withdraw.
Obama’s support for the war in Afghanistan has never been a committed belief in the necessity of destroying the Taliban there and protecting Pakistan. It has always been a political move to distinguish himself from Bush: “Bush never focused on the real war. That’s why I focus on that war.” Obama, though, is a Democrat and believes that all wars are unwinnable, so he’s doing the Democratic thing. He’s throwing in bodies, but actively supporting cutting costs and appeasing the enemy.
Taking own his practical experience in Vietnam, and his breadth and depth of knowledge, Bruce came up with a post that intelligently develops my own instinctive feeling that, with war, as with pregnancy, you can’t just be “a little bit” engaged in that situation. It’s an all or nothing proposition. I urge you to check out Bruce’s post and cast your vote on the side of true victory in Afghanistan.
Before their cultural implosion, the English had a reputation for bravery and sangfroid. Although they are taking a beating in Afghanistan (in large part because the morally bankrupt Labour government refuses to give them necessary support), the troops on the ground are still fighting, dying and showing extraordinary bravery under terrible circumstances:
An heroic army medic treated seven injured comrades after a Taliban attack in Afghanistan despite being wounded with shrapnel herself, it emerged today.
Lance Corporal Sally Clarke, of 2 Rifles, ignored the searing pain caused by the shards embedded in her shoulder and back and set about treating the rest of her patrol.
The worst hit was Corporal Paul Mather who incredibly managed to radio instructions for jets circling above to open fire on Taliban insurgents despite bleeding heavily from wounds the size of his fist.
Read more here.