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Obama's Shinseki?

I have not paid terribly close attention to the specific recommendations of General Stanley McCrystal, but I've watched close enough to know that according to a classified report written by the general, he believes the war in Afghanistan "will likely result in failure" if more troops are not added next year.

During the Bush administration those on the left made a huge deal out of Gen. Eric Shinseki's testimony that more troops should be sent to Iraq. The way they framed the debate, even if a thousand generals said the number of troops in Iraq was appropriate, since Shinseki said more were needed, Bush was not listening to the advice of his generals. I have never heard a general (or any member of the military) quoted as often as liberals quoted Shinseki, or more frequently, just mentioned his name in lieu of an argument.

When President Bush implemented the "surge" in Iraq those on the left gave him no credit for following the advice of Gen. David Petraeus. For many, many months, even when progress was obvious and measurable, most on the left refused to acknowledge the success of the new strategy, and certainly gave Bush no points for changing course to respond to facts on the ground. Many still cited Shinseki saying nothing Bush did later mattered since he did not follow the recommendation of Shinseki in 2003.

I can't help but wonder at what point does Gen. McCrystal become Obama's Gen. Shinseki.

Worse than not following the advice of McCrystal, it appears Obama is not even hearing that advice first hand on a regular basis. In a 60 Minutes interview over the weekend, Gen. McCrystal revealed that President Obama has only spoken to him once in the past 70 days. Steve Schippert has a must read post on the subject at Threatswatch. Here is an excerpt.

No time for updates from Afghanistan from the man tasked with commanding the operation. There are talks to be had with the Iranian regime and North Korean regime, after all. Government intervention in the Health Care sector is clearly a higher priority than chit chats with some sweaty guy in dusty camouflage pants half way around the world.

The president delivers a vital speech to union members at an AFL-CIO meeting in Pittsburgh, leading them in fever-pitched chants of "Are you fired up?!? Are you ready to go?!?" in reference to winning their support for the Obama Health Care effort.

Our troops meanwhile, from top to bottom, can pound sand in place where they stand in Iraq and Afghanistan. No such rallies for them or the American people for their efforts. Nope. None.

Zero. Zip. Nada. Oh, but President Obama did have a chit chat with General McChrystal one a couple of months ago. That's got to count for something, right?

I've been in the Roosevelt Room off the Oval Office with a live secure video feed from Baghdad headquarters. I've been in the Situation room several times with live secure video feeds with commanders in both Baghdad and Kabul. It is not difficult. One merely needs the wherewithal, the intellectual curiosity and the sense of urgency to sit, listen and then converse.

Why is this president unable or unwilling to do this on a regular basis? After all, isn't this the 'good war' that is "necessary" and "right"?

The answer, to put a necessarily blunt edge on it, is because on issues of National Security and the conduct of warfare, President Obama is woefully out of his depth and has not surrounded himself with the kind of people that can bridge the gap between what he understands and what he needs to understand. The absence of interest and/or priority is a horribly difficult challenge to overcome in a leader.

Steve goes on to look at the weight Obama is putting on the opinion of VP Joe Biden compared to that of McCrystal and Petraeus.


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Comments (33)

Obviously Biden knows more ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Obviously Biden knows more about military affairs than McCrystal and Petraeus. Just ask Joey.

In the meantime, Barry is off to a more important project; bringing the Olympics to the US.

There are priorities and then there are Priorities.

Is this the war Barry said "we have to win"?

This doesn't come as much o... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

This doesn't come as much of a surprise for me. Obama's training and inclinations are to ignore the military's opinions as much as possible - except to use them as campaign fodder.

After all, consider one of the prime tenents of leftist thinking - that 'war is never the answer'. Now Obama's stuck with a situation where there isn't ANY other workable answer. We have a deadly enemy (and as much as it may gall some to consider it, the enemy's focus is western civilization and the freedoms it promotes, since it's antithetical to the strictures of their corrupt religion) which can't be ignored, can't be paid off, and we certainly aren't going to give them what they want (IE subjugation to their beliefs) - so there's only one answer.

We must fight. And we must win.

And that's an answer Obama cannot bring himself to articulate, much less try to bring about. I think he believes if he just makes the right speeches the problem's going to go away - but it won't.

It's interesting that Chancellor Merkel, indeed Europe itself, is starting to lean more to the right. I think they're coming to the realization that (at least for the next few years) they're not going to be getting a hell of a lot of help from the US, and they've got to muscle up to do the job on their own.

If Obama cannot bring himself to commit to winning - the next few years are going to be real damn interesting.

Simply put, the liberals ne... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Simply put, the liberals never cared about the military. Their recent care was due to the political mileage they got out of caring. As Garand stated, Barry is interested more in the Olympics to pay back campaign promises. ww

America's military Generals... (Below threshold)
Steve Green:

America's military Generals have a tradition of leaking their wishes to the press and pressuring the White House to do their bidding.

"One General's wishes do not a Decision Make."

Generals advise, the President decides. Bush began this war as a political war and it'll end on political terms as well.

Look how one General with his panties in a bunch because the President isn't heeding his advice gets play in the right wing media. Funny how the Generals who advised that we should bail out of Iran years ago were ignored by the right wing media bleeters.

Steve, when exactly were we... (Below threshold)
SillyPuddy:

Steve, when exactly were we in Iran?

Obama's got no time for McC... (Below threshold)
Occam's Beard:

Obama's got no time for McChrystal, but meets weekly with Andy Stern of SEIU.

Draw your own conclusions.

Steve Green:Pick a... (Below threshold)
pvd:

Steve Green:

Pick a side. Either Obama is correct in ignoring the General (and thus Bush is likewise correct) or he should be listening more to the General and adapt to the facts on the ground (which Bush did, though belatedly while the "right wing bleeters" were begging him to so exactly that.) Other than flogging the "Bush bad" meme, you managed to expend bandwidth without saying anything of substance.

You're also low on your insult count and your pay from the DNC will be docked accordingly.

Personally, I don't think that Obama will adapt. He'll waffle, flail and vote present. Troops will die because he will tie their hands with ROE's designed to minimize mistakes (which will tend to maximize causulties and limit effectiveness) and we'll lose what civilian support we have regionally.

It will domino to other parts of the region.

President Pantywaist is Jimmy Carter on estrogen.

Biden has tremendous credib... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

Biden has tremendous credibility on the Afghanistan question. I'm sure Obama has heard Biden recount how he orchestrated the relief and resuce of 1st Airborne from Bastogne a hundred times. Or was he just playing Risk? Whatever. All Joe knows for sure is that it became tiresome after a short time. So he gave up.

Surrendered in the military vernacular.

Just the kind of military expertise Obama was counting on when he tabbed Scranton Joe as his Veep.

Me? I wouldn't follow Joe Biden's advise if I were at the Washington DC Amtrak station wondering which train would take me to New Hampshire.

It probably is a good thing... (Below threshold)
Eric:

It probably is a good thing that people ignored any generals that might have advised bailing out of Iran. Since we don't have any troops in Iran.

But if you are talking about Iraq, I am not familiar with any U.S. Generals who advised bailing out of Iraq. Would you be so kind as to actually provide some links, quotes and names to said generals?

" Troops get killed while t... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

" Troops get killed while the Obamabots are thrilled"

Now this - President Obama ... (Below threshold)
ken:

Now this - President Obama goes to Copenhagen to support Chicago's bid to get the 2016 Olympics.

"The Olympic spirit is about giving it your very best down to the finish line and not taking anything for granted. That's what his presence in Copenhagen will demonstrate," Ms. Jarrett said.
This Obama advisor gets it right for all the wrong reasons. President Obama would rather preen for the cameras in Copenhagen than work in Washington on Health Care, Afghanistan, Iran, and the economy. He is abandoning the race all together and taking everything for granted in regards to these pressing Executive decisions.

It's about priorities... (Below threshold)
jim m:

It's about priorities

Obama and his friends (Ms Jarrett for one) stand to make big bucks off of the Olympics coming to Chicago. Jarrett owns a lot of dilapidated slum real estate that will be condemned to make way for new Olympic construction. She's not alone amongst Obama's friends here.

As opposed to some nameless, faceless, probably conservative soldiers losing their lives. Or as opposed to this country losing it's influence and allowing other thug regimes to grow and prosper and support terrorists in the taking of American lives. Heck that last one is not a bug, it's a feature for BO.

"I can't help but wonder at... (Below threshold)
picric:

"I can't help but wonder at what point does Gen. McCrystal become Obama's Gen. Shinseki."

Lori sorry to say but General MCrystal will never be Obama'a General Shinseki due to the fact that he is a Democrat and the press will not cover it.

pvd: "Pick a side. Either O... (Below threshold)
Steve Green:

pvd: "Pick a side. Either Obama is correct in ignoring the General..."

I already picked a side. "Generals advise, Presidents decide." This general is whining and and his advice should be judged on its merits, not on the fact that he's leaking it to the press.

Here's a concept for you, pvd. Ignore the General's advice if it's bad advice and follow it if it's good advice.

What a concept. If only Bush had thought of that.

Where are all the left wing... (Below threshold)
BluesHarper:

Where are all the left wing "patriots" that screamed how important it was for not so much as one soldier to be killed? But now it's ho-hum, oh well. They were against the surge before they were for the surge - and all that. The left wing isn't even on Cindy Sheehan's side anymore. The war apparently was only good for Bush bashing. Patriots? I didn't think they were then and I don't think they are now. That includes Obama.

s green - "This general... (Below threshold)
Marc:

s green - "This general is whining and and his advice should be judged on its merits, not on the fact that he's leaking it to the press."

Whining?

Since when is it called whining when the General on the ground, one hired by the current resident of the WH, assesses the situation both tactically and strategically and requests more troops to complete the job assigned.

"I am not familiar with any... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"I am not familiar with any U.S. Generals who advised bailing out of Iraq."

Generals Wesley Clark, Barry McCaffrey, and Wayne A. Downing ring a bell?

"Since when is it called wh... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"Since when is it called whining when the General on the ground .... requests more troops to complete the job assigned."

The answer is obvious. WHENEVER IT MAKES BARRY LOOK BAD.

And interferes with Barry's important scheduled appearances before His adoring public. AND especially when the General IS ASKING BARRY TO MAKE A DECISION!

Pssssst... s green.<p... (Below threshold)
Marc:

Pssssst... s green.

8/13/07 - "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 problems there,"

7/20\08 - "The Afghan government needs to do more. But we have to understand that the situation is precarious and urgent here in Afghanistan. And I believe this has to be our central focus, the central front, on our battle against terrorism."

"This is where they can plan attacks. They have sanctuary here. They are gathering huge amounts of money as a consequence of the drug trade in the region. And so that global network is centered in this area. And I think one of the biggest mistakes we've made strategically after 9/11 was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq.

February 17, 2009: "As we develop our new strategic goals, we will do so in concert with our friends and allies as together we seek the resources necessary to succeed."

March 27, 2009: "...if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban - or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged - that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can."

September 20, 2009, on NBC: "if supporting the Afghan national government and building capacity for their army and securing certain provinces advances that strategy" of defeating al-Qaeda, "then we'll move forward. But if it doesn't, then I'm not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan."

So, green there you have the evolution of obama.

What's changed that he has to sit on his hands, "for several weeks," according to his spokesmodel Gibbs?

Steve Green:"Ameri... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Steve Green:

"America's military Generals have a tradition of leaking their wishes to the press and pressuring the White House to do their bidding."

Besides Douglas MacArthur, would you please elaborate?

Have you forgotten about t... (Below threshold)
Steve Green:

Have you forgotten about the Petreaus leak - http://firedoglake.com/2009/02/10/general-petraeus-springs-a-leak/

and leaks were very common during Viet Nam.

Funny how the Gene... (Below threshold)
Eric:
Funny how the Generals who advised that we should bail out of Iran years ago were ignored by the right wing media bleeters.

What in the world are you talking about? None of those Generals advised that we should bail out of Iraq. They all wrote Op-Eds suggesting that withdrawal would be catastrophic.


"Have you forgotten about t... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"Have you forgotten about the Petreaus leak"

Firedoglake is your SOURCE? And even they say "a source close to the General" - how does that equate to the leak COMING FROM THE GENERAL?

As for "and leaks were very common during Viet Nam" - again, source? Example?

"Steve Green has been an asshole during most of the Vietnam period." See how easy that is?

Grandfan - "Firedoglake... (Below threshold)
Marc:

Grandfan - "Firedoglake is your SOURCE? And even they say "a source close to the General" - how does that equate to the leak COMING FROM THE GENERAL?

Obviously green failed "Dot Connecting 101."

Stevie Greenie, please give... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Stevie Greenie, please give your mom back the mouse and let the grown ups handle this. You are so obviously devoid of facts and history that it is almost criminal to come back at you. You have no idea what you are speaking about. ww

Does Green support Obama on... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Does Green support Obama on this? He does? Well then, is he currently serving in the war or is he a chickenhawk?
I thought it was a stupid argument when used against repubs the last 8 years, but I'm sure the Dems won't mind being asked the same question.

LN - "I thought it was ... (Below threshold)
Marc:

LN - "I thought it was a stupid argument when used against repubs the last 8 years, but I'm sure the Dems won't mind being asked the same question."

Considering hes added thousands of troops in the Afgan theater and also continues Predator attacks inside Pak territory obama rightfully can be rightfully called a chickenhawk.

Steve Green: "Here's a c... (Below threshold)

Steve Green: "Here's a concept for you, pvd. Ignore the General's advice if it's bad advice and follow it if it's good advice."

how does that explain Obama refusing to even LISTEN to teh advice in the first place? He refuses to read it, and has only talked to the General ONCE in 70 days!

It's now apparent that all ... (Below threshold)
John S:

It's now apparent that all the "evildoers" worldwide have sized up Bambi and decided he's the weakest president in U.S. history. And we will all pay for it, sooner than later.

Steve, I'll mark you down a... (Below threshold)
pvd:

Steve, I'll mark you down as "present", along with the Waffler in Chief.

"Generals Wesley Clark, Bar... (Below threshold)
SillyPuddy:

"Generals Wesley Clark, Barry McCaffrey, and Wayne A. Downing ring a bell?"

Was that supposed to be serious, or humorous, I couldn't tell?

"how does that explain O... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"how does that explain Obama refusing to even LISTEN to teh advice in the first place? He refuses to read it, and has only talked to the General ONCE in 70 days!"

Justrand, I'm sure he's got people doing the actual hard work of interfacing with the military for him. He also gets (at least, Bush did...) a daily summary of all the stuff his staff thinks he needs to know.

Admittedly, lately it's three paragraphs long - a single paragraph of how to avoid talking about ACORN, another reminding him to be vague as hell about anything regarding medical reform and how to pay for it, and a third cautioning about speaking on the economy... but a President's got priorities, you know? This military stuff is all well and good, but he doesn't owe THEM like he does the unions for getting him elected - and the unions are much less forgiving.

JLawson, excellent points! ... (Below threshold)

JLawson, excellent points! And besides, who needs the military, when you're goal is a "Civilian Defense Force, just as strong, just as well funded, and just as strong!"

Thank God and the Founders for the 2nd Amendment.




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