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February 08, 2009

*Now* He's Asking Questions???

Back in the spring and summer of 2007. Barack Obama was all for charging into Afghanistan on a white horse because Iraq was NOT (we repeat, NOT) the central front in the war on terror.

Contrary to the divisive and mean-spirited rhetoric of his know-nothing opponent, Democrats like Mr. Obama were not soft on national security. Au contraire, mes cheres! "They couldn't wait to take the fight to al Qaeda! It was just a question of choosing their battles - fighting smarter, not harder:

"We cannot win a war against the terrorists if we're on the wrong battlefield." Pointing to al Qaeda's resurgence along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Obama called for troops to be redeployed from Iraq. He promised that when he becomes president, "Nobody will work harder to go after those terrorists who will do the American people harm. But that requires a commander in chief who understands our troops need to be on the right battlefield, not the wrong battlefield."

During the campaign, Obama was full of contradictory rhetoric. The troop Surge, he opined in an entry later purged from his website, was a failed strategy:

Barack Obama's campaign scrubbed his presidential Web site over the weekend to remove criticism of the U.S. troop "surge" in Iraq, the Daily News has learned.

The presumed Democratic nominee replaced his Iraq issue Web page, which had described the surge as a "problem" that had barely reduced violence.

"The surge is not working," Obama's old plan stated, citing a lack of Iraqi political cooperation but crediting Sunni sheiks - not U.S. military muscle - for quelling violence in Anbar Province.

The News reported Sunday that insurgent attacks have fallen to the fewest since March 2004.

Of course if you think more troops didn't do a thing to improve the situation in Iraq, what could make more sense than to suggest the same failed strategy in Afghanistan? This is called "thinking outside of the box".

After months of refusing to admit the Surge did make Iraq more secure, what better way to get badly needed troops for your newest "failed strategy" than to do an about face and claim the Surge (which you just spent months claiming had nothing to do with improved security) has paved the way for accelerated troop withdrawals? And if the commanders on the ground fear pulling troops out too fast may reverse hard-fought gains purchased at the cost of too many American and Iraqi lives, well, it's all a question of priorities:

Obama must weigh a number of risks in deciding how fast to pull out the 14 combat brigades that are now in Iraq, including the political risk associated with abandoning his campaign pledge to get out within 16 months.

The calculation is complex and tied to other concerns: relieving stress on war-weary troops and their families; tradeoffs in escalating the war in Afghanistan, and being ready for popup crises elsewhere.

The pace and sequencing of a troop pullout will have implications for preserving recent gains in reducing violence in Iraq. An erosion of security could in turn halt progress toward political reconciliation, raising once again the prospect of widespread sectarian warfare and a new crisis for Obama.

Also at issue is how to ensure proper protection for U.S. civilians, such as State Department members of military-civilian teams supporting Iraqi economic and political rebuilding, as the U.S. military presence shrinks. That civilian work, including the role of international non-governmental groups, will arguably grow in importance as the Iraqis focus less on fighting insurgents and more on building national unity.

Of course now that the rubber has met the road, it seems fighting al Qaeda on the "battlefield of choice" is suddenly looking less attractive:

PRESIDENT Barack Obama has demanded that American defence chiefs review their strategy in Afghanistan before going ahead with a troop surge.

There is concern among senior Democrats that the military is preparing to send up to 30,000 extra troops without a coherent plan or exit strategy.

The Pentagon was set to announce the deployment of 17,000 extra soldiers and marines last week but Robert Gates, the defence secretary, postponed the decision after questions from Obama.

The president was concerned by a lack of strategy at his first meeting with Gates and the US joint chiefs of staff last month in “the tank”, the secure conference room in the Pentagon. He asked: “What’s the endgame?” and did not receive a convincing answer.

Larry Korb, a defence expert at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, said: “Obama is exactly right. Before he agrees to send 30,000 troops, he wants to know what the mission and the endgame is.”

Obama promised an extra 7,000-10,000 troops during the election campaign but the military has inflated its demands.

The "end game", sir, has always been to finish what we started.

I fully understand that it has now become politically inexpedient for you to do what you promised on the campaign trail, but perhaps you should have thought of that before you opened your big mouth. And perhaps the American people might find it interesting to know what you were up to while you were telling them that Iraq wasn't the central front in the war on terror (a judgment al Qaeda seems not to agree with, to judge from their public statements); while you were criticizing the Bush administration for not providing sufficient medical care and armor for our troops? They might be interested in what you were doing while you were telling America Afghanistan and Pakistan were the priorities, and not Iraq.

It turns out Mr. Obama was one of only 14 Senators (10 Democrats, 3 Republicans, 1 Independent) who were busy trying to cut off funding for the very things he said he'd do we if elected him.. Here are some of the key provisions Barack Obama didn't think deserved his support:

Authorizes the Secretary to use specified funds to support counter-drug activities of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Allows specified funds to be used to fund the Commander's Emergency Response Program (urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan). Requires quarterly reports from the Secretary to the congressional defense committees on the use of such funds.

Increases from 20 to 287 the number of heavy and light armored vehicles authorized to be purchased by DOD for force protection purposes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Provides for the transfer of appropriated funds from specified military accounts to the Economic Support Fund, for use in programs in Pakistan. (wasn't Pakistan supposed to be an urgent front in the war on terror?)

Prohibits the use of funds under this Act in contravention of specified laws enacted or regulations promulgated to implement the United Nations (UN) Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. (aren't we against torture?)

Prohibits the use of any funds to close Walter Reed Army Medical Center until equivalent medical facilities at the Walter Reed National Medical Center at Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, and/or the Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Community Hospital have been constructed and equipped. Requires adequate funding of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, during any such transition, to maintain the maximum level of inpatient and outpatient services. (I thought Obama was all in favor of helping wounded vets... unlike Bush?)

$1.79 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, including $1.34 billion for medical related expenses (see previous comment)

It's a bit late to be asking questions about Afghanistan, Mr. Obama. It's beginning to seem that your policy positions undergo drastic revisions when it actually comes time for you to take responsibility, as opposed to standing on the sidelines and criticizing someone else.

Somehow, that doesn't surprise me one bit because the options never changed. Only the person in the crossfire.

Posted by Cassandra at February 8, 2009 07:24 AM

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What concerns me most is when the Commander-In-Chief fails to articulate to the military he leads what the so-called ENDGAME is.

POTUS must provide the military what he expects to accomplish in the war or police action he is promulgating. The military then pursues the stated objectives, tactics, and strategies with available resources.

So far, Obama is failing as a leader of the sole superpower in the world today. Instead, he is proijecting an image as an uninspired Whiner-in-Chief who, two weeks into his presidency, has already reverted to talk of catastrophe and the "Sky is falling."

Meanwhile, laboring in the background, the trolls and inmates are running the asylum. I am increasingly concerned about whether they are simply throwing *stuff* against the wall to see what sticks, paying off old debts to those who got them elected, or engaged in something more sinister.

We need to keep a weather eye as the "Children" play at being adults.

Posted by: vet66 at February 8, 2009 11:23 AM

vet66, that was exactly my thought.

The elected civilian leadership is supposed to provide the strategic "why?" and "where?".

The Congress gets to say "how much", in terms of dollars.

Given strategic direction, the professional military is supposed to provide the details about "who", "how much (force) and how it is applied", etc.
The strategic question that Mr. Obama is supposed to answer himself is
1) Why are we in Afghanistan?
Nation building?
Fighting the Taliban/Al Qaeda?
Denying that country as a sanctuary to our avowed enemies?
Flanking Iran?
Stopping the Opium trade?
2) What are the aims of our forces in Afghanistan?

There is no one else EXCEPT the President who can formulate the answers to those questions. Of course he has the SoS, SecDef, NSC and others to advise him, as well as the JCS.
But you can't delegate this responsibility. This is his campaign now; to wage it, withdraw or lose it.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 8, 2009 12:45 PM

He has always been about ducking responsibility. You don't ask the military what the end game is. We have civilian control of the military for a reason.

That is the single scariest statement I think I've heard. Incredible.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 8, 2009 12:50 PM

To actually confront al-Qaeda means confronting unpleaseant truths about the Muslim world. GWB tried to triangulate this by parsing his words, much to the dismay of many Americans that wanted him to "name the enemy".
I'm not even sure that President Obama will be willing to even do that. He's going to be too busy being mad at Republicans for saying "no" to him on odd numbered days than sparing time to criticize militant Islam.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 8, 2009 03:59 PM

Being a simple kinda guy, I bitterly cling to the

"without a coherent plan"
part which leads me to ask, where was anything resembling a coherent plan in any of BO's campaign rhetoric? Or his personal history which revealed him to be an effective leader, an administrator of merit, or at least an adept manager?

And who, among those not living in a padded room, wearing a jacket with an endless sleeve or expecting free gas and mortgage service, Christopher Dodd excluded, thought that the amorphous hope and change blather emanating from Mr. Present was a plan?

So now that the BO administration has performed two weeks of the Curley shuffle I have to wonder, how many of the BO-n-Joe_Mensa voters might think that this administration has a coherent plan on anything?

Great, just great. Here comes the black Crown Vic.

Posted by: bthun at February 8, 2009 06:23 PM

FDR to Eisenhower: Before we build those boats to send to Normandy, I need to know the endgame..."

Posted by: Jane at February 8, 2009 06:58 PM

Well, the Big O's campaign was built on two things, "hope" and "change".

The "change" obviously is every other day.

In place of "hope", he brought Michelle.

Nice to see you again, Moqtada. :)

Posted by: El Cid at February 8, 2009 07:14 PM

Came in via Instapundit - am very thankful for this post, you're absolutely correct about how irresponsibly the campaign was conducted on the now President's part.

The worst part is how he's deferring on things that require action. The Taliban are absolute trash: destroying them utterly is the closest one can get to an absolutely good thing. So even if he wants to narrow priorities and give troops a break, he has to act quickly, because all this dithering emboldens those who are actively fighting US and coalition troops as we speak. He doesn't seem to realize - and on a deep level, the American people may not realize - that we're technically at war. The war on terror, like it or not, was globalized by the Bush administration. If you want to retreat expeditiously from Afghanistan, which I'm thinking could be one of the most immoral things the US could do, you have figure out how you're going to save face and move fast, really fast.

Posted by: ashok at February 8, 2009 07:40 PM


By the Beard of the Prophet, you are an Insolent One! When the holy Jihad sweeps across the oceans, you will struck down along with that son of Shaitan... what is his name?


Posted by: Moqtada al Sadr at February 8, 2009 08:45 PM

Well, if it's up to the service Chiefs to determine the "End Game", what do we need a Commander-In-Chief for then? Good lord, I used to cringe at some things Bush said but this stuff is really starting to scare me. Obama's Senate job was supposed to detail in on Afghanistan. Perhaps if he had chaired at least one meeting as a Senator, he might be more up to speed on what is going on there and could've determined the End Game. The reason why Obama does not want to say what the End Game is so he can blame someone for whatever failures happen. If the end game is defined and he did it and we don't attain it, he's got no where to run and hid.

Posted by: CDR M at February 8, 2009 08:49 PM

Jane, why has your husband allowed you out of the house? Why are you speaking in the presence of men?

It is true, you are witty. But... Bah! Have you no shame? Go home and beg your man to beat you on the soles of the feet, as is proper :p

Posted by: Moqtada al Sadr at February 8, 2009 08:49 PM

Well, if it's up to the service Chiefs to determine the "End Game", what do we need a Commander-In-Chief for then?

Exactly, Cdr. M.

I can deal with him saying, "This is what I want to accomplish" or "I want to accomplish this, or this, or this... which of these things can we accomplish militarily?"

But leaving broad policy goals (the end game) up to the military is a non-starter.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 8, 2009 08:52 PM

Well, Mister Pee-resident, I guess this is one of many cases where you let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird pooper.

It's easy to snipe at the man when it's not you who has to make the decision; it's easy when you can blame it all on someone else. Well, sir, now it's all on you. The buck stops with you. The fact that you have no concept beyond right now is dismaying at best.

You can't even answer simple questions with a straight answer. Q: Have you given up smoking as you promised? BHO: I have not smoked in the White House.

Question asked and not answered. It is what I have come to expect. No answers, just whining and criticizing.

As TR stated most eloquently in 1910:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

You, Mr. Obama have a long, long, long way to go to show me you are worthy of a vote. You did not earn it this time, and at this rate, the only one you have earned is a thumbs down vote in the arena. It is fortunate for you that you have adoring, if child like, supporters on the street and in the MSM to inflate your ratings and ego. The time is coming tho that you will be tested. As one on the line, I do not relish the possibilities, but I am up to the challenge.

Posted by: kbob in Katy at February 8, 2009 08:54 PM

PS - The President sets policy. The Armed Forces carry it out when diplomacy fails. Thats' the "end game." Tres facile

Posted by: kbob in Katy at February 8, 2009 08:55 PM


By the Beard of the Prophet, you are an Insolent One! When the holy Jihad sweeps across the oceans, you will struck down along with that son of Shaitan... what is his name?


"sweeps across the oceans" Phhfffft! You? Swarthy one, you can't swim...Buwhaaaaa.

Yea, Jewels, Jules, whatever.

Posted by: El Cid at February 8, 2009 09:33 PM

Obama is just a Media Toy boy. He made some speeches to the masses based on the ‘mass stupidity’ principle and it worked. In real life it won’t work in the WH where adults live and in the Whole Wide World of Afghanistan and Africa. They will eat him for breakfast and spit his bones out in the ashes.

Posted by: Ike Jackson at February 8, 2009 10:01 PM

I received a email from a colleague in L.A. I was cheek-by-jowl with her for a 10-day training seminar a couple years ago. She was unable to go two hours without marveling aloud that the wonders wrought by Al Gore. Now, this comes to me (it is only about 1/4 of the email):

The Beings of Light in the Realms of Illumined Truth have stated time and again that the most powerful force on Earth is Humanity's collective consciousness. During this monumental moment of change, we are receiving assistance from On High beyond anything we have ever experienced. The synchronicity of the unfolding Divine Plan may seem like a coincidence, but nothing could be further from the Truth.

Just before the inauguration of President Barack Obama, a plane crashed into the Hudson River in New York City. All 155 people on board were saved. This was considered a miracle by everyone who witnessed the unified efforts of all those who were involved with the rescue. For several days, this event held the attention of people all over the world. Throughout that time, the collective consciousness of Humanity bathed the Earth with hope, joy, happiness, wonder, amazement, and gratitude. This positive influx of Light paved the way for the historical inauguration of Barack Obama.

It was reported that more people watched the inauguration of President Barack Obama than any other event in the history of television. This collective cup of Humanity's consciousness was overflowing with wondrous expectations, hope, gratitude, commitment, oneness, prayers for peace, and prayers for viable solutions to the maladies existing in the global economy, as well as every other facet of Life on Earth.

Now, with these positive frequencies of Light building in momentum, we are being offered another opportunity. During the upcoming Solar and Lunar Eclipses, and the two-week period in between the Eclipses, we can expand the patterns of perfection for the New Earth and empower the hopes and dreams we have for our own individual lives.

These people have the right to vote. They did, and now we have a petulant Trainee-In-Chief who is accustomed to others doing the heavy lifting.

In four paragraphs of really fine new-agey bat hooey, I think the line about how the wonder and amazement at the survival of all passengers aboard the plane that landed in the Hudson River paved the way for Obama's inauguration was truly precious. I really thought the election in November had something to do with that. And as long as these people won't put down the bong, Obama will not be properly judged.

It's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Posted by: MathMom at February 8, 2009 10:01 PM

The headline "*Now* He's Asking Questions???" misses the point that as president he should be giving the direction of what he wants done in Afganistan. Obviously he was BSing the public to show that he was not a peacenic like McGovern.

Posted by: Moose at February 8, 2009 10:09 PM

You should really talk to Cricket. In the other thread, she was commenting on the difficulty of separating the fantasies of the liberal mind from reasoning of the liberal mind.
I think you have tied the two together nicely.

And tell that moqtada el Sadr-AFE to knock it off. He's making me laugh too hard.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 8, 2009 10:28 PM

We've elected a child to do a man's job.

Posted by: KSM at February 8, 2009 10:42 PM

The following is not my work; it came to me as a F/W on email like many of these things do. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with all or some of the contents but the fact that it is circulating is like a huge billboard I once saw on a hillside overlooking the river on my way to Branson southern MO. It said in huge letters: TAKE THE UN OUT OF THE USA OR TAKE THE USA OUT OF THE UN! You can applaud it or disagree with it but it won’t change the fact that someone feels he had to say it. It is also the same with Cassandra’s Post; you are stupid if you ignore it.

Here, with copy and paste is the F/W email one:

WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT TO TURN ON THE TV AND HEAR ANY U.S. PRESIDENT, DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN GIVES THE FOLLOWING SPEECH? My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed. Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete. This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning. Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries that have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short. The United Kingdom, Spain, Bulgaria, Australia, and Poland are some of the countries listed there. The other list contains everyone not on the first list. Most of the world's nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening. Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war. THEN EVERY YEAR THERE AFTER IT GO TO OUR SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM SO IT WONT GO BROKE IN 20 YEARS. The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hellholes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption. Need help with a famine? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France. In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home. On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth. Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France, or maybe China. I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France, Germany, and Russia. Thanks for all your help, comrades We are retiring from NATO as well. Bon chance, mess amiss. I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don't care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change. Mexico is also on List 2 President Felipe Calderon and his entire corrupt government really needs an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra tank and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put 'em? Yep, border security. Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty - starting now. We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we'll be drilling for oil in Alaska - which will take care of this country's oil needs for decades to come. If you're an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there. They care. It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, "darn too-tin." Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around t he world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. It is time to eliminate hunger in America It is time to eliminate homelessness in America. To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won't forget. To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic. God bless America. Thank you and good night. If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier. (Please forward this to at least ten friends and see what happens! Let's get this to every USA computer!)

Posted by: Ike Jackson at February 8, 2009 10:46 PM

This is an interesting thread, especially (maybe) if you contemplate it while (well, while and in- between) watching Season 5 (this past season), episode 7 of Boston Legal, as I am now. Perhaps I'll get around to explaining that last part. We'll see.

Anyway, while there's alot I think I'm able to understand that's been posted, and some at least, that I agree with, it strikes me that at least some readers owe it to themselves to consider whether things - and here, in this thread, most prominently to consider that "Afghanistan(-type) things - are quite as dire as some of you apparently believe. And when I refer to such "things" I mean of course, how Obama is dealing with them.

Anyhow, some might want to (re-)consider whether the report "naturally requires" or even "strongly suggests" that Obama does not understand his role as CiC, or that he is unable to exercise it. Foolishly, perhaps, I haven't gone back to read the news report(s?) (which I briefly read this morning), so someone may well tell me that my suggestion doesn't match the reported facts (and that person might, of course, be right or might be wrong in so telling). We'll see, perhaps.

Anyhow, with that caveat/confession in place, my take was not that Obama had show himself to be ignorant of his role as CiC, or either incapable of exercising it or hesitant to do so. My take, for example, was that of course a president can and should ask his military what is their strategic goal (and all manner of subsidiary questions there-relating), when that president comes into power.

Obviously, the military does have strategic goals (and sub-goals/plans/etc., galore) with a command such as Afghanistan, and how better to understand what the military understands what its goals (etc.) are than to request that they be set out. And to inquire from State, how the State perspective fits in; and from NSA; and etc. etc. etc.

You don't know 'til you inform yourself. And until you know that (and w & x & y, as well), you cant' properly perform as President and CiC.

And that's what I see Obama as doing, and frankly that -- educating himself to make informed decisions -- is exactly what I'd want any President to do. (Obviously (self-)education is but a part of a President's duties)

I guess that's pretty much the thought, in a nutshell. That, and "early days". (It really still is very "early days", folks . . .)

Maybe discussion will ensue, perhaps not. I make the point not so much for discussion, but because for some who frequent this board the next four (or eight) years are likely going to be middling-to-very painful, presidential-politics-wise. But I expect that at least a subset of those might be able to palliate that pain somewhat, by not always choosing the "worst case" explanation over the alternatives. Hell, judicious application of such a palliative might be worth the equivalent of one or two scotches/Chablis/brews an evening.

Anyhow. Be Well. (And yes, that email is to die for. Too too funny. What a bunch of 'toons we can be sometimes. Some of us. Many of us, actually.)

Posted by: hoover1 at February 8, 2009 11:24 PM

Whoops. Guess I should have identified the referenced email. To wit: in the post MathMom at February 8, 2009 10:01 PM

Posted by: hoover1 at February 8, 2009 11:28 PM

But then again (now that I've read it in full), the email at Ike Jackson at February 8, 2009 10:46 PM is pretty amusing, too.

Posted by: hoover1 at February 8, 2009 11:35 PM

Anyhow, with that caveat/confession in place, my take was not that Obama had show himself to be ignorant of his role as CiC, or either incapable of exercising it or hesitant to do so.

Sorry 'bout that, but he demonstrated that he is either ignorance of the function of the Commander-in Chief or he expects the military to assume responsibility for setting national policy.

My take, for example, was that of course a president can and should ask his military what is their strategic goal...

Wrong answer. The *President* sets the strategic goal, and determines how to achieve that goal, either diplomatically, militarily, or a combination of both. And he, since he was briefed on both the mission and the strategic goal during the transition, he demonstrated that he either doesn't trust those charged with carrying out the mission *or* he wasn't paying attention to the transition briefings *and* the daily briefings he's been receiving for the past three weeks.

Neither of those two scenarios is cause for optimism.

Posted by: BillT at February 9, 2009 12:02 AM

...either ignorance of the function...

Amend that to "...either ignorant of the function..."

Likewise ignore the superfluity of the third person singular masculine pronouns in para. 4.

I'm really starting to *hate* Unanticipated Booms.

Posted by: BillT at February 9, 2009 12:09 AM

BillT --

The *President* sets the strategic goal, and determines how to achieve that goal, either diplomatically, militarily, or a combination of both.

Of course. Absolutely. I never imagined that my post could be read to imply anything different. Please read the post with your itailicized comments taken as a given. (And consider that Obama likely knows this as well, etc.).

Posted by: hoover1 at February 9, 2009 12:25 AM

This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 2/9/2009, at The Unreligious Right

Posted by: UNRR at February 9, 2009 07:01 AM

Please read the post with your itailicized comments taken as a given.

Okay, I did. And, in light of that, your comment

My take, for example, was that of course a president can and should ask his military what is their strategic goal...

makes even less sense.

Why should the C-in-C who sets the strategic goal ask his underlings what the strategic goal is? Note that he didn't ask what their understanding of that goal was, or how they planned to implement it -- he asked what the goal *was*...

Posted by: BillT at February 9, 2009 09:52 AM

He's waiting for his underlings to tell him what strategic goal would play well in the polls or with major donors. I doubt he has any views on what an appropriate strategic goal would be, or that he imagines any of his advisors do, either.

Posted by: Texan99 at February 9, 2009 10:11 AM

Great discussion. The "role of the C-in-C" aspect bothered me at first reading, but I suspect it's not quite as many have interpreted it. It's still really bad, but in a different way.

My theory: Commander's giving intent and desired end-state, and then being briefed on the developed plan is part of the planning process. There are potentially multiple iterations of this as a new commander and his staff work together. The staff deconstructs the higher order and develops a number of courses of action (COA), and these are presented to the commander. If he thinks one of these is the best way to go, it is selected, and on the planning process goes. If the commander doesn't believe that any of the COA will achieve his goals, then he re-articulates and the staff goes off to draw up more COA. Rinse, and repeat.

Nothing wrong with that. What -I- have a problem with is US HEARING ABOUT THIS INTERNAL PROCESS. The way this was presented makes it look (to me) like the President wanted to demonstrate that he was in charge (though that obviously failed with this group), and so publicly scolded his staff. Traded their hard work for some (hopefully) imagined popularity play. That there are iterations could have been persented any number of ways ("President and JCS continue to work out details of new direction in Afghanistan" or somesuch), but to present it this way is just bad laedership (which IS a technique... but not an advised one).

So, as usual, we are left with the handfull of equally unsatisfying possibilities: Does he have no control of the information flow out of his top-level meetings or is his personal staff just incompetent? Does he KNOW that he just read his military leadership out or is he simply clueless?

The other possibility is that, as pointed out above, he already knew what the endstate was from the briefings, and was like that kid we all hated in school (you know who you are/were!) that asks a question they know the answer to in order to look smarter...

Posted by: MDC at February 9, 2009 10:17 AM

BillT --

This President has just come into power. There are many "structures" which have been put in place (and evolved) over the last several years. Some of these are military structures (complete with and grounded in strategic decisions and visions and analyses, etc.) which have been developed and put into place by the preceding administration, after consultation and deliberation with many organs of government - including (prominently) DOD and its agents, uniformed and otherwise. These structures ("defined" by a former administration) have considerable momentum and decisions and actions formulated under such a history will naturally continue, until effective re-adjustment can be made at the helm. (And indeed the helmsman will no doubt be constrained by that history, and find that particular changes/adjustments (while otherwise laudatory) are difficult or impossible to effect.)

In the course of developing his own policy (and strategic decisions, etc.), then, it is natural that an in-coming administration inquire of those structures, as I have indicated. In this vein, when you write:

Why should the C-in-C who sets the strategic goal ask his underlings what the strategic goal is? Note that he didn't ask what their understanding of that goal was, or how they planned to implement it -- he asked what the goal *was*...

I think you set up a false dichotomy. Asking what it "is" or what they "think it is" (in this context at least), is 6 of one, and a half dozen of the other. A distinction without a difference.

Hopefully, all that makes my earlier comments somewhat clearer.

Posted by: hoover1 at February 9, 2009 10:22 AM

Heaven forfend that I should attempt to correct every typo or ill-chosen word I set down (for I'd never stop posting), but just for the record, I think that in the last post I should have written "laudable" in lieu of "laudatory".

Posted by: hoover1 at February 9, 2009 10:53 AM

Oh, great. Even better. Obama didn't understand Bush's strategic end-game.

It's a good thing he didn't run as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate. That would make not understanding the Bush Doctrine unforgivable.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 9, 2009 03:08 PM

Heh, yeah good thing alright... YAG, I salute your wry observation. Well, I really just need to justify a beer...

Hey, standing on my back deck I can see Venezuela! Oops, my bad, it's the red lights of D.C. Never mind.

Posted by: bthun at February 9, 2009 07:14 PM

This President has just come into power. There are many "structures" which have been put in place (and evolved) over the last several years.

No scheiss, Sherlock.

And, as I mentioned previously, he was briefed on *all* of it during the transition period.

I think you set up a false dichotomy. Asking what it "is" or what they "think it is" (in this context at least), is 6 of one, and a half dozen of the other. A distinction without a difference.

I think you can't think of an answer, so you're attempting to parse the statement -- and if you'd done it properly, you'd have seen that I didn't set up a dichotomy, I pointed one out.

Posted by: BillT at February 10, 2009 06:37 AM

BillT --

Okie-doke. I've said things about as clear as I can, & not just to hear myself talk. I'm sorry that hasn't been clear enough, or if we've been talking "by" each other, or whatever it is that the difficulty may be. Be Well.

Posted by: hoover1 at February 10, 2009 09:56 AM

You could do a set of "Obama then/Obama now" pieces. During the campaign, he told us that the problems were so big only Government could get us out of them. Then the other day he told us that it's only the American Worker who can get us out of them.

The conclusion is obvious: he has no clue.

Posted by: ZZMike at February 10, 2009 04:34 PM

"Q: Have you given up smoking as you promised? BHO: I have not smoked in the White House."

Is that for real? Good grief - it is.

There are 1001 things that need fixing here, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, &c. - who cares!!!

On the other hand, a man who will prevaricate about little things is not to be trusted in big ones.

That's why Gen Patton (among others) insisted on military discipline (including uniforms) when he took over, figuring (rightly) that a CO who couldn't keep his troops following the little rules wouldn't be able to get them to follow the big ones.

Obama seems ambivalent about his role as C-in-C. I read the other day that "Hail to the Chief" is no longer played (maybe "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" would work). The troops seems to have the same feeling - find the article about his Christmas visit to the troops in Hawaii. From the news accounts, their reception was cool but courteous. And of course, he didn't actually have dinner there.

Posted by: ZZMike at February 10, 2009 04:58 PM