Skip to comments.The Obama-McChrystal Gap
Posted on 10/12/2009 1:33:38 PM PDT by smoothsailing
The Obama-McChrystal Gap
Posted 10/12/2009 ET
What is the life of an American soldier worth? President Obama apparently values it as little as he values defeating our enemies in Afghanistan.
First, this is not an annual cyclical campaign of kinetics driven by an insurgent “fighting season.” Rather, it is a year-round struggle, often conducted with little apparent violence, to win the support of the people. Protecting the population from insurgent coercion and intimidation demands a persistent presence and focus that cannot be interrupted without risking serious setback.
Obama has already wasted more than a month of the year McChrystal characterized as decisive, seeking a new strategy that will avoid both a troop surge and responsibility for losing Afghanistan and, in turn, nuclear-armed Pakistan.
Trial balloons floating out of the White House indicate that Obama’s goal is merely to prevent the Taliban from again taking control of Afghanistan. One report says that he would tolerate the Taliban’s participation in Afghanistan’s government, possibly akin to the terrorist Hizballah organization’s membership in the Lebanese parliament. The fact that Hizballah is Iranian-funded and based in Syria – continuing its insurgency in Lebanon and terrorism against Israel – apparently eludes Obama’s understanding.
Obama disdains victory. On July 29, in a Nightline interview, President Obama was asked to define “victory” in Afghanistan. He answered, “I'm always worried about using the word "victory" because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.” He wants to fine-tune our military action there, spending some lives and some money to achieve some undefinable result.
Obama’s thinking was aired by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs last Thursday. Gibbs said that our spendthrift president was “mindful” of the monetary cost. One reporter pressed Gibbs:
Q: So cost is a factor?But what war is worth one life but not two? Which victory -- that which costs a billion dollars -- is worth less than a defeat that costs but a million? How do you calculate the value of the way of life you defend? I am reminded of the opening scene in “Patton” in which Gen. Omar Bradley surveys the devastating defeat American forces suffered at the Kasserine Pass in North Africa in 1943. Bradley’s aide pronounces the toll in tanks, guns, G.I. socks and almost 2000 lives.
But then -- instead of saying it's too much to pay to beat the Germans -- Bradley says he wants the toughest commander to whip the beaten army into shape.
Picture Obama and Biden standing there in place of Bradley and his aide. They chose McChrystal to take charge and invested 20,000 more troops in Afghanistan earlier this year. And now they balk at McChrystal’s report which also says, “Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it.”
But winning and losing are academic concepts to Obama: he is seeking a strategy that will not dissatisfy his generals and still comfort the European accomodationists who awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize. He dithers while the clock runs down on McChrystal’s decisive year.
Obama either doesn’t understand -- or, worse -- doesn’t take seriously McChrystal’s report when it says, “While not a war in the conventional sense, the conflict in Afghanistan demands a similar focus and an equal level of effort, and the consequences of failing are just as grave.”
Obama is neither smarter nor more politically astute than his generals. He tried to snooker McChrystal by requiring the general to send three options for Afghanistan catalogued as “low”, “moderate” and “high” risk. That way, he thought, he could accept a lower number of troops to be sent and still say that he followed McChrystal’s advice.
But the general -- seeing through that (according to a senior House member who I spoke to last week) -- beat the president at his own game. The “moderate” risk plan McChrystal submitted is the number the general really wants, about 40,000 more troops. The “high” risk recommendation is anything substantially less than that and the “low” risk plan is for much more than the general thinks is needed (about 60,000 more troops).
Which leaves Obama -- not McChrystal -- with two choices, neither of which he wants. First would be to give McChrystal what he wants and decide to fight a long war. Alternatively, Obama can decide to go against McChrystal and risk losing both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In his classic work, “Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice,” the late David Galula wrote, “…an insurgency is a protracted struggle conducted methodically, step by step, in order to attain specific intermediate objectives leading finally to the overthrow of the existing order.” (emphasis in original). Afghanistan, according to Galula’s criteria of size, shape, population and economy, is nearly the ideal nation in which an insurgency can succeed.
I am as sure that McChrystal has read Galula as I am that Obama has not. This president won’t stand and fight for long, if at all. He has delayed too long in deciding whether to accept the general’s recommendation or declare a strategy of his own design. Obama cannot delay much longer.
One friend, a former Marine who served in Vietnam, once told me that the reason we lost there is simple: the North Vietnamese wanted to win more than we did. Lyndon Johnson didn’t have the heart to do what is necessary to win. Barack Obama doesn’t even see the need.
Obama is going about systematically, and with a will, bringing the marxist fundamental change he promised. But more and more Americans are awakening to it and will not let it stand.
Nobel Peace Prize $1,400,000
American KIA’s 228
Obama is refusing a General’s request for REINFORCEMENTS..
So what? Generals ALWAYS want more troops and presidents often turn them down. Bush turned down his generals early in his administration who wanted more troops in Iraq so did LBJ did when Westmoreland wanted 200,000 more (on top of 500K!) in 1968.
Besides, who elected McChystal as God? He wasn't so God-like when he clumsily covered up the truth about Pat Tillman's death.
See you got an isolationist Paulbot on your thread.
Of everything Obama has done, this is the most unconscionable, he is truly evil.
Yes, and then Bush listened to General Petraeus and he got his troops and it turned the tides. Bringing up LBJ as justification for Obama not sending more troops. That makes it ok?
IMHO, we have seen the Taliban move in because they know we have a weak President.
Now a question for you: on what basis do you justify giving Obama more of our blood and treasure with (apparently) no strings attached? Are you prepared to defend the consequences here if he asks for and gets those troops?
Why is it “evil” to put formers fighters of the Taliban on the payroll when it is not “evil” to put the Sunnis insurgents who have American blood on their hands on the payroll?
Actually, I believe the evil is the indecision and lack of any sort of plan. If he does not have the stomach to fight this war than say it and bring everyone home. Do I want us to see defeat? No, but I don’t want to see our military sitting ducks while he waits it out.
The “Taliban” are not necessarily Afghani’s, they are zealots that grew out of madrassa’s in Pakistan and have taken over the country. The average Afghani are farmers and nomads, however, they have seen so much war over the years they are just trying to survive. Right now the Taliban come in and will kill the locals in order for them to submit.
In speaking with some Marines that are just back from Helmand Province, the Taliban come in at night, I can understand us having more of a presence but that needs to be backed up by a different policy of ROE, if not, no more troops and they all come home. They can’t sit and wait on indecision!
He must be, but it would be bad enough if he were merely indecisive, in over his head and agonizingly incompetent.
In reality, he shows himself to be all of the above.
What else can be said about the top guy in an administration that is taking seriously the ideas of a complete buffoon like Joe Biden on what to do in Afghanistan at the same time it deliberately attempts to diminish and silence the public assessment of it's top military commander on the ground?
There's more excellent analysis of the reasons for Obama's dithering at the link below..
In analysis...we’re not dealing with a rational POTUS or a rational opponent, they’re one and the same. McChrystal is twisting door knobs.
Excellent piece, Kaplan tells it exactly like it is.
In the eyes of our enemies Obama has already weakened himself and with his ego will never regain their respect.
Even, unfortunately, Jed Babbin, a former JAG officer, either does not understand the Constitution, or has been ordered to be quiet about John Marshall, John Jay, George Washington, C.J. Waite, Alexander Hamilton, Joseph Story, John Bingham - perhaps having been threatened with fomenting civil strife if he dares tell the truth. Ask Mr. Human Events Babbin to cite any supreme court decision which does not use the common law definition of natural born citizen cited above. There are none, while there are at least ten citiations of "born on the soil of parents who are citizens." It is a simple truth.
Ridicule is a potent weapon on weak men and women. The strife will probably come anyway, and could be worse as Obama’s team of Marxists destroys our economy. We have a great Constitution, but many men and women who, for a variety of reasons, protect only those provisions which suit their fancy. At least Obama told everyone that this Constitution prevented him from redistributing wealth, and suggested, along with FDR, a second bill of rights. We have hundreds of prominent pundits and politicians who are more devious because they know the truth and pretend they don't.
We seem to agree for the most part. Shades of LBJ, Obama is splitting the difference and that is worse than either alternative.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.