I’m going to show my readers this paragraph, than walk them through it. Background: it’s part of Robert Gates’ memoir on his time as SecDef. Specifically, Gates (with the help of the military brass) was trying to keep Afghanistan from sliding off of the beam under the new administration, and running headlong into the Obama administration’s apparent inherent inability to understand that wars are messy and not subject to control.
Oh, and the fact that the Democrats advising the President on military affairs were also, by and large, clueless idiots. But you knew that already.
Anyway, after apparently trying one too many times to make the President understand that warfighters need support staff, Barack Obama threw a tantrum:
[JCS Chairman Admiral Michael] Mullen and I repeatedly discussed with the infuriated president what he regarded as military pressure on him. “Is it a lack of respect for me?” Obama asked us. “Are [Petraeus, McChrystal and Mullen] trying to box me in? I’ve tried to create an environment where all points of view can be expressed and have a robust debate. I’m prepared to devote any amount of time to it—however many hours or days. What is wrong? Is it the process? Are they suspicious of my politics? Do they resent that I never served in the military? Do they think because I’m young that I don’t see what they’re doing?”
Oh, dear. This is rather exquisite narcissism, isn’t it? – And no, not self-reflection, either. The President was ‘infuriated,’ remember? That suggests that the President took the entire thing personally, in precisely the way that one should not. It’s not the military’s fault that Barack Obama was not mentally prepared to be Commander in Chief. Neither is it their fault that Obama apparently does not take constructive criticism well. Or at all. And it certainly isn’t their fault that the man thinks that the military updating their needs is somehow an indication that they dislike President Obama.
But I digress.
Anyway, here we go.
Mullen and I repeatedly discussed with the infuriated president what he regarded as military pressure on him. “Is it a lack of respect for me?” Obama asked us.
…No. It’s lack of respect for Barack Obama’s political ideology, policy positions, and stated goals. So I guess… yes? I mean, it’s not like the man has much of a personality that’s independent of any of the above.
“Are [Petraeus, McChrystal and Mullen] trying to box me in?
No, they were trying to get the Commander in Chief to make a decision and stick with it. Oh, wait, to a politician without a moral compass that’s pretty much semantically equivalent.
I’ve tried to create an environment where all points of view can be expressed and have a robust debate.
Let me tell you a story that Bruce Catton liked to tell about US Grant. General Grant was talking to one of his subordinates one day when a quartermaster came up to him and asked him a tricky question about stores. Grant listened, thought a moment, told the quartermaster what to do, and the quartermaster went off. The subordinate asked Grant how he knew what the right answer was in that case. Grant replied that he didn’t; but if he got it wrong it’d be obvious, really quickly, and then they could go do something else. But doing something was better than dithering for a week (something that US Civil War generals typically did as naturally as they breathed).
Excuse me: doing something was better than creating an environment where all points of view can be expressed and there’s a robust debate.
I’m prepared to devote any amount of time to it—however many hours or days.
Time was not the issue. Especially when it’s a cover for ‘reserving the right to second-guess myself.’
What is wrong?
I’ll give the President this: by actually asking this question Obama’s showing that he’s smarter than his Vice President. …And I will even concede that VP Biden is smarter than my cat.
Is it the process?
Strictly speaking, it’s the President’s following of the process that’s at fault. Bush at least knew that he was the decider.
Are they suspicious of my politics?
More like ‘resigned about.’
Do they resent that I never served in the military?
Frankly, from what I’ve seen of the man’s work ethic they’re probably relieved. The odds are that a Barack Obama who served in the military would have gotten a commission; and there are so many more ways for your incompetence to get people killed when you’re an officer.
Do they think because I’m young that I don’t see what they’re doing?”
Youth, inexperience, epistemic closure, ideology, indifference, unconscious prejudice, misplaced sense of superiority, lack of training, lack of ability, lack of self awareness: pick one, Mr. President. I can make a case for each.
Anyway… great googly moogly. It’s almost as if Barack Obama never really thought about any of this stuff before he became President. But that’s nonsense. Surely Obama knew that he’d be responsible for setting military policy?
Via Hot Air Headlines.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: Full disclosure: I’ve never served in the military. I’ve never put myself forward as an adequate candidate for Commander in Chief, either.