Jan
11
2014

Robert Gates inadvertently gives us a good look at @barackobama’s war insecurities.

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.

15 Comments

  • Crawford says:

    If you’ve read one word of honest history, one word about why men fight, one word about the reasons we fight, one word that doesn’t place anything American and Western in the worst possible light, you’re better prepared to be Commander-in-Chief than Barack Obama.

  • jetty says:

    After Benghazi, I vowed to do everything possible to keep my children from serving in the military. I can’t imagine having my child die in some god-foresaken place because of a politician’s sense of political expediency.

  • Herp McDerp says:

    But doing something was better than dithering for a week …
     
    Clausewitz said much the same thing in Vom Kriege
     
    And then Neil Peart noted that “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
     
    Surely Obama knew that he’d be responsible for setting military policy?
     
    Are you assuming that his goal is to win wars and to enhance the security of the United States? I’m not convinced that Barack Obama has those objectives.
     
    And I will even concede that VP Biden is smarter than my cat.
     
    I wouldn’t insult my cat by saying that.

    • acat says:

      As a cat, I appreciate being favorably compared to Biden about as much as I appreciate being favorably compared to a slime mold.
      .
      No offense to slime molds intended.
      .
      Mew

  • Brian Swisher says:

    That quip about spending as much time as necessary is pretty hilarious coming from a guy who’s blown off more than half of his daily national security briefings…

    • Darin_H says:

      “Hey Army chief type guy, I worked on this for, like, twelve minutes and now I just want to eat my waffles and then go golfing.”

  • acat says:

    Quibble. How confident are you that it’s inadvertent?
    .
    Mew

  • Darin_H says:

    “Those are our planes now???”
    .
    Yes, I know it used to be a statement.

  • Cameron says:

    Moments like that prove Heinlein’s ideas in Starship Troopers correct.

    • Luke says:

      Not really. I don’t see a hypothetical President Kerry taking it any better.
      .
      Besides, the time Obama spent as a “community organizer” is considered suborning himself to public service by a significant percentage of the population. (Not to mention the percentage that feels the same about time spend in politics, as long as you’re on the Left side, anyway.)
      .
      Solipsism and service are not mutually exclusive. In fact, you can make an argument that the meshing of the two is a core part of the Progressive philosophy.

      • Cameron says:

        It is funny and pathetic that carrying around a clipboard and agitating the local population is considered public service on a level to someone who actually endured real hardship in the military by some people.

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