President Obama doesn’t like war. That’s good. Nobody should.
The problem is that he can’t bear it. And it’s an inconvenience for him, siphoning money from the things he really wants to do, like construct windmills.
That’s bad, at least for a president.
Obama views himself as a peacemaker, the man who is fulfilling commitments to extract us finally from Afghanistan and Iraq. But what he is doing is ensuring continued problems in those areas, because he’s leaving before the job is done.
The surge in Afghanistan was too small, as I’ve written frequently, and the ANNOUNCEMENT THAT WE WILL BEGIN RETREATING IN THE SUMMER OF 2011 was a sure signal to our enemies that they could wait us out.
Now, having already started crashing through the door in desperation to exit Afghanistan, it appears Obama is doing the same in Iraq.
Fox News reported Tuesday that the administration wants to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq from 45,000 to 3,000 by the end of the year. Military commanders want five or six times as many to stay on. Just like they wanted an 80,000 troop surge in Afghanistan and got 35,000.
Even the New York Times, playing catchup to Fox, noted that the Iraq plan is getting a big WTF from military commanders.
A recommendation to keep 3,000 American troops, first reported on Tuesday by Fox News, would leave in place a token force where many commanders had hoped to see a robust presence continue in a region that is viewed as strategic to American interests.
News of the plan was met with dismay by three senators who visited Iraq many times during the war: Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, and his Republican colleagues John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The three released a statement calling the 3,000 troops “dramatically lower than what our military leaders” have said “is needed to support Iraq in safeguarding the hard-won gains that our two nations have achieved at such great cost.
Obama need not always listen to the brass. If presidents always took the advice of their generals, I’d be writing this from my home in the Confederacy in Northern Virginia.
But you do not have to have a degree from the U.S. Army War College in military strategy – nor do you need to summon George S. Patton on the Ouija Board – to figure out that unless those 45,000 troops are all busy doing Sudoku puzzles, whittling them down to 3,000 in less than four months is too fast an exit.
But Obama will be able to claim, in the short run, that he’s making peace, not to mention saving money to fund his latest economic and electric car building schemes.
I thought I’d share with you some thoughts expressed yesterday at the National Press Club by Rudy Giuliani, the hero of 9/11, who seems to be doing his own version of the Sarah Palin tease on whether he’ll run for president.
He’s a man who speaks directly, and based on what he said yesterday, I think Obama should put him in charge of his war policy and hit the golf course.
Take a look and see what you think.
We need to be militarily present in the Middle East until significant numbers of people in the Middle East stop planning to come here and kill us, or killing us overseas. And we should get the American people ready for that, we should make them patient with that. We should get them to understand the value to us in terms of intelligence, the value to us in terms of stopping things before they get to the point of people trying to kill us here in the United States or attacking one of our embassies abroad.
I think part of the problem that we have in Pakistan and Afghanistan is the silly timetables that we put on things. You cannot fight a war with a timetable . . . Imagine if we had engaged in the Civil War or the First World War or the Second with a timetable. “You know, we’ll fight Nazism for three years, then we’ll get tired and leave.” “We’re going to be in Afghanistan until the summer of 2010 or the summer of 2011.”
You give your enemies a tremendous blaring headline, “They really aren’t serious. We really can wear them out. We can really wear them down.” And finally, when you do that, you demoralize your troops and put them under much greater danger, because they realize the more pressure we can put on, maybe they’ll speed up that withdrawal and they certainly won’t change their minds.
You fight a war for an objective. Objectives don’t have time tables.
Problem is, Obama has other objectives. And war messes with them.