Patterico's Pontifications


Obama on Afghanistan: Starting Over?

Filed under: Obama,War — DRJ @ 9:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The AP reports President Obama held his last-scheduled Afghanistan strategy meeting and has rejected all military recommendations:

“A senior U.S. official told The Associated Press that Obama rejected all four options presented to him at what had been expected to be the last of those sessions Wednesday. Those options started from the premise that some addition of U.S. forces is necessary, and included ways that Obama could meet or nearly meet war commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s preference for about 40,000 additional troops.”

The AP report also highlights cabled objections to President Obama from Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, the current U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and the former military commander in the region:

“The U.S. envoy in Afghanistan, a former Army general who once commanded troops in the country, has objected strongly to emerging plans to send tens of thousands of additional forces to the country, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.
Eikenberry made the point that the administration should step cautiously in planning for any troop buildup while there are still so many questions surrounding Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the official said. Eikenberry is the front line U.S. official dealing with Karzai, the U.S.-backed leader whose administration was stained by corruption and mismanagement.”

I don’t know what this means. My guess is it’s another tactic to delay the public release of Obama’s decision, probably until the Thanksgiving holidays when it will get less attention. Alternatively, maybe Ambassador Eikenberry just realized Afghanistan is a fragile war zone and the current American commander has requested more troops.


46 Responses to “Obama on Afghanistan: Starting Over?”

  1. More dithering. The work is being done at a local level. If he has a problem with Karzai and is going to stick with that story, these excuses seem like total bullshit. The decision then would seem to be do I pull our troops out or do I reinforce them, not do I trust Karzai enough to send 20,000 troops, or 30,000 troops, or should I trust him enough to send 40,000 troops. Grow a pair Owebama.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  2. This is treachery of the highest order.

    The Ambassador was told to express opposition to more troops. He did as he was told.

    It’s time for BHO to bid a hasty retreat and bring ’em all home. Since he does not choose to play by the rules on the ground, he must withdraw completely.

    Of course this is not another step towards our republic’s oblivion, eh Leviticus? It’s just preventing the waste of lives and treasure, right?

    Ed from SFV (1333b1)

  3. I just saw that on BBC, which was honest enough to say the cable was leaked. The AP story made it sound like getting the info was some great journalistic feat, when it was actually planted.

    A great Obama stenographer, that Ann Gearan is.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  4. This is an answer from one Special Force veterans perspective

    Sanmon (319c0c)

  5. Obama promised to win this war. Who cares what his advisers are saying… they are not our president. They are not the ones who said they could make this decision.

    Wars are a gamble, most of the time. This is a hard war, in a hard place, but it’s obviously very important to our nation’s security.

    Obama: it’s OK to make mistakes. You have to make an educated guess as to the best strategy, and adjust to the problems that arise. Just freaking do it already.

    Or as Ed says, save us the horrors of war if you’re just going to lose. Vietnam was a managed loss. What a horrible concept.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  6. now can we finally admit that Ear Leader is not an “honorable man”?

    out of deference to our host, i will not use the Army language i am contemplating, but let me be the first to suggest that the fraud in the White House go attempt aerial intercourse with a rotating pastry…. and if he ever bursts into flame in my presence, he’d be well served to not expect me to urinate in his general direction.

    /strong letter to follow.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  7. Ambassador Eikenberry has all the tact of anal rape I think.

    happyfeet (b919e7)

  8. Why is he focusing on Karzai so much? Does he have a leftist he wants to install instead of him?

    Patricia (b05e7f)

  9. Maybe it’s just me, but thinking too hard could be the problem.

    I know, I know, that thinking too hard was a “problem” for the predecessor. Maybe it’s contagious.

    Ag80 (3d1543)

  10. Imagine being one of the Generals, trying to give Obama some good options. They ask him for parameters, and give him a bunch of ideas, and Obama rejects all of them. Sounds like a kid trying to prove how tough he is.

    It’s no secret Obama has terrible relations with the military. Obama wouldn’t meet with our Afghanistan commander until he said something Obama didn’t like… and then, the commander had to come to Obama, who was busy trying to get Chicago some Olympics, instead of concerned with Afghanistan.

    Obama knows what he really wants, but is burying that in order to play a game of timing, in order to preserve his poll standing. These guys had it so much easier with Bush, who didn’t really care if the he was obliterated in the polls. It wasn’t peaches and cream back them, either, and they had tough jobs, but at least it was an attempt to find the best option, no games.

    What does victory in Afghanitan even look like? No more heroin production, fascist zealots, or terrorists? A thriving booming technological nation that contributes to the world? Us having a few bases from which to bomb bad guys, in perpetuity?

    At this stage, I think it’s clear we need flypaper for terrorists. If we aren’t going to fight in Afghanistan, we certainly need to fight somewhere that will attract all the crazies, their money, and their bombs, instead of letting those assets attack civilian America. But Obama doesn’t want that. He certainly doesn’t envision a world without Islamic terror.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  11. I can just picture Obama sitting in the war room: “Guys, I want an Afghanistan policy that is easy, cheap, safe, and politically popular. Now go design me one.”

    Why is he focusing on Karzai so much? Does he have a leftist he wants to install instead of him?

    Comment by Patricia — 11/11/2009 @ 9:25 pm

    Well, Manuel Zelaya is currently unemployed.

    JVW (d32e06)

  12. While Obama dithers, how do those in the midst of battle keep up their morale knowing that not only has no decision been made but rather it’s been indefinitely put off? Their mission becomes muddier each day. They will follow orders no matter what but the morale has got to be ebbing. And without morale, one can lose that necessary edge. I wonder if Obama thinks about that…

    Dana (e9ba20)

  13. #12: Dana, i believe, in all sincerity, that is definitely one of the things Ear Leader is thinking about, but not with the same viewpoint as you are.

    he doesn’t care about Afghanistan. he doesn’t care about our troops or our country. he only cares about his sorry ass, and whatever it is that his masters have directed him to do.

    if he gets enough of our GI’s get killed, he can then order a pullout that the chattering classes will support, and thus further damage America, as well as return Afghanistan to control of the fanatics, recreating a stronghold for them to attack the West once again.

    call it his own “mission accomplished” momnent.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  14. …Karzai, the U.S.-backed leader whose administration was stained by corruption and mismanagement.

    Here are some interesting and relevant thoughts on corruption.

    Any time you find a system that theoretically has strong central control and appears to work, closer examination will find corruption — people exchanging favors and/or resources (including money) to get things done by going around The System. Doing it that way is horrendously inefficient, because system resources, most definitely including the diligence and intelligence of the people in the system, are wasted in evasion maneuvers, and smart unscrupulous people can easily insert themselves into the “black market” and make off with huge chunks of the available resources. It’s why small companies get more done with fewer resource inputs than large ones, and why “…that Government is best that governs least.”

    happyfeet (b919e7)

  15. It seems to be a fact of life that the American public always looks at the most recent President and discovers a trait that he had which is sorely lacking in his successor. When GHW Bush was in office, I think people longed for Reagan’s deft touch and personal charisma. When Clinton was in office, people missed GHW Bush’s basic decency and disgrace-free personal life. When GW Bush was in office, people missed Clinton’s personal touch and ability to connect with the public. Now that Obama is President, even some lefties are expressing disappointment with his dithering and are hearkening back to GW Bush’s decisiveness and ability to focus on his objectives despite various distractions.

    JVW (d32e06)

  16. Maybe it’s the ‘grass is greener’ phenomenon. We all do it a little.

    DRJ (dff2ca)

  17. This is the kind of incompetence that Lyndon Johnson demonstrated to botch the Vietnam War.

    The Empty Suit continues to show what a horrible disaster his administration will be.

    Right now, what keeps increasing is my guess of how many years it will take to repair the damage he does to our nation.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  18. if he gets enough of our GI’s get killed

    I’ve always thought his goal was to send a bunch of troops to Afghanistan so that he can say the U.S. is tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan when his dirty socialist and commie pals want to invade their Taiwans or their Falklands or what have you. He just doesn’t want to look overeager about sending troops… but he’ll send bunches I’d bet you. The eventual withdraw in shame defeat would just be gravy.

    happyfeet (b919e7)

  19. On the other hand, the little president man has had his media working overtime with the Vietnam meme. His Newsweek did it this week and there were editorials today in the LA Times and I think it was the Boston Globe. Somebody’s coordinating that. Today the little president man himself invoked how shamefully Vietnam vet people were treated. My guess is the little president man just wants a historical backdrop against which he can be seen making a Momentous Decision.

    He’s sort of a tool.

    happyfeet (b919e7)

  20. The Momentous Decision theory makes sense to me.

    DRJ (dff2ca)

  21. “This requires immediate discussion!”
    — from Monty Python’s Life of Brian; the scene where Brian has been sentenced to cricifixion, and his fellows spout that line instead of taking bold action.

    Icy Texan (e0aef1)

  22. I guess he couldn’t just vote ‘present’. Actually making a decision that has consequences is a new thing to him.

    a different JD (5e45fa)

  23. Unless we develop a comprehensive South Asia strategy, the most we can hope for is a temporary peace in Afghanistan.

    What would such a strategy look like? Well, at the very least it requires some moderation of the strategic competition between India and Pakistan. Without attention to this aspect of the problem, we really are only playing around at the edges of the conflict.

    For more, see here

    Scott (637fcc)

  24. Obama will likely lose this war for us- he clearly lacks the judgement, dedication, and principle to win such a labrilynthine conflict.

    He already was caught dozing while the Russians nabbed the Kyrgizstani air base SO vital to any plans for a US “surge” strategy in Afghanistan. –

    The clueless Obama (and foreign-policy “expert” Biden) were the most vocal opponents of the Petraeus Surge strategy in Iraq, with Slow Joe coming-up with a harebrained plan to surrender and split the country 3-ways. If America had followed their advice then, Iraq would be an Al Qaida Caliphate by now.

    Of course, the media is too preoccupied with articles on the Dear Leader’s puppy-vetting process and how he likes to play basketball to call him on these serious strategic errors… reality starting to hit hard now, though-

    Reaganite Republican (6836b1)

  25. The ISI and the Pakistani army is always more interested in ‘stealing a march on India’ than fighting AQ. Hence their support for the Taliban, and their preference for the likes of Hekmatyar,
    Raisul Sayyaf and Younis Khalis, back during the Mujahadeen era.

    bishop (4e0dda)

  26. He was presented with 4 options and he rejected all of them? I thought he was waiting so long to choose the best course of action, and after all this time, the best course of action is to do nothing? Happyfeet–he’s not sort of a tool, he is a tool.

    Rochf (ae9c58)

  27. his, essentially, tells Petraeous and McChrystal to go fly a kite and basically ends their careers. Oh, and there will be no clarification since he’s asking them as if he is a junior senator and the the CIC. And this talking point (from the AP):

    “The sense that he was *being rushed and railroaded has stiffened Obama’s resolve *to seek information and options beyond military planning.”

    So, imagine you’re at the Little Big Horn and looking out at the Injuns. You send word to President Grant asking for more troops. Grant responds with “don’t pressure me.”
    This is a political gambit of the highest order. It has these elements:

    1. This announces that we do not plan on “winning” but charting a “withdrawal”.
    2. It’s not “the how” but “the when” that will be impossible to project which gives him a lot of talking points to spin and set up the military to fail on any timeline they produce.
    3. It deflects the McCain and other OP/conservative position to send more troops per the military commanders.
    4. It sets up a scapegoat – which will be McChrystal and, by implication, Petraeus.
    5. By setting up the conditions they nullify Petraus as an opponent in 2012.

    It is highly likely Petraeous may meet with McChrystal and/or Petraeous on his Asian vacation and apology tour and dictate to them (as he’s stated numerous times regarding what he’d do with the generals).

    Simply put, this is a career ender for both Petreaus and McChrystal. Make no mistake, here we have a 3-star former subordinate vetoing the current commander and his four-star. It would be impossible for Petreaus to not understand this. Even a private in the Army would know this.

    My guess is they finally settled on a way to win domestically. Their concerns are (1) their base and (2) defusing Patreaus and the right. Petreaus’ choices and their analysis would be:

    1. Challenge the final decision and force Obama to replace or reassign them. Analysis: They’ve warned M (and left handedly P) on that visit to Copenhagen: Shut up or you’re canned. They expect this will be the one selected by the generals in that it would be unlikely for either to open their mouth at this point and stay in the military.
    2. Resign to allow someone that can “the President has more confidence in”. Analysis: First, they’re soldiers and they’ll do what the CIC orders. Period. If they resign then they turn the political dogs on them “quitter”, “running from the mess you created”, etc. This tarnishes Petraeous’ political impact for 2012. They wouldn’t dare cross swords with the Chicago mob. They’ll also argue they’re giving the general “nearly everything they asked for” which, of course, will be a lie but it will be lost in the confusion.
    3. Accept the decision, soldier own and retire at the end of his current enlistment. Analysis: This is what they think will be the most likely. They know there is no way Afghanistan can turn out good, given their decisions. Thus, they set up the generals to fail and become subject to replacement. Again, it tarnished Petreaus badly for 2012.

    This started with the “corruption” theme of the last few weeks. They likely think this is simply brilliant. The scripts been written the show is now on the road with the Asia trip part of the grand tour de force.

    Oh, and it will cause the killing of dozens of American soldiers, especially those “trainers”.

    cedarhill (1a4b91)

  28. Here are some interesting and relevant thoughts on corruption.

    Thanks for that, happyfeet.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  29. I think the problem and cause of this looooooooooong and annoying delay is that we have lost our sense of mission in Afghanistan. Once upon a time it was to go and destroy those who launched that deadly 9/11 attack on us. Then it became ensuring that AQ does not have the platform to repeat such attacks again working with the Taliban. Now it is wiping out the Taliban and keeping AQ from using them again. But we are finding that wiping out the Taliban is no mean job. It’s like wiping off a whole race of people. Genocide, even. So this administation is now stuck with the option of either sending more troops to fight a war we may not win or reduce the mission to just focusing on AQ, while trying to minimize the threat of the Taliban. We don’t need another Vietnam.
    What I think is that Obama is trying to have it both ways. And he is frustrated by the fact that he can’t. Thus the delay. I think he should be a leader and make up his mind on whatever option he takes and hope it works. Like someone said,war is a gamble.

    The Emperor (82e13a)

  30. This is going to make our involvement in Vietnam look sensible.

    Next, “Peace with dishonor.”

    htom (9a087f)

  31. He’s holding out for option number 5: “We sprinkle the magic pixie dust in the mountains, dance in a circle spinning three times widdershins singing Barney’s theme song, and everyone will love us and you will win another Nobel Prize”.

    Now THAT’s a plan he can get behind.

    rtrski (336865)

  32. He asks for proposals and then rejects them all. And he floats this trial balloon on Veterans Day, of all days to do so. Since all of the recommendations are insufficient for him, why doesn’t he just lay out what he wants to do, rather than sending everyone else back to come up with a plan that he will reject, in favor of his timed withdrawal and political solution? He ain’t leading, he is searching for a political solution to the war that used to be the just war, the one that he was uniquely qualified to win based on his superior judgment. I am almost to the point where I wish he would just pull all the troops out, because this half-ass political solution and timed withdrawal is just going to get people killed. Such a feckless coward.

    JD (3b62be)

  33. Can’t any of you hear Obama screaming at his aides, “GET ME THE HELL OUT OF THIS!!!”

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  34. Voting “Present”.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  35. Strike up the nano-violin choir

    mojo (8096f2)

  36. Speculation: What Obama seems to want is for someone else, a General, to put their name and rank on a recommendation for ending the war effort. That way, when Obama follows that recommendation, he can say he was listening to the troops. He can simply reject every plan to win that crosses his desk until he gets the plan he’d come up with if he had the backbone to not play games with our troops.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  37. But we are finding that wiping out the Taliban is no mean job. It’s like wiping off a whole race of people. Genocide, even.

    That is nonsense but I agree with a lot of the rest you wrote. The Taliban is no longer the students that were called Taliban when they took over Afghanistan in the early 90s. These are jihadis who have been trained by the Pakistani army. The ISI is not an ally in this war. Some of this is Pashtun nationalism and Pakistan is as much in the way as Afghanistan.

    I am now of the opinion we should get out and let them fight it out. Obama will not prosecute the war and all he will do is get soldiers killed to save his political face.

    The problem is that this will give AQ access to nukes. What do we do about that ? If any of you looked at the Baer-Hanson interview on NRO, you know that both of them estimate a 50% chance that Israel will take out the Iranian nuke facilities in the next year. Obama’s approval rating in Israel is now 2%. Baer says that the Iranians, if we attack their nuke sites, will take out the Saudi oil production sites to shut off the world’s oil.

    I estimate that there is a 50% chance of a war in the next year and Obama has made it much more likely with his actions. Our only hope is that this is not a nuclear war. I would estimate that the chance of a nuclear device going off in the next three years (The rest of Obama’s term) is about 25%. When that happens, we will regret the left’s failure to drill for domestic oil. Fortunately, Canada has figured out Obama and will keep working on the tar sands.

    He will have less and less influence on anyone that counts. He is living in a fantasy world of rising employment and a recovering economy while others predict 12% unemployment in the next year.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  38. I am now of the opinion we should get out and let them fight it out
    Comment by Mike K — 11/12/2009 @ 9:25 am

    Me too, Doc. It’s not looking like this administration is that committed to winning this war as they were at first. With the faltering public support it looks like this president is seeking the best exit strategy. While trying to maintain the idea of victory. This creates the problem of AQ and the nukes. I think then they would have to think of leaving reserve combat forces of 10 to 20,000 there in Afghanistan to keep the pressure on AQ and the rest. It’s a tough job being president. It’s easier being candidate.

    The Emperor (82e13a)

  39. You can’t leave 10 to 20,000 troops there. There is the small matter of logistics.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  40. I think the Emperor ought to be staked out at the next Nuclear weapons test for it to get an understanding of what happens to the West if you allow the Islamofascists to get the bomb, otherwise the Emperor will spout insane drivel.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  41. Obama Mideast Strategy: “Just surrender baby!”

    HeavenSent (01a566)

  42. Comment by Sanmon — 11/11/2009 @ 9:13 pm

    This guy should be running for either the House or Senate.

    AD - RtR/OS! (05d966)

  43. I went to the local Applebee’s last night to partake of a free meal, sharing a table with two other unaccompanied, Viet-era Vets.
    The consensus of the table was that the Ditherer in Chief is going to get a lot of good men (and probably some women too) killed and/or hurt.
    The DiC’s problem is he wants a plan that has a “good” outcome, but even the best of plans contains none. He never learned that struggles of this kind are composed of bad outcomes, some worse than others, and you can only hope that a decisive victory will result from an accumulation of the least-bad outcomes.
    There is no pixie-dust, or unicorns, on the battle-field.
    As that Special Forces guy said, wars end in either victory or defeat, and the choice is now on BHO’s desk to make.
    We are fucked!

    AD - RtR/OS! (05d966)

  44. This guy should be running for either the House or Senate.

    Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 11/12/2009 @ 11:49 am

    One of his fellow BlackFive brothers is, check him out he needs support today.

    Sanmon (319c0c)

  45. #39
    I am no strategist. I just guessed. What number would you recommend, Doc? Whether we stay or leave, it is still the most dangerous part of the world. A sizable number of forces still need to remain there to maintain pressure on AQ and stop them from laying hold on the nukes.

    The Emperor (82e13a)

  46. Hey Empty Roar….
    In every big city in the world there is a segment that is very dangerous…
    Do we pull the police out of those neighborhoods because it is just too dangerous to be there?

    AD - RtR/OS! (05d966)

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