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29 September 2010

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Patrick Lang

SAC brat

No. Marshall was the epitome of what an officer should be. pl

William R. Cumming

Well the Legions withered under Augustus!

Medicine Man

These speculations about Obama's head space are pretty tedious. The only way really tell what he's made of is to watch what he does under what circumstances. (Un)Fortunately, we're going to be given just such an opportunity. If the midterms and Dec policy review come and go and the insubordinate generals are still given their run of Washington, then we have pretty solid evidence of Obama's passivity. If he actually lays down and sacrifices his Jan 2011 Afghanistan withdrawal date to placate the COIN crowd, then we know he's in far over his head.

jonst

Do any of you recall what Rick Pitino, then coach of the Boston Celtics said to the Boston Media the day he exploded with anger?

"Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old."

Marshall, Bradley, Ike, and for that matter Abrams, are not 'walking through that door'. They are gone. Forever. What's more, I suspect the system, and times, that created them, harden, and gave them a strict sense of duty and fidelity to the Chain of Command is, if not dead, on life support.

Obama has to look to himself. The same way other leaders have had to during times of crisis. And if there is 'no there there', we're boned. History. For now. It's on him...and I ain't betting my house on him. Nor two dollars, for that matter. But I sure hope I'm proven wrong.

And talk about whining, this insensate whining, as reported by Woodward, 'I want an option, please give me an option' is sickening. MAKE an option, chump. Sir.

stickler

Obama inherited the worst economic disaster since 1933 when he was sworn in. Whatever our armchair psychologists might believe, I think the political calculus is pretty simple: the American people have had it with Iraq and Afghanistan, but the domestic costs of "losing" are still high enough that any rational political leader would easily defer to the generals. And that's what Obama has done. What else would you expect? He's got 9.5% unemployment, Wall Street as greedy as pigs, the auto industry on life support, health care reform, stimulus packages, and Republicans filibustering everything in sight. Why incur the added cost of doing the adult thing and leaving Afghanistan with our tails between our legs?

His response so far has been the easily foreseen "no-drama-Obama" pattern: "defer" to the generals (i.e., make them own the policy), set a timeline for draw-down or whatever they call it, and put the damned issue on the back burner. Hope the sauce stays on a low simmer until 2011.

Not pretty, not O.K. Corral showdown material, but that's the guy we elected and that's the situation he inherited.

Charles

Guys, c'mon. Before Petraeus was painted on this forum as a toady, telling the administration whatever it wanted to hear. Now he's a disloyal ba---rd because he gave similar advice to the current President. Can't have it both ways.

I know Petraeus well and know that he is completely loyal. He said in his testimony before going to Iraq that he would give his best advice or they could find someone else. That's what he said behind closed doors as well. I expect he had a similar conversation with this President.

He didn't take this job to administer a withdrawal that would leave us in a defensive crouch in re:al-Qaeda. The President and his advisors could not answer the question of: after a drawdown that allows the Taliban to retake the country, then what? How are we to conduct a SOF-based c/terror campaign in a closed country that prevents planning and training for another 9/11? Clinton's cruise missiles sure didn't work ( as I said at the time). Would we be able to insert teams with enough precise intelligence to actually conduct useful ops? Of course not. Even the drones require a large presence on the ground.

One thing about Petraeus is that he is a competitor in the MacArthur and Eisenhower mold. He will not lose. If there was a way to win this thing by pulling out, he'd be out this afternoon.

Doesn't surprise me that Woodward's book paints this picture. The President wants someone to blame if things go wrong. Now he has that. He can say he was young and it was his first big decision (worked for Kennedy, although he took some blame which I can't see happening here); but that's his experience -- no responsibility for outcomes. Got him where he is.

Patrick Lang

Charles

Brother in law? Godson? ADC? In fact I think it is quite possible to display these two forms of behavior seriatim. DP agreed with GWB and so agreed with him. This man he needs to domiantate in order to get what he thinks is needed. pl

Charles

None of the above. Co-worker. Observer.

Can't be a toady when telling the boss what one really thinks. But that was the charge against DP -- he was willing to say anything to get a fourth star. Now he gives the same advice and he's insubordinate. Can't be both. If the toady charge was right, he would have jumped on the "get out" bandwagon.

This was a policy debate. DP and Mullen were on one side, Biden, et al on the other. Obama wanted a different answer, because he never really did believe that Afgh was "the good war" but said so to get elected. We knew it at the time, but DP did not toady to him to give him the answer he wanted.

Domiante? I don't speak Itaian ;^)

Patrick Lang

Charles

I mispelled a wrod can yuo ever forgive me? Can you spell anla correctly? pl

Patrick Lang

Charles

So whaddaya think is the likely outcome in either Iraq or Afghanistan or both? pl

DaveGood

Harper....

I doubt you know this but I was pointing out on this and other forums that the Taliban had banned (And enforced the ban with their customary brutality) Poppy growing and opium production for at least year before We bombed the s**t out of them,

I also stated then, (Pre-Bush's oh so wonderful War without any end) That, among other things, if we did dislodge the Taliban. The government that would replace it, handpicked by us, (let us not forget), would rapidly bring heroin to a street corner near you.

Patrick Lang

Davegood

Interesting that the poppy crop failed this year. what do you think of saffron as a substitute cash crop? pl

walrus

Stickler:

"His response so far has been the easily foreseen "no-drama-Obama" pattern: "defer" to the generals (i.e., make them own the policy), set a timeline for draw-down or whatever they call it, and put the damned issue on the back burner. Hope the sauce stays on a low simmer until 2011."

Charles:

"Can't be a toady when telling the boss what one really thinks. But that was the charge against DP -- he was willing to say anything to get a fourth star. Now he gives the same advice and he's insubordinate. Can't be both. If the toady charge was right, he would have jumped on the "get out" bandwagon."

With respect, in my opinion, the issues with Obama and Petreaus, in fact any decision makers, are much deeper than you portray. I do not for one minute suggest Petreaus is not "Loyal" nor a "Toady", nor do I suggest that Obama is not doing the best he knows how, with the best intentions for America. What I am stating is that without a very, very firm grip on, and understanding of, your own personal motivations, failings, biases and blind spots, then you may not be framing questions and answers in a way that makes good, or least bad, solutions achievable.

I have expressed concerns already about Obamas lack of empathy with people that he has expressed in so many ways. This is a character flaw. If it is unrecognised, then it is going to fatally skew his decision making in everything he does.

I know nothing about Petreaus style and have repeatedly asked for information, most especially what his subordinates and co workers have experienced of him over time. Was working for him an ennobling, life changing, experience or was it sheer, unadulterated hell?

To put it another way; you are at best perceiving reality through a glass, darkly. You cannot hope to make good decisions under such circumstances without a deep, rock solid, knowledge of your own foundations. If you are living under illusions, then your decisions are going to be built on sand because it is all too easy to deceive oneself.

For example, it is entirely possible for Petreaus to give conflicting advice over time because there is no immutable "right" answer, independent of being "Loyal" or a "Toady". This situation is a result of "framing" - how you perceive the problem.

If we pray for anything, let us pray for Obama, Petreaus and other decision makers, to be gifted with crystal like clarity as to their own motivations and weaknesses.

FB Ali

Walrus,

In making momentous decisions, even more important than knowing one’s own ”personal motivations, failings, biases and blind spots” is the need to have a basic understanding of the problem, and the situation within which one has to find a solution to it.

The problem the US says it is trying to deal with is the danger of a terrorist attack on the US by Islamist jihadists. It claims that the solution it is pursuing is its war in Afghanistan.

The actual situation it is facing there is:
· These attacks aren’t being planned and prepared in Afghanistan. 9/11 wasn’t either.
· The war the US is waging in Afghanistan isn’t able to prevent jihadis from planning attacks against the US.
· The present plan is to prepare the Afghan army to carry out this role. If the US forces now in Afghanistan can’t do it, how will they?

Either Obama and Petraeus don’t understand the situation. Or, they are misleading the US people about their real aims (which are probably not the same).

Fred

FB Ali,

very well stated. Hopefully General Jones thinks the same. If not I hope he has your phone number.

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