Sunday, August 19, 2012

Obama Lionized by the NYT for "Cutting Generals Entirely Out" of Afghanistan Strategy-Making

The aide told [President Obama] that he believed military leaders had agreed to the tight [Afghanistan] schedule to begin withdrawing those troops just 18 months later only because they thought they could persuade an inexperienced president to grant more time if they demanded it.

Well,” Mr. Obama responded that day, “I’m not going to give them more time.”

A year later, when the president and a half-dozen White House aides began to plan for the withdrawal, the generals were cut out entirely. There was no debate, and there were no leaks.
Of course, when George W Bush was — or when any Republican is — president, there would not have been, there would not be, any praise from the New York Times (and from David Sanger) for not listening to the military — indeed, there would have been head-shaking, tut-tutting, and hand-wringing (as in fact happened on at least one occasion when a handful of retired generals protested about Bush's decisions). No awe for the commander-in-chief’s “light footprint” strategy (as David Sanger has for Obama) in cases involving Republicans, no respect for the president's "placing an enormous bet", and, in the case of Bush, certainly not even a mention of the president's "thinking". And no matter-of-fact description of the president's mental "conclusions" (as in the coming quote).

Needless to say, this was before the advent of the One come to save us, the father of peoples, our collective big brother, who is indubitably the most brilliant, the most compassionate, the most humble mind in the room, in the capital, in the nation, on the planet. So no wonder this great brain is praised for doing whatever any Republican would be castigated for, such as not listening to the (military) experts and simply for learning what he knows in the Oval Office.
Mr. Obama concluded in his first year that the Bush-era dream of remaking Afghanistan was a fantasy, and that the far greater threat to the United States was an unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan. So he narrowed the goals in Afghanistan, and narrowed them again, until he could make the case that America had achieved limited objectives in a war that was, in any traditional sense, unwinnable.
But it gets better. No debates with generals, and none either with the members of the cabinet (at least not until the last moment).
By early 2011, Mr. Obama had seen enough. He told his staff to arrange a speedy, orderly exit from Afghanistan. This time there would be no announced national security meetings, no debates with the generals. Even Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were left out until the final six weeks.
• Also concerning the New York Times: Paul Ryan Dissed for Lack of Foreign Policy Know-How; Obama Praised for "Learning what he knows in the Oval Office".