Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our "Reluctant" Commander in Chief

"[Obama's] education as a commander in chief with no experience in uniform has been a steep learning curve. He has learned how to salute. He has surfed the Internet at night to look into the toll on troops. He has faced young soldiers maimed after carrying out his orders. And he is trying to manage a tense relationship with the military..."

An amazingly enlightening article in the New York Times? Yes. Fascinating beach reading indeed...

For Obama, Steep Learning Curve as Chief in War.

The gist? Well, this shouldn't knock you off your chair or anything but Obama doesn't like being in charge of our Armed Forces. Obama isn't particularly good at being a Commander in Chief and has relied very heavily upon Robert Gates...who is leaving.
"Where George W. Bush saw the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as his central mission and opportunities to transform critical regions, Mr. Obama sees them as “problems that need managing,” as one adviser put it...

"A former adviser to the president, who like others insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the situation candidly, said that Mr. Obama’s relationship with the military was “troubled” and that he “does’t have a handle on it.”

This line I found particularly troubling:
"With the economy in tatters and health care on his agenda, Mr. Obama was determined to keep the wars from becoming a major distraction."

"Reliant on Mr. Gates, Mr. Obama has made limited efforts to know his service chiefs or top commanders, and has visited the Pentagon only once, not counting a Sept. 11 commemoration. He ended Mr. Bush’s practice of weekly videoconferences with commanders, preferring to work through the chain of command and wary, aides said, of being drawn into managing the wars."

"Our Afghan policy was focused as much as anything on domestic politics,” the adviser said. “He would not risk losing the moderate to centrist Democrats in the middle of health insurance reform and he viewed that legislation as the make-or-break legislation for his administration.”

"Perhaps more important was his selection of General Petraeus to take over. The choice brings Mr. Obama full circle. As a senator, he opposed the Iraq troop increase led by General Petraeus, and the two had a wary encounter in Baghdad when Mr. Obama visited as a candidate in 2008. After Mr. Obama came to the White House, General Petraeus no longer had the regular interactions he had with Mr. Bush. “It’s an extraordinary irony,” said Mr. Riedel, the former Obama adviser. “He, like Bush before him, has put all his bets down on the table on one guy — and it’s the same guy.”

His team doesn't know if he's truly committed?! He still has a deep-seated doubt in the military? And this is all casually written in the NYT like it's a positive? Like we should be terribly impressed that he takes the time to Google certain military protocol and procedures? Then again, what do I know? I'm just a civilian...maybe the military prefers someone like Obama so they can play on his insecurities and men like Gates, McChrystal and Patraeus can get what they want for their men & women in uniform...

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