Obama, Petraeus, and An Inconvenient Truth

There is no reason to believe that more of the same will achieve these objectives in Iraq. And, while some have proposed escalating this war by adding thousands of more troops, there is little reason to believe that this will achieve these results either. It’s not clear that these troop levels are sustainable for a significant period of time, and according to our commanders on the ground, adding American forces will only relieve the Iraqis from doing more on their own. Moreover, without a coherent strategy or better cooperation from the Iraqis, we would only be putting more of our soldiers in the crossfire of a civil war. 

Sen. Barack Obama, to the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs
November 20, 2006

We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality — we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops, I don’t know any expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground. 

Sen. Barack Obama, on Face The Nation
January 14, 2007

I know that there’s that little snippet that you ran,” referring to the MSNBC clip, “but there were also statements made during the course of this debate in which I said there’s no doubt that additional U.S. troops could temporarily quell the violence. But unless we saw an underlying change in the politics of the country, unless Sunni, Shia, Kurd made different decisions, then we were going to have a civil war and we could not stop a civil war simply with more troops.”

Sen. Barack Obama, to Tom Brokaw on Meet The Press
July 27, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama did not like the Iraqi “surge.” His comments to the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs on November 20, 2006 showed that.  Statements made on the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008 showed that.   Actions taken to purge his own presidential Web site of derogatory remarks toward the strategy showed that.  And while, in September of 2008, he admitted to Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly that the troop surge had succeeded in facilitating progress in Iraq, he patently refused to admit that it succeeded by design.

Indeed, all throughout, Barack Obama vehemently and unmistakably opposed the strategy proposed and eventually implemented by Gen. David Petraeus between the Tigris and Euphrates and beyond.

Today, however, President Barack Obama tapped Gen. Petraeus as a replacement for Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the hard-nosed former Special Forces commander hand-picked by his own administration to succeed the leadership holdovers in Afghanistan from the Bush administration. In the Rose Garden this afternoon, Barack Obama showered Petraeus with praise, expressed optimism in his strategy, and stated that we have an obligation to come together.

Politics, he said, has the unfortunate habit of fueling conflict.

Well, in the interest of dousing the flames of that conflict, and in the hopes that we can truly “come together” as Obama deems us so obligated, perhaps the president should expressly state what he has implied from his actions.  Perhaps he should finally give credit where credit is due.  Rather than continuing to lay blame at the feet of his predecessor for the ongoing inherited operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps the time has come for this president to acknowledge the progress made.  After all, if Gen. David Petraeus truly has Barack Obama’s “full confidence,” it is because of the success of the general and the general’s counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq.

Don’t count on it.  To be honest, in the opinion of yours truly, who stuck his head up and out of the law books long enough to read the Rolling Stone piece which brought about the shift in leadership in the Afghan theater, Barack Obama should never have been in this place to begin with.  Yes, the doctrine of respondeat superior may dictate that insubordination applies regardless of whether the disparaging comments seen in the Rolling Stone piece were made by McChrystal himself or by those in his inner circle, if the decision to accept McChrystal’s resignation truly did not come from “some great insult,” as the president insisted, so long as the strategy and policy was to remain the same, perhaps the leadership should have as well.

McChrystal, despite obscenely stupid and patently dangerous rules of engagement which have been watered down by the chain of command in the United States military, strikes me as someone who desperately wanted to win this war.  Our president, who goes out of his way to avoid using words like “win” and “victory,” strikes me as just the opposite.  And if we’re going to be tied down in Afghanistan, I’d rather the operation be led by someone who yearns for victory and is not afraid to shake things up in order to make it happen.

Of course, if McChrystal is to be replaced by anyone, Gen. David Petraeus certainly seems like a good option.  Nevertheless, politically and otherwise, in my opinion the best move for this beleaguered president would have been to acknowledge McChrystal’s offer to resign and subsequently refuse it.  In fact, I’m surprised it didn’t happen this way.  You’d think that an administration so engaged in and obsessed with image and outward perception would relish in the opportunity for a chronically indecisive president to look anything but, for a president who recently took heat for actively searching for “an ass to kick” with regard to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to instead appear as though he’s willing to overlook personal animus in order to get the job done.

Instead, this White House once again engaged in the same sort of knee-jerk reaction which could cause hundreds of thousands of people in the Gulf to lose their jobs during a six month moratorium on deep-water drilling.  This time, however, because of the towering bastion of credibility that is Gen. David Petraeus, the knee-jerk reaction may just succeed in the long run after all.

Sort of like the Bush administration in Iraq.  But don’t expect the president to say so.



  1. Jeff Schreiber says:

    To answer the question … no, I’m not back. The McChrystal stuff has been pretty much the only stuff I’ve read other than law review for a while now, and I just couldn’t help adding my two cents, whatever they’re worth, on this little story.

    Back to the books. Ugh.


  2. T.I.M. says:

    The blatant hypocrisy continues to ooze from the White House. In his WH speech, regaling in having actually kicked someone’s ass, Obama said “Americans
    don’t flinch in the face of difficult truths.”

    Had Obama actually believed these scripted words, or, better, lived by them, General McChrystal would still be where he belongs — leading our troops, a position for which Mr. Obama clearly was — and still is — unprepared.

  3. Dump the lefty says:

    Gone to the bullpen to get the perfect commander….. oh to be able to do that for a commander-in-chief.

  4. John Feeny says:

    This man -Obama – and his entire ideology – is punchline incarnate. We’re being led by teenagers.

  5. While you're cleaning house says:

    “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, BRIBERY, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    And lately, people are no longer asking whether the Obama administration engaged in BRIBERY. People are now asking whether there is a pattern of illegal behavior within the Obama administration? We know about the allegations of bribery when it comes to Congressman Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff … but ARE THERE OTHERS?

    When it comes to the corruption and lawlessness of the Obama administration, there are simply too many unanswered questions… questions that, if answered, would indicate that the impeachment of Barack Hussein Obama may be a necessity… questions that the media refuses to tackle… AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DESERVE ANSWERS.


  6. Smoke em says:

    Replaced a fighter (runs 8 miles a day, eats one meal and sleeps 4 hours) with a fainter. I hope Petraeus is still up for this. I feel for the young troops over there. I think it’s time to go all out superpower on the Taliban.

  7. nana3 says:

    Petraeus and Betray-Us are in charge….God Help Us!

  8. Tory says:

    Yes, sadly our troops on the ground over there are the ones who will suffer as a result of the grandstanding and political intrigues of an administration focused almost solely on matters of a malignantly inflated ego and treatment of thin-skin disease.

    A couple of thoughts on this bizarre situation…McChrystal is a seasoned, intelligent military man of whom we could reasonably have expected to have developed a wariness of the media, particularly of the ilk that Rolling Stone represents; liberal, incautious, and generally disdainful of the military. It is difficult to believe that he was possessed of such naivete that he wouldn’t expect a hit piece as the final result, and that he would be so unguarded as to thoughtlessly convey all those criticisms and jabs while believing that they would be strictly off the record. My feeling is that he was, particularly after 0′s announcement of a military timeline, exasperated to the point of deciding to take some backdoor measures to draw attention to the chaos, dwindling morale, and percolating distrust and dislike for 0′s tactics. A casual, jokey interview with Rolling Stone would serve his purpose in pointing out 0′s ineptitude, malice, or whatever is driving him to cause America to be perceived as a bumbling, weak, and leaderless force.

    I also rolled my eyes when 0 made a point of stating that his actions toward McChrystal had nothing to do with his having a hissy fit at having been humiliated publicly. McChrystal’s own comments did not rise to the level of insubordination; in a sane world, he would have, at worst, gotten a verbal slap on the wrist for what would amount to a molehill instead of the mountain that 0 made of it. The fact that he interjected that denial just highlights the fact that he has zero tolerance where his ego is concerned.

    Another thought…Petraeus was, in the past, held in none too high regard by 0 and it’s difficult to imagine a pride as deformed and fragile as 0′s permitting him to appoint Petraeous without choking on humble pie. However, there have been rumbles about the possibility of Petraeus running for President in 2012 as a very strong Republican candidate, possibly as the front runner who would even be able to garner the support of Independents. With this appointment, 0 has nearly certainly taken Petraeus out of the running.

  9. One down says:

    11:37 is right; a presidential candidate (of caliber) has been neutered.

  10. Boston Blackie says:

    I still have not heard anything about who allowed the reporter to be embedded with McChrystal and his inner circle. This could never have happened without the approval of the Pentagon. I saw the writer on TV last night, he said there was no way anyone which think their comments were off the record. He said he had his tape recorder going and notebook with him at all times. I just hope for the sake of the troops in Afghanistan that Gen. Petraeus understands that the fight is nothing like that in Iraq. Loyalty in Afghanistan runs only as far as the borders of the local tribe or region. We will not win over their hearts and minds anytime soon.

  11. Randy Wills says:

    Something very fishy going on here. No one in the military – even an E-2 – would be so stupid as McChrystal and crew appeared to be. You would have to be suicidal or be set up, neither of which fit McChrystal’s MO or the circumstances.

    We’ll probably never know the whole story, but I’m not buying this one.


  12. Boston Blackie says:

    Hopefully we will learn the whole truth when McChrystal’s book comes out – I expect it right around Christmas.

  13. Gail B. says:

    Have no way of knowing, of course, but, like Randy, I’m not buying it, either. However, after General McChrystal tried for months to meet with The One and finally got the chance in wherever-Obama-was at the time, which led to the additional 30,000 troops, I believe that General McChrystal had gotten fed up to the teeth with The Coordinator and decided that, if he was going to resign, he would do so while giving the American public an understanding of his frustration with the back-peddling of this regime.

  14. Anonymous says:

    In the meantime our troops are paying the price….. as seen on an expose of the battle at Wanat last night on ABC…… google/hulu it. Oh the politics and butt covering of higher ups…. disgusting.



    Declare war, and do it right. Or come home, and do the best we can at keeping the towel heads at bay.

  15. Anonymous says:

    8:37 Just a high school graduate, not West Point, and I could see the folly of that outpost, let alone an outpost that was inadequately supplied….. must really suck to be a GI and know you’re on an ABSOLUTE suicide mission (their words). I stand with those troops parents on this one.

    Can we please keep ‘needless’ sacrifices to a minimum? To the survivors, thank you so much for your service, really.

  16. Heroes among the rest of us says:


  1. [...] entire McChrystal sitaution could have been handled differently, and President Obama could have gone further to acknowledge prior successes by the previous [...]

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