While Interesting, Minimal Actual Surprises in ‘Obama’s Wars’

Remember that interview?  Maybe?  Maybe not?

Okay, do you remember how President Barack Obama addressed thousands of troops at West Point–the “enemy camp,” according to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews–with a speech meant to detail the future of our efforts overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan without even once using the words “win” or “victory”? Maybe?  Maybe not?

Point being, should we even be surprised by the substantive content of what’s currently trickling out in advance of the release of Obama’s Wars, a new book by Bob Woodward?  Sure, some of the day-to-day revelations which have so far been made available to news-consuming folks like ourselves might be a little shocking, but surprising?  I don’t think so, but see for yourself.  From the Washington Post:

Woodward’s book portrays Obama and the White House as barraged by warnings about the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and confronted with the difficulty in preventing them. During an interview with Woodward in July, the president said, “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger.”

Golly, Mr. President, why don’t you ask the families of the 13 servicemembers killed by Nidal Malik Hasan during his radical Islam-inspired shooting spree at Fort Hood whether or not they’ve absorbed that particular terrorist attack?  Why don’t you ask those children who, thanks to Hasan and our abject failure to dispense with the trappings of political correctness and address evil as evil, will never see their mother or father again whether or not they are stronger for the experience?

But really, abject ignorance aside, are we truly surprised by this president’s words?  I’m still not certain whether the president considers the killing spree launched by Hasan–as he screamed “Allahu Akbar!”–a terrorist attack in the first place.  He certainly didn’t consider it as such in the wake of the attack — recall that, in what NBC’s Chicago affiliate characterizes as “Obama’s frightening insensitivity following [the Fort Hood] shooting,” the president took the time to give a flippant “shout-out” to Dr. Joe Medicine Crow, an attendee at a Native American conference, before even acknowledging the loss of life at Fort Hood two minutes later.

Is it any surprise, then, that this president would acquiesce enough so as to even float the idea that he is prepared to absorb the loss of even one more innocent American life rather than stand fast and state that any–any–terrorist attack on this nation is unacceptable?

Moving on.

Tensions often turned personal. National security adviser James L. Jones privately referred to Obama’s political aides as “the water bugs,” the “Politburo,” the “Mafia,” or the “campaign set.” Petraeus, who felt shut out by the new administration, told an aide that he considered the president’s senior adviser David Axelrod to be “a complete spin doctor.”

During a flight in May, after a glass of wine, Petraeus told his own staffers that the administration was “[expletive] with the wrong guy.” Gates was tempted to walk out of an Oval Office meeting after being offended by comments made by deputy national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon about a general not named in the book.

No surprise here, either.  I seem to remember reading that numerous military and defense officials have been reticent when it comes to meeting with President Obama, and that Gen. David Petraeus himself “made the mistake of thinking he was still dealing with George Bush instead of with Barack Obama” as the administration prepared to release, over objections from defense and military personnel, the mastermind of the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, which claimed the lives of 17 U.S. sailors.

And, as for “Politburo,” such a nickname for Barack Obama’s inner sanctum of political advisers is not so much surprising as it is unequivocally apropos.

And then, there’s this:

In the end, Obama essentially designed his own strategy for the 30,000 troops, which some aides considered a compromise between the military command’s request for 40,000 and Biden’s relentless efforts to limit the escalation to 20,000 as part of a “hybrid option” that he had developed with Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In a dramatic scene at the White House on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009, Obama summoned the national security team to outline his decision and distribute his six-page terms sheet. He went around the room, one by one, asking each participant whether he or she had any objections – to “say so now,” Woodward reports.

The document – a copy of which is reprinted in the book – took the unusual step of stating, along with the strategy’s objectives, what the military was not supposed to do. The president went into detail, according to Woodward, to make sure that the military wouldn’t attempt to expand the mission.

After Obama informed the military of his decision, Woodward writes, the Pentagon kept trying to reopen the decision, peppering the White House with new questions. Obama, in exasperation, reacted by asking, “Why do we keep having these meetings?”

In other words, Barack Obama feels wholeheartedly that Barack Obama knows more about what our military needs to be victorious than the very commanders who he promised to listen to during the 2008 presidential campaign.  In other words, Barack Obama designed his own strategy–which, hardly a surprise, puts artificial and arbitrary caps on our projection of military might and our ability to fight in the name of honor and victory–and, when the military types at the Pentagon dared to question the endless wisdom of the former community organizer, the former community organizer reacted as though he truly believed that his option was the only option out there.

“Why do we keep having these meetings?” the president apparently asked, undoubtedly leaving off something to the effect of “…when I have already ruled on the matter?

Textbook solipsism.  Google it.

Out of everything that has leaked so far, the one part that actually does surprise me is the apparent concern of President Obama with regard to the cost of the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  “At one strategy session,” the Washington Post says, referencing the Woodward book, “the president waved a memo from the Office of Management and Budget, which put a price tag of $889 billion over 10 years on the military’s open-ended approach.”  In other words, for the commanders with boots ont he ground to get what they feel is absolutely essential to win this war and bury the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the  caves and sand of Afghanistan, it would cost the American taxpayers only $27 billion more than was spent on the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act–which neither reinvested in nor fostered recovery in America–or hundreds of billions of dollars less than what this administration has committed to health care reform.

If this president is truly so concerned with price tags, perhaps he could have considered the House Republican’s health care reform proposal, which was scored by the Congressional Budget Office at just $61 billion over ten years while working to drive down insurance premiums, instead of the brainchild of the radical leftists running Congress which will cost taxpayers more than $1.2 trillion over the next ten years while actually driving up insurance costs.

As I’m quite sure the book is worth a read, so is the summary piece at the Washington Post.  Again, though, it’s hardly surprising, as I think most of us understood that this president was forced to keep certain elements of his predecessor’s fight against radical Islam worldwide, and most of us know that the left likes to draw comparisons with Vietnam, and probably many of us know all too well just how woefully unprepared we are for a nuclear attack.  Still, there is value in hearing it straight from the inside, and if Woodward’s access proves to be as impressive in Obama’s Wars as it was in Bush At War, the book should be a very interesting one.



  1. John Feeny says:

    What really bothers me about this is that while people on the Left may actually begin to see the more sinister side of this man, this all drives me to distraction – where were these people when we were screaming out loud about this guy a year before the election? For all our efforts, we were called crazy, and now we’re being vindicated. This man is a disconnected, out-of-touch – perhaps even just a tad angry – menace.

    Liberals want to jump all over the witchcraft thing with Christine O’Donnell, but want to poo-poo Obama’s connections to a veritable littany of dangerous, dangerous people. I guess his background – or lack thereof – didn’t matter, as long as he furthered an agenda and helped the children to get their way.

    The ostriches need to take their heads out of the sand. One other thing about ostriches – they’re small-brained, vicious, and stupid.

  2. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Nicely put, John.

    Ostriches, by the way, are also tasty.

  3. John Feeny says:

    Yea, I’ve heard that. Well, there’s enough to go around these days. I won’t have to look very far to find one.

  4. Bob Upton says:

    Conservatives have a dream and then wake up and work to make that dream a reality.
    Leftists have a dream, keep dreaming and try to change reality into their dream.
    Two approaches that are not at all the same.
    A lot of Americans are waking up from a really bad, unrealistic dream. They might need this book.

    Ecc 10:2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.

  5. Gail B. says:

    I surely hope that the voting public uses good judgment in the midterm, but it is astounding to me that Obama was elected in the first place, given his lack of past. Two years into this nightmare, and we STILL don’t know anything about him.

    “Your actions are consistent with your values; you get what you want in the end.” (Someone pointed that out to me.) Well, call him Muslim; call him Christian; call him whatever you like, but anyone who has behaved in such an anti-American manner as this dude has over and over and over again, well, what I call him is not printable.

    Thank you, Jeff, for this information. I will buy a copy of Woodward’s book to read. Thank you, too, John Feeny, for your interesting comment. (Am waiting for Boston Blackie’s comment, too!)

    The Left likes to call the Republicans the “Party of No,” and points a finger at them for not working with the Democrats. I’m sick of this “holier than thou” attitude of the Progressives. What’s wrong with the Democrats working with the REPUBLICANS?! The Democrats are the “Party of Control.”

    I thanked the Lord yesterday for the Republicans’ blocking the DREAM Act from coming to a vote. Those Progressives want the Hispanic vote for 2012 so bad that they can taste it! It must be really bad when the Political Bulldozer throws a rod!

    God Bless America! In God We Trust!

  6. Gail B. says:

    @Bob Upton:

    “Ecc 10:2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.”

    Thank you for pointing that out!

  7. whats_up says:

    @ Gail,

    “I’m sick of this “holier than thou” attitude of the Progressives”

    Well guess what Gail us Progressives are sick and tired of the “holier than thou” attitude of Conservatives. It is a two way street and well you should remember that.

  8. Boston Blackie says:

    I was going to wait until the paperback came out but after the excerpts, I may just have to get a copy immediately then pass it onto family members.
    “we absorbed it and we are stronger”
    Is he really that clueless and ignorant, or does this reflect a man with no compassion. Maybe it stems from having no religion in his daily life(oh wait, he has his prayer of the day app). I could never be in politics, I wouldn’t have the patience to bite my lip at every turn. I will bet my last dollar (currently in my wallet)that Nidal Malik Hasan will never see a jury. The DOJ will let him plea down and we will be caring for him in a medical facility for decades to come.
    “In the end, Obama essentially designed his own strategy for the 30,000 troops”
    Wow, the community organizer now thinks he is Patton. Did he also tell the commanders to just take their jeeps and go home, he has everything under control here. You realize the only reason he was so concerned with the price tag was because he wants the Pentagon budget cut to the bone so he can use the money to further his socialist agenda. That and the fact his 58 year old Auntie Zeituni needs her $700 a month SSI check along with her food stamps and free public housing in Boston. You didn’t really think HE was going to support her now that she can stay foreva! But according to her, the system took advantage of her, she didn’t take advantage of the system.
    “senior adviser David Axelrod to be “a complete spin doctor.”
    Why is this so shocking to anyone, he was a campaign director for many candidates including Obeyme-Lite, Devoid Patrick in MA, using the same ol’ hopey-changey logos in them. Still, nobody has explained to me why both he and Valerie Jarrett have secrect service protection. So until I get that, I will continue to believe they are the puppet masters behind the curtain. I am curious to know if Woodword touches on the Jarrett/Obeyme attached at the hips connection in the book.
    “For all our efforts, we were called crazy”
    Actually, John, we were called racists for questioning anything having to do with the Messiah.

  9. Gail B. says:

    @ Whats_up

    “Well guess what Gail us Progressives are sick and tired of the “holier than thou” attitude of Conservatives. It is a two way street and well you should remember that.”

    Y’all, he SAID IT!!! “us Progressives”
    (That should be “we Progressives” because “we…are sick and tired,” not “us…are sick and tired.”)

    What’s_up, YOU PROGRESSIVES are the current version of Communism. Communism is controlled by a dictator. The United States is a REPUBLIC, remember? Our usurper president is an admitted affiliate of the New Party, which is Communist.

    And as for being sick and tired, we CONSERVATIVES (Republicans) are sick and tired of fighting you Progressives for our freedoms which YOU PROGRESSIVES are desperate to take away from us.

    Go away. You are a distraction, and you aren’t even a “Shiny Object.”

  10. John Buyon says:

    thank you for that brilliant injection comrade Gail B
    now back to the world that is real…

    Obama held marathon 8 hour sessions with the National security team for weeks.
    If he was such a scheming,megalomaniac, “soft on terror” politician he would have dismissed the generals on the spot, and listened to his political base by bringing all the troops home.
    instead he has increased troop presence, tripled drone strikes and responsibly pulled out of Iraq.

    can you really defend against terrorism?
    you people surely understand how Islamic jihadis operate. they don’t have a capital city, they don’t have leaders, they don’t have a region they control, they don’t have large bureaucracies and organizational teams.
    they have the internet and a few tape recordings throw that in with a bunch of disaffected 20 somethings and a few household chemicals and you get a terrorist attack that kills hundreds

    how can you defend against that with a 150,000 troops in afghanistan?
    terrorism always has been always will be and always remain a criminal act, a subversion of the state.
    and it can only be defeated by law enforcement.
    check out how the terrorist IRA was defeated.
    and the terrorist Basque separatists were crushed.

  11. You smell that? says:

    Ah, sweet revolution in the air.

  12. Hold the phone says:

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Since President Barack Obama declared an end to combat operations in Iraq, U.S. troops have waged a gun battle with a suicide squad in Baghdad, dropped bombs on armed militants in Baquba and assisted Iraqi soldiers in a raid in Falluja.

    Obama’s announcement on August 31 has not meant the end of fighting for some of the 50,000 U.S. military personnel remaining in Iraq 7-1/2 years after the invasion that removed Saddam Hussein.

    “Our rules of engagement have not changed. Iraq does remain from time to time a dangerous place, so when our soldiers are attacked they will return fire,” said Brigadier General Jeffrey Buchanan, a U.S. military spokesman.

  13. Anonymous says:

    2:58 I thought Obama said MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

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