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?
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.