Stop dithering while others are dying

Byline: | Category: Iraq | Posted at: Sunday, 4 October 2009

Over at Drudge I learned that I have something in common with President Obama:  we were both married on the same day–October 3rd, 1992

Something else I saw over at Drudge was that ten American Soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on our anniversary.  If you’re the President of the United States enjoying a fancy dinner with your wife the same day that ten of your countrymen lay down their lives for others, you should probably ask yourself:  What the hell am I doing?

Since General McChrystal rendered his report to the White House, no less than 50 American servicemen have died in Afghanistan.  How many more will die while the President decides what to do?

It sounds like he and Michelle had an enjoyable evening as they celebrated their anniversary together.  Cookie and I, however, got only as close as a Skype phone call.  That’s because I’m deployed again in Iraq, less than a year after leaving there last fall.  No, I’m not asking for any sympathy; I volunteered for both assignments.  But so too did President Obama volunteer for his current assignment.  And part of that assignment includes making a prompt decision once his senior commander on the ground tells him that he cannot complete his mission without additional resources.

There are legitimate arguments on both sides of the Afghanistan question:  scale back the goals, or send more soldiers to accomplish the current mission.  What is illegitimate, however, is deciding not to decide.  For while the President dithers, Americans die.  Are they dying in vain for a cause that’s about to be cancelled?  Or are they going to be followed by tens of thousands of reinforcements who are committed in a display of force that shows the President’s long-term commitment?  No one knows.  Not General McChrystal, not the soldiers in battle, not the widows at home.  Least of all, the President.

I don’t mean to suggest that the President must wear a hair shirt while American men and women die in battle.  He deserves and needs breaks from what is undoubtedly a stressful job.  But while he’s running off to Copenhagen in a disastrous attempt to bring home the Olympic gold, and while he pushed hard for Cap & Trade (now jettisoned at least until next year), and while he’s expended the summer (and his political capital) in an equally disastrous attempt to reform one-sixth of the American economy, Soldiers are dying and the American economy is failing.

So here’s my simple message:  Mr. President, stop playing around and get to work on the assignment you volunteered for.

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3 Responses to “Stop dithering while others are dying”

  1. Jim White Says:

    I am appalled by your comments and by your blatant disrespect to the President, your Commander in Chief. How outrageous for you to publicly show your disdain when you claim you are in the military. Your attempt to undermine him is despicable. When I served, it was understood you supported your boss regardless if you agreed with him and did not carp about him in public. I don’t know what rank you are, but even privates know better.

    Did you ever think that maybe the President is trying to understand the complexities of the problems that face him? Dod you think that such a major decision takes time to formulate? Or would you prefer he go off half cocked like his predecessor and then lie about the need for war with Iraq like Bush did. No this president is going to study the problem before he makes a decision of this magnitude, and I, unlike you, will support him regardless because I know that he has access to much more information than you or I do.

    Why don’t you ponder the dinners the Bush’s had while over 4000 troops died for his lies. And as far as your back to back assignments, I suspect you had to do it as you have no other source of income.

    I am sending a copy of this article to DoD demanding your removal from the AO. While I suspect nothing will come of it, I will have the satisfaction of trying my best to stop the undermining of our President who is trying to do the right thing while people of your ilk only want him, and America to fail.

    Jim White

    Ed: Good luck with that. I suspect that you’ll find that DoD also wants the President to make a decision one way or the other. If you served in the military, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s time to sh** or get off the pot.” That’s exactly what time it is.

  2. Eric Holcombe Says:

    “No this president is going to study the problem before he makes a decision of this magnitude,…”

    Jim, I thought he did all that back in the campaign days. Remember, “close Gitmo on day one”, “bring the troops home”, “exit strategy”, etc.

    So far, he has done the exact opposite of all of those, making his “foreign policy” indistinguishable from Bush. Gitmo is open. More troops were sent months ago and now another 15,000 (cutting his general’s requests just like Cheney did). Now talking about invading Pakistan. What happened to “dialogue without conditions”?

    So, which BHO do you believe?

    Are he and Bush both liars or is someone else calling the shots?

  3. Mark Green Says:

    Mr. White –

    He has had over 9 months to contemplate a strategy. In fact, in March, he chose one. He has said on countless occasions that Afghanistan is a war we have to win.

    So what, pray tell, is this tortuous decision he must make? Actually, you are right, he has to make a decision, but it is certainly not that hard to make. The decision is whether to listen to his commanders advice on how to win this war or withdraw our troops.

    I, personally, would prefer to see us out of Afghanistan. However, if as Obama has stated countless times, Afghanistan is the “right war” and a “war of necessity”, then Obama needs to do whatever it takes to win that war.

    If Obama now believes that Afghanistan is not a big deal and would like to withdraw, then he needs to pull our forces out ASAP. Our men are dying there… if the mission is going to be scrapped, then perhaps you would like to tell their families that they were killed so that Obama could figure out a way to get political cover for his withdrawal decision.

    Bob is absolutely correct. Obama is not taking this decision seriously or worse, he is foregoing making a decision on Afghanistan for political purposes.

    When American boys are in the field, Obama’s first job is to be America’s commander in chief. It is not to make 30 speeches on a health care proposal that the majority of Americans do not want. It is not to take multiple vacations. It is not to go lobby the Olympic committee.

    How can you say he is taking this seriously? He met with McCrystal once in nine months prior to the 25 minute photo op with McChrystal while Obama was lobbying the Olympic Committee.

    You say he needs to study the decision? He has had over nine months to do so. When McChrystal came back with his report – recommending more troops – he had all the information he needed.

    No offense to Obama, however, if Obama believes this war needs to be won, then he needs to listen to his commanders as to how that war can be won. Obama didn’t serve in the military. He has no particular military expertise. That is fine – you don’t need to have such expertise to be President and Commander in Chief (hell, Bush’s limited experience wouldn’t qualify him either). However, you need to check your ego and understand that the professional military does have such experience. Obama needs to listen to his hand-picked commander.

    No matter how much you love Obama, you cannot tell me that, somehow, he knows better than McChrystal as to how to wage the war.

    Didn’t we learn in Vietnam what happens when the civillian government interferes with or does not support the troops in the field adequately?

    If you want to win the war, then give our boys the resources necessary to do so. If you want to withdraw, then do so immediately. It is that simple.

    I think we all know what Obama wants to do (withdraw) – which, of course, I am personally sympathetic to that strategy. Unfortunately, he played politics and told the American people during the campaign and the first 9 months of his presidency that he wanted to fight this war. Now, he doesn’t want the public to see that what they have heard from him over the past two years was cold, political manipulation.

    Bush made many bad decisions in Iraq. However, once he checked his ego and followed Petraeus’ advice on the surge, we were able to turn Iraq from a losing war to one we are winning. I don’t like Bush, but I admire the fact that he could admit that he didn’t know everything and that the professional military had the expertise he should follow.

    An American soldier need not agree with the decisions of his Commander in Chief. As long as he carries out his orders, there is no rule that says he cannot think that those orders are wrong.

    Bob is an American citizen. I imagine that you did not write the DoD a letter about all the countless American soldiers in Iraq that previously complained about the War and our strategy there during Bush’s presidency. I imagine that you believed they were speaking “truth to power”.