Obama wages war against his own General
When running for the office he so obviously coveted and now holds, the untested community organizer promised that when it came to troop decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan, he would take the counsel of his Generals. Knowing that General McChrystal had built a career on a search and destroy strategy, which requires less troops, Obama handpicked him to lead that strategy, rather than the more troop intensive counter-insurgency that actually worked in Iraq.
But General McChrystal is a man focused on results, not his own pedigree. Having come to the conclusion that his preferred strategy will not work, he has requested more troops to do the job in the way it will be required. Obama, too scared to openly refuse the request, at first tried to pretend the request did not even exist, asking the Pentagon to hold onto the request until Obama (not the Generals, as Obama had promised) decided what strategy was appropriate to win the war.
When that was seen for the delaying tactic that it was, Obama publicly rebuked General McChrystal, summoning him to Air Force One for their first face-to-face meeting. The meeting lasted less than half an hour, and the topic of discussion, apparently, was not how to win the war, but how McChrystal should STFU and GBTW. Obama then returned to having very public and long-winded debates with his staff over what to do in Afghanistan.
The safest bet in any foreign policy crisis is to ask Joe Biden what he would do, and then promptly do the opposite.
In one corner, there are the Generals, McChrystal and his commander, Patraeus, who both believe a surge is the only thing that will work. In the other is Joe Biden, a man who has been wrong so often about foreign policy over the last 35 years, that the safest bet in any crisis is to ask Joe Biden what he would do, and then promptly do the opposite. Here is a brief list of issues on which Joe Biden has been (vocally and clearly) on the wrong side of history:
- Biden opposed giving aide to South Vietnam, leading to its collapse and the slaughter of millions.
- Biden opposed aide to anticommunist groups in Latin America, specifically in Nicaragua and El Salvador. That opposition cost millions of lives.
- Biden opposed SDI and missile defense, the system that most experts now say is what caused the Soviet Union to collapse and is now giving the Russians fits (if only Obama wouldn’t give it away for free).
- In 1990, Biden was against the first Gulf War to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.
- In 2006, Biden called for Iraq to be split into three separate, autonomous regions.
- In 2007, just prior to the surge showing results in Iraq, Biden called it a “tragic mistake.”
Biden’s ideas are the type you hear listening to old men in an uncrowded barber shop on a Wednesday afternoon; somewhere between implausible and insane.
In short, Biden is a buffoon who almost never knows what he is talking about. Sure, he may sound knowledgeable and may talk a good game, but his ideas are the equivalent of what you hear listening to the old men in an uncrowded barber shop on a Wednesday afternoon; somewhere between implausible and insane.
Faced with this, Obama has a problem. He has a General who has a career of following a strategy that Obama wants to follow. A serious career military man (whose unit, by the way, captured Saddam Hussein), who knows how to win wars and is not just spouting off at the mouth like an over-inflated blowhard. Then he has Joe Biden. So what to do? Obama, being who he is, knows what to do: Delay, Drum Up and Destroy.
First, delay. Take as much time as possible to make people think this is a difficult decision. When you opponents complain, bloviate about heavy is the head that wears the crown, and sending young men into battle is not something to be taken lightly, etc. (He takes solace in the knowledge that he is a Democrat, and therefore, no one will follow up with, “yes, but what about the young men who are already there, dying for lack of reinforcements?”).
Second: Lift up Biden’s profile. Make people think he actually knows what he is doing. Send him around to talk about the stimulus, healthcare, Russia, whatever. Make sure he is seen being somewhat presidential. As Krauthammer notes, the sudden media fawning over Biden is not accidental, it is strategic.
And finally, Destroy McChrystal. Remind the press of ancient history. “Hey, remember Pat Tillman–the NFL player who left a $6 million deal after 9/11. Wasn’t McChrystal involved in the cover-up of his death?” “Wasn’t McChrystal involved in detainee abuses in Iraq?” The fact that McChrystal was not actually involved, and nonetheless took full responsibility is meaningless. Just like a political campaign, it’s not the truth that matters, it’s getting them to deny it. Getting your opponent to have to say, “I never slept with a 13 year old” is incredibly damaging, even if it is 100% true. This is a disgusting tactic when used against a politician. When used against an honorable man such as General McChrystal,
Obama knows how to play politics. He beat the Clintons at it. From all accounts, McChrystal is a brilliant general, but in this war, he doesn’t have a fighting chance.