As is already known, President Obama has thrown out all the plans to implement the strategy he says he wants for Afghanistan. Since Gen. Stanley McChrystal let out that he wants around 40,000 additional troops in order for the plan to succeed, Obama has been accused of dithering and falling far short of anything resembling someone who supposed to be the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military. I wholeheartedly agree.
I imagine there will be some who worship The One who will say it took President Bush over two years to adjust his strategy on Iraq after seeing it wasn’t working. It’s an apples-and-oranges comparison. First, nobody, not Bush, his generals, nor Congress, actually knew the strategy wasn’t working; people were guessing (rightly as it turns out) that it wasn’t. But once Bush did realize the strategy in Iraq wasn’t working, he got on about putting in a new strategy. Once his generals (mostly Gen. Petraeus) determined what was needed for it to succeed, Bush took action, pretty much like every other action he took. With Obama, all that we seem to see is that he has a strategy but he doesn’t want to pay a political price from his base in order to implement it. This vacillation is a morale killer for those doing the fighting, but that doesn’t seem to worry the C-in-C.
Just something that occurred to me today while trying to cross Fifth Ave in Manhattan during the Veteran’s Day Parade:
The towers fell in New York on 9/11/01, Kabul fell to American led forces on 11/14/01. That’s 65 days.
President Obama’s hand-picked replacement commander in Afghanistan, GEN McChrystal, delivered his Afghanistan war plans to President Obama on 8/30/09, and President Obama hasn’t acted on his General’s recommendations as of today, 11/11/09. That’s 73 days, and waiting.
It actually took less time to take Kabul since it invariably took a few days to figure out the strategy for invading Afghanistan and kicking out the Taliban.
Another related item. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is regarded as one of the best strategist, if not the best, America ever produced (which is why Lincoln wanted him). But Lee wasn’t always the best at issuing direct orders. Though who worked with him enough understood what Lee was ordering them to do without all the necessary specifics, especially Lee’s 2nd Corps commander, Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. The Lee-Jackson team led to some huge victories for the Confederates, and left many a Union general (and Lincoln) frustrated. But after Jackson was killed at Chancellorsville in May, 1863, Lee’s “right arm” was gone. Succeeding Jackson as commander of the 2nd Corps was Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell, a competent if unimaginative general. Not having worked with Lee directly before, Ewell was unable to understand the nuance of Lee’s orders. This came out at Gettysburg when on the first day Lee had told Ewell to move 2nd Corps to take the high ground on Culp’s Hill “if practicable.” Ewell misinterpreted this as a suggestion instead of an order and left the ground to Union troops; it’s a good bet Jackson wouldn’t have made this mistake. As a result, the Union was in a nearly impregnable defensive position with which to repel any direct assault. While probably not the decisive factor in causing the Confederates to lose at Gettysburg, it was a huge mistake that was compounded by other mistakes made by the Confederates during that battle.
I would never confuse the military acumen of President Obama with that of Gen. Lee. But Obama lives too much by nuance, seemingly unable to understand that a little too much nuance can fail even a military genius like Lee.