As most of you know, former Vice President Dick Cheney gave a superlative speech a couple of nights ago at the Center for Security Policy, (transcript thoughtfully provided by AE) in which he delivered a blistering critique of the Obama administration’s unconscionable selling out of the new democracies in Eastern Europe to appease a fatally ill and virtually toothless Russia and the callous sacrificing of American soldiers because of the refusal of the administration to act in Afghanistan.
His critique laid bare the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of this administration and served as a clarion call that American foreign policy is being grossly mismanaged by the administration.
Predictably the administration countered by blaming the Bush administration.
They trotted out their Care Bear, press secretary Robert Gibbs, to deliver this response:
"What Vice President Cheney calls dithering, President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform," Gibbs said Thursday. "I think we've all seen what happens when somebody doesn't take that responsibility seriously."
Calling Cheney's comment "curious," Gibbs attacked the Bush administration for allegedly taking years to provide the support necessary for the war effort in Afghanistan.
"I think it's pretty safe to say that the vice president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan," Gibbs said. "Even more curious given the fact that an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president's, for more than eight months."
This is really a non-response to a very serious allegation.
It is also a profoundly stupid response which should have been called out by reporters. Unfortunately, the major news organizations have been to engrossed with Obama’s basketball game to cover what the administration is doing.
Gibbs’ comment ignores several salient issues. First, the Bush administration was fighting a must-win war in Iraq at the same time it was fighting the war in Afghanistan. Now we can argue about the rightness of the decision to go to war in Iraq, I happen to think it was one of the rare examples of political courage we’ve seen in American foreign policy since the end of World War II, but be that as it may a war was underway and that war was deemed to have a priority over the war in Afghanistan.
What the Bush Administration handed off to Obama in January 2009 was a win in Iraq – which is being frittered away even as we speak, a new plan based on proven counterinsurgency doctrine to implement in Afghanistan, and the ability to flow troops previously scheduled for an Iraq deployment into Afghanistan. The Politico article cited above notes that Gibbs did not deny that they inherited a plan which closely resembled the much ballyhooed but unexecuted Afghanistan strategy Obama announced in March 2009.
Even casting Gibbs’s remarks in the most charitable light they are an abdication of responsibility. Not only as Obama not executed his own strategy, he has expressed doubt that the war can be won, and done nothing but continue to under resource US troops in combat, undercut their morale by casting into doubt whether the administration even desires to prevail in Afghanistan, and allowed his lickspittles to belittle the advice of General Stan McChrystal.
Yet the Obama administration’s only answer to this damning sequence of events is the equivalent of nanny-nanny-boo-boo, only with less substance.
Let me digress for a moment. One of the wonderful things about a career in the Army is the stories you pick up. Bear with me on this.
A young captain is sent down from headquarters to replace another captain who is being relieved of his command. There isn’t much time to discuss people and training and so on because the old guy is under pressure to leave quickly.
The old guy says to his replacement, “The outfit is in pretty bad shape and you’re going to face some challenges ahead. To help you out I’ve left three envelopes in the company safe. They’re numbered one through three and when anything bad happens just open the envelope and follow the instructions and you’ll be fine.” He hops in his car and leaves.
A few weeks later a weapon comes up missing from the arms room, the new commander knows the crap is going to hit the fan. There is a moment of panic then he opens the safe, pulls out envelope number one and opens it. It says, “Blame the last guy.” He’s called in to the general’s office but resolutely follows the advice and leaves the meeting with his career intact.
Fast forward another few weeks and one of his vehicles is totaled by a soldier driving it while drunk. He doesn’t panic this time. He is supremely confident as he opens envelope number two. It says, “Blame the last guy.” Again he’s called on the carpet, he follows the advice and after a couple of anxious moments leaves with his skin.
Another few weeks go by. Another major incident happens. He’s sort of laissez faire about it. He finishes his coffee, goes outside has a cigar, comes back in and opens his best friend, envelope number three. It says, “Fill out three envelopes and pack your sh**.”
For nine months this administration has done nothing substantive in foreign policy. It has been too engrossed with placing communists, Maoists, and pedophile apologists in charge of domestic policy, creating a list of domestic enemies to punish, and using tax dollars to buy businesses and votes under the guise of an economic policy. The only response ever given when they are called to account in even a small way is to blame the Bush administration.
One day, soon, they will open envelope number three.