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The McChrystal affair has revived doubts about Barack Obama's qualities as a war president

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Kicking the general's @ss

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GEORGE McGOVERN flew 35 bombing raids over Nazi-occupied Europe during the second world war and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery; but in the election of 1972 he lost 49 states. John Kerry received three Purple Hearts for service in Vietnam; but lost in 2004 to George Bush, who had spent the war safely at home in the Texan Air National Guard. For one reason or another, no matter how glorious their records, Democrats have often found it hard to persuade voters that they can make good war presidents. Will the disarray in Barack Obama’s Afghan strategy this week restore the old idea the Democrats are not to be trusted with national security?

Mr Obama would be the first to admit that it took a certain audacity for a former community organiser to run against an authentic Republican war hero in 2008, when America was at war on two fronts. Three things helped him neutralise John McCain’s military expertise. The first was that many Americans thought the former community organiser had got it right by opposing the invasion of Iraq. The second was that by polling day the economy replaced both wars as the paramount concern of most voters. The last was that Mr Obama was careful to avoid giving the impression that this particular Democrat was some sort of cooing dove. He would fight—but he would fight the good war in Afghanistan, not the misbegotten one in Iraq.

Since becoming president Mr Obama has indeed taken his role as a warrior seriously. He was criticised on the campaign trail for suggesting that he would bomb al-Qaeda inside Pakistan but has sent the CIA’s drones to do just that, with murderous effect. To ensure continuity in national security and protect a vulnerable political flank, he asked Robert Gates, Mr Bush’s defence secretary, to stay in his job. He let Mr Gates replace the stolid General David McKiernan in Afghanistan with the piratical master of black ops, Stanley McChrystal. In the latter part of 2009, after weeks of intensive discussion, Mr Obama reset the Afghan strategy and decided to send an additional 30,000 troops, pushing the American total to around 100,000. And just in case his message of martial resolve was failing to get through, he used his acceptance speech for his Nobel Peace Prize last December to explain to some startled Scandinavian peaceniks why some wars, such as the one against al-Qaeda, were just and necessary.

All in all, Mr Obama has not shrunk from war and has waged it in a characteristically methodical way. But an old military saw holds that no plan survives contact with the enemy. However methodical his planning, the war has gone badly.

If voters had not been paying much attention lately, that is only because they have been transfixed by other things that have refused to go to plan, such as job creation and efforts to stop the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. In recent weeks the media have flayed the president for failing to get a handle on the spill. Foes have mocked the counterfeit machismo of his promise to “kick @ss”. So it may have been the timing of the McChrystal affair that made him feel he had to insist on the resignation of the egregious general. Mr Obama had to show that he could be decisive, and has done so, but he will pay a political price.

Some of his foes will no doubt say that Mr Obama has put the amour propre of the White House above the successful prosecution of the war, though the choice of the hero of Iraq, David Petraeus, to replace General McChrystal will largely allay that fear. But the real failing exposed by the McChrystal fiasco is that the senior members of the president’s national-security team are at sixes and sevens and that he has allowed them to stay that way for a while. It has, accordingly, not taken long for this week’s events to revive the question of whether the Democrats can handle the armed forces as well as the Republicans. Les Gelb, a veteran journalist and former Pentagon official, suggests that the generals have more faith in Republican politicians to issue clear orders and stay the course when wars turn sour.

An outcry on the left as well

That is a harsh judgment to pass on a president who so far has adhered steadfastly to his doctrine that Afghanistan is a necessary war from which America cannot retreat. Indeed, many Democrats on the liberal wing of the president’s party think it is they who have the bigger cause for complaint. Some say that the war is unwinnable and that he should not have reinforced it. Memories of how Vietnam spiked Lyndon Johnson’s dreams of a Great Society haunt party elders. Younger Democrats complain that Mr Obama panders to his generals: he has not fulfilled his pledge to close Guantánamo, and for fear of the resistance the services mounted against Bill Clinton he has moved at a glacial pace to redeem his promise to let gays serve openly in the military.

Mr Obama, it seems, wants it both ways. That is understandable. Like Johnson before him, he is torn between his desire to build a liberal America at home and his need to fight an old-fashioned war abroad. He wants to succeed in Afghanistan but senses the limits of what America can achieve there. He would like the courage of his convictions but also a second term. To square these wants he may therefore have been a bit too clever for his own good. The great review last autumn produced a plan that both ramped up the war in a hurry and, with an eye on the 2012 election, set a date of July 2011 to begin to wind it down as well. The aim was to give the generals a chance to make progress and himself a chance to extract the forces if the generals failed.

It is ingenious—far more so than the refusal of Mr Bush to believe the experts who told him the Iraq war was lost. But winning a war can require a single-minded will as well as a subtle brain. Mr Obama has the latter; whether he has the stubbornness to stick to an unpopular war remains to be seen.

http://www.economist.com/node/16430283

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Filed: AOS (pnd) Country: Canada
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does he have ANY qualities??? :bonk:

he knows how to run his mouth...


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Canada
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People, this is Afghanistan! Leonid frickin' Brezhnev wasn't enough of a "war leader" to get any kind of lasting military victory there! If the Soviet FREAKIN Union couldn't pacify the joint, a coalition of namby-pamby western peacekeepers with no coherent goals or strategies has no chance whatsoever.


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Filed: AOS (pnd) Country: Canada
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People, this is Afghanistan! Leonid frickin' Brezhnev wasn't enough of a "war leader" to get any kind of lasting military victory there! If the Soviet FREAKIN Union couldn't pacify the joint, a coalition of namby-pamby western peacekeepers with no coherent goals or strategies has no chance whatsoever.

A couple of Nukes says you're wrong. :whistle:


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People, this is Afghanistan! Leonid frickin' Brezhnev wasn't enough of a "war leader" to get any kind of lasting military victory there! If the Soviet FREAKIN Union couldn't pacify the joint, a coalition of namby-pamby western peacekeepers with no coherent goals or strategies has no chance whatsoever.

May be the same result but there is an important differences. The allied coalition is mostly fighting in southern Afghanistsn against an ethnic group and not against most of Afghanistan. Secondly, there aren't a lot of high-tech weapons being given by countries against the allies but the Soviets had contend Stinger missiles limiting their airpower.

Peacekeepers? I think only Canada uses that term to refer to their troops in Afghanistan.


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Ukraine
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What a crock of shyt! I have NEVER EVER had any doubts about Obama's qualities as a war President.

His, and the congresses inability to end the war ought to pretty well confirm that, he can't even close a measly little prison camp in Cuba. What a good for nothing. A Ne'er do well. What doubts did I ever have?


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People, this is Afghanistan! Leonid frickin' Brezhnev wasn't enough of a "war leader" to get any kind of lasting military victory there! If the Soviet FREAKIN Union couldn't pacify the joint, a coalition of namby-pamby western peacekeepers with no coherent goals or strategies has no chance whatsoever.

As we see, Leonid Breznev was not a war leader. By the time the USSR invaded Afghanistan Breznev was basically a propped up corpse and Yuriy Andropov was running the show. Before it was over, no less than three other Soviet leaders took a turn at it. At any rate, the USSR also had the US to fight, covertly supplying the Taliban and other groups.

We used the Soviet invasion, and the Afghan people to bleed the Soviets and at the same time upped the ante in the cold war. It was calculated and planned. We have no enemies in Afghanistan of similar ability. The main problem is that we continue to spend billions to destroy the opium industry, Afghanistans only real source of hard currency. Instead we should pay the opium farmers three times what the Taliban does for the drug, then dump most of it in the ocean and sell the rest for medicinal purposes. Better to get control of the source of opium, make friends with the people of Afghanistan and strangle the Taliban of funding.

Then help them develop their new found resources and make them a rich country where such nonsense has no chance of surviving. In a few years they will not need opium and in the meantime it costs less at triple the price than this stupid war which is nothing more than expensive shadow boxing.


VERMONT! I Reject Your Reality...and Substitute My Own!

Gary And Alla

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People, this is Afghanistan! Leonid frickin' Brezhnev wasn't enough of a "war leader" to get any kind of lasting military victory there! If the Soviet FREAKIN Union couldn't pacify the joint, a coalition of namby-pamby western peacekeepers with no coherent goals or strategies has no chance whatsoever.
Soviet Union in fact was giving beating (more along the line of genocide) to Afghans prior to 1987--when Bill Casey kicked bucket, and Charlie Wilson managed to get arms funnelled straight-through to Northern Alliance (which actually did much of the fighting) rather than with thieving "middlemen" of Pakistan's ISI (then headed--until 1988/08/17--by Casey's friend Akhtar Abdul Reman an ultra-venal <i>mohajir</i> and toady of ultra-ultra-venal unremorseful war-criminal dictator Zia) who diverted the arms to Zia's puppet Gulbudin Hekmatyar who did diddly-squat fighting against Soviets--but much evil in post-withdrawal Afghanistan (specifically rocketting Kabul while he was incumbent as PM, which he learned from Zia).

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How exactly does McChrystal and/or his aids being inappropriate jack asses with a major publication like Rolling Stone bear any reflection on Obama?

Obama took decisive action immediately regarding this issue, new military leader is now on post, end of story except for the VJ partisan hacking.

The 'failure' to close Gitmo as promised should more properly be seen as:

Obama came in with the hope of closing the facility, learned about the reality created by nearly a decade of running the facility, and wisely or at least practically, not closed the base.

We did not need another President who had zero ability to change his mind based on new information.

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A couple of Nukes says you're wrong. :whistle:

Oh please. The Afghani Mujahideen make the Klingons look like the French. Nuking a couple of cities wouldn't even stop American resistance fighters from running an insurgency against an occupying foreign army. You think it's gonna scare people who've been fighting a guerilla war against one well-funded first-world military or another for going on three generations now? And what are you going to nuke? We already control the only large city in the country. Kabul is bigger then every other city in Afghanistan put together, and the country is only 25% urbanized. I realize nukes are cool and all, but get real. There's nothing there to nuke, except the parts we already have.


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Oh please. The Afghani Mujahideen make the Klingons look like the French. Nuking a couple of cities wouldn't even stop American resistance fighters from running an insurgency against an occupying foreign army. You think it's gonna scare people who've been fighting a guerilla war against one well-funded first-world military or another for going on three generations now? And what are you going to nuke? We already control the only large city in the country. Kabul is bigger then every other city in Afghanistan put together, and the country is only 25% urbanized. I realize nukes are cool and all, but get real. There's nothing there to nuke, except the parts we already have.
The biggest difference between Afghanistan and Iraq: a purported ally (Pakistan) in "war-on-terror" which was earlier the main supplier to the adversary (Taliban)--and still is through elements in its army and ISI--a "wolves posturing as guards of sheepfold" scenario; in Iraq, US basically went as standalone.

It is notable that the last victory ever achieved in Afghanistan prior to 2001 was in 1837--a revenge-raid (by Ranjit Singh, for repulsed Afghan attack on Jamrud) on Kabul and Jalalabad (RS didn't stick around to administer, he simply took everything not nailed down back to Lahore).


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2005/12/02 Packet-3 received from Chennai

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2006/04/15 Church Wedding at Novi (Detroit suburb), MI

2006/05/01 AOS Packet (I-485/I-131/I-765) filed at Chicago

2006/08/23 AP and EAD approved. Two down, 1.5 to go

2006/10/13 Pras' I-485 interview--APPROVED!

2006/10/27 Pras' conditional GC arrives -- .5 to go (2 yrs to Conditions Removal)

2008/07/21 I-751 (conditions removal) filed

2008/08/22 I-751 biometrics completed

2009/06/18 I-751 approved

2009/07/03 10-year GC received; last 0.5 done!

2009/07/23 Pras files N-400

2009/11/16 My 46TH birthday, Pras N-400 approved

2010/03/18 Pras' swear-in

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As long as the LORD's beside me, I don't care if this road ever ends.

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yeah right, the president is the commander in chief...and no general, including General MacArthur, can sling ###### at their commander in chief...


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