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Tuesday, December 01, 2009


George Mason

KB old friend; I believe you have it mostly correct. The point you may have over looked are the international political implications. Obama wants NATO to make a greater commitment while he is shorting his own commander. What is that message?
Obama could have marched a long way toward victory by upping McChrystals request to 45000 troops. He would have put himself in a position to lean on NATO and to state to the Pakistanis that we are standing shoulder to shoulder with them to defeat our common enemy. Instead he indicates a commitment that is wavering at
best and at worst is providing the bad guys with a strategy for the next 2 years.
Obama's idea that war can be fought on a timetable is another indication of a lack of experience and/or terrible advice. What he has produced here could well be a timetable for disaster.


One of President Bush's failures when he was running the wars was that they were open-ended and his administration was constantly vague about goals and timelines. I think President Obama has learned from that mistake and it's a great decision to put an end-date on this troop increase. It's also risky for him because it means he might have to break his promise if this strategy doesn't accomplish its goals.

Also, where did the idea come from that the President, a.k.a. the Commander in Chief, must do exactly as his generals say? The generals are supposed to answer to the President, not the other way around.


Let's see Tom, who knows more about war, a General or a person that has made two decisions now as president. Just remember his only other decision was pardoning the thanksgiving turkey.

George Mason

Tom; Bush had clear goals, destroy the safe havens of the terrorists, punish their accomplices and eliminate their sources of funding. Wars do not run on a timetable. Generals understand this, Obama does not. The larger implications are that Obama is not giving our allies, including the Afghans, the incentive to stick it out until the Taliban are destroyed. This is why Bush's strategy in Iraq was successful. He made the commitment and stuck with it. As a result the Iraqi's were willing to turn on Al Quaeda and the other malefactors in their midst. Additionally in the process we effectively bankrupted Al Quaeda and greatly reduced their numbers and their ability to recruit new members. If we can drive the Taliban back into their caves and convince the Afghan's that we are going to provide the type of protection we did the Iraqi's we will have another victory as well as another counterpoint to Iran.
Ivan you definitely made your point.


A couple of thoughts. From my experience in military plans commanders ask for all the resources (men, bullets etc.) that they project that they need to accomplish the mission. However resources are never unlimited--so a vetting occurs as to what is available to achieve what missions. I suspect that something like this occured in determining the number of troops that would be deployed. This is a collaborative process between civilian and military leaders.

I had some initial reservations with the timelines President Obama layed out--but as I thought about it--it may be what is needed. Military commanders in the field are always given objectives and a timeline to accomplish the mission. I have never observed or been a party to a commander being told he has unlimited time. The other point to note is President Obama was talking to the people and I think Americans at this point want to know when this commitment will end.

George Mason

Gene; You are certainly correct that no commander has unlimited time. Commanders who delay acting ultimately are fired. All battles are launched with a timetable.
The timetable is usually the first thing that goes out the window (as it does in any fluid situation or process). The Pentagon just announced that they believe the timetable to be flexible. We will wait to see how rigid Obama will be with that. The point is that success in Afghanistan will be achieved when the Taliban is destroyed or effectively neutered so that a level of stability will be established to allow the Afghans to develop a functioning system of government.

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