Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lyndon Baines Obama

I thought one of the lessons we learned from the Vietnam War was that the CINC needs to back away from Tactics and focus on the Strategic issues. Then again, in order to not repeat the past, you have to be a student of the past.

I think it is safe to say, President Obama is not very well read in matters of military history.

Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.

Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.
Just days after taking office, the president got word that the first strike under his administration had killed a number of innocent Pakistanis. “The president was very sharp on the thing, and said, ‘I want to know how this happened,’ “ a top White House adviser recounted.

In response to his concern, the C.I.A. downsized its munitions for more pinpoint strikes. In addition, the president tightened standards, aides say: If the agency did not have a “near certainty” that a strike would result in zero civilian deaths, Mr. Obama wanted to decide personally whether to go ahead.
Here is an interesting thing to chew on. Do they sit in a little theater looking place with a covered series of "0" "25" "50" "75" "100" buttons on the arm of their chair?

The selection board from h311.
It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals: Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.

This secret “nominations” process is an invention of the Obama administration, a grim debating society that vets the PowerPoint slides bearing the names, aliases and life stories of suspected members of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen or its allies in Somalia’s Shabab militia.
Snort. Back to LBO.
The nominations go to the White House, where by his own insistence and guided by Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama must approve any name. He signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on the more complex and risky strikes in Pakistan — about a third of the total.

Aides say Mr. Obama has several reasons for becoming so immersed in lethal counterterrorism operations. A student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, he believes that he should take moral responsibility for such actions. And he knows that bad strikes can tarnish America’s image and derail diplomacy.
OK, help me out here. Where is there anywhere in his past where he has mentioned studying August and Tom? Anyone ... anywhere? I'm calling a flag. I know his pastor wasn't preaching that from the pulpit.
But the control he exercises also appears to reflect Mr. Obama’s striking self-confidence: he believes, according to several people who have worked closely with him, that his own judgment should be brought to bear on strikes.
Noted expert in all things military at the Tactical level, I am sure.
So the president, and I think all of us here, don’t like the fact that people have to die. And so he wants to make sure that we go through a rigorous checklist: The infeasibility of capture, the certainty of the intelligence base, the imminence of the threat, all of these things.
I'm sorry - I am quite happy that people who plan to kill women and children by the score who are simply on a plane to vacation or on a subway to work are set to die. Some people need to simply go away.

I can actually sympathize with the President. If you do not frame this conflict properly, you will find yourself in a position of trying to explain away the inevitable sloppy nature of war. Innocent people will and do die - but that is the fault of your enemy and the nature of war, not the President. If you don't understand that, or are uncomfortable explaining that, and have contempt for those in uniform - then you can start to micro-manage.

There we are; Lyndon Baines Obama.


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