Thursday, July 8, 2010

Political Toughness May Be Political Suicide

President Obama is being called tough for firing of Gen. McChrystal. He is also being called brilliant for replacing him with Gen. David Petraeus, the man who managed President Bush’s "surge" in Iraq that lead to success.

That may actually have been one of Mr. Obama’s biggest political mistakes. By firing a "fighting general", Obama just took upon himself full responsibility for General McChrystal’s Plan. General McChrystal and the Pentagon are off the hook.

At this moment, the plan is bogged down and not yet showing signs of success. Given the inability of Kabul to govern Marja, after Marines de-Talibanized the town, the McChrystal Plan appears to be failing. The Battle of Kandahar has not yet begun, and the June D-Day has been postponed to “the fall”.

If this stalemate still exists in December, Obama will be blamed for having fired the field commander who devised the battle plan and was carrying it out, over some stupid insults from staff officers to some counterculture magazine.

In addition, Obama just made himself hostage to a savvy general who is rumored to have political ambitions. Consider the box Obama just put himself in. In 2009, he sacked Gen. David McKiernan and replaced him with his own man, Gen. McChrystal. Now, he has sacked McChrystal and replaced him with Petraeus. He cannot now possibly fire the most popular and successful general in the U.S. Army, who accepted a demotion to take command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, without a firestorm that would consume his presidency.

If Obama has not noticed, many on “the right” are celebrating the Petraeus appointment with far greater unanimity than Obama's own staff. Why is the GOP celebrating? Petraeus is one of them and the general's demands have begun to come in.

Obama has been told he must back away from his declared deadline of July 31, 2011, for beginning withdrawals of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. And Obama is already moving to do so. Vice President Joe Biden's statement in Jonathan Alter's "The Promise" that, "in July of 2011, you're going to see a whole lot of people moving out, bet on it," has already been challenged by Defense's Robert Gates. “No such decision has yet been made,” said Gates. Obama will soon modify that July 2011 date and declare that any withdrawal of U.S. troops will be "conditions-based" -- another way of saying that if we are not winning the war in July 2011, we are not coming home.

Here is what will probably happen:

At the December review of the Afghan war, Petraeus will argue that, while progress is being made, we cannot meet our goals by July 2011. He will ask the president for more time and probably ask for more troops, 20,000 or 30,000, to complete the mission and ensure Afghanistan is not again a sanctuary for al-Qaida.

Even if General Petraeus is successful and Obama repudiates his July 2011 date for first withdrawals of U.S. troops, if he agrees to any new Petraeus troop request, the Democrat party will split and he will face a primary challenge from the antiwar left.

If he stands with Biden and says the July 2011 date holds, and the troops start home in July, Petraeus would likely say that his hands are being tied and he can not fight a no-win war. If Petraeus then resigns his command, he would become a Douglas MacArthur-like hero to the GOP, and could wind up on the ticket.

That could easily seal his fate and send Barack Obama home to Chicago.

If Obama had half the political savvy he claims, he should have left McChrystal to succeed or fail with the McChrystal Plan. Had he succeeded, Obama also would have succeeded. Had he failed, Obama would have been free to relieve him and tell the nation: "We gave it our best shot, with our best general, with all the resources he requested."

On This Day in History:
1839 Standard Oil founded
1643 NYC authorizes first police uniforms in America
1835 Liberty Bell cracks (again)
1923 Harding becomes first President to visit Alaska

Some Music please.....



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