Former Defense Secretary Gates, condemns Obama leadership in “Duty”

Posted on: January 7th, 2014 by Will Rodriguez 55 Comments
AP photo composite by POLITICO

The Washington Post did a story on former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.  This story and the memoir will be causing news for weeks.

The most important and damning excerpts from the story are that the President in regards to Afghanistan “doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.” and that both the President and Hillary Clinton admitted their opposition to the Iraq surge was purely political.  Gates wrote, “Hillary told the president that her opposition to the [2007] surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary. . . . The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.”

A President promoting a strategy of sending 30k troops into battle he doesn’t believe in?  Two presidential candidates, standing Senators opposing a winning strategy for “America” because of politics? 

Gates reportedly speaks respectfully of Obama and communicates his belief that the President sincerely supports the troops but he delivers withering criticism of VP Biden and other members of the White House for their poor judgment, attempts to undermine the President’s confidence in the military and attempts to determine military solutions without military input.

Gates was held on as Secretary of Defense after being selected for the position by President Bush.  He was known for an even tempered non-partisan demeanor.  In his book, he states his outwardly calm demeanor as a facade.  Underneath, he was frequently “seething” and “running out of patience on multiple fronts.”

I predict the initial response to Gates comments will be to destroy his credibility and portray the book as a partisan hit piece.  Considering the record it seems on target.  The Post story is worth a read as likely the book will be also.   

Be Respectful, Candid and Pertinent. No Posers, No Trolls…
  • IS1FiveO

    I thought this quote from Gates in the WaPo article with respect to his testimony before Congress was very telling “many times I would sit at the witness table thinking something very different from what I was saying.” Gates openly admits to doing what all of our so called leaders do as a matter of daily business; lie to the American people. I do not know how long the people of this country will accept that from politicians, but there has to be a limit. We really need to place value on integrity over everything else when electing people to office. On Obama’s lack of confidence in military leadership; when the Commander in Chief can support a COIN strategy he does not believe will succeed, I can not imagine how he would lead a nation engaged in a conventional war where casualties could be in the tens of thousands in short order.

  • Txazz

    Oh yes, I definitely want to read this book.  Finally the straight skinny in print.  It’s about time and am sure Gates left “miles of road” out of his memoir.

  • IS1FiveOA similar feeling hit me when I read he almost quit on some occasions and felt betrayed by the President on others.  You couldn’t tell from his demeanor at any point, nor a smidgen of disagreement with the administration’s policies.  Sharing you were on the verge of quitting now only seems self serving.

  • ArcticWarrior

    The CIC never appears comfortable around the JCS. He never appeared comfortable in the presence of Gen Stan, even before the events leading to McC’s downfall. He exhibits no leadership on foreign policy ( see Syria line in the sand, Libya and Egypt) Maybe its the lack of uniformed service in the Govt seats of power, but hey everyone wears an American flag lapel pin.
    Senators opposition based on politics and election cycles…completely believable.
    Thankfully (knocks wood) we have not been dealt a real National Crisis ala China/Japan going hot or the Norks dance with the Roks going hot….. like the Flying Dutchman adrift at sea………

  • IS1FiveO

    You got it. There is a great pic of Obama and Stan where the good general looks like he’s about to blow. Also, remember when then candidate Obama refused to wear a U.S. Flag lapel pin? A man of convictions, right?

  • LawyerHandle

    I can’t say I find the revelations all that surprising and while it’s refreshing to see someone in DC actually tell it like it is, at the same time, I find it frustrating that Gates waited so long to speak up. I suppose he thought it was best to stay on in an effort to try to limit the damage to the best of his ability, knowing that if he left suddenly, the results would be even more disastrous.

  • ArcticWarriorI remember during the ’08 campaign Obama made the point he didn’t need to wear a flag to show his patriotism.  It’s there now…

  • The WSJ printed a long
    Well worth the time to read.

  • LawyerHandle

    “The White House staff—including Chiefs of Staff Rahm Emanuel and then Bill Daley as well as such core political advisers as Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs —would have a role in national security decision making that I had not previously experienced (but which, I’m sure, had precedents).”
    This statement will become part of a recurring theme as more and more Obama Cabinent members begin to speak out. It’s a big reason why Petraeus was already eyeing an exit from CIA long before he was booted. He was sick and tired of being treated as window dressing and essentially DCI in name only- BO liked being able to say “see I invite both parties to the table in my administration” but the reality is he never listened to a word they had to say.

  • LawyerHandleI’m sure.  It explains a lot of the imcompetence.

    I have no doubt that micromanagement comes from the top (remember that Afghanistan ROE).

    As for Petraeus, I have the same problem with him as I had with Gates.  Maybe even more so…  His decision to take the job at CIA AFTER dealing with the administration in Afghanistan says a lot about his ambition.  
    There are very few heroes or truly admirable people at these levels of command and gov’t. America likes to put them on a pedestal when we should actually be giving them a hall pass to do specific things for a short period of time and come back to the classroom.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    This is gonna be an awesome book.

    I hope he gets into the Helms era officers club that’s sustained his career trajectory. If Kevin Spacey’s “House of Cards” (Season II coming up) is an honest indication of DC’s downward spiral, then Gates ascent is the complete opposite, and should/must be studied for future American leaders, whether military, political or security.

    Gates is untouchable, Obammy or his minions wouldn’t dare take him on.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    majrodLawyerHandle  “I had no problem with the White House driving policy; the bureaucracies at the State and Defense Departments rarely come up with big new ideas, so almost any meaningful change must be driven by the president and his National Security Staff (NSS), led during my tenure under Obama by Gen. James Jones, Thomas Donilon and Denis McDonough. But I believe the major reason the protracted, frustrating Afghanistan policy review held in the fall of 2009 created so much ill will was due to the fact it was forced on an otherwise controlling White House by the theater commander’s unexpected request for a large escalation of American involvement.”
     A lot of this, stems from the options he and POTUS were presented too in 2009, ie. virtually zero other options, but the PC-COIN route, 
    with CNAS and former CNAS greats rattling the “American troops death is not a metrics for success” mantra. 
    Yeah, looks good on paper, but try selling that to the American people.
    I blame CNAS.

  • LawyerHandle
  • IS1FiveO

    Excellent observation. The idea of a ” kitchen Cabinet” is nothing new but this administration has all too often negated the authority of the actual cabinet members who assumed their position after gaining the advice and consent of the Senate. A reoccurring theme with the Obama administration has been the usurpation of powers enumerated to the other branches of government. Liberals may acquiesce to Obama’s power grabs but Republicans are sure to follow suit when they next control the Executive Branch. The founders did not intend for American government to function this way.

  • TeufelshundeUSMCmajrodLawyerHandle There was a SOF/Drone option or a complete pullout.  
    I bet Obama would have done either of those two until the word got out that the military made it clear it wanted the more troops option and the American people supported that.

    .Gates book depicts and angry moment surrounding the situation..

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    majrodTeufelshundeUSMCLawyerHandle Hindsight being 20/20, Joe Biden’s SOF option was somewhat vindicated after the UBL kill. After UBL what else is there to do, but leave?

    CNAS gave PC-COIN a glimmer of hope.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    LawyerHandle  “On a personal basis, I wish this would have come out while he was in the job,” says Anthony Zinni, a retired four-star Marine general who served as chief of U.S. Central Command. “If the White House was over-controlling, what did he do about it — other than carp about it, after the fact?”
    “I haven’t spoken to one person who wasn’t surprised, partly because Gates always spoke of what a good working relationship he had with the president, and partly because it is so inconsistent with the guy who seemed to be the soul of discretion,” Axelrod.
    “Isn’t it the duty of those who serve the president to raise policy and personnel concerns while still in government and not in a memoir?” Tom Vietor.

    I think this will be the extent of their “attack” to Gates, thus leaving him open for a Hillary/Gates 2016 ticket 😉

  • LawyerHandle

    A headline over at Foreign Policy asks, “Did Bob Gates’ New Book Just Just Trash His Golden Reputation?” Only in DC could a man “trash his reputation” by telling it like it is… If I recall correctly, what Gates did is not much different than what Colin Powell did when he left the Bush Administration, yet because Powell bashed a republican president, he has been the toast of Dems and the MSM ever sense….

  • IS1FiveOBUT it doesn’t make his comments any less true.  Gates is getting attacked from the Left now because as Ralph Peters said, Gates is guilty of Washington’s worst sin: “He told the truth.”

  • TeufelshundeUSMCmajrodLawyerHandle  I vehemently disagree that one raid even if it was Bin Laden vindicated Biden’s foolishness.  Is AQ dead?  The coffins coming back from Benghazi would disagree as well as zero impact on the Afghanistan front resoundingly counter any value in Biden’s wisdom.  The guy is still batting a 1000 when it comes to hudgment.
    CNAS’s two founders work for this administration.  Flourney is a long time Democrat that started her career in the Clinton administration and came back with this administration.  Sounds like a politician vs a defense professional to me.  After I read a really poorly thought out piece on how the in CNAS I look at anything coming out of that organization with a very healthy level of skepticism.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    majrodTeufelshundeUSMCLawyerHandle I’m dead serious,

    we are there not so much for AQL than for Russia, China & our new BFF India.

    but at what cost?

    AQL is in East Africa as well as West, in southern Saudi peninsula, etc etc… we’re not occupying those areas.

    Everyone stand down, let SOCOM/CIA/NSA chase ’em, we don’t need to be boots on every ground, swoop in, swoop out, forget building roads and schools.

    There’s a spike in the White Supremacist movement and a parallel rise in the black Sovereign Citizen movement. The chances of anyone of us getting affected by an AQL is less when compared to more pressing issues domestically.

    So, when speaking of priorities, Biden’s call for SOF/CIA was vindicated. A 100K surge, and we’d most likely be in the same place today.

    And it’s not AQL, takfiris will lose ground eventually, it’s the salafis, that movement you can’t defeat by bringing in Army and Marine BNs after BNs–if anything it does the opposite.

    You leave Afghanistan because in the end, and what this all boils down to is that the juice is just not worth the squeeze. Leaving 2 wars was why Obama was voted into office, after UBL, why stay? Let the shadow warriors do their thing, pull out, TSA will protect us 😉

  • TeufelshundeUSMCmajrodLawyerHandle
    We are in Afghanistan because of China Russia and India?  That’s a new one.  No matter…

    The last time we decisively defeated an ideology it took mountains of BN’s.
    If you think we defeated communism it took four decades and tens of thousands of lives (again, bunches of BN’s).
    Militias (left, right, white, black) are a domestic threat but the arrests and actual attempts have overwhelmingly been islamists.
    UBL’s death didn’t make an ounce of difference in Afghanistan.  
    I’m not a fan of nation building but that’s not the real issue unless you believe friendly democratic nations can defeat AQ (I don’t).
    When we leave Afghanistan it will again become an AQ sanctuary for the same reasons they picked it the first time.  E.G.  Failed gov’t, geographically isolated.  If AQ can’t find a true home somewhere else (look at Syria/Iraq right now) they can always return to Afghanistan just like Bavaria would have been a real option for the Nazis if they thought we wouldn’t have been able to root them out.  Instead those that could get away went to the middle east and parts of S. America.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    Yeah, continuation of the Great Game, now with new players China & India.

    WWI, WWII, with a little leadership and under the table dealings could all have been averted. With todays intelligence/covert budget the skys the limit.

    As for the BNs in communism, yeah maybe relevant for ‘Nam, but people have done wonders with less, ie. Oman/UK and Afghanistan/CIA. I still believe it was jazz that defeated the USSR–the Russians general a-hole demeanor tho’ you can never defeat.

    As for islamists being overwhelming in arrests, is that the product of funding or the result of good police work? FBI has a pretty shoddy record on this, as well as the local coppers playing terrorist hunters. Tail wagging?

    As for democratic nations defeating AQL, let them have Sunni Awakenings, like I said takfiris don’t last, salafis however is a bonafide movement–

    sure we can go the Crusades route, or the landing at Normandy route, or MAD, but here and now, I have faith that a well funded SOCOM/CIA/NSA intel/cover apparatus can stop it w/out the BNs after BNs, and blowing everything out of proportion.

    AQL won’t be successful in Iraq and Syria for cultural reasons, numbers game, the well to do Sunnis, Kurds, Shi’a and Christians won’t allow it. In chaos they’ll enjoy some short-term success, but upon consolidation, established clans and tribes generally win not visitors.

    As for your last point with Nazis in ME and S. Africa, that’s exactly my point, if Israel can find active and retired terrorists quietly, w/out fanfare why not us?

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    sorry, S. America.

  • 5000area375

    Moral cowardice. If Gates was a man to be respected he would have resigned instead of sending more of our sons to die for politics. If the cowards who send our men to fight do not believe in the mission or trust the commander relieve him and put your guy in. If you leave the commander in charge give him all the tools he requested to fight and win.
    This coward act superior to the other scumbag self serving politicians. How do these people look at themselves in the mirror. I hope their souls burn in the eternal fires of hell for our sons and daughter he allowed to be sacrificed through the criminal rules of engagement and his criminal dereliction of duty.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC 
    WWII could have been averted by leadership but not SOF.  We’ve demonstrated how difficult it is to take out a head of state (Saddam & Gaddafi).  SOF and drones aren’t a panacea despite what the current fad is. The world didn’t stand when Germany annexed Austria like we didn’t stand when Assad gassed hundreds.  (Assad isn’t Hitler but our lack of will is the same).

    The repeated efforts to set off bombs in planes weren’t militia inspired.  Nor was the inept Times Square Bomber that would have killed hundreds, the homegrown Islamists killers of Dix, Hood and Arkansas.

    We have a very well funded Yemen CIA/SOF campaign.  That’s where the printer cartridge plot came out of.  We had serious JSOC ops going on in Libya.  That didn’t help Ambassador Stephens and the region still has problems…

    The actual history undermines the wishful thinking.

    BTW, it took decades for the Israelis to find Eichmann and that was justice not warfighting.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC


    I’m not saying our SOCOM/CIA/NSA intel/covert apparatus is a panacea or fix-all, only that leaving them out there, while non-essentials, ie. BNs after BNs of grunts return to their bases (Marines to their expeditionary role), is a better, less-costly choice.

    The world didn’t stand when Germany annexed Austria not only for lack of leaders, but also lack of intel, the foresight showing the severity of Hitler and the Nazis. We have a well funded intel apparatus now designed and formed to avert WWII type scenarios–keeping tabs of int’l leaders is their number one role, with playing terrorist whack-a-mole a far fourth.

    As for the world standing when Assad gassed hundreds, our point man in that region is Israel, and if Israel feels a no-touch approach is the way to go, we go with that. At the end of the day, w/ or w/out Assad, we still kinda prefer his regime, either that or do another Sykes-Picot re-draw of the lines.

    As for taking out heads of states, the calculus is actually more on what follows next and the pr value (bad taste, not cool) of the deed, rather than the deed itself, the deed itself especially with todays tech and weapons is relatively easy when done w/ commitment.

    For example Maliki in Iraq, probably better to take him out altogether, he’s made a mess of Al-Anbar. We gave him the tribes and clans, and he pissed on them (not in one shot, but gradually here and there, until last Dec). It’s a total black-out ala Hama right now, ISIS might win, but the consensus and my bet is that the tribes will make a deal with the Iraqi gov’t (with us facilitating, of course), 2 against 1 driving ISIS back to Syria–and then Syria, Turkey, Israel & KSA will get their act together.

    I’m not sweeping away the actual jihadis plots averted by LE thus far, only that many more investigations, feds and local LE, are questionable fluff due to funding. The Shi’as are here, as are AQ-linked, affiliated, inspired elements. 

    I’m saying numerically speaking, the bulk of your domestic quality-of-life, peace and order issues will be affected more by the impending black and white divide, which affects rural and urban settings, and not just the NY area. 

    Your regular street cop is like a canary, if he’s seeing more black on white, or white on colored violence, and correlate that to national reports of similar attacks, then 1+1= your chances of seeing this is probably more than say a Boston-type attack, hence priority.

    I’m not saying domestic terror and foreign terror are necessarily mutually exclusive, only that having money siphoned off abroad to facilitate BNs after BNs of virtually non-essentials, will hurt fed/local LE efforts to take care of the problem at home.

    Yemen relies too much on locals, compared to Af-Pak area, package still found. In Libya, JSOC and CIA weren’t communicating, death still minimal. I’m not saying by going with our intel/covert peeps, everything will be perfect, only that it’ll be more cost-effective, in both blood & money.

    You’re correct, Eichmann wasn’t warfighting, it was damn good gumshoe detective work, sometimes you can do more with less, that’s my point.

  • TeufelshundeUSMCmajrodI can’t disagree enough when you refer to infanty bns as “nonessential”.  The last decade has demonstrated we’ve been short Infantrymen  (we’ve routinely taken tank and artillery BN’s and employed them as Infantry) who as in all the wars before this one have born the brunt of the last decade.
    If anything the last decade has shown us we can’t determine the motivations and actions of world leaders (Assad’s chemical use comes to mind which definitvely was his in the August event).  These are the same things that existed pre WWII in Austria.  It’s not foresight we were missing.  It was an excess of wishful thinking.  The same thing we suffer today.
    BTW, you missed my point about Syria.  WE made chem use a red line.  By not doing anything we seriously undermined our credibility.
    It is not easy to take out heads of state.  Were we not serious about Gaddafi and Saddam?

  • TeufelshundeUSMC


    Sorry, I wasn’t clear on this. “Non-essential” only in the proposed scenario, ie. if the Intel/SOCOM apparatus takes over CT, and regular units go home.

    I totally understand that BNs were stood up and arty/tank units were infantrized to cover the work load. But again what was the end game? If we agree that it should’ve been to focus only in CT, then BNs after BNs kinda undermine this more than they help it.

    Sure you can argue that more would’ve been better, ie. a platoon on every block. But that goes against cost and effectivity, was the juice really worth the squeeze in Iraq and is it worth the squeeze in Af-Pak.

    Then you get the law of diminishing returns–if the BNs after BNs are just there to secure roads and schools, and they’re bombing more than we’re building them–It’s probably better to just offer the Malula’s of that region Fulbright scholarships.

    As for forecast analysis, it’s not a science and we won’t get it 100% all the time. But we know that Israel has more of an impetus to watch Assad’s WMDs, maybe that play was specifically design to get themselves into the bargaining table?

    As for the Austrian annexation, that was more a political game which transpired months with the connivance of the Austrian Nazis, that’s not the same as the chem attack, it was textbook foreign intel gathering, which we had no infrastructure for then aside from our diplomats. 

    Totally different scenarios.

    I agree with you on the red line screw-up, but only at face value. 

    As for our credibility there, that neighborhood doesn’t really care how many lines we draw in the sand, every line’s up for negotiation for both allies and enemies. 

    As for Gaddafi, we could’ve bombed him to kingdom come, but we chose to let “the People” find him. Same for Saddam, but that would’ve denied us the luxury of entering. 

    All I’m saying is that the calculus for doing the deed and the calculations that surround the deed are two different things.

    EO 11905, in 1976, banning assassinations, wasn’t thought up as a “just-in-case”, but because our intel apparatus actually got good at it thru consistent use in LA, AF, NE and  Asia.

  • TeufelshundeUSMCmajrodConventional units have and can do CT.  It is not a SOF specific mission and in fact a heavy presence has been effective both historically and recently (the Iraq Surge) where we didn’t secure schools or ever put platoons on every block.

    The whole juice/squeeze metaphor doesn’t work to describe Iraq.  We were already committed and many with short memories forget the mood of the country and how many from both sides voted for it.  20/20 hindsight isn’t a tool to make decisions.  One doesn’t know what’s in the box before opening it.  Much of the current wisdom condemning Iraq is politically motivated rather than an analysis of history.

    I tend to disregard Israel conspiracy theories.

    The militarization of the Rhineland, the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland were all violations of the Versailles treaty that ended WWI.  As soon as Germany started breaking portions of that treaty coupled with Hitler’s rhetoric it wasn’t rocket science where he was going.

    You are incorrect about every line is negotiable.  That’s a function of the credibility of the leader and actually creating red lines that are the same with our national security interests.  The territorial integrity of S. Korea, Japan, existence or Israel and at one point whether you assisted terrorism are/where not subject to negotiation.

    You are factually incorrect about Gaddafi and Saddam.  We tried to kill both leaders with decapitating strikes multiple tomes.  You can add Bin Laden to the list (historically refuting your point “the
    deed itself especially with today’s tech and weapons is relatively easy
    when done w/ commitment.”)

    Reference the EO about assassinations.  It’s not just an issue of technology.  We still don’t assassinate heads of state.  We DO attack command and control nodes when conducting war against a nation state.  The only exception to this being Obama’s actions in Libya which were never sanctioned by Congress.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    I’m not disputing conventional forces ability to do CT, only that when things are mellow, you don’t wanna kick up all the dust, blinding yourself. The sword/scalpel, scalpel first, sword when all else fails. 
    Post 9/11 we did it backwards (oh well, at least trauma medicine and drone technology benefited). If your mission is to find groups or individuals, it’s easier to find them if all hell’s NOT loose, when there’s a semblance of order.
    SOCOM was pretty successful in Afghanistan, considering their numbers at the beginning. Had the mission remained to disrupt terrorist groups and kill individuals, they could’ve totally managed w/out conventional forces, using only local forces.
    It was when nation building came to play, same with Iraq. Sure hindsights 20/20, but remember those protests in the run up to Iraq, with NYers holding up signs “Not in Our Name”? 
    Even then, with the “mood” of the country, not everyone believed in Powell’s speech, and many would say not even the man himself:
    “Going into Iraq now would be viewed as a bait and switch…”
    The justification came after the decision to go in, they may not have known what they were getting themselves into, but the fact that they wanted the box is kinda the point here.
    If the juice was WMDs, there were no WMDs; and if it’s the “we’re bringing the fight to the terrorists, so they don’t attack us at home” mantra, we go back to the conventional vs. SOF debate. 

    So the juice/squeeze metaphor is very appropriate here. Because it goes back to what we are fighting for over there–cost-benefit analysis.
    What Israel conspiracy theory? That they are watching Syria’s WMDs closely? And would pull all conceivable strings to do so?
    We agree on Germany re leadership failure, but even if we base our response on rhetoric alone in ’38, we’re back in square one, namely no intel/covert apparatus to push back with. For example today w/ Iran, with all the rhetoric, we can gauge closer what the intent because of a better intel/covert apparatus, plus we can push back.
    The red-line in Syria was a screw-up, we agree, but it was re-negotiated and we’re better for it, ie. we don’t get to waste our money and blood in Syria. Balance positive, balance negative: 

    negative, we lose a little street cred; 

    positive, we don’t go to war for lousy reasons, again.
    I agree we tried to kill both leaders all thru out the 70s, 80s and 90s. The most committed we got to Qaddafi was when we almost killed him for club “La Belle”. The best plan for Saddam was probably Baer’s, no commitment, and generated an investigation on him instead.
    As for UBL, my point is similar with Qaddafi & Saddam, if we got committed we could’ve killed them when we wanted (of course man hunts are more difficult in a middle of a war). 

    There was little commitment to kill UBL, by design or because we were too busy doing other stuff, that’s why it took so long.
    If a little commitment will get you, think of what we can do with trillions of dollars?

    As for EO refs re assassinations, it’s all gonna be conspiracy theories 😉

  • TeufelshundeUSMCmajrod  
    …  could’ve totally managed w/out conventional forces,
    using only local forces.”
    No, this is one of those myths that have become popular that contradict the realities on the ground.  SOCOM did do well early in OEF but leaned on conventional forces to secure Obj Rhino which eventually secured Kabul and the Army had to launch the QRF at Mazar i-Shariff which eventually consolidated military power at Bagram.  Anaconda was launched specifically with conventional forces because indigenous forces were unreliable.

    Conventional fores are not necessarily sledgehammers.  A dozen insurgencies have been defeated by conventional troops, just look at S. America, the Philippines, American Indian Wars and the Marine experience in half a dozen nations.

    I don’t think you are entirely wrong on the nation building but that isn’t a ding against the conventional side.  That was a national command authority decision and its biggest flaw was trying to build a country before it’s been secured and you can safely deploy government and infrastructure experts.

    WMD’s were not found in Iraq until AFTER we went there.  Multitudes from both sides supported it.  The overwhelming majority of folks against Iraq use hindsight to justify their position.  Decision makers don’t have the luxury of hindsight.  Using hindsight as a tool to second guess a decision is done to find blame not learn lessons.  Note the same folks that were against invading were also against the surge.  Even broken clocks are right twice a day.

    Syria, striking Syria with a punitive raid after their use of chemical weapons and helping the rebels at the time isn’t a new war.   We lost much more than just street cred over  Syria.  Iran enlisted Russia to make its case with nuke enrichment.  What resulted was a treaty that allows Iran to enrich, gives Iran time AND relaxes sanctions.  A lose lose lose.  Russia also improved its positions in Ossetia in violation of the UN brokered ceasefire.  Russia has conducted exercises simulating nuclear launch against Poland, the largest exercises since the cold war and probed our border in Alaska and Guam. Saudi Arabia is now pursuing a unique course in its diplomacy and support.  China has become even more confrontational in the Pacific. The actual Syrian chemical weapon disarmament process is highly flawed and behind schedule (not all sites were visited as has been reported and chemical stocks were supposed to be shipped by 31 Dec, didn’t happen).  These are not all coincidences.

    There were mountains of commitment to get Saddam.  We put almost a quarter million troops on the ground.  Gaddafi escaped strikes by Reagan and Obama.  UBL (not even counting Clinton’s bumbling, we had all of SOCOM along with the complete efforts of CENTCOM and the CIA for over a decade to bear fruit (which still didn’t impact the fight).  Commitment is clearly not the key.  It’s naive to believe American technology can achieve the impossible especially when there are so many cases that prove the opposite.

    Finally, pointing at one guess that got it right ignores all the others that got it wrong.  Again, hindsight is not a tool for a decision maker.  If it were, picking winning lottery numbers would be a cinch.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC


    I understand that conventional forces eventually played a bigger role in Afghanistan prior to Iraq. But it can also be argued that this very expansion of their role contributed to a more chaotic area of operation, both bureaucratically and physically. Thus hindering in the manhunts.

    Not all indigenous forces were unreliable. Without the luxury of conventional forces, it is possible to wait it out instead of going the Anaconda route. The first Twin Tower bomber and the Route 123 entrance shooter were hand delivered to us, w/out the luxury of conventional forces. 

    The point is that there are more than two ways to prosecute CT, with one being less costly.

    I agree conventional forces are not necessarily sledgehammers, but they can never be scalpels is my point. 

    I’m familiar with the Marine Corps’ affinity to Small Wars–around the same time junior officers were penning their manual, their more senior penned War is a Racket. My point is counter-insurgencies and counter-terrorism slightly differ in justification and the amount of force necessary to prosecute, 

    CT tends to require less.

    The Philippine-American war saw the most desertions by our dark green comrades–although the ones who remained loyal to us also penned some of the best counter-insurgency tomes for that war, no doubt from their times during the Indian wars.

    But the point here, in S. America, the PI, Indian Wars is that they were costly. That was then, now that we have the resources to use scalpels, the need to use conventional forces should be minimized. CT should only be relegated to our intel/covert apparatus.

    As for Syria, with that line of reasoning you can fault a butterfly from half the globe with a hurricane. Russia under the siloviks will do what they do regardless, same with China’s interests in the Pacific, same with KSA whose been entertaining the thought of Paki nukes way before the red-line fiasco. 

    At the end of the day, the point isn’t street creds it’s whether or not we jumped into another dubious war. It may have been clumsily averted, but averted nonetheless.

    As for assassinating bad guys we’ll disagree on the level of commitment. Sometimes there’s little return in investment when we kill certain people, sometimes more when we let certain others run. There are a bunch of successful cases of kills of hard-to-kill individuals.

    “WMD’s were not found in Iraq until AFTER we went there.” Yeah, with only one dubious source (entertained only by DIA) guaranteeing there was WMD, it’s kinda hardly a surprise.

    Iran has a butt load of WMDs, they’ve not only foreign terrorist ties, but have actually killed many of ours, plenty of them Marines. If they were gonna play the “bait and switch” on us, why not Iran back in ’03? An honest question.

    This latter part isn’t the Conventional vs. SOF argument any more, and I’m sure warrants more words. This would actually be an article I’d look forward to in GruntsandCo, maj. Iraq vs. Iran, why the former?

    (I’ll bow out at this point from furthering this discussion, so you can write more articles for us. Thank you for your time, sir.)

  • YankeePapa

    “criticism of VP Biden…”
    …Beckwith, in writing about the lead up to Desert One talks about giving a briefing in the White House.  The President asked him what the odds were of getting all the hostages out alive.  “Almost zero… we will wind up killing most of the Marines and military attaches… They will hear the commotion, overpower their guards… and try to link up with us.  This only works if we can kill anybody in the dark that we don’t know who is carrying a weapon…” (It should be remembered that the hostages were often bearded and many no longer in uniform…)

    …Some time prior to the Embassy coming under threat, Delta Force wanted to send small briefing teams to embassies at high risk of trouble… most especially in Iran… to advise all how to behave in case Delta came boiling up the stairs…  The State Department flatly refused permission.  (The British PM meanwhile went through a mock rescue drill with the SAS using live ammo…)

    …Carter turned pale at the grim verdict… but to his credit ordered the operation to take place… and took full responsibility for any Americans so killed.  
    …SOP was two rounds right between the running lights on each bad guy. One of Carter’s young staffers was horrified… “Can’t you just shoot the “students” (sic) in the arm?”  Carter waved him off… Meanwhile, the VP Walter Mondale was standing around in a jogging suit looking supremely bored…  

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    Sorry, YP, I’m having trouble unraveling your comment above. Is your point, that VP Biden just pulled CT out of his ass and like one of the staffers didn’t really know what he was talking about?

    Because I tend to agree. PC-COIN was laid out, promoted, while CT wasn’t as well explained. The idea was there but there wasn’t a think tank lobbying for it, hence it became the Joe Biden option.

    In the end, the main take away here is that you don’t avenge the deaths of 2,996 with the deaths of 6,792 (and still counting), there’s a deep cost-benefit flaw there–and that’s just one type of count.

    If we can keep these wars small, we should keep ’em small.

  • YankeePapa

    …Nothing complex intended here.  You have writing from someone who has real problems with a President’s policies… but has some good things to say about him… though not his VP.
    …Brought to mind Beckwith… Carter was hardly his hero… but he admired the President for understanding the reality of the ugly facts of the briefing and taking full responsibility for what would follow.  Beckwith, on the other hand, was underwhelmed with the VP.  

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    YankeePapaTeufelshundeUSMCOverthinking before coffee on a Sun. morning. Sorry.
    Agree with you, on Gates’ views of the VP. Looking forward to this book.

  • One of my often repeated positions is it’s for the President to make the case for war and more importantrly continue to make the case to the American people.  It’s basic leadership.  Your people will not sacrifice if you don’t make the case for it.  A subset and equally important responsibility is to do this for those wearing the uniform.

    Gates shares a devastating perspective.

    “It’s one thing to tell the troops that you support
    them. It’s another to work at making them believe that you believe as president
    that their sacrifice is worth it, that the cause is just, that what they are
    doing is important for the country, and that they must succeed,” Gates
    told CBS News. “President Bush did that with the troops when I was
    secretary. I did not see President Obama do that. As I write in the book, it
    was this absence of passion, this absence of a conviction of the importance of
    success that disturbed me.”

  • YankeePapa

    “…John Kerry, who came a few thousand Ohio voters short of being Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces:”

    ‘You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you
    study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart,
    uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.’  -Current Secretary of State-

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    “One of my often repeated positions is it’s for the President to make the case for war and more importantrly continue to make the case to the American people.  It’s basic leadership.”
    I’ve always read these wars as Pres. Bush’s (mostly Cheney’s) and that the popularity of Pres. Obama in 08 hinged on his anti-thesis.
    The wars are largely unpopular, mainly because of its dubious rationale used in the past, ie. WMDs, nation building, ‘so we don’t have to fight them here’, give them democracy, progress=no terrorism, etc.
    If they’re unpopular and its justifications more so, why would you risk making the same mistakes your predecessor made, making dubious, unconvincing justifications.
    So he knows these ‘support of mission’ speeches will fall on deaf ears at home, and making a separate speech just to rally the troops would just reek of hypocrisy.
    More importantly, if Obama was advised to do more ‘support of mission’ speeches, what would these speeches say? I doubt they’ll be convincing to the troops themselves.
    It’s like the justification for the drone wars… you can’t justify it with a straight face, but you continue it (illegal as hell) because less troops are placed in harms way, and that in and of itself is its justification.
    so Obama may not believe in these wars, but his support for the troops is evident in his clear attempts at keeping them from harms way as best as possible, minimizing the affects of these wars to conventional troops.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    “It’s basic leadership.  Your people will not sacrifice if you don’t make the case for it.”
    For me the leadership issue isn’t that he failed to make the case, because there’s no convincing way to make it.
    Like you said below, there was the CT option, the Surge/PC-COIN option and there was withdrawal.
    If you’re not convinced with the first two options, go with the last. He did it in Iraq, why couldn’t he do it in Afghanistan? Pressure from the Chiefs? He had the mandate to pull-out of the wars.
    This is where Obama failed. He should’ve gone the CT option, at the very least as a middle ground. But shoulda, coulda, woulda…

  • TeufelshundeUSMCYou don’t send 30k troops into combat and state in the same sentence the date you will withdraw them.  THAT’s hypocrisy.
    have been ZERO speeches to the troops (or the American people for that
    matter) about why they are fighting and dying.  This is a President’s
    responsibility to keep the populace and national will engaged. Compare
    the effort to pass Obamacare and the CONSTANT efforts to sell it. 
    various points the Civil War was unpopular.  Lincoln didn’t change the
    subject.  Those “deaf ears” turned around.  Being a leader sometimes
    means taking the tougher path.  As for what Obama could say there’s a
    multitude of things first might be not saying you’re uncomfortable with
    the word “victory”.  
    I don’t accept that the Pres
    couldn’t have swayed public opinion.  First he never tried.  Second he
    has NEVER made the case for what the price will be for failure in
    Afghanistan or Iraq for that matter (as we watch the predictable happen
    before our eyes).  Third he has never emphasized a commitment to victory…

    don’t buy the speeches that were never made wouldn’t have changed
    America’s mind.  The drone wars remain popular and accepted by the
    American people.  They’ve also been heralded as quite effective by this
    administration even though they likely cause as many new terrorists as
    Gitmo ever did.  There’s a lesson there…

    You continue to be hung up on WMD’s
    yet the intel was the same that existed during his predecessors
    administration.  The only difference being 911 and an America not
    willing to accept the risk.  This is why the American public AND the
    overwhelming  majority of elected officials supported action.
    get confused by thinking Obama’s policies have anything to do with
    caring for the troops.  The ROE in Afghanistan emanated from the
    administration’s belief that zero civilian casualties is the standard. 
    The CIC’s failure to even try to respond to Benghazi wasn’t because of
    concern for the troops.  With holding the death benefit to troops killed
    in action wasn’t an unforeseen eventuality and threatening to not pay
    the troops whenever there is a budget or credit crisis in DC ISN’T
    because his hands are tied.   The CIC can easily exempt the military
    from these partisan squabbles.

    Finally, you end a factually incorrect rememberance of history and highly slanted analysis.  Obama DID NOT follow a COIN approach in Iraq.  That could be said if he left a residual force.  Obama did nothing.  He executed his predecessor’s plan and a 4% majority is not a mandate.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    In using mandate, I’m simply referring to the authority granted by the majority of constituents. Not necessarily a large majority, but a majority nonetheless.

    Obama was voted into office mainly for his promise to end these wars. He did that in Iraq, a clean withdrawal w/out a residual force. His legacy in Iraq, was simply that he ended it, which he promised (I didn’t say anything about COIN in Iraq).

    Support for the troops doesn’t necessarily mean cuddling them. You can say from “zero civilian casualties” as standard or from an understanding that civilian casualties=more terrorists, hence tightened ROE. Benghazi was a covert/intel operation, not a conventional one, hence lack of conventional support–which all parties involved understood.

    As for pay and benefits, that’s more of a House issue. All I know is that it’s Christmas in the VA for the past 3 yrs or so now–most people in the hospital I go to are getting a lot of love from mental disability checks, hell even folks who served in the peace time 90s are getting ’em. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

    It was NOT the same WMD intel during Clinton, there were plenty of question marks, but there was no smoking-gun-we-gotta-attack-now evidence until Curveball, which gave us the bulk of the evidence for going into Iraq (maybe do an article on the Curveball fiasco for GruntsandCo).

    The drone wars remain popular precisely because it’s distant. I do agree with you that these drone attacks are creating more terrorists (hell, both OEF and OIF created way more terrorists, but that’s another story), but the point here is, if viewed in the context of drones vs. sending out a platoon, its popularity doesn’t seem so uncanny anymore. Either way, pro or con, the genie’s out of the bottle with drones.

    As for the speeches to justify Afghanistan, again what could he have stated that Pres. Bush didn’t already say ad nauseum? He’d be parroting another man’s justifications for these wars, when his mandate was clearly to pull-out.

    Afghanistan is a house on sand, the only way we see success is if we stay there for decades and hold their hands–juice vs. squeeze metaphor. Iraq is more cosmopolitan, once we left and built our big ass embassy, they were ready to be on their own. Just as there was no reason for us to go into Iraq, there’s no reason to stay–juice vs. squeeze.

    What’s happening now in Al-Anbar is what happens in most ME countries, a strong man will emerge–with our money, equipment and Iran’s support, success is only dependent on how conniving & vicious Maliki will be, my money’s on another Awakening. But the most important point is to let them handle it.

    As for your Civil War analogy, that was existential. Whereas, success or failure in Iraq and Afghanistan doesn’t really much have an affect on our continued existence. And the bulk of threats experienced by Americans are economic.

    Health care and other domestic issues were what got Obama to the WH. He was voted into office for his promise to end the wars. He acquiesced to the Chiefs and OK’ed the Surge, he did make speeches justifying his surge, but as a means to ending the war in Afghanistan. 

    Bushed played the role of a cheerleader for the troops, because it was his administration’s decision to go into these wars in their way, ie. big wars. Obama’s managing these wars to a close, so the impetus isn’t really for him to justify, when his mandate is clearly to end them.

    There’s a need to show support for those who have died, been injured, but unless there’s an honest way of justifying why the troops are fighting over here, we’ll just have to re-visit Bush’s justifications, look forward to the end of these wars.

    Agree with you that implementing the Surge with the caveat of pulling out may have been unwise, but the withdrawal timeline did work in Iraq (maybe not perfectly)–sometimes these welfare recipients just need a kick in the behind to get them to pull their own weight and stop leeching of us 😉

  • TeufelshundeUSMCmajrod 
    You used the word mandate vs. majority.  Mandate is a pretty loaded word.

    I believe in tough love also.  How is the ROE tough love?  You can’t say the pay is because of Congress and the VA because of Obama.  The Congress passes the legislation in both cases as the President signs in both cases.  Are you listening to yourself?  No bias there.
    WMD – <sigh> Do I really need top quote Hillary, Clinton, Gore, Kerry etc for stating what a threat Iraq was to world peace?  Are you forgetting the impact of 911 on the nation’s psyche?  Hindsight is not a decision making tool until after the decision has been made.

    Obama was elected on much more than one issue.  The economy was hurting, the oratory skills of Obama are phenomenal, the novelty of having a Black President, the bumbling of John McCain, ignorance of the American voter ALL came into play.  Health care was NOT an election issue that got Obama elected.  Most polls were against and remain against his health care approach.

    You can’t say Bush had to be a military cheerleader because he sent the troops to Afghanistan and Iraq and then give a pass to Obama for sending almost the same number to Afghanistan.  According to, in his own words “the good war” (once upon a time).  Again, got bias?

    I agree with much of what you have said but your analysis of Obama seems to suffer from a shrinking scale or forgotten facts.  To honestly compare you have to have the same standard and a holistic evaluation.  Otherwise you aren’t so much comparing as justifying a predetermined decision.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    Make no mistake, I’m a Ron Paul guy, and mostly for his stance on int’l issues. Didn’t vote in ’08 because of McCain and ’12 because of Romney (5 sons, and not one ever served in the military, not even an intel officer or JAG gig, that’s a value call for me.)

    As for bias, we both have bias, I’m just more fair when considering Obama, I can continue to berate him on other areas domestic and foreign, but that’s not the scope of this thread. 

    Here we are just talking about CT vs. COIN in ’09 and justifications by Obama for these wars vis-a-vis Gates’ book.

    Re Congress vs. VA, there’s more politics on the House side, both parties are guilty of holding the military hostage. VA, I’ve seen first hand the dole outs, I’m not complaining, just pointing out that the love is there, the VA’s better than ever.

    As for WMDs in Iraq, yeah everyone bought into it, we all had our blinders on, but my point is, that’s even more of an impetus for our nat’l security policy makers to tread carefully–they didn’t–instead they were in a hurry for Iraq: “A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves a thousand moments of regrets.”

    Obama was elected for much more than these two wars, but the bulk was these two wars. Economic and domestic issues were why he was elected. Where they differed from Hillary was the wars, so his strongest suit to yuppies, who voted in droves, was the wars.

    Again re Afghanistan he is managing more than selling the war, the justifications have been given. For Obama, it’s how to responsibly withdraw, we can argue about how-to’s re withdrawal, but justifications, support of mission, at this point will only serve to echo Bush’s.

    I’m coming from the position that these wars woulda, shoulda, coulda been prosecuted in small scale, fitting the actual threat, ie. it was CT time, not WWIII time. Because we went overboard and that eventually caught on to people albeit late, Obama was elected (otherwise Hillary would’ve been in front).

    My case here is just that, you and Gates expect Obama to support these wars, when his being elected rested on the closing of these wars, as mistakes. Without a new way to sell the war, why does he have to repeat his predecessor’s justifications, that’s my point here.

  • TeufelshundeUSMCmajrodLibertarian thought is idealistic and emotionally attractive but is no way to run one’s foreign policy.  It fails to addres that evil exists or clearly define our national interests.  Isolationism is a bankrupt philosophy.  Love their economics though.

    Obama was elected because he was new, he could talk, he was Black and didn’t have a conservative running against him.

    The wars were not the deciding issue.  Iraq had been negotiated and Afghanistan was the “good war”.  Yeah, Obama was against the wars he was also also for universal health care.  He didn’t get elected to enact universal health care either.  Economics was a much bigger issue than either Iraq or Afghanistan.

    You are using today’s polls to explain yesterday’s election.  It doesn’t work that way.  Polls that are the way they are because the CIC didn’t make the case for why we were there, should win or leave.

  • YankeePapa

    …I have known many great Libertarians, including the immortal Carl Nicolai (who won a massive struggle against the NSA in the 1970s).  Like all groups, they have their own “fringe” element… but most are quite reasonable folk.
    …They do have some weaknesses.  They scatter their funds on campaigns where they have not the slightest chance of winning… and few voters are “educated” in the process.  They need to concentrate on one or two areas where they have a shot and then show what they can do.    
    …They would of course have to cut loose the ultra outer fringe types who call themselves “Libertarians…” who advocate such measures as “Giving America back to the Indians…” This is certainly not a mainstream Libertarian position.  But just as “animal rights” (sic) nuts call themselves “animal welfare” these days to confuse themselves with rational organizations…

    …The other major problem as Majrod points out is in foreign policy.  They don’t have something that will fly… though some of their comments, complaints, and suggestions do have application.  
    …Some who are labeled as “Libertarians” do not so label themselves.  Some call themselves “mini-staters”, “rational anarchists” and other labels and are not mainstream “Libertarians…”
    …My observation is that the majority of these folks make great neighbors.  In some areas of common ground, they can also make great political allies…

  • YankeePapa

    Re the late Carl Nicolai…
    …Just one of his many adventures.  I had the good fortune to live just up the street from him and was a close friend.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC


    I’ve never heard of that guy, YP, thanks!

    I wouldn’t label myself a Libertarian per se, as I voted for Nader in ’00–pre-911, as a fan of Gen. Butler’s ‘War is a Racket’, I thought voting for a pro-consumer, although guaranteed not to win, was worth my protest vote.

    As for not having a foreign policy, I agree to a degree, but that was the whole point. ’08 saw more expansion in the horizon, and if it took a Ron Paul to stop the hemorrhage of taxpayer money abroad… then Ron Paul was the guy–in a way that point was heard and heeded by Obama’s administration.

    Even if the Libertarians (these days you can’t really discern from the originals and the Tea Baggers) have no concise foreign policy, the philosophy of going small abroad, especially as our economy faltered, was very practical. My position on Biden’s less costly CT approach vis-a-vis COIN/GWOT approach, reflect the downsizing that Ron Paul talked about. 

    My point is that it’s not an either/or dichotomy, give State more money than the CIA and DoD, while drastically lowering the last two’s. Prosecute foreign policy on the cheap, so we can spend more taxpayer money here. Isolationism isn’t practical, but so is our trillions of taxpayer money being doled out willy-nilly abroad.

    “Economics was a much bigger issue than either Iraq or Afghanistan.”
    I disagree, healthcare is an economic issue. And what happened in 2008, although generated by Wall St. and the housing bubble, was connected to these wars, as is everything in Economics–more money spent over there, is less money spent over here. And it was that simple 1+1 that got Obama elected. The wars and the economy are connected and it’s what got Obama in office. Many veterans of these wars were for Ron Paul, whether they pulled their vote or voted for the party, I’m not sure, but Obama also won because not enough Republicans voted.
    As for “making a case” for these wars, that’s the point of this thread.

  • YankeePapa

    “…’Economics was a much bigger issue than either Iraq or Afghanistan.’  I disagree,…”
    …Uh, you went from commenting on my message referring to Libertarians to answering something that Majrod said to you…  That half needed to go to him, not me…
    …Most Libertarians that I have known would shudder at being confused with “Teabaggers…”   There is definitely an overlap… but they are quite different animals.

  • YankeePapa

    …Nicolai never went to grad school, but he was an engineer and a physicist and a lot of other things.  His family both brilliant and eccentric…
    …His older brother Bill held the Guinness World Book of Records record for highest nude ascent of a mountain (only hiking shoes permitted…) Bill founded the famous outdoor company Early Winters.  Firm was one of the first to make massive use of Gortex…
    …Carl had served in conventional subs ca. 1958-62…  The ones that went where they would not have been welcome had people been aware of them…
    …One day a headhunter looked up Nicolai (this was before the NSA adventure made him famous) and offered him tons of money to work on the Glomar Explorer.  
    …Turned out after ship launched that not for mining… but raising missiles and other parts of downed Soviet sub.  They had picked Nicolai and other talented but strange characters to work on the project because the Soviets would never have believed that such a scurvy crew could possibly be working on a top secret government project…

  • TeufelshundeUSMC

    YankeePapaSorry, YP, I should’ve done this earlier. Agree with your thoughts on Libertarians & Tea Baggers.
     majrodI don’t know if anyone else is experiencing this, but the formatting is somewhat screwy, as I’m writing I’m doing it from left to right, plus it’s not spacing out into paragraphs, I have to “edit” to get it to look the way I intended.

  • TeufelshundeUSMCYankeePapamajrod You do realize teabagger is a sexually charged pejorative?  It’s tea party.
    Making a case for these wars is YOUR point not the thread’s.  My original essay was an evaluation of Gates insight into policy making at the highest levels.  
    I typically don’t engage in discussions of whether OEF & OIF should have been fought.  They are almost all exercises in hindsight relying on information gathered after the fact and that decision makers didn’t have access to when they had to make the decision.  That kind of study is typically engaged in by those that don’t exercise a disciplined study of military thought or seek to lay blame than learn lessons.

    Biden hasn’t been right about anything in four decades.  His CT theory is immature and unrealistic.   Yemen & Somalia are simple examples that point out the weaknesses of pure CT approaches.  Yemen hatched a printer cartridge bomb plot that almost brought down half a dozen airplanes and provided Allawi a home to radicalize homegrown terrorists in the US that at a minimum resulted in 14 lives lost at Hood.  Somalia remains a basjket case and hatched a plot to destabilize nearby Kenya.  These are not victories nor will they end in any near future.

    Smedley Butler like libertarianism is a mental hot water bottle.  I like him also.  He makes you feel good but really doesn’t provide a way forward to solve problems (quite similar to libertarian foreign policy).
    What ’08 expansion are you talking about?  Where is the link between Ron Paul and Obama?  Correlation isn’t causation.  Again, I suspect you think today’s events impacted yesterday’s decisions.  It works the other way around, cause – effect vs. effect – cause.

    You may think healthcare was an ’08 election issue.  You’ll have a tough time finding a reliable poll to back that up in the ’08 election year.  Unemployment, financial bubble etc. were the issues.  They were also minimally impacted by a decade’s $1tril war bill.  We’ve spent exponentially greater amounts in half the time since ’08 and our slow recovery.

    Many vets were for Ron Paul. More were for the other candidates when all was said and done.  Most of the military was isolationist in 1938-39.  It made them no less wrong.  
    (I’ll look at editing but when I full size the window it seems to work fine for me.)

  • KineticFury

    majrod “Libertarian thought is idealistic and emotionally attractive but is no way to run one’s foreign policy”
    That’s an excellent way to put it in one sentence. Or the whole paragraph. Might use that later.

  • TeufelshundeUSMC



    This is just weird now. I can see that you responded to me on your livefyre (which I got bookmarked), but your response isn’t showing here.

    In thread I meant only this specific one under your Jan. 12 commentary above.

    “I typically don’t engage in discussions of whether OEF & OIF ”
    “His CT theory is immature and unrealistic. ”
    The difference between CT and COIN was not so much Biden’s own personal theory on CT, but only that he favored it. CT as less costly is the point. I’ve compared your Yemen/Somalia with the 1st World Trade Center bomber and the guy that shot up the rear entrance to CIA HQ, as CT. Keep ’em small, keep ’em specific. We’ll always have wild places, you can’t control ’em all, CT option keeps ’em small.

    “He makes you feel good but really doesn’t provide a way forward to solve problems”
    That’s kinda the whole point with the Libertarian theory, just leave people alone. I don’t think Old Smedley set out to write another Plato’s Republic, just wanted to say, maybe we should just leave things alone.
    Again, I too am not for isolationism, but I am for less money given to leeching nations.
    “What ’08 expansion are you talking about?  Where is the link between Ron Paul and Obama?”
    McCain wanted to double down on GWOT, Obama wanted to draw down. As for link, both I would say care more about domestic issues–but Ron Paul’s plans and what Obama’s doing in the ME are carbon copies of each other.
    “You may think healthcare was an ’08 election issue.”
    Not an election issue, but part of the economic issue, as in no more solid ERs in my area because hospitals have either broken up into clinics or just shut down their ERs, because people don’t pay their ER bills–hospitals shut down, quality of life suffers. More money can be made in dialysis centers or other pay-before-service establishments.