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Obama's Hesitation on Afghanistan

 Obama's quandary is that he is a liberal Democrat who opposes most military engagements. But unlike Vietnam, the war appears to be winnable.

President Obama is in a difficult position deciding what to do about Afghanistan. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are ramping up their activity in that country, enabled by the chaos in Pakistan. Al Qaeda is rumored to be using its strengthened base in Afghanistan to expand to other parts of the world. Attacks by the Taliban are increasing. IEDs, the deadly roadside bombs, have increased by 350% since 2007, and U.S. deaths are at a record high. 55 were killed in October, 831 total since the U.S. first stationed troops there in 2001 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Obama's military general in Afghanistan in charge of NATO operations, U.S. Commander General Stanley McChrystal, has asked the administration for 40,000 additional soldiers in order to effect a new strategy that would focus more on forging alliances with key tribal leaders than combat. Without them, McChrystal warns that the war in Afghanistan will result in failure. McChrystal asked for the surge of troops in September, Obama has still not responded.

Obama's quandary is that he is a liberal Democrat who opposes most military engagements. Obama opposed the Iraq War from the beginning, and ran for President as the Democrats' antiwar candidate, pledging to take U.S. soldiers out of Iraq soon. Making things more difficult, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last month to Obama in a transparent effort to put pressure on him to avoid military action in situations like this. Obama did suggest when running for President that he would transfer US troops from Iraq to Pakistan to hunt down al Qaeda, but no one took him seriously.

The war appears to be winnable. This is different than engaging militarily with North Korea or Iran which have nuclear programs. The Taliban is already outnumbered 12-1 by international troops and Afghan security forces. There are currently over 100,000 international troops stationed there, of which 68,000 are Americans and 200,000 Afghan soldiers. McChrystal's plan is to have the additional forces focus on protecting civilians and depriving the Taliban of popular support. Soldiers will work on befriending tribal leaders in each village, and then communicate through them to their friends and relatives in other villages and across enemy lines. Fighting the Taliban is different than fighting a traditional enemy because it is not easily identifiable; its allies may at any given time include tribes it was formerly fighting against, as loyalties ebb and flow and new alliances are made. It is not uncommon for brothers to be on opposing sides, but if a network is set up to take advantage of these kinds of family connections, agreements can be worked out among local tribes to stop Taliban forces from attacking them. American forces are already working with Afghan forces to bring insurgents over to their side with offers of amnesty, cash and jobs. Over 8,000 insurgents so far have taken advantage of it.

Some experts believe even more troops are necessary. Retired Army Col. Peter Mansoor, who helped oversee the "surge" of troops into Iraq in 2007-2008, thinks a total of 600,000 security personnel is necessary in Afghanistan in order to provide a ratio of one for every 50 people. Based on hindsight in Vietnam and Iraq, it might be safer to go with the higher number of soldiers.

It is true that the U.S. has a checkered history of supporting various sides in Afghanistan, but this time is different, with more compelling circumstances due to the additional heightened threat al Qaeda poses. In the late 1970's, the U.S. supported various Afghan armed opposition groups known as the Mujahideen against the communist-controlled government. The Mujahideen subscribed to radical Islamic ideologies, and recruited Muslims from other countries to assist them, including al Qaeda members. When the Soviet Union eventually pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989, the Mujahideen took power.

The Mujahideen were unable to consolidate power, and by the mid 1990's, Afghanistan was back in chaos, with corrupt, lawless warring tribes running rampant across the country. The U.S. supported the Taliban in a takeover in 1996, hoping that a top-down militaristic government would provide some order. The Taliban is composed primarily of radical Sunni Muslims from the Pashtun tribe. By 1997 it was clear the Taliban was no better than the warlords; adopting many of their tactics, instituting Sharia law, and targeting other ethnic groups. Afghanistan remains under Taliban leadership today, through elections fraught with corruption. The Taliban's failure to control the warring tribes is providing a haven for al Qaeda to operate and expand its operations.

The left is trying to make comparisons to Vietnam, in order to demoralize the American public and turn public support against a military presence in Afghanistan. This kind of comparison belittles the thousands of American soldiers who lost their lives in Vietnam. 831 deaths is not anywhere near the same league as 58,000 deaths. Criticism of the financial cost is valid, but financial cost has never been a major concern to those on the left.

It is peculiar why Obama, rated the most liberal Senator in the entire U.S. Senate in 2007 by National Journal, is hesitating on deciding whether to send over additional U.S. soldiers. Ramping up our military presence there goes against his core liberal philosophy and the wishes of his supporters in the Democrat Party. Isn't Obama a principled liberal? Perhaps Obama is hesitating because he realizes that contrary to what his left wing philosophy teaches, Afghanistan is winnable, without losing massive American lives, and he would rather be remembered as the president who won in Afghanistan rather than the president who gave up and deserted it. Especially if leaving Afghanistan results in another horrendous American tragedy from an empowered al Qaeda.

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75 comments to Obama's Hesitation on Afghanistan

  • Ozzie_M

    As I read this and many other IC offerings, I often ponder what a burdensome and time-consuming task it must be for you guys to confabulate a base, venal, effete, or deceitful motive for each and every action taken by a liberal. It's gotta take a lot of imagination and hard work, and I admire your persistence.

    Here, if I understand this rather opaque essay, we are told that Obama is dithering because, well, he secretly knows the war in Afghanistan is winnable, but he doesn't dare try to win the war–it'll cause too much cognitive dissonance!

    Not because he wants to be more certain of our prospects before putting tens of thousands of American lives at risk in a chaotic country.

    Not because he's skeptical that the war is winnable at all, and is reluctant to escalate a losing cause that lacks much American support.

    And certainly not because he has reason to doubt whether, at this juncture, pacifying Afghanistan would really deal much of a setback to Al Qaeda. Or that we have a reliable partner in the Karzai governmenr.

    And of course, not that while he might view the war as potentially winnable, he estimates the cost in American blood and treasure to outweigh the potential benefits.

    No, no, no! It's because although he knows we could win, he hates the very idea! Winning would cause crippling philosophical discomfort! Because he's a weak-kneed lib'rl! Cuz that's the way lib'rls think!

    I've noticed that you guys are terrible mind-readers.

    Oz

  • charday

    Of course, the old "he wants to be more certain of our prospects before putting tens of thousands of American lives at risk" canard. Meanwhile troops are dying in greater numbers.

  • Ozzie_M

    Charday opines:


    Of course, the old "he wants to be more certain of our prospects before putting tens of thousands of American lives at risk" canard. Meanwhile troops are dying in greater numbers.

    Hey Charday, if fully evaluating our prospects before dumping our young soldiers into a possibly futile war is a 'canard', I'm thinking you may be underestimating canards.

    Oz

  • Patrick Mulligan

    Barack Obama didn't seem so cautiously concerned that Afghanistan represented a "futile war" when he said that it was a "war of necessity" as compared to the "war of choice" in Iraq, and vowed that he would defeat al-Queida there and capture Osama Bin Laden, taking military action inside Pakistan to do so, if necessary. Perhaps you are overestimating Obama?

  • charday

    "Hey Charday, if fully evaluating our prospects before dumping our young soldiers into a possibly futile war is a 'canard', I'm thinking you may be underestimating canards."

    Let's just let the troops that are there now, waiting for someone to make a decision about their fate, just die as long as we are "fully evaluating our prospects before dumping our young soldiers into a possibly futile war" that we already said was the "right war" and the "war of necessity". .

  • Ozzie_M

    No, I think I've got him pegged about right. We're talking about the tendency among the denizens of IC to caricature anyone to the left of them, imputing to them far-fetched and bizarre motivations and beliefs.

    I think he is dithering now for the obvious reasons (at least, obvious to anyone who is trying to be fair) – the situation is dreadfully complex and uncertain, and the right action to take is far from clear.

    And it may well be that the situation looks different to him now than when he was on the campaign trail. Wouldn't be the first time a politician has moderated his actions compared to his campaign rhetoric.

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M

    Simultaneous posts. Post 6 was intended for Patrick Mulligan.

    For Charday:

    Obama has been in office about a year. Bush presided over this war for 7 years, and I really don't recall that he devoted a whole lot of focused attention to it. The soldiers have been dying over there the entire time, with the situation gradually deteriorating.

    I've not claimed to know the right answer to Afghanistan, only pointed out that there could theoretically be non-nefarious and non-moronic motivations for Obama's pause.

    Oz

  • norm762

    OZ
    It's true that Bush was in charge for 7 years. Bush allowed commanders to provide recommendations for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. For that reason alone, his decisions were quick and the effects were realized far quicker than what we see today with the new administration. As a result, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had mixed results over time, but they've generally trended in a more positive than negative direction because get adjusted as the enemy realized we made tactical adjustments. I suspect this administration doesn't understand that Admirals and Generals literally spend a life time studying the problems presented by conflicts (political and military ) that we've experienced since the days of the ancients (pre-Helenistic). The problem is the Obama administration appears to be micro-managing (or trying to at least) for maximum political effect here at home. The Flag corps has given it's requirements to achieve the effects that they believe will eventually win the war and Obama is second guessing them with absolutely no knowledge or developed aptitude in these matters, plain and simple. If we could win by the war in Afghanistan with Saul Alinsky style incentives, Obama would be the correct leader since he's mastered those tactics; however, in a land with a complete lack of civil society like ours, grass roots movements tend to be snuffed out VERY quickly. I don't want to sound as if I'm picking on Obama in particular. I just don't think he has developed the proper background to deal with the problems we currently have without making them worse by finding ways to transform them into problems that past socialist revolutionaries created and dealt with to demonstrate their "great" leadership abilities.

  • charday

    "I've not claimed to know the right answer to Afghanistan, only pointed out that there could theoretically be non-nefarious and non-moronic motivations for Obama's pause."

    Moderate is one thing. Total inaction is another.

  • norm762

    I don't think he's a moron at all. He's just wrong on this one. I think he thinks he knows exactly what he's doing and that he's got all variables covered. I think he is using an amalgamation of philosophies from past socialist revolutionaries. Which brings me to the next point. He's already shown his cards as to where his sentiments are on all manners of subjects by who he continues to surround himself with for counsel. Look at his list of czars and what freely comes out of their mouths. Look at what Obama has said himself. Look at what he's done up to this point. He is utilizing the more successful points (short term at best) from the last last 100 years of Socialist and Malthusian philosophy and finding novel ways to implement now… only he has modernity on his side. The second and third order effects of modernity tend to run counter to traditional views of morality. In essence, the consequences for being deviant or just plain bad are far less now than they were even just 20 years ago. Keeping all of these things in mind, it wouldn't surprise me to find out the Obama administration wants the Afghanistan problem to progress from a war we were winning to a completely untenable situation that can be blamed on the opposing political camp… creating a very potent tool used to browbeat ever growing larger segments of American society into abandoning conservative values and replacing critical thinking with just trusting and doing whatever the leftists can rationalize; hence, incrementalism ratcheting a less and less critical public opinion more and more in favor of socialist ideals and an all-powerful federal government with the usual suspects at the helm.

  • charday

    "Keeping all of these things in mind, it wouldn't surprise me to find out the Obama administration wants the Afghanistan problem to progress from a war we were winning to a completely untenable situation that can be blamed on the opposing political camp… creating a very potent tool used to browbeat ever growing larger segments of American society into abandoning conservative values and replacing critical thinking with just trusting and doing whatever the leftists can rationalize; hence, incrementalism ratcheting a less and less critical public opinion more and more in favor of socialist ideals and an all-powerful federal government with the usual suspects at the helm."

    This has not escaped the thinking of conservatives. It has been discussed on other blogs. However, it is actually having the opposite effect since our values incorporate thinking, feeling and evaluating character and action rather than a lessening of critical thinking. We have acquired a more heightened sense of awareness. I believe this is exactly what has awakened the sleeping giant and the natives are really getting restless.

  • norm762

    Well, let's hope the sleeping giant stays awake long enough to continue changing peoples' minds and awakening them to what's happening. I have a few colleagues who are one of two camps I've been seeing lately: Ostrich with head in the sand, or in complete denial that socialist ideals could gain as much ground as they have recently in our country.

  • charday

    Because of my business, insurance coincidently, I see 5-10 new people a week. The most inane are those in academia or ivy league educated. But even there I am seeing a glimpse of reality. Example, a Professor I was working with began talking about Obama. Very spontaneous. I was surprised. She said she was “angry” with him because he was not making a decision about the war. “Specifically”, she said, “he was going to bring the troops home.”

    I said “What did you expect?” “He voted present ¾ of the time he was in the Senate. It is excruciatingly difficult for him to commit except for abortion and all things related to that.” That was painful enough for her to hear but when I reminded her that he “chose” to make his political bones in Chicago where a person doesn’t get elected to anything unless he is part of the corrupt machine, childlike she said “You mean he lied?” Yes, I thought she would die from that. Shortly after the epiphany she again went blank. Into the safety zone I guess.

    But I have to say, when I meet conservatives who are in academia, it is quite exciting. Rare but exciting.

  • Ozzie_M

    Norm:

    I'm not an expert on Afghanistan, so you may be right. However, there are a couple of claims that you make that I am not certain are true. At least, I'm not aware of any evidence of them. Perhaps you can provide links that support them:


    Bush allowed commanders to provide recommendations for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. For that reason alone, his decisions were quick and the effects were realized far quicker than what we see today with the new administration.

    The problem is the Obama administration appears to be micro-managing

    Obama is second guessing them

    It's true that Obama has not taken McChrystal's advice for more troops, but as to whether he is micro-managing and second guessing the military in general, I've not heard that. Why do you think so?

    I think whether a President is viewed as meddling or not depends on the outcome. Arguably Bush should have meddled a bit earlier in Iraq, don't you think? As I recall, Iraq was a complete clusterf*ck for a number of years. He eventually made some good (and courageous) decisions about personnel and strategy, but I'm not sure I would consider George Bush a model of early decisiveness following the invasion.

    Lincoln meddled with the Northern generals incessantly – until he found the generals that understood the way to win the war. Then he stopped meddling. Although I suppose some might disagree, I think his meddling – and not the behavior of his early generals – was ultimately vindicated. (I'm not comparing Obama to Lincoln).

    I think the Afghan war is essentially a stalemate, and it has been for some time. I'm not sure why folks think that Obama is doing nothing – he and the military continue to pursue the same strategies that have been ongoing for years. He has just declined to authorize a big escalation at this juncture. Perhaps he will ultimately prove indecisive or timid. But I find it silly to reach that conclusion this early in the game.

    The idea that Obama is trying to prosecute the war using the methods of Saul Alinsky or socialist revolutionaries (if that is what you are saying) seems just goofy to me. What methods is he using that remind you of Alinsky's community organizing? It seems to me that the war in Afghanistan is being waged about the same way it has been for several years.

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M

    Charday:

    Moderate is one thing. Total inaction is another.

    I'm not sure why you think that Obama has been 'totally inactive' compared to Bush. Again, I'm no expert on military strategy or this particular war. My views are based only on reading various media accounts, with no particular depth. But do you think that the intensity of our efforts in Afghanistan has drastically fallen off since Obama took office? Can you substantiate that? You might be right, but I haven't seen much evidence of that.

    He has not yet signed on to an escalation, 11 months into his presidency. There's been a major election process in Afghanistan to play out, and I would speculate that he is receiving a lot of conflicting advice from his military and foreign affairs advisors. McChrystal is not the only person whose views matter, and not everyone agrees with him. Obama's taking his time, trying to get it right. An escalation that proves ineffective and mistaken is not doing any kindness to our soldiers.

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M

    Norm and Charday claim:

    Keeping all of these things in mind, it wouldn't surprise me to find out the Obama administration wants the Afghanistan problem to progress from a war we were winning to a completely untenable situation that can be blamed on the opposing political camp… (emphasis added)

    Well, there you go. Kind of supports my main thesis, that you guys are terrible mind readers, reflexively attributing to Obama and his supporters a whole range of malignant, even monstrous motivations. Motivations that seem fairly ridiculous on their face. Barack Obama is actually a psycho of historical dimensions, trying to *lose a war* to make some political points. Manipulative, cynical, and frankly evil, he purposely dumps our soldiers into an intentionally losing cause.

    Is that really very likely? I can't disprove it, but I don't think I have to. It's an extraordinary and preposterous claim, and I think you need to provide the evidence, not me.

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M

    Charday recounts his encounter with the Left:

    That was painful enough for her to hear but when I reminded her that he “chose” to make his political bones in Chicago where a person doesn’t get elected to anything unless he is part of the corrupt machine, childlike she said “You mean he lied?” Yes, I thought she would die from that. Shortly after the epiphany she again went blank. Into the safety zone I guess.

    Well, looks like you won that one, Charday. Unfortunately, she sounds like a complete dipstick. If somebody with a brain had been there, he/she might have given you a better run for your money.

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M


    I believe this is exactly what has awakened the sleeping giant and the natives are really getting restless.

    Is there a sleeping giant? I'm not so sure. Obama's approval rate is about the same as when he took office, and fairly decent, given all the stuff he's doing.

    Face it guys, fully half the country fundamentally disagrees with you. Although I have no doubt conservatism will make a resurgence, and the GOP may make big gains in 2010, the hard right is really not all that popular, as far as I can see. Seems to be shrinking in size, both geographically and demographically.

    I think the 'sleeping giant' stuff is just wishful thinking. The country is pretty evenly split. You should just accept that.

    Oz

  • norm762

    The thing is, I don't think Obama admin has signed onto anything except budget related items that other earmarks and pieces of legislation can piggy back in on. As far as escalation goes, in government there is a phrase, "letting it die on the vine…," or "slow rolling". Those two items pretty much speak for what they are and are intended to defer making a decision if making a decision is likely to result in less than favorable outcome. The first one is what happens when a circumstance exists that a bureaucrat doesn't want to deal with or take responsibility for. So they let it disintegrate or "die on the vine." The second one is intended to allow things to get to a point that a hard decision must be made. So the bad decision the bureaucrat favored all along can be made and executed and the negative outcome can be blamed on someone or something else. It seems pretty simple, but we don't know all the details or incentives at play since this new "transparent government" seems to have a closer resemblance to an iron curtain.

    Right now McChrystal is the one man in the whole wide world whose sole purpose for existing right in this moment is to bring the conflict in Afghanistan to a favorable end for America or at least get it as close to that as he can all the while staying in good graces with the president. The problem is McChrystal's mindset is victory, which is a muddy concept at best there. Obama has openly declared that he doesn't even like the word victory. They probably talk right past each other during their rare meetings.

    The media I've been exposed to indicates that Al Qaeda in AG and the Taliban have regrouped and are making a push. It would be easy to speculate why they think they can run us out now, but I won't go there. Again, I don't wish to bash the Obama admin too much… I'm sure they're good at something, just not insurgency warfare with dash of tribalism, extreme Islam, and no innocent parties.

    OZ, my point with the "untenable situation" is we don't really know why Obama in fiddling, but given his philosophical background and by judging the words that come out of his advisors mouths when they talk about never letting a disaster go to waste… or something like that, I seriously doubt his best interests lies with the troops. Remember, he didn't hesitate to throw us under the bus when it came time to vote against a budget to support the troops in the field in Iraq and to go against the surge, both of which worked. I also seriously doubt that he is at such a great impasse on making a decision when the one man who knows more about the situation there than anyone else says he needs more troops now. Anyone can say they're trying not to get troops killed, but being a Commander in Chief means you're gonna make decisions for better or for worse when they need to be made, not after there are no decisions left to be made. The one thing I learned from a past life is if decisions are followed well enough, the consequences of even bad decisions are far better than being under a commander who refuses to make a decision or worse, being indecisive, which almost always results in a catastrophic outcome.

    Sleeping Giant: I was trying to be nice, but I'm a little doubtful on that one too. There was supposed to be a sleeping giant after 9/11, but he fell back to sleep just a couple after the event. I do think the more extreme or whatever you want to call the left's policy grabs over the next year are, the greater the shift in public opinion will be to traditionally conservative ideals (I'll even settle for true liberalism and not the pink fascism we have now). People just have to keep passing the word over and over until your dipsticks get it. I'm not a polster, but I keep seeing in the news how Obama's approval ratings are already well below the average for this point in his term. If there's any truth to that at all, I'd consider it a good thing for the country.

    Also, I didn't call Obama a psycho or say I think he wants us to lose resulting in massive loss of life, but for circumstances to become so limited or untenable that any decision is better than nothing and the consequences can be passed on to a patsy. It's a typical bureaucrat maneuver. It's not nefarious. Cowardly perhaps, but far from Hitler or Stalinesqe. And you don't have to be a mind reader to figure out what kinds of policies Obama is most likely to favor if one can reconize the fact that he's an international socialist and a professional bureaucrat.

  • Patrick Mulligan

    attributing to Obama and his supporters a whole range of malignant, even monstrous motivations. Motivations that seem fairly ridiculous on their face. Barack Obama is actually a psycho of historical dimensions, trying to *lose a war* to make some political points. Manipulative, cynical, and frankly evil, he purposely dumps our soldiers into an intentionally losing cause.

    So what you're saying is that the right attributes to Obama in Afghanistan similar motivations as the left attributed to Bush in Iraq? If "no blood for oil" didn't sound stupid to you for the last 6 years, then you can't really be outraged at the suggestion that Obama may be playing political games with Afghanistan because of his core ideology. I can't read Obama's mind anymore than Cindy Sheehan and Ariana Huffington could read Bush's, but suffice it to say that the way one reads the motivations of others often depends on the extent to which they agree with them.

  • charday

    Not only “the way one reads the motivations of others often depends on the extent to which they agree with them.”

    How about actions, associations, background. Whatever you can say about Bush he was American born and bred. Even if BHO was born in America (Hawaii, but I lived there in the seventies and I can tell you it is not the same as the mainland and they don’t even consider themselves in any way like the mainlanders calling us Houles), his life experience and world view has been colored by his formative years as a Muslim in Indonesia, the communistic life style in Hawaii and his radical associations, including his mother Stanley, Frank Marshall Davis and even his grandfather who became part of the USA Communist party in Hawaii. Then his later associations with Khalidi, Rezko, Rev. Wright, Al mansour and Prince Alaweed, his czars (that is an affront in itself) and especially that weasel Bill Ayers. Remember he chose Chicago to make his political bones. He taught Rules for Radicals to young people.

    I’ve dated myself here so yes, I believe we can attribute malignant motivations to this group. Unfortunately it is still malignant to my generation because we remember all too clearly the devastation of communism after the second world war, let alone the Nazi horrors. Last night I was trying to converse with my 28 year old daughter about Atlas Shrugged. She had never heard of it. My GOD. What have they been teaching our children. “But communism doesn’t exist any more mom, does it, she asked?” Well it may be morphed into something even more devastating.

    What scares me the most is the number of citizens who can no longer think critically about what is happening. It has been going on for quite some time and many of us did not believe it could get this far, mostly because now we know how complicit the media has been. I am talking about the complete takeover of our freedoms by this insane Democrat party. Courage to speak about this or even think this could be true is anathema to our desire to be compassionate and open minded about others beliefs. Thank GOD for the internet and uTube and all the alternative media that has been able to feed us information that has been up to now, going on behind closed doors.

    The most frighteningly distorted response I received from a Jewish friend before the election when I asked him how he reconciled all of the above mentioned Jew hating associations BHO had throughout his life was when he said that he believes that “Obama has such a good heart, and wants to do so much good that he infiltrates groups like this to build a bridge of understanding”. This is a highly educated Professor. I am beginning to think the more highly educated the more disassociation from reality. And the cognizant dissonance in trying to accept these two mutually exclusive concepts is causing damage to spirit and intellect on a grand scale. I am totally unashamed of my radicalism. What was it Barry Goldwater said? I paraphrase, there is no radicalism in pursuit of liberty? Something like that. And I will keep on talking everywhere to everyone.

    During last night’s traitorous vote on health care – Obama’s pep talk:
    Mr. Obama, during his private pep talk to Democrats, recognized Mr. Owens election and then posed a question to the other lawmakers. According to Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who supports the health care bill, the president asked, “Does anybody think that the teabag, anti-government people are going to support them if they bring down health care? All it will do is confuse and dispirit” Democratic voters “and it will encourage the extremists.”
    That is what he thinks of the other half of the electorate that is under his aegis. Tell me that is not going to stir passions.

  • Ozzie_M

    Patrick says:

    So what you're saying is that the right attributes to Obama in Afghanistan similar motivations as the left attributed to Bush in Iraq? If "no blood for oil" didn't sound stupid to you for the last 6 years, then you can't really be outraged at the suggestion that Obama may be playing political games with Afghanistan because of his core ideology.

    "No blood for oil" DID sound stupid to me. I believe ideologues on BOTH sides commit similar errors.

    I think certain leftists who made such statements were wrong to attribute simplistic and sleazy motivations of this sort to him. Will you allow that the same is true for the Right and Obama?

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M

    Charday says:

    Whatever you can say about Bush he was American born and bred.

    Charday, I think you're making my point, not yours. Bush, to my view, was a disaster as president. Looks to me that being 'American born and bred' is not a guarantee of success or wisdom. Obama's varied background seems to me a good match for the increasing diversity of America and a rapidly changing world power structure.

    I'm no fan of Bill Ayers or Rev. Wright. I think they are kooks. We have to judge Obama by his deeds, not who he might have associated with. He's distanced himself from those people and their ideas, and I see nothing whatsoever in his actions or words to indicate that he shares their perspectives.


    Unfortunately it is still malignant to my generation because we remember all too clearly the devastation of communism after the second world war, let alone the Nazi horrors.

    I think it is quite remarkable how effortlessly you pivot from talking about Obama to start talking about communists and Nazis. Obama has governed thus far as a fairly typical moderate liberal, as far as I can see. Hard to see why all this hysteria. Personally, and I could be wrong, I think you guys shoot yourselves in the foot by all this hyperventilating about 'communism' – most of America sees him as a rather cautious and moderate politician. The gulf between the wild-eyed rhetoric and the apparent reality of the guy discredits you. I think he really benefited from that dynamic in the campaign: the right tried to portray him as a radical domestic terrorist who can't talk without a teleprompter text (written by Muslims, presumably). When the public saw him, the saw a fluent, knowledgeable, moderate individual, and I think that helped him a lot – it made your side look kind of silly.

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M

    Charday says:

    What scares me the most is the number of citizens who can no longer think critically about what is happening.

    Charday, it is a core human tendency to believe that OUR ideas are based on logic, reasoning, and critical thinking– whereas OUR OPPONENTS' ideas are based on emotion, prejudice, and self-interest. The right thinks about the left in that way; the left thinks exactly the same about the right. In my view, ideologues of all stripes largely reason backwards from pre-digested conclusions.

    While I agree critical thinking is in short supply, I think that people with fully intact critical thinking skills can reach conclusions quite opposite of yours. They just reason from different assumptions, with different values.

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M


    Last night I was trying to converse with my 28 year old daughter about Atlas Shrugged. She had never heard of it. My GOD.

    I agree kids don't get enough exposure to classic literature. I hope my children read Atlas Shrugged, although I think objectivism is hogwash, personally.

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M


    During last night’s traitorous vote on health care – Obama’s pep talk:

    Sorry, I might be dense but I can't quite figure out what the quotations you cite are supposed to mean. But I certainly grasp the meaning of the term 'traitorous' – do you really think our president is a 'traitor', Charday, based on that rather incremental and watered-down health care plan he is proposing?

    The left in general worries about the way that medical bills bankrupt hard-working Americans, and the way that health insurance companies seem to have unjust policies. Obama described his ideas about health care reform during the campaign, and the country decisively elected him – 70 million Americans voted for him. Last I checked, massive swaths of America agrees with a public option and a variety of the other aspects of the health care plan. Is everyone a 'traitor' if they don't happen to share conservative cultural and economic views?

    Oz

  • norm762

    OZ, I'm sensing a bit of provocateur in your postings.

    You must have missed the last week's worth of news. The White House logs show rev. wright, and bill ayers visiting there.

    Hitler was fluent and knowledgeable as was Mao and Stalin. Hugo Chaves was considered to be charismatic. Exactly what does having the polished tools of public speaking and rhetoric have to do with being a good leader? They have absolutely nothing to do with each other. The only reason it's required in America is because of ourmodern media.

    You keep mentioning half the country is fooled and that we should just pipe down. Are you aware that only a third of the country wanted to secede from England? As I see it, we should be more vocal.

    The right did not try to portray him as a radical domestic terrorist, at least that's not how I saw it. That's just hyperventilating on the left. Besides, if a man running for president cavorts with known domestic terrorists, do you not think it's worth talking about? Bill Ayers was the orchestrator of acts that deliberately attempted to and successfully killed people that disagreed with his philosophy.

    I'm also beginning to get the impression that you're not that familiar with what communism and socialism are and how there are different varieties and how the people today with tendencies for socialism or marxism forward those policies with a new political tactic dubbed incrementalism. Even Nikita Kruschev is credited for apparently saying America can't be brought to communism in one revolutionary shot, but with small introductions of socialism, we'll someday wake up to find ourselves in a communist state. If he did say that, he had no idea how right he was.

    70 million votes for Obama? Where did the other potential 250 million votes go? American idol? I keep hearing that Obama only won by a 4 point margin. Not exactly a mandate for revolution when considering the fact that you need at least a 5 point difference in any respectable statistic for it to be considered significant. Obama's winning margin is still within the error range in any other election.

  • charday

    It is no use having a dialogue with you Ozzie. You think Obama’s past associations, which he distanced himself from “last year”, “and that most of America sees him as a rather cautious and moderate politician “ which is why about a million people staged a “teabag . anti government” protest as described by this “ fluent, knowledgeable, moderate individual,” is a good thing. You see no dissonance in that he just “last year” abandoned or as we say, threw under the bus, his more radical associations. Or that he sat for 20 years with a racist mentor. You may even think those are good for diversity’s sake. We are never going to find a place to compromise on these issues. What do you think that means?
    I never said he had a “varied background”. He doesn’t. It isn’t varied at all. It is radical, favoring government power over citizens, pure and simple. Even in his embrace of other powers, he favors those we would in other times consider dictators. Now we do not even use the word so that we don’t scare or offend anyone. And as far as distancing himself from kooks, have you seen his czars? Tax cheats, liars, racists, and other various ideologues.
    I guess the difference between us is that I am not interested in becoming part of “a rapidly changing world power structure”. I don’t want to see America changed “fundamentally” and I don’t see it as a flawed Nation in need of revision. . And I believe at least half, if not more than America feels that way too.
    He says: “Does anybody think that the teabag, anti-government people are going to support them if they bring down health care? All it will do is confuse and dispirit” Democratic voters “and it will encourage the extremists.”
    He believes that people who oppose government takeover of their lives is extremism. Maybe you do to. But some of us remember a republic that once was proud of its freedoms and its government FOR the people instead of against it. To me he is treasonous..
    And all of the intellectual word play won’t “fundamentally” change my position and apparently not yours either.

  • Ozzie_M

    Norm says:


    Right now McChrystal is the one man in the whole wide world whose sole purpose for existing right in this moment is to bring the conflict in Afghanistan to a favorable end for America

    Perhaps he is, but generals are not always right. In fact, there are times that they have been horribly wrong. The President's job is to distinguish when he is getting excellent, far-sighted advice, and when he is not. Bush recognized good advice from Petraeus – to his credit – but I don't think he recognized the bad advice he was getting from others. I hope Obama is thoughtful and measured, as he appears to be, and in the end, acts decisively. If he doesn't do anything but kick the can down the road, shame on him. But it is too early to reach that conclusion.

    Oz

  • norm762

    OZ, I wonder how thoughtful and measured you like for the president to be with one of your children waiting to be relieved from the duties of war, especially considering the fact that Obama has absolutely zero background in these matters. Sarah Palin had more experience given the fact that at least she had the Alaska national guard under her command. Obama had a staple gun and a bunch of hooligans suing banks for not giving out bad loans. I won't even mention his whopping 150 day tenure in the senate… I've had more days at sea than he as a senator.

  • Ozzie_M

    Charday says:


    I guess the difference between us is that I am not interested in becoming part of “a rapidly changing world power structure”. I don’t want to see America changed “fundamentally” and I don’t see it as a flawed Nation in need of revision. . And I believe at least half, if not more than America feels that way too.

    But Charday, it doesn't really matter if you are interested in becoming a part of it or not. The world IS changing, rapidly. America IS changing, demographically and culturally.

    America IS a flawed nation, in need of revision. It always has been. It is still, in my view, the greatest nation in the world, and I'm proud to be a citizen.


    And I believe at least half, if not more than America feels that way too.

    Why do you believe that, Charday? Do you have any data on it? I think if you asked Americans whether they think their president is a traitor and his health plan is treason, I think you'd see only a tiny minority that would agree.

    Let's grant for the sake of argument (and I think it's far exaggerated) that 'at least half' the country buys into the tea-bag stuff. That still leaves *half the country* that disagrees.

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M

    Norm, if my child was a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan, I'd be a nervous wreck. I'm not sure that is an argument for precipitous action in one of the biggest decisions a president can make.

    Incidentally, as I speak, Peggy Noonan (Reagan's speechwriter) is on the tube, saying approximately "I like that the president is *thinking* about this…I think there has been too much *faux decision-making* in the past…"

    Just sayin'. There are plenty of thoughtful conservatives that recognize that rashness and decisiveness are not the same thing.

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M


    Also, I didn't call Obama a psycho or say I think he wants us to lose resulting in massive loss of life, but for circumstances to become so limited or untenable that any decision is better than nothing and the consequences can be passed on to a patsy.

    OK Norm, maybe 'psycho' is an overstatement. Still, the strategy you accuse him of is terribly cynical and callous. I've seen nothing to support that attribution.

    Still, I'm cheerfully willing to admit that various folks on the Left accused Bush of a similar strategy – he didn't know how to end the disaster(s) he had created, so he planned to just dump it on his successor, and then blame him when it all continued to go south. Unfair, probably. But at least the Left observed his behavior for years before jumping to that conclusion.

    Oz

  • norm762

    How did I know you would retort with that?

    Has Peggy Noonan every served or gone to a war college? What are her qualifications on insurgency warfare, asymmetric warfare, etc…? What proven aptitude does she have in matters of military matters? Why is she on the tube after how many years of absence?

  • Ozzie_M

    Charday says


    It is no use having a dialogue with you Ozzie.

    Yes, it seems like all the commentators at IC eventually come to that conclusion.

    Other opinions may differ, but personally I think it's because I just don't agree with you all, and vigorously dispute your assertions, and request that you support your positions with evidence.

    I'm pretty sure most everyone else thinks it is because I'm 'stupid,' a 'lightweight', and a 'troll' (only a few of the schoolyard names that *Intellectual* Conservatives have called me here).

    Draw your own conclusions, it's all the same to me.

    Oz

  • charday

    "America IS a flawed nation, in need of revision. It always has been. It is still, in my view, the greatest nation in the world, and I'm proud to be a citizen."

    That makes sense. Let’s revise the greatest nation in the world how? Oh and how do you think it became the greatest nation in the world? Maybe because it was different in the way its people allowed themselves to be governed? And now we should revise it how I ask again? To be part of a “world power”? Who will be the leader? That charismatic, “ fluent, knowledgeable, moderate individual,” BO?

    Now you just sound silly.

  • Ozzie_M

    Norm, it was only a throw-away, hardly the basis for my argument. Just pointing out is not only wild-eyed leftists who disagree with you.


    Has Peggy Noonan every served or gone to a war college?

    Is that a pre-requisite for making military decisions? Wouldn't that disqualify a number of recent Republican presidential nominee hopefuls? I thought civilian control of the military was a core American value. The President takes the military's best thinking on board, but they don't run him (thank God).

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M


    Let’s revise the greatest nation in the world how?

    Charday, America is a human project, and thus will never be perfect. There are lots of things that could be improved in America. It's still great, and I'd never want to live anywhere else. I'm baffled that you would find that a controversial comment.

    Oz

  • charday

    By the way, just when leftists spent so many hours defending his “deliberations” he has decided to give McChrystal the men he asked for. Of course he says it might take a year to get them over there. You gotta give him credit for figuring out how to straddle the middle. Yep, you can have your men, but not for a year.

    Peggy Noonan has been having orgasms over BO since she laid her sad, irrelevant eyes on him. I expect nothing less from her than her continued adoration of an empty suit.

  • Ozzie_M


    he has decided to give McChrystal the men he asked for

    Did he? All of them? I hadn't heard that.

    Oz

  • norm762

    OZ,

    "I'm 'stupid,' a 'lightweight', and a 'troll'"

    Cheer up buddy. I don't think any such thing. In fact, I haven't been this entertained in a long time. It takes a great deal of intellect to use logical fallacies as gracefully as you do. Bravo.

    As a matter of fact, it is a requirement to make significant military decisions. Generally, the commanders recommend a series of solutions to the commander in chief with all the best guesses as to the 2nd and 3rd order effects. The commander in chief picks one of the solutions based upon whatever is the political ramifications are for that administration. this process isn't the part the media likes to portray. they like to show the president as the man with the plan and ability to decide every detail and that's just not the case.

    remember, we won world war two because the commanders made the decisions, not the president. back then there wasa a role called the "supreme commander" who called all the shots. when you raise the decision making process out of the military to the white house, you lose visibility on what needs to be done, speed of execution and tactical advantage because by the time something is decided and done the enemy has already figured out a counter plan. we may be fighting 3rd worlders, but they have been fighting for a very long time and they are a formidable foe in their own right. this decision making quagmire is a problem the military has been plagued with as far back as before kennedy.

  • norm762

    If you're talking about the 15,000 that are being sent right now… they were already on the regular rotation set by the last administration. In addition to that, they are predominantly technicians and not combat troops.

  • Ozzie_M

    Norm, I think I was unclear: I understand that making large-scale military decisions is a part of being Commander in Chief. I was disputing your implication in order to make those decisions or have a valid opinion, one has to have deep military training or knowledge.

    I don't think Obama has 'raised the decision-making process' and put it in the White House, with regard to tactics and strategies on the ground. McChrystal's request for a major increase in troop levels calls for *fundamental decisions* on the part of the US: should we escalate our presence in Afghanistan, or should we focus on counter-terrorism? Should we view the Karzai government as a reliable partner and tie our efforts to him? Is deepening our involvement in Afghanistan in the best long-term interests of the United States.

    I'm sorry to disagree with you Norm, but those large scale decisions need to be made by the political, civilian leadership of the US, not the military. Once we have committed to a plan – such as McChrystal's – then yes, I agree that civilian meddling or micromanagement *can be* quite unwise.

    He should take his time and get it right.

    Oz

  • Ozzie_M

    I'll just say in passing that I don't necessarily agree with your characterization of the way large-scale military decisions were made in WWII (or other successful wars). I could be wrong, and I don't really plan to look it up, but I had the impression that Presidents had significant input in a variety of ways. Sometimes helpful, sometimes not.

    Certainly in the Civil War, Lincoln was highly engaged with every aspect of military strategy, until he found the generals who understood how to prosecute the war.

    Oz

  • norm762

    Presidents had input on whether or not to get involved once the military action is started, it's the military commanders that make the tactical decisions. WWII was a much larger scale than AG and they still maintained positive control over the distribution of resources.

  • charday

    Again you are putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say that was controversial. It is contradictory. Why would you fundamentally revise a Nation that you think is the greatest in the world? And by the way, according to BO, who just spent the better part of his time in office apologizing for us, we are very flawed and not the greatest nation in the world. In fact, according to him, we are the reason the world is such a mess. That may sound profound to you and that may be how you think the greatest nation in world will become better. By lowering its standards to be just like every other nation.

    Just as a human would not fundamentally change their character but would improve it, a Nation that is “the greatest in the world” doesn’t fundamentally revise its principal founding characteristics. Small, and limited government, representative taxation, free market not socialism or communism, national security not open borders and mass illegal immigration and disrespect for our laws, private, personal healthcare , governing BY the people.

    Right now we have a group of lying, deceitful, power hungry leftists in our home. These are simple things to understand. You must be either very young or highly “educated” in need of a nanny state of mind.

    What is ironic is that people like Rush Limbaugh will make much more money now than ever because of this usurper and his comrades unless they silence free speech in the greatest nation in the world. Socialism and communism favor the very rich and the very resourceful, of which I am one. Why do you think Soros, Buffet, Gates, that creep from GE, AARP who is licking their chops because the health care bill denies Medicare Advantage plans any subsidy leaving only their supplements for seniors, much more expensive too, and so many other of the really wealthy back the Democrats? You think it is because they “really, really care about people”? How ridiculous. I couldn’t believe the hypocrisy of Buffet when he declared that his secretary really needed government intervention because she was one of the little people. You idiot, just giver her more money. If they really cared, they could always contribute to the voluntary income tax that is set up so people can give the government money to take care of the “less fortunate”. Read: not as good as I am.

    What they do with their money is none of my business, but when they want my money to fund their ideology, well now we are talking religion.

  • Ozzie_M

    By the way, Norm, I am quite an interested observer of logical fallacies. Which one(s) have I employed?

    Just curious.

    Oz

  • norm762

    for starters, red herring, dancing on the head of a pin…

  • norm762

    I suspected you were versed in fallacies. You're method is very subtle but still there none the less.

  • Ozzie_M

    Charday asserts, unjustly:


    It is contradictory. Why would you fundamentally revise a Nation that you think is the greatest in the world?

    Please point out where I said we have to 'fundamentally' revise America, Charday. I think we are fundamentally quite sound, actually. I'm quite optimistic about our prospects.

    I said America is flawed. So is every other country in the world, now and always. And it is (in my opinion) the greatest country in the world.

    Please explain, in a detailed, step-by-step manner, why those two statements are logically contradictory. I can love something and think it's the greatest, and still find it flawed in some or many ways. Nothing contradictory about that at all. You're mistaken, sorry.


    And by the way, according to BO, who just spent the better part of his time in office apologizing for us, we are very flawed and not the greatest nation in the world. In fact, according to him, we are the reason the world is such a mess.

    Really? The 'better part of his time'? Did he actually say 'we are the reason the world is such a mess'?

    I never heard that. Please provide some evidence of those assertions. Can you link me to a news item or something where Obama said 'we are the reason the world is such a mess'. Or that he's spent 'the better part of his time' apologizing for America.

    I do understand you probably don't mean that he literally said those words. So, if you could just link to an occasion where he said something similar to that, it would help.

    Oz

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