I’m certain by now you’ve heard that Rolling Stone published a pretty scathing article about Gen. Stanley McCrystal. For all the hoo-ha about comments made about the current administration, the article is about much more than that: it tears the administration a new one on the current war policy and strategy. It also highlights a a problem I blogged about last week; the administration’s inability to make a command decision.
I really could care less about the parts of the story that have gained the most media airtime. In case you were under a rock, the press has been having fun with the fact Gen. McCrystal doesn’t have much respect for the President, Vice-President or US Ambassador to Afghanistan? To which I say, So What? Most people in the military have little respect and less regard for any of them. That’s not news; it’s simply a wake-up call to those who have never served that the military mindset prefers direct action over consensus building. Even though the article paints an unflattering picture of McCrystal as a Col. Kurtz type character (the narcissistic commander in “Apocalypse Now” played by Marlon Brando), it’s pretty clear throughout the article that none of the rank-and-file have much use for the President’s strategy in Afghanistan. As one soldier complains to Gen. McCrystal,
“You say we’ve stopped the momentum of the insurgency. I don’t believe that’s true in this area. The more we pull back, the more we restrain ourselves, the stronger it’s getting.”
This, to me, pretty much sums up the principle issue of Obama’s Presidency: an inability to come to quick, astute decisions.
I’m not the only one is lamenting the President’s obvious inability to lead. As Richard Cohen writes in “President Obama’s Enigmatic Intellectualism,”
“What these people were seeking was not an eruption of anger, not a tantrum and not a full-scale denunciation of an oil company. What they wanted instead was a sign that this catastrophe meant something to Obama, that it was not merely another problem that had crossed his desk…”
In other words, we have a President who actually seems afraid that any decision he makes will end up being wrong. Which, of course, seems pretty strange for a guy who was supposedly elected because his intellect gave him a sense of invincibility.
Mr President, I’m restating the plea I made a week ago: please, please stop triangulating and start leading. Even though I’m on definitely on the political right, the last thing the nation needs is a Presidency whose authority is compromised by a lack of cajones. We’ve experienced that before – the feckless Carter years being the most recent. It was the most dismal four years in our nation’s recent history – but so far, this President seems intent on recreating that era. Consider:
- Double digit unemployment, a faltering economy and no prospects of a turn-around
- A nation at the mercy of the Iranians and Koreans
- Israel being left at the gates in favor of “moderate” Arab states
- A general national unease about the ship of state being rudderless