We have travelled down this road before. When General Westmoreland requested increased troop levels at the onset of the Vietnam conflict, his requests were largely ignored by politicians who failed to value the our military leaderships expertise and experience. Time and time again during the Vietnam conflict, Washington overrode and failed to meet military personnel and equipment requests at the peril of our servicemen. Once again we now have leadership in Washington who speak of winning wars but lack the resolve to wage a war. If President Obama redefines our objectives and scales-back operations in Afghanistan, then we may as well pull out every troop. Fewer soldiers will only embolden the Taliban and Al-Quaeda fighters leading to more attacks upon NATO forces and cause a subsequent defensive shift within those forces. I wrote the following a year ago July and it still holds true today...
Roosevelt's beliefs also differ from Obama on another front. Roosevelt never believed that it was his job to micro-manage the war. He was heavily involved and always made the final decision, but they were decisions that almost always followed the recommendations, advice and expertise provided by field commanders and experienced war planning staff. Following the outbreak of WWII, Roosevelt crossed party lines, subjecting himself to criticism from Democrat partisans, by appointing Republicans Frank Knox as the Secretary of Navy and Henry Stimson as the Secretary of War. Roosevelt also extended much of his delegated authority to Eisenhower, Nimitz, MacArthur and others. Roosevelt valued and depended heavily upon the operational advice and expertise of these leaders.
Obama, on the other hand, with no military experience has made it clear that he is unwilling to rely upon the delegated authority of our commanders in the field. This week, within just hours of his first-ever visit to Afghanistan and first visit in 2.5 years to Iraq, Obama announced that his position on Iraqi troop levels would not change, although he noted General Petraeus' opposition to his plans. Obama made clear in his Iraq speech that he considered "tactical desicions" to be of little importance. This is not the behavior of a leader who respects and relies upon the experience, judgement, and expertise of field commanders.
The greatest danger to our troops fighting overseas is a Commander-In-Chief who believes that he is better equipped to run our military than those who have a committed a lifetime to protecting our nation. President Bush's biggest mistake was his failure to recognize the concerns of and rely upon the planning expertise of our field commanders, prior to and immediately following the invasion of Iraq. President Johnson led our military into an unbearable and lengthy war, when he overrode General Westmoreland's military strategy for Vietnam and failed to fully deploy troop levels that Westmoreland and other field commanders were requesting early in the war. Obama has already established that he is doomed to repeat these mistakes and that his judgement, not the judgement of the commanders in the field, is right.
History has taught our nation an infinite number of valuable lessons. The question remains as to whether we will learn from these mistakes and successes. Obama's plan for Iraq is not built upon sound military strategy; it is built upon political expediency and a resolve to quench his thirst for power...
Today, I leave you with one quote:
"To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required..."
John F. Kennedy - Inaugural Address 1961