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Ed Driscoll

The Emotionally Disconnected Commander-in-Chief

January 12th, 2014 - 6:04 pm

No wonder the media are so thrilled to discuss Chris Christie and “Bridgegate” this weekend; any excuse not to discuss Robert Gates’ hard-hitting new memoirs of his time serving as Secretary of Defense alongside Barry and Hillary. Fortunately though, Robert Fulford is talking about it in Canada’s National Post:

During the 2008 election campaign, Obama said that Afghanistan, not Iraq, was the war the United States should be fighting. But when the military did focus on Afghanistan, Obama struck Gates as uncommitted and impatient. He recalls a meeting in March, 2011, when it became clear that Obama didn’t trust the American commander, couldn’t stand President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, didn’t believe in his own strategy, and didn’t consider the war to be his: “For him, it’s all about getting out.”

Gates found Obama emotionally disconnected from much that happened in his administration. He noticed that only one military issue aroused deep passion in Obama, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law that prohibited gays from serving openly in the military until Obama got it repealed.

When a plan for Afghanistan leaked to the newspapers, Obama took it as a personal affront. Though he had leakers of his own, he assumed this one came from the military. Angrily, he asked, “Is it a lack of respect for me? Do they resent that I never served in the military? Do they think because I’m young that I don’t see what they’re doing?”

It’s worth quoting that passage from Gates’ memoirs in full:

[JCS Chairman Admiral Michael] Mullen and I repeatedly discussed with the infuriated president what he regarded as military pressure on him. “Is it a lack of respect for me?” Obama asked us. “Are [Petraeus, McChrystal and Mullen] trying to box me in? I’ve tried to create an environment where all points of view can be expressed and have a robust debate. I’m prepared to devote any amount of time to it—however many hours or days. What is wrong? Is it the process? Are they suspicious of my politics? Do they resent that I never served in the military? Do they think because I’m young that I don’t see what they’re doing?”

Moe Lane of Red State deconstructs that last paragraph line by line. It’s not really a fisking, as Moe doesn’t disagree with Gates’ assessment. However, careful analysis of it “gives us a good look at [Obama's] war insecurities,” he writes. Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile at Power Line, Scott Johnson spots a Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist attempting to find a local angle within Gates’ memoirs:

If there is anyone out there who still thinks Sen. Harry Reid isn’t battier than a pet raccoon, then allow me to point out a Reid reference in former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ new book that would argue the point.

Gates says that Harry Reid once urged him to have the Defense Department “invest in research on irritable bowel syndrome.”

“With two ongoing wars and all our budget and other issues,” Gates writes, “I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

Dear Mr. Gates: I assure you that Nevadans feel the same way.

Hey, why not? As we mentioned earlier today, confronted by the War on Terror in its formative stages, Howard Dean sought mental refuge in his beloved bike lanes. (So did Michael Bloomberg, come to think of it). As Fulford noted above, the only military issue that “aroused deep passion in Obama [was] the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law that prohibited gays from serving openly in the military until Obama got it repealed.” Similarly, Congressional lefties have been using the military as a litmus test for their pet environmentalist issues under Obama. Since Reid declared Iraq lost before Bush won there before Obama lost there on behalf of his fellow Democrats, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he wants to get in on the left’s project to dilute the military’s effective as well.

By the way, is “emotionally disconnected” a euphemism for the president being distant and aloof, or a tacit acknowledgment of something worse?

Related: Well, related at least to that last link, at least. “Rumours of marriage problems threaten to overshadow Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday,” the Australian reports.

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Obama stayed in Afghanistan only because he and his staff knew that to bug out of there and Iraq at the same time -- as the left fervently hoped he would do -- would have courted disaster for his administration, if the result was a revived Taliban in 2009 and an attack on the U.S. or a major strike on American interests overseas prior to the 2012 election.

That's it. That was the extent of Obama's commitment, and why he came across as "uncommitted and impatient" to Gates. Obama's natural inclination was to be out there protesting U.S. troops being used anywhere in the world to further American interests, and he was irked Bush stuck him with this one that he couldn't get out of so easily -- especially after his glib remark during the campaign about focusing on Afghanistan, which he only said because Bush was focusing more on Iraq than Afghanistan. Obama made the promise to focus on the Afghan insurgents and was irked at Bush for making him do it (it's always Bush's fault in Obamaworld), since the only insurgents that stir the president's ire are the ones in the Tea Party.
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