And that’s according to Politico:
While some say that dumping Hagel was intended, in part, to cool the criticism of Obama’s foreign policy machinations, the immediate effect has been to draw more attention to the way life-and-death decisions are made in the White House Situation Room — and why they’re not working out better in trouble spots like from Syria to Ukraine.
Some close observers say the responsibility is borne by a few key officials, including national security advisor Susan Rice and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, who have further centralized decision-making, cut midlevel officials out of the policy process and convened endless meetings before making decisions. The White House did not make Rice available for comment.
Critics point to failures large and small, from the White House’s tone-deaf celebration of the controversial Bowe Bergdahl as a heroic figure to a military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria that lacks strategic coherence and which has been bogged down in sideshows like the battle for the strategically trivial town of Kobani.
“The NSC process has gotten worse” since Rice took over the national security council in June of 2013, says a former administration official who had foreign policy-related duties.
The traditional great strength of American military decision making is a reflection of the traditional great strength of American culture and business — the willingness on the part of management to push that decision making downward. American soldiers, like employees at the best-run American companies, are given tremendous powers to take the initiative and make their own on-the-spot decisions.
When we’ve gotten away from that tradition, we have failed.
Big Labor damn near killed the Big Three automakers, negotiating multi-thousand-page contracts which detailed the smallest decisions for years to come. The result was that they got their lunch eaten by more nimble automakers from Germany and Japan — even in German- and Japanese-owned plants right here in the United States. LBJ was famous for using satellite coms to direct military action in Vietnam down to the platoon level, and the result was that the North Vietnamese ate our lunch.
Now we have a President so steeped in the sickening goo of his own self-belief that he’s repeating LBJ’s mistakes. The difference of course is that LBJ, for all his faults, was determined to win in Vietnam. For Obama in the Middle East, an obvious result like victory lacks the proper nuance for his elevated tastes.
He ought to name himself his own SefDec and just get it over with.