November 12, 2009
Vietnam Ended in 1975, Gang
Laura Rozen's blog post on the Eikenberry memos is worth reading if only because it features some quotes from those dinosaurs in the Democratic Party who think that when it comes to the military and its officer corps, it's still "us versus them".
Obama has additional leverage to assert his Afghanistan deliberations against a Pentagon pushing for him right now, another Democratic foreign policy hand suggested yesterday: Fort Hood, and the military apparently sitting on very serious concerns some had about Maj. Hasan.
"The Army [screwed] up here," he said. "The army [screwed] up in such a monumental way. The Army generals are running for cover now."
First off, and pardon my language, we can all agree that whoever said this is a horse's ass. Thinking the Fort Hood Massacre offers an opportunity for leverage over those dastardly uniformed officers vis a vis Afghanistan is incredibly ugly. We can also agree this person knows little about how the military operates. I doubt Ranger Stan McChrystal has even been to Fort Hood, and it sure never entered his mind that his strategic recommendations would have been affected by what took place there. The institutional failings of the U.S. Army have nothing to do with the operational and strategic concerns of Afghanistan. (Seriously, what the hell is wrong with the person who said this to Laura? Does he really think "the Army generals" think as one or operate as a cabal? Where do they find these people?)
Second, the entire premise that the uniformed officer corps is out to get a Democratic president -- especially after the fun and games of the Iraq War and the Rumsfeld Pentagon -- is nonsense. Heck, many general officers would have been tickled pink if Hillary Clinton -- who has close relationships with several senior officers and an especially warm relationship with Gen. Petraeus -- had been elected. If President Obama does not have similarly close relationships with his generals, it's only because he is still an unknown quantity. Clinton, by contrast, used from 2000 to 2008 to really invest in her relationships with the Department of Defense, and it took time before she was trusted.
Nothing frustrates me more as a somewhat center-left defense policy analyst than when the Democratic Party displays such a stunning ignorance of the uniformed officer corps and falls back on tired old suspicions. The equivalent disease in the GOP, I guess, is the arrogance that they know better than the uniformed officer corps (again, see Rumsfeld, Donald) because they hail from the National Security Party™. Grow up, kids. Vietnam and the Cold War both ended a long time ago.