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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Strategic Wisdom of Barak Obama

“The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.” — Niccolo Machiavelli

The killing of Osama bin Laden has been characterized by two distinct phases. In Phase I the White House simply could not tell us what happened during the raid and eventually just decided to stop talking about it. Phase II has been a demeaning and unseemly grubbing for credit on the part of the administration under the guise of Obama having made a “gutsy call.” Not only has the administration actively promoted this notion in press conferences but they are actively planting these stories in the tame and housebroken media that has become a hallmark of this administration.

The latest in the series of “Obama is as hard as woodpecker lips” stories comes from the New York Times.

“WASHINGTON - President Obama insisted that the assault force hunting down Osama bin Laden last week be large enough to fight its way out of Pakistan if confronted by hostile local police officers and troops, senior administration and military officials said Monday.”

“Mr. Obama’s decision to increase the size of the force sent into Pakistan shows that he was willing to risk a military confrontation with a close ally in order to capture or kill the leader of Al Qaeda.”

“Such a fight would have set off an even larger breach with the Pakistanis than has taken place since officials in Islamabad learned that helicopters filled with members of a Navy Seals team had flown undetected into one of their cities, and burst into a compound where Bin Laden was hiding.”

“One senior Obama administration official, pressed on the rules of engagement for one of the riskiest clandestine operations attempted by the C.I.A. and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command in many years, said: “Their instructions were to avoid any confrontation if at all possible. But if they had to return fire to get out, they were authorized to do it.”

“….Under the original plan, two assault helicopters were going to stay on the Afghanistan side of the border waiting for a call if they were needed. But the aircraft would have been about 90 minutes away from the Bin Laden compound.”

“About 10 days before the raid, Mr. Obama reviewed the plans and pressed his commanders as to whether they were taking along enough forces to fight their way out if the Pakistanis arrived on the scene and tried to interfere with the operation.”

“That resulted in the decision to send two more helicopters carrying additional troops. These followed the two lead Black Hawk helicopters that carried the actual assault team. While there was no confrontation with the Pakistanis, one of those backup helicopters was ultimately brought in to the scene of the raid when a Black Hawk was damaged while making a hard landing.”

“Some people may have assumed we could talk our way out of a jam, but given our difficult relationship with Pakistan right now, the president did not want to leave anything to chance,” said one senior administration official, who like others would not be quoted by name describing details of the secret mission. “He wanted extra forces if they were necessary.”

“With tensions between the United States and Pakistan escalating since the raid, American officials on Monday sought to tamp down the divisions and pointed to some encouraging developments.”

“A United States official said that American investigators would soon be allowed to interview Bin Laden’s three widows, now being held by Pakistani authorities, a demand that Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, made on television talk shows on Sunday.”

“American officials say the widows, as well as a review of the trove of documents and other data the Seals team collected from the raid, could reveal important details, not only about Bin Laden’s life and activities since he fled into Pakistan from Afghanistan in 2001, but also information about Qaeda plots, personnel and planning.”

I’d be among the first to acknowledge that the SEALs are tough but, let’s be honest, they aren’t tough enough to fight their way out of Pakistan. Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound was over a hundred miles from the Afghan border. The city itself garrisons four infantry battalions and is located in a highly militarized area as it borders on Kashmir. So some latter day reenactment of Xenophon’s Anabasis is pretty much out of the question. Extracting yourself by helicopter while under enemy fire is not something to be attempted lightly.

Nothing that we know about the raid indicates that, in fact, there was any contemplation of going at the Pakistani police or army hammer and tongs. The raiding force consisted of four helicopters. They were hardly jam-packed with shooters as they lost one helicopter on the insertion and had enough spare seats for the passengers and crew from that helicopter to extract. As a contingency they probably had seats available for several prisoners to be extracted. In short, there is no way enough troops could have been inserted on four helicopters to allow the force to “fight its way out of Pakistan.” Such an operation would have required significant tactical air support and would have resulted in sufficient casualties and property damage that Pakistan simply could not have ignored it with really bad effects for our army in Afghanistan that depends upon Pakistani roads to bring in their supplies.

What is actually scary, though, are the prospects that someone actually thought that a handful of US troops, no matter how skilled, could lock horns with a large number of trained troops and prevail. Pakistan’s Army, though hardly world class, is not to be dismissed lightly. As we used to say in regards to the Red Army, “quantity has a quality all its own.”

While there is absolutely nothing in the story that backs up the rather extraordinary claim made in the Times the three reporters involved, Eric Schmitt, Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, aren’t rookies and the odds of them having come up with this formulation without some prompting are pretty slim. The way this claim is used to bolster the idea that at some level Obama was spoiling to kick a little Pakistani butt is also troubling.

There is no doubt that Obama is looking at a the killing of bin Laden as a boon to his reelection chances and, recognizing his own basic gutlessness is a millstone in this endeavor, is using “gutsy call” as shorthand for what he hopes we remember of his grossly deficient leadership. It is a sad state of affairs when you find yourself hoping that your president is simply bloviating and did not seriously contemplate sending young men into a situation that would actually have required them to do something as profoundly stupid as “fight their way out of Pakistan.”

Fox News reports, Bin Laden Files Largest Terror Intelligence Find Ever, Security Adviser Says.

“The files obtained from Osama bin Laden's compound amount to the largest intelligence find ever from a terror leader and show bin Laden was playing an active role in Al Qaeda from his Pakistan hideaway, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said Sunday.”

“In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," Donilon said the trove of files seized last week after bin Laden was killed is "the size of a small college library."

"The size is quite notable. It's the largest cache of intelligence information from a senior terrorist that we know of," he said.

“Though he would not say whether it's yielded any hard leads, Donilon and others said the evidence challenges the notion that bin Laden was a mere figurehead before he was killed last week.”

"Osama bin Laden was not just a symbolic leader of Al Qaeda. In fact, he had operational and strategic roles that he was playing," he said.

These are just two examples of the brilliance of the strategic genius we have in the White House and his staff of sycophants.

Nationally syndicated radio talk show host and columnist Kevin McCullough tackles the thorny issue of why the audacity of hope is not found in the current path that President Barack Obama has laid.

As the first pundit in the world to predict that President Barack Obama would become president of the United States Kevin McCullough was not surprised when Mr. Obama was elected to that office.

Yet even McCullough admits he's surprised by President Obama's actions since the election. Surprised by the overt falsehoods already carried out by this administration. Surprised by our country's sudden deficit of clarity and common sense. Surprised by a blatant lack of accountability. In "No He Can't," McCullough stands as the loyal but outraged loyal opposition to the current state of affairs. Click here to read the introduction to McCullough’s book.

No he can’t is an understatement. The real title should be “He Never Could.”

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