Tuesday, October 13, 2009

#167 Obama and Nixon

Fact is ... I like Obama. I really, really like him. So glad he won the Presidency AND the Nobel Peace Prize--the latter not least because it validates his identity as a World Leader on our pathway toward true globalization, toward that "international fraternity" that is a goal and condition of the award. (It certainly was a guilty pleasure, too, watching the heads of xenophobic neocons explode.) And, as I've mentioned before, he bears a passing resemblance to my fourth son. But as is the case for any wayward child, you've got to apply some "tough love" upon occasion.

Problem is ... we now learn there's been a "stealth-surge" in the number of troops Obama is actually sending to the AfPak War. As reported yesterday in the Washington Post, an additional 13,000 "support forces"--engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts, military police--will be or already are being sent (who knows?) to aid the 21,000 "combat" troops authorized in March. As if we couldn't do the math--more than half again the original number--and as if these folk wouldn't be in danger of their lives.

Barely was the cyber-ink dry on my last post, than Obama pulled a Nixon. Yes, I'll stretch the parallel to the secret bombing of Cambodia a bit, but let's be clear about this: Can there be any doubt that, when the brainy young President made his decision last March to escalate the AfPak War, Obama knew EXACTLY the number of Americans he would be placing in the line of fire? In fact, it's easy to imagine the kind of dialogue that took place with his Pentagon guys--Obama meanwhile realizing how momentous his first war-time decision would be for all his supporters past and present. It might have gone something like this:

--Okay, 21,000 combat. But what's the overall TOTAL? The American people will want to hear that, and I know there has to be some service personnel going along. How many would that be?
--13,000, Mr President.
--Holy xxxx! [expletive deleted]
--Well, Sir, the accepted formula is about 2500 support troops per each combat brigade of 4000 [true].
--But that's over half the number doing the real fighting in the xxx xxxx War! You realize that overall figure puts us over Bush's total in Iraq and Afghanistan after he started all that "surging"?
--Yes, but everybody knows there needs to be support personnel. It's just a fact of war.
--You mean we could go with the combat figure, without mentioning the additional ...
--It's understood, Sir.

Maybe I'm being too hard on Obama, because the expectations were too high. After all, Bush dumped a war on him that never should have been fought, and he never said he would not take the war to Afghanistan in earnest after elected. Quite the contrary. It was that kind of forthrightness that put him in office. But strong words need to be spoken. People are getting killed over there, needlessly. Okay, if he didn't read the clear signals correctly that any military action in the Middle East is doomed to failure and gotten out of there immediately, then we can at least expect him be more forthright about just what's going on--meanwhile hoping he'll come to his senses soon. He pledged a greater TRANSPARENCY under his administration. Let the glasnost begin here. Lest he acquire a "Tricky" next to his first name, or worse.

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