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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Sociopathic Washington atwitter about sociopaths in its midst: a weak, liberal president without a conscience; a veracious military-industrial complex

Obama: ‘The Generals Made Me Do It!’

What's a community organizer to do?
( -- by Justin Raimondo --

All Washington is atwitter: the grand old man of the Court Historians, Bob Woodward, has come out with yet another “book” – i.e. another long-winded press release on behalf of the Powers That Be – explaining, “reporting,” and rationalizing the war policies of the current regime. Oh, glory be! Drop everything and run to the nearest bookstore – or just go online and download the excerpts at the Washington Post‘s incredibly cumbersome web site, loaded down with so many ads, pop-ups, and pop-outs that one imagines his next book will be out before your computer stops grinding.

Chapter One ought to have been titled “The Generals Made Me Do It.” Poor President Obama: he’s the most powerful man on earth, and yet he can’t get past his own generals. When he asked them for “options” in Afghanistan, they came up with what was essentially a single option: 40,000 more troops and a counterinsurgency that would last until Hell (or Afghanistan) froze over. The President was “frustrated,” and even “impatient” – “I need a plan, a plan, my kingdom for a plan that will get me out of this box!” Okay, so that’s not a direct quote, but you get the idea.

Lacking such a plan, Obama drew up a document resembling a “contract,” which stated the terms and conditions under which he’d go along with the escalation of the war. Key to this was the much-vaunted 2011 “withdrawal” date, i.e. the date we would supposedly start “downsizing” our footprint and begin the “training” phase that would get us the heck out of there, and get Obama out of the hot water he’s increasingly in with his Democratic base.

What’s interesting, here, is that our commander-in-chief automatically took one option – a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, followed by withdrawal – off the table. It is not even mentioned as a possibility, however distant. This is not surprising, given the Washington consensus, which is that the Empire never stops expanding, but only pauses once in a while to catch its breath.

Even less surprising is that the President is portrayed as an empty shell, a political creature who cares not one whit about the moral and ideological aspects of the momentous decision he is about to make, but only about what kind of electoral advantage (or disadvantage) a given policy option promises. Here is a hollow man, without a moral or ideational core, an empty vessel waiting to be filled by others – who are more than ready to oblige.

Chapter Two might be called “Good Cop, Bad Cop,” with the former being Vice President Joe Biden, and the latter the collective voice of the generals. The Biden plan – start training the Afghan army, and then get the heck out – is well-known, so it’s not necessary to go into the operational details here. Suffice to say it was a mirage, never meant to be taken seriously, and put up there, I would argue, merely to salvage the remnants of Obama’s conscience. The assumption being he has a conscience – which, I believe, is entirely unwarranted...

The account of the final meeting, in which the President gives the military everything they want – short of ten thousand troops who will be on their way a few months later – is almost comic, in a Seinfeldian kind of way. There is President Obama, sternly demanding that everyone in the room sign on to the agreement, and not come out in public saying something else. This ultimatum is ostensibly directed at the generals, but they just sit there smiling, luxuriating in their victory, and wondering, like Petraeus, why he didn’t save them the trouble and agree to 30,000 more troops from the start. The anti-escalation faction, small and ineffectual as it is, is the real target of this presidential admonition, although Woodward doesn’t say this: he simply reports what happened. In short, the President was saying “Keep your big mouth shut, Joe – I beat you fair and square in the primaries, and you’re deluded if you think you’ll get a second chance.”

Poor Joe: his job is to go on the Rachel Maddow show and patiently explain to the base – or what’s left of it – why the escalation of the war is really a necessary prelude paving the way for complete withdrawal...

I have to say, finally, that the most disturbing aspect of Woodward’s account, so far, is the extent to which Obama is intimidated by the military, and the alarming power of Gen. Petraeus as he openly thumbs his nose at the chief executive. Both Petraeus and McChrystal went public demanding 40,000 more troops before the decision was even made: if that isn’t insubordination worthy of firing, then what is?

The President had already ceded his authority to the generals before the “debate” was even begun: the rest was merely filling in the details of his capitulation...MORE...LINK

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