Obama's Victory-Less War; Political Calculations Trump Battlefield Strategy for the O Force
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Bob Woodward's new book, Obama's Wars, is days away from release and already causing a stir. As the title implies, it's not only about the U.S. overseas contingency operations President Obama is overseeing but also the personality clashes and policy conflicts the White House has shielded from public view. Since the Obama team invited Mr. Woodward into its midst and thus legitimized his enterprise, whatever fallout comes from the book will be a self-inflicted wound.
Some of the most commented-on aspects are more flash than bang. We learn that senior presidential adviser David M. Axelrod is a complete spin doctor, but what else is new? White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel may have cheered targeted killings by drones, but who doesn't feel a certain satisfaction when terrorists abruptly meet their maker? It already was well-known that special envoy Richard C. Holbrooke suffers from an acute case of heightened self-esteem and also that Vice President Joe Biden wanted desperately to avoid having Afghanistan turn into another Vietnam, a war he successfully avoided the first time around.
Mr. Obama saying the United States could absorb another major terrorist attack was certainly a case of inartful phrasing, but his fundamental point acknowledges the strength of America. Terrorism remains a priority threat, but there is nothing the terrorists could do, no act of dramatic violence, that would mean the end of the United States. Even a small-scale nuclear attack, what the president calls a potential game changer, would not destroy the Land of the Free. A low-level nuclear terror strike would make for some terrible days but not the end of times, except hopefully for the state sponsors that assist terrorists in obtaining such weapons.
The problems for the White House are the sudden cracks in the administration's well-maintained facade of competence and confidence. The 30,000-troop surge was not a figure determined by military advisers, as had been assumed, but by Mr. …