Obama: Perhaps His Instincts Were Better Than His Reason
January 7, 2014
In an article in the NY Times today, an account is given of a memoir by Robert Gates which is, allegedly, critical of President Obama, at least with regard to Afghanistan. Here is a quote from the article, the link to which is provided below:
“As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his,” Mr. Gates wrote. “For him, it’s all about getting out.”
Gee, I guess for Mr. Gates this, “losing faith,” qualifies as criticism, while for me it qualifies as thoughtfulness, unaccompanied by a will to follow one’s instincts. Trust Petraeus? Is that what Petraeus’ wife did? Trust him? Oops! Do business with Karzai? You mean, the guy whose brother was as corrupt as they come and who was himself seen as a “lightweight” in the arena of Afghan politics? And what is wrong with “getting out?” As if, “getting in” did the United States much good. Oh yeah, that’s right: By getting in we disabled bin Laden, didn’t we? Well, not so much, it would seem. And our “strategy” there. What did that amount to? It is debatable whether “counterinsurgency” has ever “worked” anywhere. But, of course, that is not the American way.
You know, it is almost always the case that Americans like to think that the reason they have failed, e.g., in Vietnam, in Korea, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, is because they did not employ the “right strategy.” “Oh, if only we had employed the right strategy, all would have been well.” We Americans never fail because we have chosen to fight wars that we could not win; no, we just make “mistakes.” Or, our strategies are never wrong; they are just improperly implemented. “Oh, if only JFK had lived. Even if he didn’t pull out of Nam, he would have ‘won’ that war! After all, he was young, he was handsome, and he had a Harvard education. How could he fail?”
When we will learn that the world is not “manageable,” that power does not guarantee success, that all the technological “break throughs” do not and cannot guarantee success? When? I doubt ever. And so it is little wonder to me that Obama probably thought of his instincts the way Gates thinks of them: Not to be trusted and certainly not to be acted upon. Too bad. He might have meant something if he had trusted his instincts more than his reason.