The President Wielding A Twig: Scary Thinking of A Crisis

cuban-missile-crisisOne thing that I did not like about Obama was that he did his best to keep us out of war. Oh, I know some  blame him for Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and god knows what other places but the incursions into those places was minor or was necessitated by decisions made by a prior president.

Iraq and Afghanistan started under Bush who was in office 2001 to 2008 and continued by Obama from 2009 to 2016. In Iraq during Bush years American military suffered 3908 fatalities while under Obama 290; in Afghanistan under Bush 630 and Obama 1732. For the most part we pulled out of Iraq which gave rise to ISIS and put more troops into Afghanistan to continue the ever losing fight against the Taliban.

The ball has now been tossed into Trump’s hands and he has pretty much continued on the Obama policies in Afghanistan by putting more troops into the fire. Things are a mess in those two countries and for now, at least in Afghanistan, there is no exit.

With respect to Syria we read this:In a major reversal of Obama administration policy, President Donald Trump has given Defense Secretary Jim Mattis broad authority to set troop levels in Iraq and Syria, according to the Pentagon. The number of troops deployed, the so-called “Force Management Levels,” was the closely held prerogative of the White House under former President Obama. But in a statement Thursday night, the Pentagon said, “The president has delegated authority to the secretary of defense to determine force management levels (FML) for Iraq and Syria.”

We know 400 Marines were sent to northern Syria, 300 Army guys to the Mosul fight, and 2500 troops of the 82nd Airborne to Kuwait to be prepared to jump into the fight.  But it is what we don’t know that is worrisome since troop deployments from now on are going to be secret. It is not even clear Trump wants to know about them.  But isn’t that the way Trump works? He will be able to blame the military for the decisions that cost more American lives rather than accept responsibility as commander-in-chief.

I suggest that Trump is as adverse to going into battle as was Obama, if not more. We have seen how countries whose interests are divergent from ours have taken advantage of Obama. Most clearly were the encroachment of the Russians into Ukraine and Syria along with the China extending its borders by building islands on reefs in the Pacific far from its shores and North Korea having eight years to perfect it nukes and intercontinental missiles. They did it because they read in Obama a distaste for standing up to them militarily wise so they took advantage.

They are now reading the same thing with Trump. The only difference is Obama with all his gifts of gab never said he was going to do something about those things. Trump with his braggadocio threatened to back up his words with force. It now appears his words were empty and his force no more than waving a twig at the encroachments of the others.

He justifies backing down from China’s expanding claims and building on the islands because he needs its help with North Korea so we have given up on challenging the Chinese military expansion.  For the same reason we are buttering-up the bloody Philippine leader by keeping our mouths shut about his human rights abuses. And while Trump awaits the honor of meeting with Kim Jong-un he will continue to test his missiles and nuclear weapons.

I suggest weakness has never proved to be a wise policy even when it is accompanied by a loud mouth Charlie Bratton-type president. Expect push back from these countries and others in the world that see that he is a timid leader. Look for Russia to move more into Ukraine and push back in the Baltic; for China to more aggressively to exclude others from the ocean surrounding its new territorial acquisitions; and North Korea to continue getting more sophisticated in its weapon developments.

Speaking of Russia, the press freedom institute has just come out with the list of countries with the most and least press freedom. Those with the least are: North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Crimea.  Yes, it sure pays to be friends with the Russians.

Even with that, the greatest sign of Trump’s weakness is relinquishing his authority to the military in the Middle East. A president cannot be in a position of closing his eyes and ears to what the military does. Truman stopped McArthur from nuking the Chinese; and we know Kennedy rejected the generals who wanted to invade Cuba. Read this and ask yourself if something like this would happen around Trump when we have a crisis.














10 thoughts on “The President Wielding A Twig: Scary Thinking of A Crisis

  1. So you imbue the “contractor-working stiff” with the same nobility of the Marine Platoon Leader and the Gunny? No distinction–just the private sector applying efficiencies. Great analogy.

    1. You would suggest that a Flying Tiger, a man who on orders from the government officially left the Army Air Corps and then implemented government policy by officially being part of the Chinese war effort, is less than a man the government did not think capable of such service and was thus left to collect a monthly kiss in the mail after 30 years.

      Don’t take statistical tables seriously enough to apply them to individuals. Each man will be judged on his own. Stats usually contain abnormal results for some individuals. It is silly to obsess over them or to try to apply an average to a single person.

      As to your question whether a check issued by the DOD makes a man better than another whose check is received from a corporation, my opinion is that it makes no difference whatsoever. They are both individuals and not atomic sub particles of an institution.

  2. Why are contractors working for anyone who hires them considered “US Deaths”?

    1. You seem to imply that working directly for the government makes a wage slave better than one who plods along in the private sector. Not nice.

      Be that as it may there is a long, murky history of private contracting firms being fronts for government owned corporations. Look up Flying Tigers to get a feel for just how deceptive the government can be. It took them fifty years to admit the truth that everyone knew anyway. In brief, and this may come as a surprise, the government lies. Maybe they count American citizens. Today’s standard may turn into a pumpkin at midnight.

      A lot in government statistics is just lack of imagination in the system. Example, ketchup is a vegetable. A lot of fuss was made about that once. But what is a poor clerk supposed to do he/she has to assign a category to it and there are only three categories: meat, dairy, and fruit/vegetable?

  3. Both Obama and Trump appealed to the public’s lack of appetite for war. It worked in both times in November. It also worked for two of our nation’s foremost, blood-soaked liars – Wilson in 1916 and FDR in 1940.

    All four presidents were responding to lobbying blocs that put a particular interest above the common weal. That is part of free speech. But those opposing war should be allowed to openly point out particular interests without being vilified and persecuted.

    That is not true today. There are very well funded hate groups that have ready access to the media for their slanderous lists of who is a danger to America. Example. You should never be comfortable with a man who has served in the military and is still in the Reserves. Outfits with media access like the ADL and the $PLC issue warnings of this sort to the general public and police departments on a regular basis.

    On occasion Obama held back the warmongers. He could have done more. Hopefully Trump will. Obama needed help and did not always get it. Trump will need help. Pray to God that he gets it. We do not want him to lament as did the senior Bush when he attempted to thwart those pushing for more involvement in affairs of no vital interest to the United States, “I heard today there was something like a thousand lobbyists on the Hill working the other side of the question. We’ve got one lonely little guy down here doing it.”

    No president should ever be left that alone.

  4. Matt:

    As always, you provide us with good food for thought; “thought provoking” views from a creative writer who is trekking towards the left. Now a few pokes and jabs from one who treks towards the right:

    1. Obama was in office 8 years. He can’t excuse his failures on “inherited” problems. He left the world worse off. Trump’s in office 4 months; let’s give him a break!
    2. Signs of Trump’s strength: He’s taking the reins off his generals; he’s asking for $50 billion more for defense; he’s forcing NATO partners to pony up $20 billion more.
    3. Some good news: Russia and Japan have agreed to mutually develop disputed islands. (Kuril islands.)
    4. As for the islands of the South China Sea, they’ve been disputed since WWII and long before. (China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia claim individual islands: UN & US insist surrounding seas are international waters.) No quick fix.
    5. I don’t recall your criticizing Obama for his silence and inertia on the Spratly Islands nor on Filipino President Duterte’s excesses. In the real world the U.S. has to deal with dictators.
    6. You underestimate the US deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. One learned journal says Obama created a “mercenary army”: 1,540 U.S. contractors were killed (176 in Iraq; 1,364 in Afghanistan) under Obama (Jan 2009-March 2016). Another site says a total of 8,800 U.S. deaths (soldiers and contractors) as of last year. Your numbers are closer to 6,000. It’s difficult to pin down exact current numbers.
    7. As for the article on the Cuban Missile Crisis, omitted was the fact that JFK called Ike and when Ike was told the agreement was that Russia would remove its missiles from Cuba and the US would guarantee (1) no future invasion of Cuba and (2) U.S. missiles out of Turkey, Ike advised: “Put it in writing”, according to Brett Baier’s new book.
    8. The way to resolve perennial problems is by improving relations with the major players, not exacerbating tensions. Maybe that is the lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis!
    9. A lesson America has yet to learn (and should have learned from Vietnam) is to stop being an interventionistic, imperialistic power.
    10. Peace through strength! with an emphasis on peace!

    1. Trump is a bumbling idiot and a pathetic excuse for a President. History will not be kind to his administration or his supporters.

  5. wa-llahi! Poor Obama, he was a prolific killer, but, because of his reticence, he gets no credit. OB put the techno-war on high. The American rain of death poured down on Iraq, Yemen, and, Syria, during his administration. Thousands, including women, and, children, have been slain by hell-fire missiles, and, smart bombs. Glorious Leader is all for continuing the slaughter. The war is on auto-pilot, now. It doesn’t matter who’s President. War, like fire, obeys it’s own rules. It was won’t go out , until, it’s fuel is consumed, or, it is suffocated. Human beings are what it burns. America has to stop trying to rule the rest of the world by force. If Trump wants the fire to go out, he must quit feeding the blaze.

  6. You did not like Obama because he did his best to keep us out of war? What a ridiculous reason to not like a President. The Iraq war was based on a lie and a complete neoconservative lark designed to empire build, not spread democracy. Afghanistan was at one point a righteous war in that the enemy, al-Qaeda, was hiding there and being supported by the Taliban. At a certain point itself has turned into a joke where we dump billions of dollars and spill American blood for almost nothing in return. It is time to cut that country loose, and go back to pure counter-terrorism measures in that area of the world, rather than conventional military actions.

    You have to remember, when Obama came to power, the American people’s appetite for war had waned considerably. That was the basis of Obama’s military philosophy in the Middle East. Pull back on the major ground wars, increase drone strikes and special operations.

    I agree, we should have done more to support the Ukrainians. They took a considerable risk in pivoting to the West and ousting the Putin puppet in charge. We did not repay their rebuke of Putin with anything worthwhile. Russia would never engage us in a shooting war as we have NATO allies directly at his door step.

    Syria is another matter entirely. Obama did the right thing in Syria. We could not get into another major ground war in the Middle East. We would be overstretched and suffer tremendous casualties from the likes of IEDs and suicide bombers. Obama cannot be blamed for ISIS any more than he can be blamed for the Iran-Contra affair. Bush invaded Iraq, killed Saddam and created the power vacuum that gave rise to ISIS. He also entered into the Status of Forces agreement with the Iraqi government which gave a deadline of December 2011 to withdraw all US military forces from the country. Obama simply adhered to the agreement put in place by his predecessor. Yes, he could have torn up that agreement and kept our guys in there, but it was the right thing to do. Enough of these foreign wars that get us nothing in return, let’s focus our billions and trillions of dollars on helping the American people.

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