U.S. Constitution puts Obama in charge of the military, not the generals

With the publication of Bob Woodward’s latest book, “Obama’s War,” conservatives have been pushing the meme that the book shows Obama to be indecisive, “ponderous,” naive or a combination of all three — somehow unsuited to be Commander-in-chief.
Kathleen Parker picks up on the theme in yesterday’s WaPo:

What is of some concern — at least based on those excerpts that have leaked thus far — is that the president gets pushed around by the generals. And that impression feeds into the larger one that Barack Obama is not quite commander in chief. He seems far more concerned with being politically savvy than with winning what he has called the good war.

Actually, that’s exactly backwards. Obama, unlike Bush, stood up to military men who gave him dishonest assessments and tried to back him into a corner. Woodward wrote:

President Obama was on edge.

For two exhausting months, he had been asking military advisers to give him a range of options for the war in Afghanistan. Instead, he felt that they were steering him toward one outcome and thwarting his search for an exit plan. He would later tell his White House aides that military leaders were “really cooking this thing in the direction they wanted.”

He was looking for choices that would limit U.S. involvement and provide a way out. His top three military advisers were unrelenting advocates for 40,000 more troops and an expanded mission that seemed to have no clear end. When his national security team gathered in the White House Situation Room on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2009, for its eighth strategy review session, the president erupted.

“So what’s my option? You have given me one option,” Obama said, directly challenging the military leadership at the table, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, then head of U.S. Central Command.

“We were going to meet here today to talk about three options,” Obama said sternly. “You agreed to go back and work those up.”

Still, they refused to follow orders. When Obama learned of a third, “hybrid” option,

. . . he instructed Gates and Mullen to present it. Mullen had other ideas. He used a classified war game exercise – code-named Poignant Vision and held at the Pentagon on Oct. 14, 2009 – to support his case against the option.

Believing the game was rigged, Army Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, Obama’s representative from the National Security Council, boycotted it. According to participants, Poignant Vision did not have the rigor of a traditional war game, in which two teams square off. This exercise was a four-hour seminar.

That’s dishonest and belies the code of honor that Petreaus and Mullen claim to live by. Happily, Obama stood up to them, insisting on a plan that doesn’t tie the U.S. down in Afghanistan for ten years or cost a trillion dollars.

Obama knows that it’s his job to tell the generals what to do. And all those conservatives who insist on fealty to the Constitution should be pleased that Obama insists on civilian control of the military.

231 comments Add your comment

Tommy Maddox

September 27th, 2010
3:44 pm

Can you vote “Present” as a military strategy?

My money is my money

September 27th, 2010
3:46 pm

This may be hard for some of you to believe – after reading articles from CT for about 6 months now I have come to the realization that Obama = good and Bush = bad.

Hankie Aron

September 27th, 2010
3:48 pm

Wow Cynthia, What a Homer. Have you ever criticized Obama on anything?

Real Scooter

September 27th, 2010
3:52 pm

Yeah,Obama is a real man’s man alright. He can’t even throw a baseball. :lol:

T-Town

September 27th, 2010
3:56 pm

What it appears is that the American people got a definite, positive, maybe about the war. Just not sure who gave it.

Stonethrower

September 27th, 2010
4:00 pm

All you folks being critical of Ms Tucker, were you ever critical of President Bush or are you ever critical of the GOP? I thought not.

TINSTAAFL

September 27th, 2010
4:05 pm

The man in charge of our military wouldn’t even be able to pass a security clearence background check. Can’t blame the constitution for this though. Gotta blame the people.

Kamchak

September 27th, 2010
4:05 pm

Start bringing our troops home now, Mr. President. Even Chinggis Khaan couldn’t take that particular piece of ground, and it was in his backyard.

Tychus Findlay

September 27th, 2010
4:07 pm

I beat Obama in hoops.

carlosgvv

September 27th, 2010
4:12 pm

Actually, that’s exactly backwards.

Actually, when one source says one thing and Bob Woodward says something else, we don’t know what to beleive. What a lot of us DO beleive is that the sooner we get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, the better off we are.

Bob

September 27th, 2010
4:14 pm

Chinggis Khaan ?

jconservative

September 27th, 2010
4:20 pm

Actually Obama did the same thing as Bush 43. The Pentagon did not want of occupy Iraq but Bush forced their hand. The Pentagon wanted
a huge force in Afghanistan and Obama forced their hand.

Now history will provide the answer if either Bush or Obama made the correct decision. At this time it is way to early to tell. If I had to decide today, I would say both Bush and Obama screwed up big time.
But we will not decide today, we will decide in 40 to 50 years after the decisions play out.

A Lumpkin Resident

September 27th, 2010
4:23 pm

Obama knows that it’s his job to tell the generals what to do. And all those conservatives who insist on fealty to the Constitution should be pleased that Obama insists on civilian control of the military.

And I, for one, am. Look, I don’t like Obama. He’s been dealt a crappy hand in these wars. I think he has made the aftermath (i.e. after we leave) worse for those countries and not better. But it is what it is. The military MUST submit to civilian control. PERIOD. If he (the President) screws it up, the PEOPLE will make the determination to replace him.

Kamchak

September 27th, 2010
4:23 pm

Chinggis Khaan is the way it’s spelled in Ulaanbaatar, and it’s actually a title. His name was Temüjin.

ctucker

September 27th, 2010
4:25 pm

TINs@4:05, Is that Tins-Foil? Got a tin foil hat on your head so the aliens can’t do mind control?

granny godzilla

September 27th, 2010
4:33 pm

“Happily, Obama stood up to them, insisting on a plan that doesn’t tie the U.S. down in Afghanistan for ten years or cost a trillion dollars.

Obama knows that it’s his job to tell the generals what to do. And all those conservatives who insist on fealty to the Constitution should be pleased that Obama insists on civilian control of the military.”

BINGO!

Silent Majority

September 27th, 2010
4:38 pm

Granny, if Obama passed gas you would smell roses.

barking frog

September 27th, 2010
4:46 pm

Afghanistan was a major factor in breaking the
USSR. It may be a major factor in breaking the
USA.

Responsibility

September 27th, 2010
4:50 pm

It’s Bush’s Fault!
I feel much better now.

Libertarian

September 27th, 2010
4:52 pm

You are right CT, Obama’s strategy seems to be “my way or the highway.” Considering he has absolutely zero military training or experience, why should he listen to seasoned generals when they give him advice?? I mean, if he did, he might “lose the entire democratic party.” And that would be tragic.

Joey

September 27th, 2010
4:52 pm

Cynthia:

Do you hold President Obama responsible for each Military or Civilian death in Afghanistan as you held Bush responsible for each Military or Civilian death under his watch?

Clearly no, since you are not writing about them. What does that make you? A Progressive version of Star Parker, but with less balance?

granny godzilla

September 27th, 2010
4:54 pm

silent majority

how could you say that if you are what appears to be a brand new poster with a brand new name?

could you be a chicken hawk, lily livered, cowardly yellow namejacking troll?

could you be in saxby’s office now?

Keep up the good fight!

September 27th, 2010
4:58 pm

Joey….now I know its hard for you to be rational, but understand that Obama did not start either war. Bush did. Obama is trying to wrap them up….so why would the clean up guy be to blame? Discuss (and try to make it rational).

bushwacker

September 27th, 2010
4:59 pm

What a man, OBAMA hides in the bushes to smoke his nasty ass cigarettes!

What a miserable excuse for a man.

Obama is weak

September 27th, 2010
5:00 pm

No matter how you slice it CT, Obama will go down as a big time LOSER

markie mark

September 27th, 2010
5:01 pm

Generals have to obey the President, whether we like the president in office at the time or not. Generals expect Colonels to follow orders, and its the same going up the chain as down. Douglas McArthur is pretty much defined by history as a man of genius intellect, but with genius ego….and Truman fired his @ss for it. If Patraeus doesn’t agree, he is welcome to retire and run for the POTUS. Sorry, but thems the rules and they have to be followed for the good of the nation.

This Just In

September 27th, 2010
5:01 pm

Obama’s teleprompter went out during the family dinner yesterday…..it was very quiet

This Just In

September 27th, 2010
5:02 pm

Get him away from his teleprompter and he sounds like an idiot when he speaks. He can’t do it w/o acting the fool.

Mike K

September 27th, 2010
5:02 pm

I just read the Washington Post piece and I don’t think it portray Obama very positively. There’s no doubt that he is the Commander-in-Chief, but it sounds like he has trouble getting his generals to toe the line. Regardless of whether or not the generals should follow through on Obama’s orders (and they should), the fact that he is having trouble getting them to do what he says is a troubling indication that Obama’s coming up short in the leadership department.

JohnnyReb

September 27th, 2010
5:04 pm

The only high marks on military due Obama is using the unmanned drones more in Pakistan.

The bad marks pointed toward Bush need to be reconsidered – he did not use up his best resources in Afghanistan.

Obama should have never ramped up the war in Afghanistan if he was not dedicated to winning, which he is/was not. But, here comes the community organizer who thinks Afghanistan is most important (all talk). He wants a withdrawl date ahead of everything else. No general, and I mean none, want to go into a war with a withdrawl date.

There is a military term – FUBAR – and it very well describes what Obama has done in Afghanistan.

Kamchak

September 27th, 2010
5:04 pm

Obama’s teleprompter went out during the family dinner yesterday…

You’re two days behind.

“Teleprompter” was on the silly con word-of-the-day calender for Saturday.

markie mark

September 27th, 2010
5:04 pm

“Chinggis Khaan is the way it’s spelled in Ulaanbaatar, and it’s actually a title. His name was Temüjin.”

Kamchak, for a finish carpenter, you’re a worldly man, you linguist, you.

boots

September 27th, 2010
5:09 pm

Cynthia, nice spin. However, no one is buying what you are selling. That goes for your paper as well as your opinions.

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 27th, 2010
5:09 pm

we cannot leave Afghanistan because Obama cannot don a flight suit, sit in the passenger seat of a turboprop, de-plane in Kabul and procalaim “mission accomplished”. Obama had neither stood up to, nor capitulated when it comes to AfPak. he has deftly played the DC shell game in an effort to satisfy both doves and hawks. as I see it, his “demand” of three options was disingenuous at best. he embraced the “surge” but maintains American troops will be out of Afghanistan by 2011? he “partnered” with McChrystal, but cut the General loose because of an article in Rolling Stone? as with his faux regulation of Wall Street and his faux “healthcare reform” – Obama is placing political maneuvering over principles (WE SHOULD NOT BE THERE).

Keep up the good fight!

September 27th, 2010
5:10 pm

Jesus was a carpenter and look what he did…..Not saying Kam is Jesus and I dont know his educational background but having a degree, a title, or being a truck driver or an administrative assistant does not mean you cannot have a brain.. and that he cannot be part of an elite few…those who actually use it!

markie mark

September 27th, 2010
5:13 pm

Hey Keep….I meant that as a complement to Kam….I argue with him enough, I should be able to complement him every once in a while….and I was impressed with his linguistic knowledge…

Del,

September 27th, 2010
5:14 pm

To the electorate, “Afghanistan is the war we must win” To the Generals, I want a way out of this war, I can’t lose the whole Democratic party. Ah yes the Campaigner and Chief being strong, decisive and presidential.

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 27th, 2010
5:16 pm

This Just In, slow day at the kids’ table? here’s one for you to ponder; do you think Obama could read his birth certificate using a teleprompter? how about the Communist Manifesto? do you think he could read the Communist Manifesto if it were displayed on a teleprompter? isn’t this fun? check this out, I can make a fart sound using my armpit!

Keep up the good fight!

September 27th, 2010
5:17 pm

Markie….not arguing with you and he deserves the complement. Just pointing out that someone’s work or station in life does not always reflect their mental ability or capacity. I know a great number of people with post-grad degrees who have no common sense or true mental ability.

Freehome Dawg

September 27th, 2010
5:20 pm

The only way CT could bring herself to be honest about BHO would be if he were caucasian. You know it; I know it; CT knows it; and America knows it. It matters little because so few read her crap anyway and those like me read her only for entertainment, cetainly not enlightenment. Barry is a boy trying to wear a man’s shoes. Herman Cain is a man of color and integrity. Herman rocks!!!

skydog

September 27th, 2010
5:21 pm

Joey,
Yes, I I hold President Obama resonsible for each death in Afganistan just like I held Bush responsible when he was in charge.
You are in favor of walking this desert aimlessly looking for Taliban?
My intell sez they ain`t there.
So why are we?

JOS

September 27th, 2010
5:21 pm

Its plainly evident that Obama is in way over his head, not only in matters concerning the war, but with the economy and with politics. He has surrounded himself with people with no real world experience – professors and academians who have never worked in the private sector, made a payroll or have any concept of business. They all have their lofty theories on what would make the world better but no idea of what it really takes. Whatever room Obama walks into, he is the least knowledgable person in the room. What Obama wanted from the generals was a way to save his political ass – what the generals gave him was a way to win the war. Thats what generals are supposed to do – ddn’t Obama know that? Did he want them to give him a way to get thousands of troops killed and not win the war? This is a man that holds politics above the lives of our servicemen – he just doesn’t want to lose the support of the anti-war crowd in the democratic party

Mook

September 27th, 2010
5:21 pm

Lyndon Johnson was also “in charge of the military, not the generals”.

Thank God for that!

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 27th, 2010
5:22 pm

Del, valid point, but if getting out of a “war” is part of Obama’s campaign to be re-elected, surely Bush was acting “Campaigner-in-Chief” in citing the importance of re-electing a a wartime president in 2004? one might even consider the possility Bush beleived it declaring war on Iraq was “defending the Constitution” which is an irony wrapped in a riddle, isn’t it?

Keep up the good fight!

September 27th, 2010
5:22 pm

del…try this…and I know its hard..

Generals, dont tell me that after 8 years that we need to increase the war that Bush screwed up. Don’t tell me that there is only 1 option. The American people are tired of death, the military cannot continue to spend like this, we have big deficits and in 2 years the American people will be ready to quit at any cost. They dont want another Vietnam. So give me some options that leave us some victory. No one has won in that country and the American patience is at end

markie mark

September 27th, 2010
5:22 pm

All complement and no harassment would just embarass him…..LOL

Pablo

September 27th, 2010
5:23 pm

One of the best things of this country is that the military is under civilian control. Alas, one of the worst things of this country is having the military controlled by civilians. Although the President of the United States is by constitutional authority the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, it does not make him in any way shape, form or fashion an expert on military affairs, hence the need for military advisors, that may from time to time point to courses of action that are NOT what the commander in chief wants to hear. We will be debating for years on end whether trying to apply political decisions to military operations has been the right thing to do, and that will be a conversation that probably our grandchildren will not be done answering. At the end of the day, if those in command are unwilling or unable to listen to the voices of experience and proficiency; they will have to respond to history and to those whose loved ones got killed by their inability to lead…

Keep up the good fight!

September 27th, 2010
5:24 pm

Markie…I should also add that good carpentry work takes some brains too.

jimmymack

September 27th, 2010
5:26 pm

leave it to a left wing liberal journalist to justify the short comming’s of a man who makes jimmy carter look like abe lincoln

Kamchak

September 27th, 2010
5:26 pm

markie mark

I find Temüjin to be one of the more fascinating historical figures. His reign was remarkably progressive. He brought the Silk road under control allowing trade between Asia, the Middle East and Europe facilitating commerce and communication among diverse humans to the benefit all. He was keenly aware that as nomads his people has little experience for ruling cities and appointed Governors from the locals that he conquered. It was also believed that he was tolerant of all religions, recognized women as equals, and ran the military based on meritocracy