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Hamlet as War President

Comment

Led by a conflicted president of a divided party and nation, America is deepening her involvement in a war in its ninth year with no end in sight.

Only one parallel to Barack Obama's troop decision comes to mind: the 2007 decision by George W. Bush to ignore the Baker Commission and put Gen. David Petraeus in command of a "surge" of 30,000 troops into Iraq.

That surge succeeded. Baghdad was largely pacified. The Sunni of Anbar, heart of the resistance, accepted Petraeus' offer of cash and a role in the new Iraq. Together, Americans and Sunni began to eradicate al-Qaida. In July, the surge ended and U.S. troops withdrew from the cities.

In August and October, however, the Finance, Justice and Foreign ministries were bombed. The Sons of Iraq now say the Shia government reneged on its pledge to pay their wages and bring them into the army.

Jockeying in parliament for the inside track to power in January's elections may force a postponement of the elections, and of the U.S. timetable for withdrawal. Kurds and Arabs are battling over Kirkuk. Iraqis seem to be going back to fighting one another.

What hope can there be then for a U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan, a larger, wilder, less accessible, more backward country, whose regime is less competent and more corrupt than that in Iraq?

Conservative columnist Tony Blankley, who supported the Iraq war and surge, has come out against more troops in Afghanistan. His reasoning: Obama will be sending many hundreds of young Americans to their deaths and thousands to be wounded in a war about which he himself has doubts.

While it may speak well of Obama as a man that he has reflected, agonized, debated within himself and conducted nine war counsels with scores of advisers before acceding to Gen. McChrystal's request, what does this say of him as commander in chief?

Whatever one may say against George W. Bush, he was decisive. As was James K. Polk when he sent Winfield Scott to take Mexico City. As was Abraham Lincoln when he congratulated Gen. Sherman on his barbarous March to the Sea. As was Harry Truman, who ordered the dropping of an atom bomb to jolt Tokyo into accepting unconditional surrender.

One may condemn the wars these president fought. One may deplore their tactics.

But they and the most successful American generals — Stonewall Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton — were not Hamlets. They did not agonize over why they were fighting or whether it was worth it.

How does a president lead a nation into a war where he is not wholly and heartily committed to victory and from which, say his aides, he is even now planning the earliest possible exit?

When Dwight Eisenhower took office, he concluded that the price of uniting Korea under a pro-U.S. government meant years more of war and scores of thousands more U.S. dead. He decided on an armistice. In six months, the war was over.

Ike was as decisive as Obama is diffident.

From tapes of his conversations with Sen. Richard Russell, LBJ agonized over Vietnam as early as 1964. He worried about the U.S. casualties and whether we could prevail in a country of little interest to him and of no vital strategic interest to the United States.

Out of fear that Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater would call him the first president to lose a war, Johnson plunged in. And rather than win swiftly and brutally as we had with a mighty Japanese Empire, LBJ fought Vietnam as the conflicted war president he was, babbling on about building "a Great Society on the Mekong."

One senses Obama is escalating for the same reason: He is not so much exhilarated by the prospect of victory and what it will mean as he is fearful of what a Taliban triumph and U.S. defeat would mean for America — and him.

And he is right to be. A U.S. withdrawal leading to a Taliban triumph would electrify jihadists from Marrakech to Mindanao and mark a milestone in the long retreat of American power. Pakistan, having cast its lot with us, would be in mortal peril. NATO, humiliated in its first war, would become more of a hollow shell than it already is.

To prevent this, Obama plans to send tens of thousands more U.S. troops to hold off a resurgent Taliban, even as he plans for their eventual withdrawal.

The United States is today led by a commander in chief who does not believe military victory is possible, who is not sure this war should be fought and who has a timetable in his own mind as to when to draw down our troops. And we face a Taliban that, after eight years of pounding, is stronger than ever, and believes God is on its side and its victory is assured.

Who do we think is ultimately going to prevail?

Patrick Buchanan is the author of the new book "Churchill, Hitler and 'The Unnecessary War." To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM



Comments

9 Comments | Post Comment
I can't think of a hard, courageous decision Obama has made yet. He's a total appeaser that has caved to the banks and now has caved to the chickenhawks that love to send poor, young people to die in exchange for them putting a support the troops sticker on their car. So were' going to spend a hundred billion a year until 2018, all the while complaining about the cost of decent health care program. I think Obama just limited himself to one term for lack of courage in the heat of battle.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Elwood Anderson
Tue Dec 1, 2009 12:48 AM
So easy to take whatever fits from history. Dozens of leaders facing this problem have gone the other way and succeeded. This situation is so complex and screwed up that I generally agree with the last argument I hear. I am surprised that Blankley, the Hun, wants out.
Comment: #2
Posted by: alf1052
Tue Dec 1, 2009 3:45 PM
Obama has now truly made himself into a shlobama. He has truly given into the neocons that got him there - Axelrod, Rahm Israel-Emanuel, Hillary, etc. And Axelrod and Israel-Emanuel have certainly kept their word to all the jewish organizations that in return convinced most of their members to vote for Obama ... Shlobama. Amazing that no one has the balls to admit these points - 1. presence of US troops represents NO benefit for the UNITED STATES of AMERICA. 2. The cost of these wars exceeds the cost of a mkt-priced $400 per barrel oil future. 3. Maintaining presence there will increase anger against the US over the long-term. 4. Creating an economic relationship will benefit both sides (China is a very good example). 5. Israel is NOT the US. 6. Israel is NOT the US. 7. Israel's foreign policy is NOT the foreign policy of the US. 8. The US is not the God of the world to go around and SHED BLOOD and tell others how to live. 9. The neocons objectives are far different from what they convince the US media to spew out. 10. The TRUE objective belongs to Israel, and it is to maintain US presence in the Middle East in order to 'maintain instability' to buy more time to continue its VIOLATIONS of HUMAN RIGHTS. We go and shed the blood of our innocent soldiers thousands of miles away from home while chanting fighting for human rights, but ignore what our master, Israel, is doing right in its own backyard. We are pouring fire on the anti-Israel therefore anti-American fire. While we may see some short-term benefits, the long-term costs are humongous!
Comment: #3
Posted by: Ali Mogharabi
Tue Dec 1, 2009 5:25 PM
How do you win a war in a country which is not a country but consists of fiefdoms ruled by tribal chiefs with very little central authority if any to rein them in.. The Taliban will not face us on a field of battle preferring road side bombs and traps where they have the advantage . They will bleed us a little every day until we finally have to leave while the Taliban remain to fight another day. It is not the kind of war consistant with our high tech weaponry and soldiers raised in an Urban society. The Taliban can live off the land . We cannot.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Daniel Johnson
Tue Dec 1, 2009 6:25 PM
My dear Byuke: Can't we get a little more incisive here? The real issue is Pakistan. We're outta there as soon as there is no worry that Al Qaeda or the Taliban or just the Forces of Evil will not seize control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. That's the real issue. Nobody in leadership gives a flying you-know-what about the "war on terrorism." War itself is terrorism, end of story. We wax poetic about "military targets", i.e., military sites populated by 18-year-olds who get to be labelled "troops" once you slap a uniform on them, but the fact is that the overwhelming majority of all war casualties are non-military people who have not one whit to do with the decision to go to war. Why can't you brilliant pundits force the discussion to focus on the issue of Pakistan's vulnerability to being lost to the Evil Ones who would control its nuclear capabilities? (You could, while you're at it, also expose the "terrorism" fraud, but acknowledged, you can't sell that.) And why are the countries who most stand to suffer from a Pakistan out of control, e.g., India, among many others, not front and center offering up their resources to deal with that?
Comment: #5
Posted by: Masako
Tue Dec 1, 2009 7:31 PM
Afghanistan is a fixed fortification to man's stupidity. The real war is a racial and cultural war fought inside the Western countries which play host to the parasitic Muslim guest worker.
Switzerland has now awakened to the annexation coming from the occupation army of Muslim guest workers in its midst. America has NOT, as it still entertains fantastic notions that an illegal alien usurper can function as a U.S. president, to deliver an alleged "comprehensive immigration reform" to a hostile invasion force from Mexico.
Hamlet plays in the Theater of the Absurd.
Muslims have infiltrated not only the U.S. military, but the White House itself. The war is NOT in Afghanistan, but where it has erupted on multiple fronts within the gates of Western Civilization.
America looks for leadership to a treasonous arch quisling and CFR dupe--“The Great Imposter,” who plans to aid and abet La Reconquista with his plan for illegal alien amnesty.
Illegal alien "guest workers" are the real front--not shadow boxing on a field of the enemy's choosing in Crapistan.
America cannot evict the interloper in its own White House; the country is too busy chasing windmills in another desert mirage vision and Don Quixote quest of "nation-building" for tribal hooligans.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Revolutionary Thought Adjuster
Wed Dec 2, 2009 12:52 AM
When a nation fails to properly define the problem, it cannot do anything, but utterly fail to find a solution.
President Abraham Lincoln won the Civil War by changing his generals. America can only win this war against jihadistan by changing her faux "commander in chief," the anti-American Muslim, Barack Hussein Obama.
A real American president NEVER bows before a foreign potentate, but a "Citizen of the World" has publicly bowed before the leader of that country which attacked America.
This symbolic gesture of weakness and impotence--displayed by America's puppet emperor-- along with Resident Obama's violation of geopolitical protocol, has done nothing but give comfort to the enemy.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Revolutionary Thought Adjuster
Wed Dec 2, 2009 1:10 AM
Asgardson - JA WOHL, as the good 'ol German's used to say. Actually Hitler was spewing out the same stuff about jews going in and slowly concquering. And although I do not excuse any bloodshed, I'd recommend for your neocon/shyster ass to go and check the history as to why and how such anger against the US has been created. then you will see that to go in and invade and demolish those people will add fuel to the fire ... as it has during the past 100 yrs. So go ahead and look in that mirror of yours and salute Hitler, for you sound just like him. Heil Hitler to you my son ... Heil Hitler to you. And by the way, Ron Paul does not agree with you on this war issue. I'm assuming you're seeing too many muslims paying their school fees at ucsd, eh? JA WOHL!
Comment: #8
Posted by: Ali Mogharabi
Wed Dec 2, 2009 7:20 PM
Re: Ali Mogharabi
Well now... we've got a "real American" on the line, by the name of "Ali Baba"-- Ali Mogharabi. I am sure he knows what he is talking about from the American perspective, as his pioneer ancestors were probably left in lonely graves by the wayside of the road, on the covered wagon trek West...NOT!
Maybe he just came over here for a lap dance--along with his school studies-- because where he comes from, women are shrouded from head-to-foot!
As if Jews and Germans had any place in the discussion--much less Iranian imports, who don't know their place as unwanted "guests"--but while we're at it, maybe it is the Iranians who have the real problem with the Jews, hey Kamerade?
He doesn't like what a real American has to say, so he tries to be tall by figuratively sawing off my head in print. His people don't like freedom, cartoons or women, and we should listen to what he has to say?
"Neocon shyster ass," is his thesis defense. What a dope.
While he's busy slotting the opponent, maybe we should call him an "American't," for he does not possess the blood and soil to discuss the Muslim usurper, Obama.
He will be going back to Crapistan, when his student visa expires.
"Sonny boy" wouldn't know a Neocon, even if he were being waterboarded by one.
This office does not take "recommendations" from just anyone, especially people who "assume.”
If he imagines Americans are a bunch of liberal wimps who are so unsure of themselves, that they have to take his sorry advice and "go and check history," then rest assured we will be examining the many atrocities of Islam, and how best to find a final solution to the problem.
That question probably entails the extinction of a religion and its adherents.
And by the way, this moron's ancestors have been causing problems since the sixth century, not "a hundred years," as he contends. He has no historical grasp to even be discussing the issue, especially when his argument is so incoherent.
Ron Paul has the right to his own opinion. That's what America is all about.
"Thanks" for the "history lesson” numb nuts!
Comment: #9
Posted by: Revolutionary Thought Adjuster
Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:25 AM
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