by ralphlopez, Wed Nov 25, 2009 at 11:13:09 AM EST
Elected by no one, without the approval of the civilian government, "military officials" are at it again, predicting anonymously because they are "unauthorized" to speak for the president, that Obama will announce another 35,000 troop increase in Afghanistan. This is even as civilian officials confirm today that "Obama has not made a final decision about the number of troops he would approve."
"Administration officials said Obama has not made a final decision about the number of troops he would approve. Military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the president's plans, said they expected the total to be between 32,000 and 35,000."
Continuing to try to paint the president into a corner and infringing on the president's prerogative to shape his own foreign policy is serious insubordination, and the leak and spin wars now conducted by "military officials" could not be more in the open. This is after the UK Telegraph reported this month:
"Tensions between the White House and the Pentagon over the deployment have already bubbled to the surface. Senior presidential advisers have accused generals of leaking the misinformation that Mr Obama has all but decided to dispatch more than 34,000 additional troops, in a bid to force his decision"
The only thing more unacceptable is the irresponsible reporting engaged in by AP in agreeing to float the "unauthorized" military officials' speculations, in the face of clear rebuttal by the White House, and even under the clearly misleading headline, based on a general's words, "Obama expects support for more Afghanistan troops". It is hard to imagine the "military officials" are not part of the McChrystal faction, if not McChrystal speaking off the record his very self.
McChrystal has already implicitly challenged the president in public by saying not granting his troop request "risks failure," which is when Obama should have fired him. At any rate he could be fired for that alone and be made an example of. An underling does not constrict the president's options by hinting at treason ("failure" would mean more terrorist attacks) in public. How they fight it out behind closed doors is another matter.In the run-up to the president's decision on what he will do in Afghanistan, a Constitutional crisis has reared its head. Will Obama tolerate this insubordination? Or will he do a Harry Truman?
Truman, when asked what he would do about General Douglas MacArthur's public disagreement with Truman's decision to stop advancement into North Korea at the 38th parallel, answered to reporters "I'm going to fire the son-of-a-bitch." And he did, the very next day. Truman understood that his decision-making could not be hemmed in by insubordinate generals. MacArthur threatened to, and for a while did, explore a presidential run. He quickly quit it, finding out that it wasn't so easy to gain support when it relied on give-and-take rather than issuing orders.
It's not as if it's not important. A major troop escalation could determine a footprint in the country which will harden Afghan perceptions of imperialist ambitions, and turn this into a real shooting war, If you think Afghans have even begun to fight, they haven't. If the administration wants something leaked, that's what "unnamed administration sources" are for. A general's job is to give his best advice, in private, to his commmander-in-chief, await what he decides, and then follow through with his orders faithfully. Just do it, Mr. President. Fire the son-of-a bitch.