Hillary was right all along. President Obama wasn’t ready for the 3:00 a.m. phone call. As Bob Woodward’s new book, "Obama’s War," demonstrates in page after page, President Obama doesn’t know how to be a good wartime president, and doesn’t really want to be one. He sees it as a distraction from his goal of transforming America, and his aides’ worry it will be hard to spin in a reelection campaign.
President Obama may complain that he inherited the Afghanistan War and yet again try to blame Bush. But the fact remains that candidate Obama said Afghanistan would be HIS war, that it was the Good War, the War of Necessity in contrast to Iraq, which was Bush's War of Choice. And as "Obama's War" describes in great detail, once in office the president changed his commanders, altered our military strategy and added more troops – lots of them. Yet Woodward’s book shows us he did so not because he thought we could win, but because of politics.
A fundamental rule of warfare is if you have a military mission, you must provide the resources required to achieve that mission. If you’re not willing to pay the price, you need to change the mission; otherwise you’re setting up a situation designed to fail.
Yet that seems the trap Obama has fallen into. He’s ordered a near-term exit from Afghanistan, but at the same time wants to destroy Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal regions. His military advisers warned that such a strategy would require a lot more troops and a lot more time.
But Obama went against their advice and has now has the Afghanistan War on a footing where failure is all but inevitable. He’s given the commanders more troops, although not as many as they asked for; but at the same time set a firm withdrawal date. The troops will be packing up and coming home almost before they’re finished unpacking. Why? Not because it will lead to victory, or save lives, but because of politics. “I have to say that,” Mr. Obama tells Sen Lindsey Graham. “I can’t let this be a war without end, and I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”
Yes, even some of Obama's top aides – military and civilian – think he’s pursuing a strategy that “can’t work.”
The one lesson we learned in Vietnam is we shouldn’t fight a war unless we’re willing to devote the resources necessary to win it. Yet, for all the self-proclaimed intelligence of the Obama White House, it’s the one lesson they’ve missed.
Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland is a Fox News National Security Analyst and host of FoxNews.com's DefCon 3. She is a Distinguished Adviser to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and served in national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. She wrote Secretary of Defense Weinberger’s November 1984 "Principles of War Speech" which laid out the Weinberger Doctrine. Be sure to watch "K.T." every Monday at 10 a.m. ET on FoxNews.com's "DefCon3" already one of the Web's most watched national security programs.
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Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland is a Fox News National Security Analyst and host of FoxNews.com's "DefCon 3." She served in national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations