Washington, D.C. – When I was a young Marine, we were encouraged to read Sun Tzu's "Art of War" as a primer on conflict. Our mentors were officers and senior non-commissioned officers who had served in World War II, Korea and the early days of the conflict in Indochina. These were serious men for whom the profession of arms was no trivial matter. They taught us that the 6th Century B.C. tome was relevant to the fight we were headed for in Vietnam and would serve us well in the future.
According to Sun Tzu, "The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, the path to safety or ruin. Therefore, it is a subject that must be seriously studied." The most recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize appears to have ignored this sage advice.
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Prior to departing for Oslo this week, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked if President Obama would be "accepting the Nobel Peace Prize as a war president?"
Gibbs' stunning response, uttered with a straight face: "Exactly."
Unfortunately, we are at war. But there is scant evidence in Obama's words, actions or schedule that he is a "war president."
On December 10, our "war president" flew to Norway to accept a surreal Nobel Peace Prize for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" and his "work" to build a "world free of nuclear weapons."
In accepting the award, Obama eloquently apologized for America's past failures — going back to Woodrow Wilson — and credited himself with "banning torture" and closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. In a brief "presser" afterwards, he once again took pains to emphasize his arbitrary and unprecedented July, 2011 withdrawal schedule for the troops he just ordered to combat.
If the war was all that important to Obama would it have taken 10 months to decide that there is a need for 30,000 additional troops to fight in Afghanistan? If those who fight the war are all that critical, why no rebuke for Chris Matthews, the left-wing commentator who described Eisenhower Hall at West Point as "the enemy camp"? And if building public and political support for the fight against radical Islam in Afghanistan and Pakistan is crucial, why not deliver the address before a joint session of Congress?
Would a "war president" devote 92 percent of his public commentary, speeches, lectures, media appearances over the past 10 months to everything but the war? His "economic stimulus plan," TARP, the government takeover of the auto industry, the plan for government-run health insurance, global climate change and "carbon limits" have each generated more presidential words than "the war."
Next week our "war president" is scheduled to fly to Copenhagen, Denmark to attend the U.N. Climate Change Conference, where 79 other heads of state have gathered to fashion a utopian global agreement limiting so-called "greenhouse gasses." While there he can proudly point to a new — and likely unconstitutional decision — by his Environmental Protection Agency, declaring carbon dioxide to be a "threat."
Obama promised to "focus like a laser" on the war in Afghanistan. But White House records show that's not where "our most-traveled president" has spent his time:
• March 31 to April 7: Obama and an entourage of more than 500 traveled to the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Turkey, Prague, and Iraq
• April 16 -19: Our "war president" traveled to Mexico and then to Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas where absolutely nothing of any import was negotiated or agreed upon
• June 2-7: Obama visited Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Germany and France where he bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia, delivered a speech about a "new relationship with the Muslim world" and was cheered by Europeans
• July 6-11: The commander in chief traveled to Russia, Italy and Ghana where he discussed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, abandoned a U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic and talked about and economics and climate change
• October 2: Obama joined Oprah Winfrey and his wife in Copenhagen to champion Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics
• November 12-19: Obama, accompanied by nearly 300 others visited Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea. During this trip our "war president" bowed to the emperor of Japan
If indeed Sun Tzu was correct about war being of "vital importance," a matter of "life and death" and a subject to "be seriously studied," it's time for Obama to get serious.
— Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel and the author of "American Heroes."