In his speech to the troops, the President reiterated the administration’s plans to withdraw from Afghanistan, emphasizing that the USA would depart in a “responsible manner.” I was left wondering what that phrase could possibly mean and why it would be used while speaking to the troops. I seriously doubt that their primary concerns there in combat have anything to do with departing that arena of war in a “responsible manner.” American troops have always been expected to depart in a respectable and responsible fashion. Our politicians are the ones who seem to make the messes.
Obama’s statement reminded me of something that comedian Jerry Clower had observed several years ago and included on one of his recordings. Clower was invited to appear in Sweetwater, Texas at the annual “Rattlesnake Roundup” in which locals go out and round up all the rattlesnakes they can find to be used in a big snake-killing and cooking event. Clower was told that a representative of the ASPCA would be there to ensure that the snakes were killed in a “humane fashion.” Clower’s response was “how the heck do you kill a snake inhumanely?” Apparently the answer to that will be clear to you as soon as you figure out how to depart a war “responsibly.”
History shows us that the U.S. Military is highly capable of dealing effectively with any threat when allowed to function at optimal efficiency. History also shows us that such conditions rarely exist with politicians like Obama, who, either through ego or cowardice, seldom stand back and allow the military to function effectively. Lyndon Johnson got us buried in Vietnam while ruling the war strategy and overseeing the rules of engagement from his high chair, leaving the Joint Chiefs simply as mouthpieces to repeat his requirements. Nixon took things a step further and negotiated his way out claiming “Peace with Honor.” Obama’s reference to a “responsible departure” rings almost as disingenuous to veterans of war as did Nixon’s claim.
You might remember that it was Obama who changed the “rules of engagement” in Afghanistan during his first term in office. These new rules required 100% certainty that a member of the Taliban was armed before firing on him. It seems that we have made little headway and our losses have escalated in the aftermath of that decision. As recently as this past week, the administration issued another rule: “U.S. forces shall not enter Afghan homes for the purposes of military operations, except under extraordinary circumstances involving urgent risk of life and limb of U.S. nationals.” In other words, “tell the bad guys to go ahead and hide in the homes and we will not look for them.” I have to wonder whether either of these changes was a “responsible decision,” or if it took into account the troops charged with finding and defeating the bad guys.
On Memorial Day, Obama went on to tell the gathered troops how much he cares about the military, how great the American military is, and how he is dedicated to keeping it as the “best military on earth.” Apparently these words come easily to a man who sat back and willingly allowed the Defense Department budget to be gutted rather than exercise his option to selectively cut spending. Instead, he chose to put the military on the fiscal cutting-board. That singular act speaks volumes about both Obama’s priorities and his concern for the U.S. Military.
If there is one thing we have learned about Obama during his time in office, it is the fact that we can only see his true character through his actions and not his words. For him, words are cheap and self-serving and he has no shame in continually employing such tactics as long as it furthers the appearance that he and his party are filled with compassion. There is no better example of “symbolism over substance” than that exemplified by the efforts of the Obama Administration.
From what I can deduce from Obama’s words, his definition of a “responsible” departure from Afghanistan seems to be a schedule that keeps things in check through the 2014 mid-term elections and continues right on up to the presidential elections of 2016. That is the projected timeline for removing the 9,800 troops that Obama has decided will remain in Afghanistan after 2014. In other words, holding the line is the “responsible” thing to do until Obama’s party is sure that they have held onto their power base in Washington. After that point--to hell with Afghanistan! Right now, Obama’s mission is to make sure that he is not seen as the responsible party if things come unraveled. Thus, it is time to talk up the troops and extend a war he once demanded be ended. Here again is another meaningless line in the sand drawn for convenience and effect.
What can a young man or woman standing there in military uniform think listening to Obama, as they hear this President’s words of praise and claims of support? How can they possibly turn those statements into truths in their mind when they are daily reminded of the funds no longer there to support the military or the war effort? How can they listen to the information coming forth on the troubled Veterans Administration and believe that America’s top executives are interested in their welfare or accomplishments? How can they not be overwhelmed with the conscious awareness that someone is attempting to blow smoke up their ass? I really cannot believe that the men and women in our military are that naïve to buy into such rhetoric.
President Obama told the troops that his administration is dedicated to sustaining an effective and powerful military force, and that the needs of the veterans and their families would be met both on the battlefield and on the home front. Against a backdrop of budget cuts and a veterans’ medical system which has been gamed to look good, those words ring hollow. Obama touted job programs for veterans departing the military. He stated that he tells everyone to “Hire a vet if you want to get the job done right!” Is it just me—I do not think I have ever heard such a statement from this President. But words are cheap and easy to come by when one needs to shore up his position with the voter. In truth, hiring a veteran is getting about as much “push” by this administration as the prospect of examining the IRS or investigating the tragedy of Benghazi. It leaves me wondering if anyone there understands the word “responsible.”
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