Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is never pleasant to observe, especially when it is an American President doing the snatching. President Obama was running strong:
1. He just announced The Dream Team taking over the Afghan campaign,
2. He launched a unilateral direct action mission deep into Pakistan to kill bin Laden.
This bold move, in view of we have seen from President Obama during the uprisings in Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Iran and Libya, was decidedly out of character. Then came the press conference, and what should have been a moment of national unity and catharsis has festered into a case study in self-inflicted PR wounds. Only today’s obituary (courtesy of al Qaeda) has managed to quell most of what were increasing doubts in this part of the world that OBL is really dead when there was no doubt about it on Monday. Even worse, the story has now begun to focus on the legality of the assaulters shooting an unarmed bin Laden. It seems to me that the president will exit this news cycle with lower numbers then he entered it with, which is a stunning accomplishment of incompetence.
I watched the President’s news conference live on the internet and it was the strangest Presidential announcement I have ever seen. He could have buttressed his leadership role more forcibly had he confined his remarks to the remarkable efforts of the thousands of people working on this mission for the past 7 + years. Boasting that his absolute confidence in the military to enact this bold plan was justified when they lost one of their insert birds but still completed the mission, and extracted all hands without delay or injuries. That would have reflected the boldness of his personal decision for all to see without him saying anything about himself. But no, Obama couldn’t bring himself to do that… Then the team started leaking details about the mission, which even now are changing daily. They had no need to elaborate on one damn aspect of the mission -namely: we sent in the SEALs, they shot Osama bin Laden in the face, took his body, dumped it into ocean, didn’t take any casualties and left his women and children (minus his adult son) alive. That is all they had to say; the huge advantage of employing JSOC is that all of them have Top Secret security clearances and cannot (nor would not) leak any details to anyone outside of their elite community. The fleshed out story of what happened will come out in time but right now nobody needs to know the details. The mission was impressive enough; the less you say the better- especially because we caught Pakistan with their pants down but still need them if we plan to feed and equip the 200,000 or so troops and contractors currently in Afghanistan.
When the Pakistanis said there were no weapons on the men in bin Laden’s compound, the president could merely have replied “Of course the SEAL’s took all the weapons with them, and by the way, that little AK that Osama was so fond of being photographed with? I’m having the SEAL’s fly it down to President Bush as a fitting addition to his Presidential library for the work he did to hunt him down”. How presidential would Obama appear now if he had said that?
Killing bin Laden is, to use the words of our Vice President, a “Big F___ing Deal”. It leaves the government of Pakistan with a lot of explaining to do, it enables us to define a more acceptable end state, it should allow us to send in our best civ/mil team (Allen and Crocker) with a plan to scale down our massive involvement in Afghanistan and get most of our people out of here. This raid has put us squarely in the drivers seat, but now it is the Obama administration doing the explaining, changing, rearranging their story, spinning like tops and one has to wonder why?
The United Kingdom Mail Online posted a story this morning which may explain some of the confusion at the top. Obama took 16 hours to make the decision according to the article; we were ready to go as early as Thursday. That is not the end of the world – it was a tough decision; a lot of things could have gone wrong. But the mail story got me (and millions of others) surfing the net looking for more detail where I found this link on the wall of The Mark Levine Show facebook page. Check this out:
“I was told in these exact terms, we overruled him. (Obama) I have since followed up and received further details on exactly what that meant, as well as the specifics of how Leon Panetta worked around the president’s persistent hesitation to act. There appears NOT to have been an outright overruling of any specific position by President Obama, simply because there was no specific position from the president to do so. President Obama was, in this case, as in all others, working as an absentee president.”
The link above has popped up all over the internet but I don’t believe it. I think Obama will go down in history as the worst president we have suffered through in my lifetime but even he can’t possibly be as clueless and cowardly as portrayed in the account of an alleged “Washington Insider”. Makes you wonder who wrote those posts and what their political ties are, doesn’t it? It seems that the hosting website has a strong liberal orientation and the first name to pop into my head was H. Clinton.
In Afghanistan, the reaction to Osama’s death was the same as it was Salida, Colorado; nothing. I was in Zaranj when the news broke and aside from being congratulated by my Afghan and Pakistani project managers, not a peep from anyone around me. Killing bin Laden was a huge victory for Americans because it was personal for us but the Afghans, having a much more pragmatic view of the event, immediately concluded that killing bin Laden will make it easier for us to leave. They are correct, but they don’t know how this is going to play out, and neither do I.
It doesn’t have to be this way; we should be letting the successful hunting down and killing of bin Laden re-energize our efforts and refocus our mission while leveraging this impressive achievement with our political “allies” Pakistan and Afghanistan. But we lost control of the story because the administration has too much invested in the on-going investigation of the very intelligence people who extracted the information that started this hunt. The administration has too much invested in the narrative that George Bush and Dick Cheney were off the reservation, acting illegally and recklessly when they set up the enhanced interrogation program. Now the president lectures us about the Osama death photos, saying “We don’t need to spike the football” that as Americans “we don’t do that”. Don’t do what? What the hell is he talking about?
An experienced leader would know a thing or two about how not to let a huge victory go to waste. He would also know that those photos will leak at some point in the future and frankly there is nothing he can do to stop it. President Obama might well have used this remarkable event to elevate his stature and to seal another election victory, but only if he was big enough to act like the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. As the leader, he could have focused his praise on the people who worked years to put us in the position where we could launch the raid. Months ago when the mission started to come together, he could have told the Attorney General to quietly drop the investigations targeting the very people who performed the enhanced interrogations. He could have positioned himself to use this victory as a blunt instrument with which to forward the goals of the United States throughout this entire region. What other country can work ten years at tracking down one man and when they find him fly stealth helicopters into the middle of another country to shoot him in the face? We’re so bad ass that we sent sailors to do the shooting – that’s how deep our bench is.
Instead of re-election; what he is going to get in 2012 is exactly what I believe he wants – he’ll get to be an ex-president. Wealth and affluence beyond his wildest dreams, surrounded daily by the pomp and circumstance of an ex-head of state, super cool Secret Service detail for the rest of his life, and above all, no responsibility or accountability to anyone other than Barack H. Obama. I’m sure he can’t wait and neither can I.
51 Replies to “Leadership 101”
This site used to be an insightful look into the behind the scenes goings on in the field. Lately its just become a political rant and lame conspiracies (I suppose new ones are needed now that the birther nuts need something to do) just like all the other blogs. If I want that I can turn on Fox News or log onto DailyKos.
Completely agree, Shobadew. I initially thought this blog was rather insightful, but unfortunately, this site has taken a turn for the worse as the author drivels on about nonsensical political garbage. Please stick with what you know. I will check back in later in hopes for some improvement.
The Romans spent twenty years at war to defeat Hannibal, and another ten tracking him down. They then told the Greek princeling who was sheltering him to get rid of him, OR ELSE. Back in those days, everyone knew that when the Romans said OR ELSE, they meant “we will kill you and take over your country.” Hannibal was quietly poisoned.
Our government seems to have a difficult time saying “OR ELSE” convincingly. Maybe it’s all the bowing and scraping at the top. Thus, the world is surprised and uncomfortable when we do what Americans have done for centuries….hunt down our enemies and kill them. Doesn’t hurt to remind them once in a while just how unreasonable we can be when riled. “Speak softly and carry a big stick” is still a wise policy.
I find it hard to believe that the Pakistani Government, or at least a significant element of said government, was unaware of the presence of Osama in a town that housed an important military school, particularly since most of his neighbors seem to have known the score. But no matter. Perhaps the Pakis all decended from ostriches.
Allow me to use your site to post a personal congratulatory note, from an old warrior to those still fighting. HOT S**T gentlemen. Thanks for being our “big stick” Keep it up, God Bless, and if you are ever at Fort Riley, KS, I’M BUYING THE BEER.
Oh, by the way, I heard that the Prez and his peeps were watching re-runs of “The West Wing” in that photo. Gripping tale.
Madame secretary isn’t recoiling in horror, she’s stifling a yawn…
I was up in Mazar when they anounced this and no one said a word. It was a strange thing. The locals didnt seem to give a crap about it. Stay safe over there all. I know the offensive hasnt produced much yet, but I think this summer will be one ugly affair.
Of course Obama didn’t spike the ball. He dropped it the minute he ran into the end zone… I mean, I can’t believe the information that they have allowed to leak out. (Of course they shot him in the head unarmed! Could you imagine if they brought him back to the states and had him tried in CIVIL court – courtesy of the Obama administration – and his lawyers managed to get the case thrown out of court???)
Congratulations USA on this fantastic victory. Sorry your president is a pussy.
From The Telegraph: “In other fresh details, it was disclosed that after he was killed the Navy Seals attempted to identify bin Laden by his height, which was 6ft 4in, but were missing the necessary equipment. One member of the team volunteered to lie down next to his body so they could make an estimate.”
It’s called a tape measure.
If you look at film of bin Laden it’s clear that while he’s taller than the the vast majority of his crew but there is no way he was 6′ 4″ or 5″. Anyone who’s 6′ 2″ will tell you he towered over most Afghans and Pakistanis etc. BTW did the Seals find a dialysis machine?
The more info comes out about this operation the less “special” it will appear. The press has assumed that this as the first “get bin Laden” raid. Are we sure there haven’t been others? How many other compounds have had “all military age males” killed? Most folks will say good riddance to bin Laden and not care much about the law but how many innocent people have been killed in dry holes and how many jihadis and Taliban have been recruited by US successes. ?
I remember reading that President Bush (43) eliminated the lifetime secret service protection benefit for ex-presidents. He changed it to 10 years after leaving the White House if I remember correctly.
That would be good news and I hope you’re right – a secret service detail has got to cost millions every years
“And we’re so bad ass that we sent sailors to do the shooting that’s how deep our bench is.” Classic…..
Marine Corps Bushido code in action JJ
well said, Tim. There are reasons to act in a stately manner at such times.
I also doubt it is the SEAL team doing the talking, but rather associates or perhaps, God forbid, the raggedy ass politicians briefed in on the mission. News of the mission broke an hour before the President made his announcement, shortly after the Senate Intel Committee was briefed.Someone reported that it was Feinstein’s office that leaked the news, which is no surprise. U.S. Senators are the most self important people on the planet. These asshats can’t help themselves.
That photo of the inner circle watching the TV with an AF 2 star General running the audio-visual was probably them watching the mission live. You don’t have generals doing the AV for anything but double super secret shit.
The satellite technology to watch real time and read Bin Laden’s name tag has existed for 40 years, and the SEAL’s were probably camera’d and mic’ed up. This was one of the most important missions of the past 10 years and these guys have very cool toys. I’m not buying Panetta’s 20 minute gap.
Unfortunately, we are dealing with a chief executive who is probably the greatest prevaricator and most self important politician in the country’s history. It is his actions and those of his inner circle which have cast the doubt on the narrative when there should have been none whatsoever.
I think it is a question of doing what is right for the United States and not what is right for Obama. The less said officially the better because the raid itself is intimidating and can act as a stick in a region where having both sticks as well as carrots means something.
There are only two uniformed military in the room (Gates doesn’t count).
Adm. Mike Mullin CJoCS and AF BG Brad Webb ACG-JSOC.
High tech gizmos do and always have had a disturbing tendency to fail in high stress environments, for any multitude of reasons. Our guys came back short a helicopter after all. I can believe the live feed from Abbotabad to DC cut out at some point in the chain. I can believe that Captain Kirk leaped from his command chair, making room for Mr. Spock to man the command laptop. Whatever…
The people in DC didn’t matter, no matter what their exalted status. What mattered was what, and who, was on the ground in Abbotabad that night.
The Taliban/al-Q think Osama bin Doubletapped is dead. That’s good enough for me.
Unlike others, Meher Baba Tim, I think your site has actually gotten much, much better. I enjoy your rants, political and otherwise because you are so dang good at it.
People come to you site because, flat out, you know your s**t. And I want to know what you (and the troops you come into contact with) feel about our CIC and the politics that, in a republic, have everything to do with our military success.
So don’t let these panty-waists shut you up. If they would prefer to hear politically-correct drivel that feeds their Lefty echo-chamber, they should continue to get their fabricated news from the State Run Media and stop whining on your message board. I seriously doubt that they go on Lefty websites complaining about political views invading the featured articles.
As for the link you provided about the mini-coup to get around Obama’s indecision, it is completely believable. Maybe not in every detail– I agree that Hillary comes off looking way too good, but then again Bill said she was such a B that she may very well have conspired with Panetta– but the general narrative that Jarrett kept Obama tied up in knots and unwilling to decide is totally consistent with everything we know about this Waffler In Chief. In fact, the narrative from the Washington Insider is far more believable than the load of crap in the State Run Media that paints Obama as THE central figure, decisive, commanding, cool, calm, cold-blooded etc…
This is probably why the most reliable polls show Obama has gotten virtually no uptick in approval with the American public: they can see through the media hype and know that Obama had little or nothing to do with the mission. Obama is going to have to figure out how to commit massive voter fraud in order to get re-elected in 2012.
Thanks for the vote of support brother – I am not having much luck finding stuff to write about at the moment. The Forlorn Hope attack in Kandahar is about all that is going on with the exception of IED attacks. The fighting season has started but so far the villains appear to be sitting it out.
There are plans of the compound on the table.
No. There is a heavily pixelated top sheet and a black and white photo of a something unidentifiable on the sheet below it on Hilliary’s laptop (well done WH staffers, well done). The white three ring binder on her lap reads Top Secret Codeword NOFORN on its cover.
There are also two laptops at the head of the table. The one BG Webb is so intent upon, and another much smaller, unused behind it.
BabaTim is on the fast track for hosting a news show, he sees the closing gap in other peoples money (OPM) and facts on the ground. You see your peace corp. tour ending and need to keep the cash flowing. Just be careful what you wish for. You have the job if you want it. The money is good. But first Please, more photos of the good people and placed of Zaranj. Not this politic BS.
All the crap being spewed by team Obama, for and against Obama is crap. Render has it right. The dudes on the ground in Abbotabad make the mission and that reality is far different from what is being projected. I wanna see the mishap report and failure analysis for down chopper. Nothing ever is quite what is seems. Round them up, but then what? You sound like an imported Arizona redneck: the only good indjun is a dead indjun. This will be the summer of the jail break. The bumbling empire stumbles on ….
You know you never defeated us on the battlefieldâ€¨That may be so, he replied, but it is also irrelevant.â€¨â€” Conversation on 25 April 1975 in Hanoi between Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr. (Chief of the U.S. Delegation, Four Party Joint Military Team) and Colonel Nguyen Don Tu (Chief, North Vietnamese Delegation), from Introduction to On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War by Harry G. Summers Jr. (1982)
What’s the grand strategy again?
“Round them up, but then what? You sound like an imported Arizona redneck: the only good indjun is a dead indjun.
It’s just a mildly amusing sign-off, in this case based on both the treasure trove of documentation recovered during the raid, and on the reputed events from August of 2010 up to the night of the raid itself.
Been to Arizona, twice. Enjoyed it greatly in spite of a blown knee on the first trip and a dislocated shoulder just prior to the second. Good food, lots of sights to see. Way too flat, dry, and exposed for this swamp rat.
Don’t have an issue with the Indians of any continent, because they don’t have an issue with the mere existence of my religion.
remember, it was Obama who kept McChrystal’s plan to increase troops in Afghanistan on the back burner for 90 days as the whole strategy dangled in the wind. Indecision seems to be his MO.
Obama should have canned McChrystal’s escalation plan and fired him for the leaks to the press. That would have been decisive and right. Instead he took the middle road giving him half of what he asked for. His first problem was allowing Petraeus get him to railroad McKiernan. That was decisive and wrong.
McKiernan’s sin was similar to Shinseki’s. He told the truth and he said it in public. Shinseki said we went to war in Iraq with too few troops. McKiernan said he absolutely, positively needed I believe, 60,000 additional troops.
Voila’, both were shown the door. Shinseki was allowed to retire, but the treatment of McKiernan was, to me, unacceptable. That McChrystal asked for the same thing 90 days later vindicates McKiernan to an extent.
That it really doesn’t matter because the Greatest President in History wants us outa there ASAP is in the end the great tragedy.
To the commenters who don’t like the politics, I counter that leadership is relevant, in all things but especially in war. Liberals seem to think that the war on terror was all about Osama bin Laden, which was only a pertinent detail to them because it was the one thing Bush hadn’t gotten done as President.
Like the reporter from Salida, Obama & Co. have to come to terms with the fact that OBL’s death is a footnote in the war on terror, not the closing chapter. As Tim rightly notes, this victory would have been gold in the right hands, but has been played like another ‘in your face’ move by an amateur rabble-rouser.
Calling the President out for lack of leadership isn’t a political move, either. Since the man is CIC, he’ll get to make the big decisions regarding the military, so the President’s actions are meaningful to our nation and military. In addition, his ability to be an effective leader has direct effects on the solidarity of our allies and the behavior of our enemies.
Yes, what were they looking at in that photo? Maybe a stealth helicopter that just crashed? I put some spin on the same photo over at my blog in that respect.
i once heard the prasident of DeutscheBank say it best. When asked if DB would be bending over frontwards for another interest group he replied: “DeutscheBank cannot be everything for everyone.”
Now, why cant the teach THAT at Hahvahd?
How would a real Commander In Chief behave and appear in such a room where a secret op to kill Bin Laden was taking place? Look at the picture released: Looks like Obama-Mao is just a simple basketball player resting during the half time inside the locker room, where perhaps Hillary has seen something really big that she’s wanted for years! The pressor was even better: Here’s Mr. Tough Guy, the “decision maker” getting out in front of the guys on the ground who did the real work, blocking everyone and anything from getting a real perspective this achievement…I’m surprised the picture of every intell item we “stole” wasn’t placed in a room for a group picture, of course with Obama-Mao standing close by sporting that toothy grin of arrogance.
I just love it when people who really despise our military try to act like they truly appreciate those efforts that result in our safety and security…people like the Clintons and Obamas.
At least Donald Rumsfeld knows something about truth and wisdom.
I’m hoping our “sailors” shot Bin Laden off a catapult yto Daveinto the dark blue yonder: That would have been a sight to behold!
Just like watching this moron leave the White House in defeat!
There was one leader who mentioned the word Victory– George W Bush.
Here’s what was on his FB site.
“May 1, 2011
Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”
Well, he couldn’t say Mission Accomplished now, could he?
DebbieKinIL – When people rant in the manner in which you did, it is very difficult to take what you have to say seriously.
You sound just like the rest of the wing-nuts. I think if Obama were to manage to get us out of the mess that his predecessors got this country into, people such as you would find a way to complain.
Some people are never satisfied unless they are complaining and finding fault with others. Kind of like a nagging mother-in-law.
My deepest apologies. My previous comments were intended for RJ.
You can ride along with your bud, the malignant narcissist, Obama-Mao, all the while praising his greatness, his “Alexander the Great” abilities, etc. I hope he doesn’t stop short on ya…
Me, I’ll stay in the streets where people live a life of reality, where honest work and love of country makes good common sense.
I think the “wing walker” people are nuts, but it does take courage to get out there and perform.
I think it’s stupid to follow Obama–or support his efforts, his real efforts…not the crap he throws out for others to become distracted by…
One man one vote: We’ll see where the majority comes down a few months from now!
Is it possible that after the next US presidential election that roughly one third of Americans think the winner is the great hope, a true blue patriot and the guy who’ll save us all, another third will think he’s the anti-Christ and in league with a worldwide conspiracy to impose a tyranny and the last third will be simply bewildered that two thirds of the country are certifiable?
Harlan, :LOL: One of your best comments yet, and you have had many good ones.
What other country can work ten years at tracking down one man and when they find him fly stealth helicopters into the middle of another country to shoot him in the face? We’re so bad ass that we sent sailors to do the shooting that’s how deep our bench is. !!!!!!!
” What other country can work ten years at tracking down one man and when they find him fly stealth helicopters into the middle of another country to shoot him in the face? We’re so bad ass that we sent sailors to do the shooting that’s how deep our bench is.”
This may be the greatest quote i’ve ever read!!
Except it insults the DEVGRU. If SEALS are second string warriors, who is first string?
Hey Scott there is nothing second string about Dev Group along with the Delta guys they are the tier 1 and we have none better. But just because they are Dev Group doesn’t mean they’re not sailors. I’m a retired Marine so I’m obligated to point that out as I’ve done time and again years ago when training with SEAL’s back in the day. It wasn’t lack of respect but more like a desire to take my mind off throwing up while doing the nightly “Jane Fonda” (I’m old) routine in the hanger deck which was the brain child of our embarked SEAL team. Jane Fonda’s were the 1980’s version of crossfit and I hated them but it was a bushido violation not to attend them every evening.
I meant no disrespect and could not be prouder of our boys in blue. They are without question the first string.
Doubtful they would be butt hurt by such a comment…….Funny is funny unless you are German
Of course. Far too professional to even consider gratuitous comments…especially from a jarhead!
Proud to be a squid.
Shorter version of this post:
Yes, you killed Bin Laden – but what I really want to talk about is your press conference.
LOL, I hope it didn’t actually. Seriously though, people respond to real leadership. Psychologically, they can’t even help themselves from responding to someone who commands respect even if they disagree with some of what that leader does. Obama had an opportunity to beam leadership to the nation yet was flat and introverted. What a morale boost to the nation this could have been, yet instead it’s merely a shrug. Think about what they would have been saying in Salida, CO if he had grabbed the opportunity? But then again, maybe not. I mean, if people’s heads explode from reading criticism of Pres. Obama, what else should we have expected?
It’s not the fact that criticism is occurring that I find so ridiculous. It’s what is being criticized. The optics – when the result drowns out all else.
Really, was anyone listening after the words “killed Osama Bin Laden” were uttered?
Attentive listeners might hang on to learn there were no US casualties and that we have Bin Laden’s body – but those two items only serve to gold-plate the success.
An honest to God home-run Op – the bad guy dead – and Tim and others want to gnash their teeth and posture about how they would have done the press conference so much better?
That’s some pretty weak ground to hold, but whatever.
Indeed, I think it’s not lost on anyone what was accomplished. Major faith has been restored in the exploding-birthday-cake-CIA and the oops-shouldn’t-have-used-frag-grenades-during-hostage-rescue-SEALs by the absolute stunning success of this operation. Most people actually realize the gravity of that. Obama could have capitalized and made it even more than that but didn’t (couldn’t?). Weak ground to hold? Obama wasn’t actually on the raid himself so all he has is the ‘press conference’ but he blew it because it was really was a home-run op but a weak single to first for his handling.
I agree with you on the restoration of faith in our clandestine services but am still stunned that the very people who enabled the operation remain under investigation by the United States Attorney General. Being under their microscope is a big, expensive, life ruining deal. If we had an independent press who honestly wanted to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted they would not let this story melt away. Check that. I just put the bar too high for our legacy media. If we had a press who honestly loved our country and respected the people who made it great the story would not die. But it has and we all know that Obama will not be held to account anymore than he was held to account for Rev Wright, or having his house in Chicago purchased for him by criminals, or the fact that accomplished nothing as a “community organizer” except self promotion. November 2012 cannot come fast enough,
Wow – this is harsh – can you tell I’ve been outside in the 110 heat all day? Man am I in a bitchy mood but I stand by what I say.
Here’s a good summation of the options open to Obama.
I understand the options for withdrawal being floated are 5,000 this summer and another 5,000 in December. Clearly not even close to being enough but political fear brought 30,000 extra troops in and political fear will keep most of them there until after the next US presidential election.
I feel better now. 😉
Now, why would you post a link to a political hatchet job if you didn’t believe it?
Our bench is so deep we can look the other way as hillbilly Stryker team executes teenagers and farmers for their jollies and then replace them with other hillbillies.
Very efficiently written information. It will be valuable to anyone who usess it, as well as yours truly :). Keep doing what you are doing – can’r wait to read more posts.
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