It is not that the authors and editors have no opinions about Health Care Reform, Stimulus Bills, the National Deficit, the National Debt, Social Security, Hate Crime Legislation, or Same-Sex Marriage initiatives. It is not that the authors and editors refuse political party affiliation, though the Editor/Owner (me) is a proud independent, refusing to accept the demands and platforms of either party as his own.
It is my steadfast position and accepted condition of contributions that the only politics opined here are those of National Defense. This publication has no favored party. This publication considers National Defense to be of such importance that we established the policy that we comment on politics only that effect it. When a politician weighs in on National Defense, it does not matter what party they belong to, it matters only the effect on the issue they have. Our favored technique is to quote them, to let their words define their position, most often with no comment on their party.
This year has seen two major issues of National Defense in the political arena: the 2010 DoD Budget & now the Indecision of Supporting the needs to win in Afghanistan. Our position is based on the same principle as was our position on the Petraeus Plan: Support Our General, the Battlefield Commander. He is in the best position to know what he needs to do the job he was sent to do. While the Petreaus Plan was supported/opposed largely along party lines, the McChrystal Plan is splitting the Democratic Party.
While the Republican Party loyalists may prefer that the POTUS continue his policy of stubborn indecision, it is the hope of this Editor that the POTUS make the right decision and quickly. Yesterday would have been too late. Tomorrow will do. When Senator Diane Feinstein, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former adviser to Dick Gephardt agree with President Hamid Karzai, Afghan Ambassador to the United States Said Jawad , NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, General Myers, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Vice-President Dick Cheney, Senator Lindsay Graham, Senator John McCain, and Secretary of Defense Gates, and others, it is time to make a decision.
That is bi-partisan, international pressure on the POTUS to make a decision. While the entire weight of their opinions should weigh less on the decision than that of the General they are supporting, General McChrystal, it should be sufficient to wake up the POTUS to do what is right. He should support the needs expressed by General McChrystal, not because it's politically expedient, not because it is the only way to insulate himself from political defeat if Afghanistan is lost, not because I said so, and not because the majority of the milblogging community says so. He should support the request of General McChrystal because he is the Battlefield Commander that he sent there to secure Victory.
"Making the wrong decision is better than no decision at all."
In this case, that may not hold true, not politically, not for the Afghan people, not for the American people. In this case, the wrong decision may be as bad as no decision.
"A good leader weighs the advise of experts."
Almost. A good leader surrounds himself with experts and listens to the experts on their field of expertise. I have no doubt that Rahm Emanuel is a brilliant campaign strategist. Seldom in American history has a politician risen from being an unknown to the top office in the land so quickly as Obama. That is largely the work of Rahm Emanuel, but Rahm Emanuel is not a General. At this very minute, Emanuel should be advising the POTUS that the very best strategy for insulating himself from any negative results in Afghanistan is to demonstrate that he has afforded the General in Command every tool, every resource that he has asked for, at least every resource that is available. That is Emanuel's job.
What is not Rahm Emanuel's area of expertise, not his job, is to suggest to the CinC how many troops or how to use those Troops in Afghanistan. No matter how brilliant Rahm Emanuel is at manipulating the media, at tailoring a campaign message to voters, at creating a positive impression of a candidate, or a negative opinion of the opposition, he is not a General. Rahm Emanuel, even if he were a retired General, is not the General on the Battlefield. As much as I respect General Colin Powell and expect that he agrees with me on this issue, if he did not, I would say the same thing: He is not the battlefield commander.
I believe General Powell would agree with me because of how he became a household name. He was in the same position as is Admiral Mullen today. As the top ranked member of the Military at that time, he ran the military during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. His success did not come from interference but from supporting the General on the Ground, General "Stormin'' Norman Scwarzkopf. General Powell performed superbly because General Scwarzkopf was allowed the resources necessary to win decisively. That is a credit to both of them.
Of further credit to General Powell is the fact that for years after wards, the world still did not know his political leanings. Both parties courted him. Both parties have been riled by him. Both parties admire and respect him. I doubt he always agreed with Donald Rumsfeld or SecDef Gates or General Pace or General Myers, but I don't know of one account on the record that he publicly opposed them.
As a matter of policy, War On Terror News attempts to remove our emotions from the discussion, particularly while discussing the politics addressing National Defense. On the other hand, we do allow those more personally effected greater latitude to state their positions with emotion. Recently, an unnamed NCO preparing to deploy opened up with Ms Marti, a Blue Star Mother of a Paratrooper in Afghanistan has a lot at stake in the debate, and a Gold Star Mother is busy at this very moment evidencing her position on the matter.
Despite accusations from one passionate supporter of the POTUS, I do not believe I speak for all Troops in the field. I know several Troops that are ardent Democrats. I know several more that are passionate Republicans. I know some NCO's that dislike all officers (though that is fairly rare) and more that enjoy the standard, if humorous, rivalry between the two types of leadership. Most officers I know are very respectful of the experience and advice of their NCO's.
But the line of permissible opinions expressed by those still in uniform is thin, if blurry. Those in uniform are generally cautious about what they say publicly. It is not uncommon for Troops to avoid the subject to the extent that their teammates don't even know how they feel about politics. While I was in uniform, only my closest friends and family knew where I stood. When I returned from Afghanistan the last time, my Veteran status allowed me to become more vocal, to express that which I would not in uniform. I know many Troops agree with my positions, but surely there are some that do not.
It is the position of War On Terror News, that Democrats and Republicans, as well as independents can differ with their parties on all those other issues, while agreeing with each other and us on issues of National Defense. There is no inherent connection between the issues of Environmentalism, Taxation, Race Issues, and National Defense. There is no reason why an Environmentalist would be against a strong National Defense. There is no reason why a proponent of same-sex marriage would oppose the McChrystal plan. The issues are simply not connected.
Our Troops serve and defend this Nation, whether the POTUS has a D or an R behind his name. Our Troops need members of both parties to pressure their parties and their politicians to Support Our Troops, to Support Our Veterans, and to Support Our General. At this particular moment in time, in this particular debate, on this particular issue, Our Troops need the members of the Democratic Party to pressure their politicians, their party, their elected officials, to Support Our General. Our Troops need all that support them to tell their Congressman, whether D, R, or I, whether currently in support of, or currently opposed to, that they are watching this issue, that the body politic should Support Our General.
Senator Feinstein needs to know that we applaud her for supporting the General and Senator Kerry needs to know we disagree.
Politicians: You have been forewarned: When you wade into the arena of National Defense, you have entered our arena of debate. We'll applaud those that get it right and use your own words to demonstrate why you are wrong, should that be the case.
Partisan Loyalists: If you tune out of the News from Afghanistan, Iraq, and the War On Terror, because you don't like the words we post about the politicians of your party, it is your implied right to remain ignorant, but your ignorance is not an excuse under any legal system I know of. The 1st Amendment gives you a right to express your opinions and the 5th affords you the right to remain silent. Choose wisely, for anything you say will be used solely at our discretion to demonstrate your intelligence or ignorance, your partisanship or patriotism.
Rarely used: as this is OUR house, disrespectful, mudslinging rants are subject to suppression. Keep the debate mature and honest.