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Senior UK Defense Advisor: Obama Is Clueless


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#1    OverSword

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 05:17 PM

In fairness this article could be placed in the Europe/UK section or the middle east section as neatly as it fits into the US politics section.

From the article:

Sir Hew Strachan, an expert on the history of war, says that the president’s strategic failures in Afghanistan and Syria have crippled America’s position in the world.
President Obama is “chronically incapable” of military strategy and falls far short of his predecessor George W. Bush, according to one of Britain’s most senior military advisors.
Sir Hew Strachan, an advisor to the Chief of the Defense Staff, told The Daily Beast that the United States and Britain were guilty of total strategic failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Obama’s attempts to intervene on behalf of the Syrian rebels “has left them in a far worse position than they were before.”
The extraordinary critique by a leading advisor to the United States’ closest military ally comes days after Obama was undermined by the former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who questioned the President’s foreign policy decisions and claimed he was deeply suspicious of the military.
Strachan, a current member of the Chief of the Defense Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, cited the “crazy” handling of the Syrian crisis as the most egregious example of a fundamental collapse in military planning that began in the aftermath of 9/11. “If anything it’s gone backwards instead of forwards, Obama seems to be almost chronically incapable of doing this. Bush may have had totally fanciful political objectives in terms of trying to fight a global War on Terror, which was inherently astrategic, but at least he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in the world. Obama has no sense of what he wants to do in the world,” he said.
The dithering over intervention against President Bashar al-Assad has empowered the Syrian ruler, undermined America’s military reputation and destabilized the Middle East, said Strachan.  “What he’s done in talking about Red Lines in relation to Syria has actually devalued the deterrent effect of American military capability and it seems to me that creates an unstable situation, because if he were act it would surprise everybody,” he said. “I think the other issue is that in starting and stopping with Assad, he’s left those who might be his natural allies in Syria with nowhere to go. He’s increased the likelihood that if there is a change of regime in Syria that it will be an Islamic fundamentalist one.”

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#2    thyra

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 05:52 PM

I dont understand why a politician should be an expert military strategist. I think such an outlook should belong to medieval european kingdoms. I especially found it interesting when he is compared to g.w bush's 'success'. Whole article sounds like a joke. Politicians (not only obama but all) in multi national arenas are there to stop wars and increase welfare for all people on earth. They are not there to start or conduct wars. We people should we wise enough to demand those not wars from our politicians. If there is a war somewhere all politicians on earth are responsible to end it through diplomacy as soon as possible.

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#3    Yes_Man

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 05:54 PM

and the British have done better? has Bush done better? No


#4    Agent0range

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 05:55 PM

I also would like to know what "strategic failures" occured in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Obama was only in office for the drawdown and pullout of Iraq.  And I saw no major strategy changes in Afghanistan through his time in office, aside from drawing down and preparing for pulling out.


#5    and then

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 06:22 PM

View PostAgent0range, on 16 January 2014 - 05:55 PM, said:

I also would like to know what "strategic failures" occured in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Obama was only in office for the drawdown and pullout of Iraq.  And I saw no major strategy changes in Afghanistan through his time in office, aside from drawing down and preparing for pulling out.
I think the fault lies in his approach.  He declared, basically, a date certain when the US would leave even as he increased the forces.  It was an obvious political decision - as are all his decisions - and it gave the opposition in Afghanistan a clear signal for how to plan for a post US Afghanistan.  Don't mistake me - I am VERY happy that our people will no longer be dying needlessly there.  We never should have been there more than 2 years IMO.  But he does seem clueless - even anti military.  He has a domestic agenda and his energy (what little he has) seems bent on that.  The point I take from the minister's words is that an inept US president is a real danger in the modern world.  Changing the rules that diplomats and strategists have carefully crafted and adhered to for generations - and doing so in a summary fashion, without consultation leaves EVERYONE hanging and unsure.  It is dangerous in a sphere where miscalculation can cause horrible consequences - ask April Glaspie....

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#6    Agent0range

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 06:29 PM

View Postand then, on 16 January 2014 - 06:22 PM, said:

I think the fault lies in his approach.  He declared, basically, a date certain when the US would leave even as he increased the forces.  It was an obvious political decision - as are all his decisions - and it gave the opposition in Afghanistan a clear signal for how to plan for a post US Afghanistan.  Don't mistake me - I am VERY happy that our people will no longer be dying needlessly there.  We never should have been there more than 2 years IMO.  But he does seem clueless - even anti military.  He has a domestic agenda and his energy (what little he has) seems bent on that.  The point I take from the minister's words is that an inept US president is a real danger in the modern world.  Changing the rules that diplomats and strategists have carefully crafted and adhered to for generations - and doing so in a summary fashion, without consultation leaves EVERYONE hanging and unsure.  It is dangerous in a sphere where miscalculation can cause horrible consequences - ask April Glaspie....

I don't agree with the anti-military part.  He has done alot of great things for Veterans.  Increasing troops before drawing down was actually the exact same tactic Bush used in Iraq.  An area must be neutralized, because you are at your weakest right before you exit (Google COP Keating).  That was the point of the Iraq "surge".


#7    OverSword

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 06:29 PM

You people are all daft.  Do you really think that Putin would have dared to openly threaten Bush?  No way.  The world at large is aware of how wishy washy the current regime is.

View Postthyra, on 16 January 2014 - 05:52 PM, said:

Politicians (not only obama but all) in multi national arenas are there to stop wars and increase welfare for all people on earth. They are not there to start or conduct wars. We people should we wise enough to demand those not wars from our politicians. If there is a war somewhere all politicians on earth are responsible to end it through diplomacy as soon as possible.

Yeah, that happens all the time.  Wars just magically start themselves and then these benevolent leaders of our stop them through the kindness of their hearts :gun:


#8    and then

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 06:37 PM

View PostAgent0range, on 16 January 2014 - 06:29 PM, said:

I don't agree with the anti-military part.  He has done alot of great things for Veterans.  Increasing troops before drawing down was actually the exact same tactic Bush used in Iraq.  An area must be neutralized, because you are at your weakest right before you exit (Google COP Keating).  That was the point of the Iraq "surge".
I'm aware of what the surge was about.  I faulted Bush and Rumsfeld at the time for leaving our forces in a position to even NEED such a tactic.  But that surge was done without an expiration date and that is all the difference.  I guess I'm missing the things he's done for vets - can you expand on that a bit?  I'm talking about his actual support of them and their mission.  He has determined to end America's role in these conflicts just as he promised his base.  He is keeping that promise and I don't fault him for it.  But he could have tried to keep 20 or 30 thousand forces in Iraq and what we are seeing there now would not be happening.  He used the excuse of Maliki's refusal to grant immunity to our forces when he could have applied MUCH more pressure and saved Iran from taking the place - but he refused to do it - he just wanted out and either took bad advice or refused sound advice in making such a decision.

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#9    and then

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 06:41 PM

View PostOverSword, on 16 January 2014 - 06:29 PM, said:

You people are all daft.  Do you really think that Putin would have dared to openly threaten Bush?  No way.  The world at large is aware of how wishy washy the current regime is.


Yeah, that happens all the time.  Wars just magically start themselves and then these benevolent leaders of our stop them through the kindness of their hearts :gun:
The greatest irony of positions like those that thyra espouse is that such thinking wouldn't even be possible but for the strength of position our military's have afforded us.  It sounds lovely but one sees the real world in places like Syria.  These folks truly believe one can wish themselves into a peaceful place.

  Imagination is the power in the turn of a phrase.

#10    Agent0range

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 06:46 PM

View Postand then, on 16 January 2014 - 06:37 PM, said:

I'm aware of what the surge was about.  I faulted Bush and Rumsfeld at the time for leaving our forces in a position to even NEED such a tactic.  But that surge was done without an expiration date and that is all the difference.  I guess I'm missing the things he's done for vets - can you expand on that a bit?  I'm talking about his actual support of them and their mission.  He has determined to end America's role in these conflicts just as he promised his base.  He is keeping that promise and I don't fault him for it.  But he could have tried to keep 20 or 30 thousand forces in Iraq and what we are seeing there now would not be happening.  He used the excuse of Maliki's refusal to grant immunity to our forces when he could have applied MUCH more pressure and saved Iran from taking the place - but he refused to do it - he just wanted out and either took bad advice or refused sound advice in making such a decision.

They didn't want us in Iraq, that is why immunity was refused.  Putting an expiration date on a strategic move is very very dangerous.  You never want your enemy to know your timeline.

As far as for vets, Obama created a program in which all Soldiers leaving active duty must attend special classes.  It lasts about a week and covers things such as health benefits, VA claims, and education benefits.  There are also people on every base with a Masters Degree at a minimum that will meet with you during this week to take your military experience and put it onto a professional resume.

The VA has come a long way.  It is almost paperless.  Wait times have been cut down significantly.  They are still quite high due to the fact that problems associated with Agent Orange are now recognized by the VA which created hundreds of thousands more patients.

Education benefits.  Yes, Bush had a big part in the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  But, Obama made it possible to take online courses while still receiving the housing allowance.  Bush's version did not allow that.


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Posted 16 January 2014 - 07:17 PM

View PostAgent0range, on 16 January 2014 - 06:46 PM, said:

They didn't want us in Iraq, that is why immunity was refused.  Putting an expiration date on a strategic move is very very dangerous.  You never want your enemy to know your timeline.

As far as for vets, Obama created a program in which all Soldiers leaving active duty must attend special classes.  It lasts about a week and covers things such as health benefits, VA claims, and education benefits.  There are also people on every base with a Masters Degree at a minimum that will meet with you during this week to take your military experience and put it onto a professional resume.

The VA has come a long way.  It is almost paperless.  Wait times have been cut down significantly.  They are still quite high due to the fact that problems associated with Agent Orange are now recognized by the VA which created hundreds of thousands more patients.

Education benefits.  Yes, Bush had a big part in the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  But, Obama made it possible to take online courses while still receiving the housing allowance.  Bush's version did not allow that.
I agree that the VA has made great strides.  I worked in a VA hospital for 5 years as a magnetic resonance imaging technologist and the care we gave was excellent - and was recognized as such.  I'm speaking about Obama's lack of desire to support the MISSION these men and women were/are literally being asked to die for.

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#12    Agent0range

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 07:36 PM

View Postand then, on 16 January 2014 - 07:17 PM, said:

I agree that the VA has made great strides.  I worked in a VA hospital for 5 years as a magnetic resonance imaging technologist and the care we gave was excellent - and was recognized as such.  I'm speaking about Obama's lack of desire to support the MISSION these men and women were/are literally being asked to die for.

I don't see how he isn't supporting the mission, can you give an example?  I deployed twice under Bush and twice under Obama, and never felt unsupported.


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Posted 16 January 2014 - 07:59 PM

View PostAgent0range, on 16 January 2014 - 07:36 PM, said:

I don't see how he isn't supporting the mission, can you give an example?  I deployed twice under Bush and twice under Obama, and never felt unsupported.
I have not served - I thank you for your service - sincerely.  I take my cue from the SecDef and his statements primarily.  The man is honorable by all accounts and states clearly his disappointment with this administration.

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#14    Admiral Rhubarb

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 08:03 PM

View Postthyra, on 16 January 2014 - 05:52 PM, said:

I dont understand why a politician should be an expert military strategist. I think such an outlook should belong to medieval european kingdoms. I especially found it interesting when he is compared to g.w bush's 'success'. Whole article sounds like a joke. Politicians (not only obama but all) in multi national arenas are there to stop wars and increase welfare for all people on earth. They are not there to start or conduct wars. We people should we wise enough to demand those not wars from our politicians. If there is a war somewhere all politicians on earth are responsible to end it through diplomacy as soon as possible.
Well, that's the problem with the American system (one of them); the President is the Commander in Chief, and unlike in, say, the UK, where the Queen is nominally Commander in Chief, he does actually have power, so, in the words of Harry Truman, the buck does stop with him. Since it would obviously be unrealistic to expect every candidate for President to have to be an expert in military strategy, maybe it's the way that the Pres. has so much power that needs looking at. You need look no further than his predecessor to see where having the power to order military action more or less at will leads to.

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#15    Admiral Rhubarb

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 08:05 PM

View Postthyra, on 16 January 2014 - 05:52 PM, said:

. I especially found it interesting when he is compared to g.w bush's 'success'.
yes, what was it? at least he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in the world.  Yes, he had that all right. :-/

Life is a hideous business, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more hideous.

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