Obama PetraeusIn Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, as you’ve no doubt heard by now, he describes the procedure that President Obama attempted to follow in determining how to proceed on Afghanistan. After informing the Pentagon of his need for distinctive policy options, he was instead presented with three variations of a single course of action. Rather than send it back to the drawing board, he grudgingly chose one.

As Andrew Bacevich explains in Obama Can’t Stand Up to His Generals — And That’s Dangerous at the New Republic (emphasis added) . . .

. . . presidential weakness — even an inkling of weakness — can have international as well as domestic implications. This is notably the case in matters related to national security. If the occupant of the Oval Office appears less than fully in command, friend and foe alike will wonder who exactly is in charge. . . . [Whether Obama] possesses the temperament to govern is fast becoming an open question. Put simply, the question is this: Does Obama have sufficient backbone?

No doubt Obama had fallen prey to the conventional thinking that proceeding with the war was actually a sign of said “backbone.” Of course, that was predicated on the notion that news of his capitulation to the generals didn’t leak out. Once that happened, we see how an attempt to appear strong on national security was actually a demonstration of weakness. In fact, as a reversion to the default position of Democratic presidents to reflexively come down on the side of the military out of deference to the misconception that Democrats are weak on national security, it was especially cowardly.

Also, writes Bacevich, “Once Obama endorsed choices made by unelected subordinates, the office of commander-in-chief had acquired additional tenants.”

You mean in addition to the coporations that have taken up lodging in the Oval Office? It’s getting pretty crowded in there.

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