McChrystal’s Self-Inflicted Disaster Must Become Obama-Led Learning Moment

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obama mcchrystal.jpgGeneral Stanley McChrystal has more staff, more strategists, more financing, and more clout in the field than Richard Holbrooke, Karl Eikenberry, General Jim Jones, Vice President Biden and the NATO allies that he and his allies disparaged.
He created a culture of disdain for civilian leadership and showed intolerance for views that differed from his own – even though he was king of the hill as far as the Afghanistan surge. What McChrystal has done is to challenge not the President directly or even the chain of command — but rather he and his command staff have undermined the very foundation of public trust in the White House’s legitimacy and leadership.
McChrystal was the only one whose job was ‘not’ in danger over Afghanistan. While Holbrooke, Jones and Eikenberry scuffled — McChrystal sat comfortably with a near monopoly of resources, a handful of strategists and press staff, and the certainty that he had the confidence of Barack Obama. He has now — all on his own — thrown his own legacy and America’s operation in Afghanistan into chaos. Tens of thousands of American men and women serving under his command deserve better leadership and also vitally need someone who can partner with other key players in the US government.
Barack Obama has to use this mistake by McChrystal as a learning moment — reminding the nation that the President is the Commander in Chief and reminding the US military that pugnacious disdain for diplomats, civil society builders, for strategists, Vice Presidents, and ISAF allies with whom they may have differences is something that they must learn to deal with responsibly and respectably.
– Steve Clemons
Editor’s Note: This short essay was first solicited by the Huffington Post.

Comments

95 comments on “McChrystal’s Self-Inflicted Disaster Must Become Obama-Led Learning Moment

  1. suzie baker says:

    Even late TV had such great thoughts on McChrystal.
    “President Obama met with the Russian president at the White House and afterwards, took him out for a burger. . .It was a bit awkward because Gen. McChrystal was working behind the counter.”

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  2. David says:

    Invaluable, questions, especially for a dear friend whose husband watches Fox and believes their caca, and because she is not conversant in these areas, she needs actual reliable sources to counter his nonsense. She is smart, she is not passive, she just needs resources. Thank you.

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  3. questions says:

    ” Why did it take more than three weeks to buy the Dutch skimmers?
    U.S. officials did not directly answer this question. A State Department spokesman suggested that the nature of the offer and bureaucratic requirements might have something to do with it.
    The Dutch offer, like most offers of foreign assistance, was to sell supplies, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters. “And in determining whether to accept these offers, we look at the availability of domestic sources and also compare pricing on the open market. So that may be one of the reasons why, in some cases, we’ve been able to accept these offers and pursued them,” he said.”
    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jun/25/nation/la-na-jones-actqa-20100625/2
    ****
    There’s a lot more info out there from the past couple of days.

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  4. questions says:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37785640/
    The costs of some of the offers of aid.

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  5. questions says:

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/143488.pdf
    If I read the chart right, the Netherlands offer was not gratis, which means that cost considerations probably needed a look. The offer was made on 30 April and accepted on 23 May. 3 weeks to make a judgment may or may not be insane. I don’t know the process.
    The link is to a chart that gives some info about offers of aid, offers to purchase aid, when and from where and what kind.

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  6. questions says:

    “Each offer must be compliant not only with the needs outlined by the Unified Command, but also with U.S. safety regulations. The Unified Command provided us with this statement and information:
    Unified Command, June 22: Those offers of international assistance that were not accepted, while greatly appreciated, did not meet the operational requirements of the Unified Command. These offers have not been declined because they may be needed in the future as response strategies change. Some challenges in accepting these offers included:
    * Equipment failed to meet US requirements/specifications (i.e. dispersant not on approved list/containment boom made of non-approved material)
    * Contingencies placed on the offers proved logistically impracticable when compared to other sources.
    * In one instance, the offering country

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  7. questions says:

    http://mediamatters.org/research/201006280017
    Apparently I have to take back what I said about the Jones Act!
    You know, for all the care I take in internet “research” I still can’t always separate the Fox from the henhouse!
    There may actually be a whole lot happening in the Gulf that is what should be happening.
    I think I will be all the more careful with the links, though.

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  8. nadine says:

    questions, the cleanup is a debacle, and everybody in the region can see it. There is no reason on earth and most of the skimmers on the planet shouldn’t be at work in the Gulf this minute, purifying the water so oil doesn’t hit the coasts. Put things “into context” until the cows come home, and there is still no escaping the conclusion that the skimmers aren’t there because of Federal regulations that Obama could have waived, but didn’t.

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  9. questions says:

    A catastrophe that could have been averted is now playing out — which catastrophe — the leak itself? Prevented by a completely different regulatory culture for the last many many years?
    The clean up labor issues are also structures one can tie to the uneasy position of labor in a world arrayed against paying workers well and treating them well.
    I came across some discussion of some of the features of the Jones Act — the basic worker protections are pretty damned important in terms of liability and better treatment.
    nadine, you can’t separate out the parts of the structure you want and start the narrative at a convenient place to make the Republicans look great and Obama look like an idiot.
    We have a long history, a wide array of forces, incentives, and structures that have made the hole in the bottom of the sea what it is. The arbitrary choosing of a starting point is problematic. You want to start the story at the precise moment that makes Obama look his absolute worst so that he’s the creator of the disaster rather than one more reaction to/victim of it. You can only go so far this direction before it just looks like you’re deliberately ignoring the backstory.
    So take a few steps back, put BP into context, drilling into context, economic incentives and regulatory moves into context. Make use of Senate dynamics, Jindal’s politicking, the booming vs. drilling cultures in BP that fishgrease has written fuckin’ eloquently about. Delve into regulatory history, Reagan’s approach to government, and the science behind not granting waivers to environmental rules without some kind of major understanding. Remember that ANY waiver can be justified, and so we need to be careful on the waiver issue. Remember that any encroachment against labor can be justified. The laws were passed for reasons, not for random fun.
    Sometimes the protections are problematic. Often they aren’t. Sometimes corporations lie even to the pres about the seriousness of a disaster and so the response is less than full enough. Sometimes disasters aren’t well understood, though I have to say, this one seems to have been pretty well understood in its possibility, if not in its actuality.
    But we do have structural problems with preparedness.
    If you back off the need to attack Obama at every turn, you might find a better, smarter, clearer understanding of what needs to happen. I don’t think Bush would have gotten it right. There’s not a lot of relationship between running the Arabian Horse Association and mopping up millions of gallons of oil.

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  10. nadine says:

    questions, we know plenty already. Listen to Lawrence Solomon, writing in the Financial Post. He took the time to talk to the Dutch. Everytime Obama & Salazar had to chose between the unions & the EPA on one hand, and the cleanup on the other, they chose the unions & the EPA:
    “Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn’t good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million — if water isn’t at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.
    When ships in U.S. waters take in oil-contaminated water, they are forced to store it. As U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the official in charge of the clean-up operation, explained in a press briefing on June 11, “We have skimmed, to date, about 18 million gallons of oily water–the oil has to be decanted from that [and] our yield is usually somewhere around 10% or 15% on that.” In other words, U.S. ships have mostly been removing water from the Gulf, requiring them to make up to 10 times as many trips to storage facilities where they off-load their oil-water mixture, an approach Koops calls “crazy.”
    The Americans, overwhelmed by the catastrophic consequences of the BP spill, finally relented and took the Dutch up on their offer — but only partly. Because the U.S. didn’t want Dutch ships working the Gulf, the U.S. airlifted the Dutch equipment to the Gulf and then retrofitted it to U.S. vessels. And rather than have experienced Dutch crews immediately operate the oil-skimming equipment, to appease labour unions the U.S. postponed the clean-up operation to allow U.S. crews to be trained.
    A catastrophe that could have been averted is now playing out. With oil increasingly reaching the Gulf coast, the emergency construction of sand berns to minimize the damage is imperative. Again, the U.S. government priority is on U.S. jobs, with the Dutch asked to train American workers rather than to build the berns. According to Floris Van Hovell, a spokesman for the Dutch embassy in Washington, Dutch dredging ships could complete the berms in Louisiana twice as fast as the U.S. companies awarded the work. “Given the fact that there is so much oil on a daily basis coming in, you do not have that much time to protect the marshlands,” he says, perplexed that the U.S. government could be so focussed on side issues with the entire Gulf Coast hanging in the balance.”
    Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/Avertible+catastrophe/3203808/story.html#ixzz0s7fjPJ00

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  11. questions says:

    The 8:41 post right above from the WaPo seems to suggest that though there was an initial refusal, the skimmers were finally sent.
    I will agree partially that not waiving the rules instantly may have been dumb. BUT, I will say that when the leak first started, BP was in full CYA mode and was downplaying the amount of oil gushing up, and the seriousness of the problem. So simply saying “we shoulda” doesn’t necessarily mean we knew we shoulda….
    I would certainly prefer that we had better predictive responses, better information, and a willingness in this instance to waive rules quickly.
    BUT, there are plenty of times when waiving rules might be a bad idea, and it’s not always easy to know which is which.
    I get the feeling there will be some kind of investigation. FOIA requests have gone out. Eventually we’ll know more. Until then, I reserve judgment, but I’m will to say that there may have been a, ummm, boneheaded mistake here.
    But don’t merely cite the line all over the right wing news that these skimmers would have worked miracles. A claim like this seems to need some additional corroboration.
    Perhaps fishgrease knows the answer. I certainly don’t.

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  12. nadine says:

    Questions, Radio Netherlands is saying the Dutch skimmers were refused because of EPA regulations: they keep the oil and pump back the water. This is not allowed because EPA regs say the water has to be 99.9985% pure, and the Dutch skimmers can’t achieve anything like that. So the oil goes unskimmed, except by a few American skimmers that have to dump the water into holding tanks on land.
    It’s completely nuts. Insane.
    If the Dutch had been allowed in the first week, there would be no oil hitting land anywhere. This is so bad a cockup that you begin to ask if it’s on purpose. Obama hates oil companies anyway, here’s another crisis he can use, right?

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  13. questions says:

    From WaPo:
    “In late May, the administration accepted Mexico’s offer of two skimmers and 13,779 feet of boom; a Dutch offer of three sets of Koseq sweeping arms, which attach to the sides of ships and gather oil; and eight skimming systems offered by Norway.
    “As we understand what we need and identify domestic and foreign sources, we will act,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who said the United States has received 21 aid offers from 17 countries and four international groups. “We are maintaining contact with these countries, we are grateful for the offers, and we will take them up on these offers.”
    But some lawmakers and outside experts are questioning whether the administration has been too slow to capitalize on these offers, lulled by BP’s estimates on the oil flow rate and on its capacity to cope with the aftermath of the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig.
    ad_icon
    “We’re clearly behind the curve because BP did not have the game plan to deal with this spill,” said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), who visited Louisiana on Friday. “I don’t know if the federal government has the capacity it needs at this point.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/13/AR2010061304232.html
    So in the end, they were accepted after all. And that is my morning research…..

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  14. questions says:

    http://climateaudit.org/2010/06/20/epa-and-dutch-skimmers/
    Here’s something about the Dutch skimmers — I think 4 of them were offered and refused. The author here is uncertain of the reasons. EPA perhaps. Or there may have been other reasons.
    The EPA requirement is potable water only is to be released, not an oily mixture.
    Since I don’t do the science, I don’t know what makes sense with all of this. Some things that sound outrageous might not be, or maybe they are. And it all looks still a little on the murky side.
    My best guess is that there are numerous issues, that complexity rules, and that there is a reasonable chance that the bureaucracy stepped on its own feet, but possibly with good reason rather than with stupidity.
    The other thing worth researching is whether or not 4 skimmers would have made much of a difference.

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  15. questions says:

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i0-vrkse69xsLJHx1KBZUj7rDJyAD9GJ5A6O2
    This one does a nice job of dealing with the incentives to improve drilling capacity as compared to the incentives to improve clean up capacity — where’s the money to be made?
    And what were the incentives after the Valdez — where was the pressure from both the gov’t and industry.
    I am beginning to think the 99.99% thing is not really the issue…. But you could surprise me still!

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  16. questions says:

    One piece on skimmers — Jones Act – no foreign ships working w/in a few miles of the coast/labor issues/it’s been waived before, but there is political pressure…..
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0619/Jones-Act-Maritime-politics-strain-Gulf-oil-spill-cleanup
    A different take on things — brief note:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/06/17/ap/business/main6593389.shtml
    So perhaps there are multiple causes. That’s often the case, actually.
    Didn’t see anything about the EPA, but I didn’t check every link google offered. I don’t generally trust the number “99.99 per cent” for anything at all. It always sounds fictional to me. Doesn’t mean it IS fictional in this case, but if you have a link to the statute, I’d be interested.

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  17. questions says:

    nadine, I read something completely different about the skimmers that had something to do with capacity, and nothing to do with EPA regs. I’ll check it out as I have time. I’m getting busy again and posting too much here….
    David, thanks as always for the thanks. I’m not southern and had never heard that expression, but it may have added itself to my vocabulary!
    By the way, on books — Schmidle’s book really is nice. I’m finally almost done with it (I picked it up maybe a year ago.) He conveys adventure and craziness in Pakistan with a nice feeling for the people who actually live there. The shifts and twists and turns of the place are fascinating, if a little worrisome.

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  18. resigned says:

    The best ‘fuck you’ resignation letter I’ve seen in a long time. H managed to publish it in the Rolling Stone mag. as well : Ready, Fire, Aim …
    Well done soldier.

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  19. nadine says:

    questions: here’s one more regulatory angle for you: apparently one reason we refused all foreign skimmers is because EPA regs won’t let purified water back into the ocean unless its really purified, 99.99% pure, and skimmers can’t achieve that level. So our skimmers must store the water (requiring many trips back to base to empty the water into tanks), and foreign skimmers which pump back the purified water into the Gulf are not allowed. So the oil slick spreads unskimmed.
    A real leader would waive these rules for the emergency. But Obama won’t. He really thinks he can use the crisis to pass Cap and Trade. We saw him try to make the connection once already in his speech, while he was lying to us about running out of spots to drill.

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  20. David says:

    A flat-assed Thank you (I think it’s Southern, I know I’m Southern, and I have no idea what it means except profoundly sincere in this context), questions, for your very on-target commentary. The berm was, by any rational consideration, as silly as the Maginot Line, or the next room in Poe’s classic short story. Hell, jetties are often a crapshoot. The ocean just redirects and redesigns. Just ask the folk at the south end of the Halifax River. And with Alex cranking up…. But then Jindal knows how to do silly. I did sympathize with him in the earlier days of the catastrophe as he stood genuinely bewildered, and I actually thought for a moment he was going to undergo a shift in consciousness. Haley Barbour (or however he spells it) I never had any such illusions about. “Mississippians will decide what Mississippi will do.” Get a glass navel, Haley, so you can see where you are going.
    And thanks for the reminder, erichwwk: “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” Horribly permanent.

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  21. questions says:

    More on Jindal, referring to the NYT article on him and including a link to the berm thing you, nadine, were touting.
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/6/26/879547/-Jindal-asks-for-moon,-doesnt-get-it,-blames-Obama
    Note also that the original story about Jindal’s not calling up the Nat’l Guard comes from CBS, not from kos.
    Jindal is getting his due from many sources at this point.

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  22. questions says:

    Oh, come on. No regulation would be far worse, and that’s obvious from 10 minutes of game theory, 10 minutes of reading about the derivatives market, and 10 minutes reading the FDA book I’m working on.
    Regulations work when properly structured, properly enforced, monitored by an active Congress willing to hold hearings as needed.
    We are captured by our energy industry. We need the energy, the MCs are caught, the previous admin was totally captured by it. There’s a lot of money, power, jobs, localism, need, fear, and the like all caught up in our energy system.
    This mess needs to be untangled and restructured according to somewhat more broadthinking principles.
    There are structural problems with regulators, and they need to be dealt with through the use of better structures. NOT through the absence of regulation.
    Not an ear/mouth issue. Not by any stretch.

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  23. nadine says:

    “MMS is already known to be a disaster. But it’s the kind of structural disaster that’s hard to deal with because the industry and the regulators kind of need to be the same level of expert and they need to work together. ” (questions)
    So lots more big government and more regulation is the solution, right? Let your ears hear what your mouth is saying.

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  24. questions says:

    Note on Hayak and hidden information above gleaned from Cassidy’s marvelous book on market failure. Highly recommend it!

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  25. questions says:

    nadine,
    Deepwater was an exploratory well that was made to be capped.
    The capping was done badly, there were unheeded warning signs before that even….
    Capping an exploratory well with a process known to fail half the time — meh.
    The percentages need to be calculated, money needs to be set aside at the outset. Proper pricing, pricing that conveys information about the risks and costs of amelioration — this is our friend. It’s really a capitalist tool that should be brought to bear on the capitalists. Hayek seems to have been pretty big on the price=information thing. (Like, Nobel big.) And hidden information is our enemy. It’s also a structure of things. So we need the regulators to increase the price of oil exploration til it smacks even with the risks.
    MMS is already known to be a disaster. But it’s the kind of structural disaster that’s hard to deal with because the industry and the regulators kind of need to be the same level of expert and they need to work together. There’s a structural conflict and I have yet to read something that shows the way out of this kind of thing. But if you know something, I’d be happy to toss it into my infinite stack of books. I’m not super up on the structures of regulatory agencies, or organizational behavior in general. If I were, I’d probably be thrilled at presidential speeches or something.
    The really amazing current one is an 800 page history of the FDA. Maybe there will be something beautiful about regulators and industry in there. If I find it, I’ll report on it. It’s called Reputation and Power, written by Daniel Carpenter. New book. Gripping reading. Really. Sadly, though, it’s one in a huge stack of things…..
    By the way, I don’t really know too well the history of Interior — but I would wonder how much James Watt did to help things along…. And what became of it under Bush, and how much of what we’re seeing is naturally there, and how much is cultivated Bush/Cheneyism. Again, out of my expertise by miles, but it does make me wonder….

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  26. drew says:

    McC. threw Yon out of his Afghanistan embed, I note.

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  27. nadine says:

    Good comment on the Rolling Stones article from Bill Jacobson of Legal Insurrection blog:
    “The article did not expose any facts whatsoever. There were no war crimes revealed, no failure to follow orders exposed, no mutiny prevented.
    The information in the article amounted to this:
    * When drunk, soldiers talk trash among people they trust.
    * When sober, soldiers talk trash among people they trust.
    * Soldiers never should trust reporters, ever.
    That last point really is the lesson learned, and should infuriate real reporters who actually want to report on facts, rather than seeking inglorious fame.”
    http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/
    I would add this corollary: in the future, the only real military reporting will be done by freelance vets like Michael Yon. The soldiers won’t trust any other reporters.

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  28. nadine says:

    questions, like you say, it’s an engineering problem. The actual engineering reality of the drilling is that capping wells is much more dangerous than pumping a production well. Deepwater Horizon blew up during a capping operation.
    So what does Salazar recommend? Capping the deep water wells because he wants plenty of time for commissions to meet and consider more regulations on top of all the existing regulations that weren’t followed in the first place. On top of that, Salazar had the gall to claim that experts recommended the moratorium on current drilling, which was as out-and-out lie, instantly refuted by the misquoted experts.
    The moratorium would increase the danger, destroy tens of thousands of good jobs in an already economically devastated region, and lose the best rigs to Brazil. There’s a piece of total idiocy from a person who wouldn’t know an engineering problem if it bit him on the butt. But they are so attached to their idiocy they are appealing the ruling from a Federal judge who put a stay on it.
    DailyKos would be better off to stop trying to find trash to throw at Bobby Jindal and look at the real culprits in Interior and the White House. But they won’t. They’re still covering for their guy in the White House.

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  29. questions says:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/6/14/0539/72331
    The most recent “fishgrease” — one word it turns out.
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/5/11/11558/1890
    And one on “booming school” which is a marvelous series that explains how to lay oil boom properly and compares “properly” to what BP did.
    Always worth a fuckin’ read.

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  30. questions says:

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/6/25/879265/-CBS:-Jindal-holds-up-deployment-of-National-Guard-to-fight-spill
    And one more for good measure — an earlier note on a similar topic.
    Jindal is in it for Jindal. Or so it would seem.
    Again, just read the URL if you want.
    But I highly recommend traveling over to kos and searching for posts by “Fish Grease” since the start of the hole in the bottom of the sea. He really does seem to know what he’s talking about, he’s been picked up by Rachel Maddow, and he’s fuckin’ fun to fuckin’ read on fuckin’ top of it all.

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  31. questions says:

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/6/25/879305/-Jindal-did-activate-some-National-Guardsmen…to-block-the-media
    A little more on Jindal — just read the URL if you don’t want to go through the pain of clicking on the link…..
    Perhaps this isn’t true. Perhaps it is true. I would guess it is.

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  32. questions says:

    Nothing I’ve read about Jindal suggests that he has lived up to this fab rep he’s developed. And the snort about volcano monitoring is the topping on the sundae. But then, he’s topped his sundae with a bunch of other remarks as well….
    As SNL put it ages ago, “not ready for prime time.”
    We need a long slow look at safety, costs, externalities, costs, safety, long, slow.
    The berm thing was, to the best of my understanding, a dumb and useless idea. But I won’t assume I know everything. Much of what I’ve gotten about the BP hole in the bottom of the sea is from “Fish Grease” at Daily Kos who does indeed seem to know things about laying boom properly, about what might or might not work, about the culture of the people involved in ocean drilling.
    Some stuff I know from earlier reading. And Jindal, I know from watching the guy from afar.

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  33. nadine says:

    “There seem to be some contradictions underlying your views — you want ACTION and political leadership a la Jindal, but he’s just calling for more drilling rather than a careful overhaul of drilling regulations and a rebalancing of risk and cost.
    Jindal and Giuliani are all about SHOW and not about policy. ” (questions)
    No, questions, Jindal is about actually doing things to stop the oil coming onshore. The Feds are trying to stop him with regulations. The Feds are calling for a moratorium on EXISTING drilling, against all expert advice (which they brazenly lied about) and Jindal, who understands that things exist in the real world and not just as political theatre, is objecting.
    Really, Bobby Jindal is the last politician you can call concerned only with show; Jindal has a long track record as the wunderkind who solves real problems and gets things done.

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  34. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oops, meant to post the above on Steve’s “Soft Power” thread, but was so captivated by you all’s efforts to dine on Nadine’s spew, that I got sidetracked.
    The only thing more amazing than Nadine’s prolific shit manufacturing efforts is this blog community’s insatiable appetite for it.
    Questions, wipe your chin, you’re getting it all over your face.

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  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Considering the useless swill our government/corporate/media feeds us domestically, one can only imagine the horseshit that is crapped all over the airwaves by our official radio outreach programs.
    Of topic, but interesting; Seems some of the over the top lunatic Israel supporting wackjobs, (as opposed to the generally batshit crazy legions of bigots that comprise the bulk of the population of The Jewish State), are now attributing the BP disaster to the hand of God. Seems makind just isn’t being considerate and yielding enough to God’s chosen people. So drop your drawers and bend over, people, lest God strike us all down as shameless anti-semitic heathens.
    http://www.forzion.com/full-article.php?news=9198
    On another note, the Israeli high court has thrown out the bullshit “investigation” the IDF storm troopers conducted on themselves concerning their attempt to behead Tristan Anderson with a carefully aimed tear gas cannister.
    Yep, Tristan’s parent’s lawyers have managed to do what this bitch Hillary Clinton refuses to do, which is protect the rights of American citizens that have been victimized by sick little nazi fucks in jackboots, and their skull faced superiors that think God has sanctioned them to carry out atrocities in His name.
    So, maybe some junior Mengele with an itchy trigger finger might just get called to account for his actions by The Jewish State’s court system. I imagine they might even admit there was wrongdoing by the IDF, with the requisite number of “buts” required to justify and explain the wrongdoing. And the troopers involved might just get their playtime suspended for a week, and maybe even get docked one or two days of pay. That’ll teach ‘em!
    http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/06/24/israel-to-reexamine-its-shooting-of-us-activist/

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  36. questions says:

    nadine,
    There seem to be some contradictions underlying your views — you want ACTION and political leadership a la Jindal, but he’s just calling for more drilling rather than a careful overhaul of drilling regulations and a rebalancing of risk and cost.
    Jindal and Giuliani are all about SHOW and not about policy. And no, nadine, I don’t hate Giuliani so much that I…. In fact, he was told point blank NOT to locate the NYC first responder command and control in the thick of a known terrorist target, but he insisted on putting it there anyway — hard to access, vulnerable to an attack. His decision was lambasted at the time, and came back to haunt him in the end.
    Giuliani has the FORM of leadership w/o the content. Obama has the content w/o the form. I prefer the latter to the former, but I’m not someone in need of a daddy figure, whether in a deity or in a politician, to guide me through the worst storms, oil spills or martian invasions.
    There are plenty of experts around the world offering advice on what to do about the BP spill. The fact is, though, that engineering is largely hands on, the problems they are encountering are both general (hydrate formation is a well known issue as are the pressure/depth issues) and highly specific at the same time (the precise dimensions or shape of any equipment sent down are determined by the stuff already down there.) In this instance, on the spot engineers who have, ummm, gone to school and learned about, say, pressure, temperature, volume, and the behavior of petroleum, are the ones who need to be doing the work. They’ve been doing the work.
    No one wanted this spill. And at some level typical of such things, no one expected or could have expected the spill to have happened quite this way.
    We never think we’ll be in a devastating car accident, many people don’t save several months’ salary to tide them over, we consume today and assume tomorrow will take care of itself. We are psychologically not really good at saving. Future discount and all.
    What this barrier to future preparation means, then, is that BP and all oil companies resist with the utmost force any cost today that only might prevent a problem tomorrow. BP seems to be on the extreme end of the future discount thing, but I would hazard a guess that similar behavior can be found across the industry. And if there are regulations, the main goal is to avoid abiding by them and thus to gain a competitive advantage, higher profits, better stock returns, nice dividend checks, fame and fortune, masculinity in the face of the odds. Of course, sometimes the worst happens. Oops.
    Add to this the fact that the offshore oil workers are A)notoriously on the cruder side of things, B)the absolute experts in the field C)the ones who populate MMS d)the fact that regulators need relationships with the regulated or interesting facts won’t be communicated and e)voila. Cocaine parties, and a lot of “fuckin’ this” and “fuckin’ that”.
    And in all of this fuckin, it’s easy to demand action now and thought later. And that’s what happened on the platform.
    And now people seem to want the president to replicate the structure. Look at all the bizarro gendering stuff that pretends to be political discourse.
    Obama isn’t man enough, he’s a wuss, he’s a she, he doesn’t act. He gathers– OMG, he gathers ACADEMICS who are clearly all emasculated…..
    And when he does push BP on the compensation issue (which really is important, people), he’s labeled a Chicago mobster, a racketeer, a shaker down of innocent corporations who are merely trying to make reasonable profits on their investments.
    Yarg.
    The guy can’t win.
    In summary, 1)it’s an engineering problem, not any other kind at this point. 2)the future prevention work is already being bashed by the other party, some of the governors, some in the Senate, and a judge 3)the compensation work is being bashed by Nadine and some of the other party 4)Joe Barton has actually apologized to the guilty company…….
    Nadine, which externalities are ok, which are not? How should we pay for the hole in the bottom of the sea on which there is a rig on which there is a cap on which there is a pipe on which there is a ship, and help us all if we get a hurricane on the top of everything……
    So, Mr. President, make a speech about shoveling the snow. If you don’t, you’ll go the way of Bilandic.
    Now THERE’S some presidentin’!!!!!!

    Reply

  37. drew says:

    Obama seems to have a bizarre disinterest in commanding both
    the attention and responsibilities associated with this crisis.
    It makes no sense because when a democratic president
    sacrifices an entire region of the country, as he appears willing
    to do, there is no upside. He might as well lead and risk failure.
    He is risking the historical disapprobation due a man who lays
    waste to an entire region and culture. More people than Carville
    care about this. His is the kind of behavior that may be reviled
    for generations. This well is potentially more devastating than
    Sherman’s march. People may giggle about that in DC, but they
    don’t in Louisiana.
    I don’t think he respects the country’s ability to think for itself
    and evaluate leadership (why would he? they elected a man
    chief executive who had never had a job), so I don’t believe he
    thinks there is any benefit for tempting the difficult and risky.
    He is our national amanuensis, apparently. The nasty business
    of taking command is so pre-post-modern, evidently.
    Clearly, any aggressive, Giuliani-style warroom leadership here
    can fail. It can fail because of the complexity of the engineering
    problem. (The Iraq Surge could have failed, and surely any risk
    profile for the exercise showed that it *would* fail; the decision
    was taken and it succeeded.) It seems very plausible to me that
    Obama and Axelrod have concluded that there is a 5 or 10%
    chance that any effort to repair this leak (e.g., blowing up the
    well-headed with conventional or nuclear ordinance) could
    result in a greater catastrophe. Therefore, they seem to
    conclude, NO FINGERPRINTS. This is “you can’t blame me”
    leadership. It’s faculty lounge leadership: half the faculty lounge
    has tenure, so don’t go pissing off one professor a year, because
    after 15 years you have a majority of people who hate you. What
    Obama apparently does not believe or understsand is that the
    people who want to be the chief executive are the ones who
    *want* to land the broken plane, who *want* to fix the bankrupt
    company, who *want* synthesize the engineers’ best advice and
    push the button on a potential solution.
    What this Gulf thing is teaching me is what many people have
    feared: we’d better not be attacked militarily again. This guy is a
    pussy and will try to delegate his responsibilities so that no one
    can say he erred, that he was responsible for taking a risky
    decision, that he did anything more than ‘facilitate’ an
    appropriate response. Hillary was right: it may not be 3 a.m.,
    but it’s at least 1 a.m. Bill was right: this guy’s resume qualifies
    him to fulfill many of the roles and responsibilities of an office
    intern making coffee. (Just so long as he doesn’t have to decide
    what sort of coffee to make, because that is too much pressure.)
    An entire culture and region may be at risk; time for golf! The
    narcissism here is further astonishing when you consider that
    the one political culture he does have experience with (Chicago)
    is one where you can bet your ass the mayor is not playing cards
    or working on his abs when the blizzards hit and the streets
    need plowing. That is the deal: the mayor isn’t held responsible
    for the snowstorm, but he sure as hell is for getting the trucks
    on the streets plowing.

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  38. ... says:

    a broken clock is right twice a day.. those who have been bad mouthing obama non stop look right twice a day too.. big deal.. they are still broken.. obama may not be god but short of that the folks who like to blame him for everything are out to lunch… please take an extra long lunch break and don’t post about it for a longer while…

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  39. nadine says:

    Dan, your points about the political opportunities for leadership in a crisis are well taken. Bobby Jindal seems to be taking a leadership role in LA, even as Obama is failing to take such a role in DC. “Political autism,” nice coinage. Is it yours?
    At such times it can matter less whether what the leader is doing works, than if people generally agree that it is worth trying. People will be better off doing something, than sitting around hurling recriminations at one another.

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  40. nadine says:

    questions, in your dislike for Giuliani, you have entirely missed his point.
    Giuliani wasn’t saying, throw BP off the site — obviously, it’s their well, they know by far the most about it. He was saying, assemble a team of experts who are the best in the world at dealing with this sort of engineering problem, insist BP share the data (immunizing people if necessary — this is exactly where a President can step into the process) to give an expert second opinion. That way Obama would not be hostage to whatever problems BP couldn’t fix. He could turn to his panel, and if they said, we know how to fix this better than BP, he could authorize them to try and made sure they had the resources they needed. That is a leadership decision.
    Obama has done none of this. Not one step. That was Giuliani’s point. He never even contacted the world experts at other companies. Instead, he has sent academics and lawyers down to the Gulf, and has Holder threatening BP with indictments, is shaking them down for money, as if the rule of law counted for nothing (it doesn’t with Obama) and as if the current unsolved engineering disaster should play second fiddle to the liability issues. So BP is in the driver’s seat, while Obama is squawking and clucking like a backseat driver. But his Energy Secretary has a Nobel Prize, have you heard? And so does Obama, for that matter.

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  41. Dan Kervick says:

    “The fact remains that the BP spill is an engineering problem, and engineering is complex.”
    So is going to war. But the fact is that when the country is attacked, the president is the guy who is supposed to stand up and day, “We’re on top of this problem”, and lead the nation both morally and administratively, even though he is not the one who is going to be carrying out all the logistics operations, building warships and bombs, or flying sorties.
    The BP oil spill is the most catastrophic environmental disaster to ever strike our country. For weeks Americans have watched as an uncontrollable gusher has pumped oceans of oil into the Gulf of Mexico; as dead wildlife (including now whales) has floated belly-up to the surface and onto the beaches; as marshlands are choked with oil; as the fishing, recreation and and hospitality industries in the Gulf are wiped out. The feeling of a world out of control is palpable.
    Now in an extremely disconcerting event like this, if Obama doesn’t dominate the communications environment, then others are going to step in and do it for him: governors, bloggers, oil executives, Senators, pundits, everyone. Obama missed a golden opportunity to build a bond with the American people, and pile up new supplies of political capital that he could have dearly used to accomplish all his more wonky projects. Now he’s the one who will pay the political price for his strange cluelessness and political autism.
    Are there risks in taking ownership of a crisis? Yeah. Tough shit. Obama is the President, and is going to be held responsible for everything major that goes either right or wrong during his administration, whether he likes its or not. He might as well embrace that reality, and run with it – instead of running away from it. One of the chief characteristics of a leader is that they constantly send the message that they *want* to be in charge. If they send the message that they would prefer someone else were in charge, they look weak and invite people to replace them.
    Here’s somebody who knew how it was done:
    http://www.cslib.org/gov/grassoe.htm
    “In February of 1978, a blizzard hit Connecticut and paralyzed the state for days. Grasso went to the State Armory and took a personal interest in operations to help the citizens of Connecticut recover, and her popularity soared. The public now believed that it had not just a politician but a pro-active, caring, compassionate woman as governor. At the same time Grasso attempted to minimize Lieutenant Governor Robert Killian’s political stock by not assigning him a substantive role during the crisis. That summer the Democrats nominated William A. O’Neill as their candidate for Lieutenant Governor on the ticket with Ella Grasso. Grasso’s new image as “Mother Ella” helped her easily win reelection in 1978, defeating Republican challenger Ronald Sarasin by 190,793 votes. This huge victory was a testament to both her political shrewdness and her now immense appeal.”

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  42. questions says:

    Lessee, it totally would be a good idea for him to make a speech that takes full responsibility for fixing the mess and then, of course, the mess can’t really be fixed until perhaps Christmastime (so I’ve read), and then where is he? Responsible for an unfixable disaster that couldn’t have been prevented under the reigning governing philosophy. Ok, maybe this speeching thing isn’t such a great idea.
    Maybe he could say, umm, it’s my responsibility, but not of course my fault (aside from the fact that I didn’t fire every single MMS employee), but since we can’t do much, let’s pray. Oh wait, he kind of did that. Didn’t fix the Gulf. And the pundits screeched anyway.
    He halted drilling, a judge halted the halting. Now the gov’t has to re-halt the halted halting (or however the regress goes….)
    The fact remains that the BP spill is an engineering problem, and engineering is complex. Speeches don’t do what needs to be done, and it might be nice if the pundits said something to that effect. THAT would be far more helpful than anything Giuliani has “done.”
    And the fact remains that any speeching the guy does will be met with incredulous (and politicking) politicians who demand the opposite of whatever the speech, umm, speeches. So we halt drilling and Jindal calls for drilling…..
    There just isn’t really a happy outcome here, and it might be nice for people to realize what it is that politics does and doesn’t do. It doesn’t fix holes under the ocean, especially leaky, oily, gassy holes that are spewing the guts of the earth.

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  43. Dan Kervick says:

    “I have no interest in being “speeched” by the pres, calmed by the pres, “actioned” by the pres.”
    Bravo for you personally, and your personal wants. But I would suggest you have little understanding of what is involved in leading nations and other large groups of people during a crisis.
    Hopefully Barack Obama is not listening to this kind of advice, because if he is then he is headed for a Dukakis-like oblivion.

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  44. DonS says:

    “I wouldn’t trust a damned thing Mr. “I WILL have my command and control center exactly where the experts told me not to put it” Giuliani…” (questions)
    LOL, touche and all that. Giuliani is the ultimate poison pill. And just ask any New Yorker these days what they think of him; more specifically ask NYC firefighters about the communication system they never got because of “America’s mayor”. The ultimate scum bag.

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  45. questions says:

    nadine,
    I wouldn’t trust a damned thing Mr. “I WILL have my command and control center exactly where the experts told me not to put it” Giuliani…..
    Look, BP is sadly and scarily a major employer of large numbers of petroleum engineers, purchaser and user of a great deal of custom-designed deep water STUFF, and in fact, they are the right people to deal with the mess they made. It’s sad, but true.
    People around the world have been putting their heads together, and they have hit some basic limitations on engineering and chemistry. You can’t make hydrate-formation be a non-issue. You can’t make the pressure of 5000 feet of water be a non-issue. You can’t make the methane gas be a non-issue. You can’t make pressure changes as the oil and gas mix works its way up from the depths be a non-issue.
    There are physical/chemical/mechanical limitations.
    There are cultural/political/liability issues as well.
    Obama can’t make this stuff go away.
    And, believe me, a command and control center in the Gulf area would just be another hassle, another set of political hurdles, another pain, another place for gum-ups.
    People in the way, journalists in the way, volunteers of various sorts in the way are all a mixed bag. Getting the truth out about the rate of spill — good. Getting a bunch of volunteers killed, not so good. Ships bumping into each other, or ships w/o proper safety precautions — not good. Lack of safety clothing for workers who will die sooner from breathing this shit in — not good. Politicization of the disaster by governors and senators — not good. Leave the photo ops out or it.
    This just isn’t a time for anyone’s action save for those engineers who know what the hell they are doing. Even the bird washing might turn out to be bad for everyone except Dawn brand dish soap (Colbert picked up on this one!) The birds die anyway, apparently, and the people doing the washing get sick from the toxic stew.
    As for calming people, I’m not wired for cable, so the Gulf/BP disaster is a print disaster for me. It both relieves my own stress levels and puts me at odds with the tv audience, but I’ll put up with the disadvantage. It removes the temporal anxiety that others seem to feel, it keeps me safe from Mr. Noun-Verb-and-9/11 who certainly WOULD TAKE CHARGE and fix it all!
    I have no interest in being “speeched” by the pres, calmed by the pres, “actioned” by the pres.
    What I want first is engineers and the relief bore, and second I want a long, accurate, complete, non-ideological discussion about the cost of safety, the value of the precautionary principle, the trade-offs involved, the way we treat profit and loss, the extra we need to be paying up front for possible disasters as against the future discount. None of this has a good answer so far. Economists, politicians, citizens — none of us is thus far able to figure out just what we’d pay to be in a better position vis-a-vis a massive but rare disaster like the BP/Deepwater Horizon mess. But it’s time we figure it out and it’s time we comb through our institutions and start taking precautions as appropriate. Yeah, right.

    Reply

  46. Ron Stripe says:

    from Yahoo Finance –
    This may not be the way McChrystal saw his career heading, but don’t feel too sorry for him. Ultimately, he may still have positive prospects down the road. “I think he’ll do pretty well for himself,” said Michael Noonan, the managing director of the program on national security studies at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a nonprofit organization. “He’s definitely not kryptonite at this point.”
    According to Noonan, McChrystal essentially has two options. “One is to buy a ranch or farm someplace and just kick back, but from his temperament I don’t see that as really being an option,” he said. Instead, it’s likely that McChrystal will seek a prestigious but lower profile position in the private sector. Here are a few possibilities:
    Senior Mentor
    The military sometimes brings back retired officers to serve as advisers to current members of the armed forces. According to Noonan, their job is to consult on war games, current operations and general strategy. This position may be a particularly good fit for McChrystal who, despite his recent blunders, is known for being a savvy strategist. And if he needs an added incentive, this job pays extraordinarily well. USA Today notes that mentors typically earn between $200-$350 an hour, plus excellent benefits. This pay is commensurate with experience, which McChrystal has in spades.
    Corporate Board
    Military generals and politicians often end up serving on a corporate board where they receive what Noonan calls a “fairly good remuneration.” That’s probably an understatement. Corporate board members often make six-figure salaries. In particular, McChrystal might end up serving on the board of a defense contractor given his previous experience.
    Academia and Philanthropy
    As with corporate boards, former generals are considered a valuable resource in academia and philanthropy because of their proven leadership credentials. Noonan speculates that McChrystal could find work down the road as the president of a university or foundation. He notes that the McCormick Tribune Foundation in Chicago might be one possibility since they have a history of hiring retired generals.
    Write a Book
    As with any public figure, McChrystal does have the option to write a book about his experiences, which would probably earn him a pretty penny. But this does come with a caveat. According to Noonan, McChrystal worked in a “highly classified role,” which means he would be heavily restricted in what information he could divulge (although, to be fair, that didn’t stop him from speaking his mind to Rolling Stone). The other restriction that Noonan notes is that the military typically fosters a culture where people are “shunned” for speaking out too much.
    Blackwater
    Earlier this month, Blackwater, an infamous private contracting company hired by the military, went on sale. No word yet on the asking price, but it will certainly be in the tens of millions. Maybe the general should buy it. If he doesn’t have the money now, he can work one of the other jobs on the list until he does.

    Reply

  47. nadine says:

    “Notice that much of the anxiety about the spill has died down since Obama’s speech, even though it wasn’t much of a speech. He could have saved himself a lot of trouble by speaking to the public earlier.”
    The anxiety hasn’t died down, Dan. It’s just gone underground for a while as the media, trying to cover for their guy, switch to other topics. (If Bush were President, Giuliani is right, they’d be baying for impeachment).
    The anxiety level as goo hits the white beaches of the Gulf is plenty high. Plus the administration is appealing the Federal court decision which allows deep water drilling to continue; they think the Gulf isn’t hard hit enough, they want to destroy 10s of thousands more good jobs and see the best rigs towed off to Brazil. Salazar, another incompetent, lied outright when he claimed industry experts had recommended the moratorium, when they did just the opposite. Stopping drilling is far more dangerous than continuing to drill; the Deepwater Horizon blew up in the act of capping the well.

    Reply

  48. nadine says:

    questions, BP isn’t the only big oil company in the world. There are others with better reputations in deep water drilling. None of them have been brought in. Rudy Giuliani made this point to an ever-defensive-of-Obama Mika Brzezinski:
    Rudy Giuliani on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”:
    “Boy, you guys really give this guy a break that is beyond…They’d have been working on impeachment of Bush by now. If Bush were the president and handled it this way, there’d be like a movement to throw him out of office.” “Just try to be fair.”
    Mika Brzezinski asks Giuliani “What would you do?”
    “I know exactly what I would have done. The first thing I would have done is to bring in outside experts who knew as much or more about this than BP because I wouldn’t trust just BP to run it for me. I wouldn’t want my fate, the fate of my people, the fate of the southern part of this country in the hands of BP. I would have gone and I’d have called up the people you’re talking about, the people I talked about the other night. Are there people that are better than BP, I would have asked. The answer is “yes.” Are there people that are far better than BP? Yes. Is BP good at this? No. Then give me the people that are the best. After all, I’m the President of the United States or the Mayor of New York City. You can get anything you want. Give me the people that are the best. I want them here– He hasn’t called any of these people. Not a single one. Go ask them. He has not talked to them, he doesn’t like them, he doesn’t trust them. He’s gone to academics because that’s what he trusts.”
    video here http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2010/06/17/giuliani_if_this_was_bush_he_would_have_been_impeached_by_now.html

    Reply

  49. Dan Kervick says:

    “What if the oil spill reaction wasn’t a deer in the headlights, but rather was a reasonable assessment that this was an engineering problem to be solved by engineers who needed to solve the problem — slowly, haltingly, trying one thing after another, waiting for the failure, hoping for a success?”
    Whatever else the oil spill was, it constituted a major national emergency, and required that special form of public moral leadership that only the president can provide in a national crisis. During an emergency, people need to be calmed, informed and reassured. They are likely to be confused, fearful, angry and agitated, and need communication and guidance from the central governing authority. Above all, they need to be shown that the principal authorities fully understand the situation, are on top of it, and have things in hand as well as can be expected – even if the practical decisions involve deferring a lot to other people.
    Obama can’t put a cap on a well personally. But he could have taken a much more active and public role early in the crisis. He could have set up a communications center on the scene; he could have assured access for press and scientists; he could have told Tony Hayward to shut up and stop making press appearances and leave all the communications to the White House; he could have expedited emergency payouts. And he should just have been more available and visible. During the initial weeks of the crisis, every time the public turned on the TV they should have seen Barack Obama or one of his top lieutenants, with presidential seals and whatnot behind them.
    This was a case where Obama’s lack of executive experience showed. It’s not all about moving legislation and working the bureaucracy “behind the scenes”. There are symbolic, moral and motivational aspects to the job that are equally important.
    I think Obama’s political advisers initially miscalculated how important the crisis was going to turn out to be, and they recommended that Obama run as far away from public association with it as possible, so that only Tony Hayward would be seen surrounded with all that oil. But that initial month of staying visually away from the spill sent a terrible message. Even if Obama was quietly active behind the scenes, it *looked* like he wasn’t in command; and that he didn’t *want* to be in command. Instead, it looked like a private corporation was running a whole coastline of our country – and the Coast Guard.
    Notice that much of the anxiety about the spill has died down since Obama’s speech, even though it wasn’t much of a speech. He could have saved himself a lot of trouble by speaking to the public earlier.

    Reply

  50. questions says:

    nadine,
    read the guy who posts as “Fish Grease” at Daily Kos — read all the diaries. He’s an insider of some sort and knows a lot more of the engineering and culture issues.
    The berm idea was a non-starter near as I could tell.
    And there already are a lot of things going on to ameliorate the mess. Jindal has played politics in several directions simultaneously. He wants his job, and he’s incredibly ambitious nationally. I wouldn’t defer to him on anything.
    Sad fact is, BP has the engineers and the equipment and a corporate culture that is so profoundly CYA that whatever they say is to be ignored, but what they try at this point is probably worth the effort.
    Most likely, we wait for the relief bores to connect to the bottom of the disastrous well.
    Obama can do nothing and is actually trying to do nothing — he isn’t an engineer. He negotiated for BP money set asides, he’ll support some financial aid to the region, and otherwise he, like all of us, has to wait for the relief drilling to do its thing.
    The major other thing to deal with is learning to price the risk more appropriately — but no one has ever really gotten this kind of thing right. So I’m not blaming Obama for this one either.
    Fact remains, the engineers are working and not sleeping much, they are trying what they can, but the work conditions, the chemistry, and the mechanics all push against easy forward progress.

    Reply

  51. nadine says:

    “What if the oil spill reaction wasn’t a deer in the headlights, but rather was a reasonable assessment that this was an engineering problem to be solved by engineers who needed to solve the problem — slowly, haltingly, trying one thing after another, waiting for the failure, hoping for a success?” (questions)
    If that’s the case, then an engineering problem would have greatly benefited by a) getting Federal red tape out of its way so that Jindal could have built his berms and sent out his skimmers without the EPA and Coast Guard stopping him, b) collecting aid from the best engineering firms in the world by waiving the Jones act (Bush did this after Katrina; Obama has not), c) allowing BP to concentrate on the engineering problem without berating them and distracting them with indictments.
    So nice try, questions, but Obama seems entirely unable to recognize the existence of an engineering problem, much less use his Presidential powers to help solve it.

    Reply

  52. kotzabasis says:

    drew,
    You seem to place formality above entelechy, the vital part of war. Throughout history an ethic, no matter how laudable and worthy, in CRITICAL circumstances is degraded to a lower status if it is not made totally inutile. Winning the war is the primal goal and that can only be achieved by professionals, not by ‘drone’ like Bidens.You also seem to forget, that it was precisely this unconditional devotion to

    Reply

  53. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, in the meantime where the fuck is the list of “banned goods” that The Jewish State claims represent an “easing” of the blockade? All we’ve been given so far by the cowering and complicit “Fourth Estate” is a sensationalized declaration of Israel’s supposed “intentions”.
    This McChrystal flap came just in time to distract from another fake “concession” promised by The Jewish State.
    And so now we get a general who is a member of the politary, instead of the military. Its about to get even more expensive, as Petreaus starts paying off the “insurgency” in Afghanistan with great bucketfuls of taxpayer’s money, bribing them to temprarily stop killing American soldiers so he can fake another short-lived “success”. Its only gotta last long enough for the word “success” to become firmly imprinted in the minds of the gullible rubes and patsies that make up the bulk of the American tax paying public. It worked in Iraq, so why not Afghanistan?
    Get ready, folks, for “Success, Act II”, another work of fiction by the Master of Deception and esteemed General of the Politary, David Petreaus.

    Reply

  54. questions says:

    What if the oil spill reaction wasn’t a deer in the headlights, but rather was a reasonable assessment that this was an engineering problem to be solved by engineers who needed to solve the problem — slowly, haltingly, trying one thing after another, waiting for the failure, hoping for a success?
    The political realm is conditioned to want ACTION NOW and not work, problem solving, slow and careful thinking.
    But lots of the world’s problems require something very different from what the political world seems to want.
    Plato called for philosopher kings, but called this the third wave, knew it would generate gales of laughter and mockery. Look at the ship analogy — the star gazer who sits around looking at the heavens actually knows something and would actually accomplish something if the political, drunken goons running the ship would stop long enough to listen. But the goons never stop.
    So here we are again demanding that the goons DO THINGS, but the fact is that for the oil spill we have mechanical and chemical engineering issues to deal with. For Af/Pak, we have something like social engineering issues to deal with. Nature isn’t cooperating in the first, people aren’t cooperating in the second.
    Doesn’t mean we stop the engineers.
    Doesn’t mean we just DO SOMETHING.

    Reply

  55. DonS says:

    Portraying Obama as reacting to a “personal slight” advances the “Obama as moron” agenda but it incredibly discounts the issues involved that are larger than Obama or any President. It discounts the majority in the military who understand and respect their role even when they may disagree with personalities and policy. And it totally discounts the emerging fact line which describes a situation that had to be rectified, this time, and quickly.
    To me this whole episode is profoundly different than the average political flap and monday morning quarterbacking that takes place. The judgment of a general officer with many lives under his command became an instant issue. Using the situation to dissect Obama, even if the Bush/Obama comparisons are apposite in part, is minor league thinking.
    And, you know, seeking to compare personal foibles of presidents is not really a winning argument for “bring em on”, “he tried to kill my daddy”, “now watch this drive”, “I’m the decider” Bush fans.

    Reply

  56. Dan Kervick says:

    You’re right about the oil spill, Nadine. Obama froze like a deer in a headlights on that one, and couldn’t shake it off for over a month.
    But I don’t think this McChrystal flap is comparable to last year’s decision on Afghanistan. This latest thing is just a personnel decision. Last year’s business involved a major strategic decision, and so it made sense to conduct a strategic review.

    Reply

  57. nadine says:

    “I think Obama hates making decisions, as a matter of fact. ” (drew)
    I concur. His instinct is to vote “present”. Though I would amend your statement to say that it isn’t making decisions he hates so much as taking public stands. All his life Obama has worked for a far-left program that knows it cannot win public support by being open and honest about its goals; so hiding his real positions is second nature to him by now. What drove Obama to take quick action in this case was the personal slight to himself. That makes no-drama Obama lose his cool.

    Reply

  58. nadine says:

    “Consider the derision the president
    would have earned from his admirals and generals had he not
    canned the guy this time. ”
    Yes, that’s why I said that Obama had to chose between looking intimidated and looking petulant. He was behind the eight ball because of the infighting and incompetents he appointed (McChrystal is right, Jones is a clown, Eikenberry a mischief-maker, and Hillary isn’t much better as SoS). If Obama had a good working relationship with McChrystal he could have downplayed the incident and kept him on (after all, it was the staffers who were indiscreet, not McChrystal); but then, if Obama had had a good working relationship with McChrystal, the incident wouldn’t have happened in the first place.
    I have been reading Michael Yon for years and I know his good track record. But I have heard other soldiers defend McChrystal, and since COIN is by its nature slow, messy, opaque and often unpopular, I simply suspended my judgment of the campaign, considering that I didn’t know enough to judge it. The chief visible problem seemed to be the Karzai government, and Karzai was being woefully mishandled by Obama and Eikenberry.

    Reply

  59. Drew says:

    Nadine,
    I suggest Michael Yon as a reality check for all things COIN and
    AfPak. He called Iraq correctly; he signaled the impending
    failure of McC and Afghanistan; he is the most closely watched
    correspondent by the military brass, and he has lines into and
    from Petraeus.
    http://www.facebook.com/MichaelYonFanPage
    I think your point on the gross double standard (any dissent
    expressed publicly against the Bush arc is praised; suddenly the
    chain of command matters to the left now that the left’s man is
    president) is extremely accurate. I just don’t think the politics of
    double standards matters more than effective generalship in
    wartime.
    I don’t think McC. would have been fired had this been a first
    offense or had his war strategy been working. I think Obama
    hates making decisions, as a matter of fact. Who has to make
    decisions in the faculty lounge? But McC. has politicked his role
    previously, and he is getting Americans killed for no reason
    (guns on amber, etc.). Consider the derision the president
    would have earned from his admirals and generals had he not
    canned the guy this time.

    Reply

  60. nadine says:

    At least General Petraeus knows that when he next reports to the Senate, he won’t be hectored and harangued and called a liar like he was in 2007. Meantime, MoveOn.org drops some history down the memory hole:
    MoveOn Scrubs

    Reply

  61. nadine says:

    “It’s striking how little controversy this sacking has generated – left, right, military, non-military. It’s obvious that many important people besides Obama wanted McChrystal gone. It was a virtual no-brainer.” (Dan Kervick)
    Not so; I have heard many people, esp. those who took the time to actually read the article and notice that none of the damaging quotes came from McChrystal himself, say that this was an embarrassment but not enough reason to fire a good commander. Interestingly, the divide does not cut left-right or civilian-military, though unusually, the left and the military are mostly together on the ‘fire him’ side, while the center-to-right has more of the ‘shouldn’t have fired him’ voices. I have heard both impassioned condemnations and impassioned defenses of McChrystal from vets today.

    Reply

  62. nadine says:

    “I don’t recall Steve Clemons objecting when members of the military brass, recently retired Generals (like General Zinni) and operatives in the CIA did everything they could to ridicule and criticize George W. Bush.” (Wigwag)
    Just substitute the names Bush and Cheney for Obama and Biden in the Rolling Stone article, and replace the Obama administration officials with their Bush administration counterparts. Leave the rest word for word, and contemplate what Steven Clemons’ reaction would be if Bush were still President. Don’t you think he would be lauding this proof positive of Bush’s incompetence and mismanagement, and proclaiming that we needed such brave truth-tellers to remain in office?

    Reply

  63. impressed says:

    clemons set the tone for the McChrystal take down. impressive to
    see how clemons and twn set the pace of discussion on occasion.
    key people in white house read his perspective. tons of journalists
    did. the railroad track was set here, at talking points memo, at
    huffpost. kudos to the writer, michael hastings, of rolling stone
    piece who did all of the really hard work, but clemons gave the
    assist. clemons pushed it the notch further it needed to go or this
    might not have happened. it’s his pattern, kind of like a second
    bite of a rattle snake, but a good one.
    bravo to you steve. you are really helping the coutnry.

    Reply

  64. nadine says:

    “He reacts quickly if he feels that he has been personally slighted.”
    That doesn’t add up, Nadine. Obama himself was not really targeted in the McChrystal piece. But Obama’s team was. You see who was at his right hand the press conference? Biden.” (Dan Kervick)
    Obama was targeted enough, Dan. Sure it was unnamed aides being quoted, but it was right up front in the article, designed to do maximum damage:
    “According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better. “It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”
    Obama is thin-skinned about being called “intimidated” by brilliant military men because, I suspect, he is. There are aliens to him, they know way more than he does, they don’t respond to the buttons he uses on his base, and they are sharp enough to see through his schtick.
    Look how fast Obama reacted, Dan, compared to how long he took to decide on the Afghanistan policy (if you can call it deciding), or how long he took to notice the Gulf oil spill. Watch the pattern. Obama reacts when he feels personally dissed. There was nothing more against Biden than the “Bite me” quote (& it would be easy to rip Biden upside and down, just quote some of the goofy things he’s said). Obama wasn’t doing this for Biden. Obama did this because he felt personally slighted. Notice how he talked about “taking MY orders” in his announcement, not “taking HIS orders”? Any other President would have said “his orders”. But that’s part of Obama’s I-me-mine style of talking. Everything centers on Obama.
    A bigger man wouldn’t have fired his field commander over a few embarrassing quotes by aides in Rolling Stones. But a bigger man would have had a working relationship with his field commander in the first place, so either the quotes would never have happened, or he could afford to overlook them or chew out his commander if they did. Because Obama was in such a weak position to start with, he didn’t have those options. Instead, he had to pick between looking intimidated or looking petulant. He chose petulant.

    Reply

  65. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I don’t recall Steve Clemons objecting when members of the military brass, recently retired Generals (like General Zinni) and operatives in the CIA did everything they could to ridicule and criticize George W. Bush”
    Anyone else remember when Wig-wag first got here and presented herself as a left winger??? Whats with these Israel Firsters, are they chronic liars?

    Reply

  66. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “If it’s America that is slighted, he either doesn’t react or apologizes”
    Boy, you got that right. He’s a real wimp when it comes to standing up to these racists running The Jewish State, murdering and maiming American citizens, and goading us into a war with Iran.
    But you’re wrong about him showing any balls when “personally slighted”. Netanyahu shit in his face, and got nary a wimper out of him.

    Reply

  67. Dan Kervick says:

    “He reacts quickly if he feels that he has been personally slighted.”
    That doesn’t add up, Nadine. Obama himself was not really targeted in the McChrystal piece. But Obama’s team was. You see who was at his right hand the press conference? Biden.
    Look, McChrystal was a three-time loser here: the Tillman thing; the leak and London speech last year; and now this Rolling Stone scheme. The guy has displayed a clear a pattern of arrogance, deceit and bad team play. Last year’s events could be charitably put down to a lapse in judgment. But this repeat performance indicates that McChrystal has a deliberate personal policy of circumventing the chain of command to battle his political enemies by taking his case directly to the press. Once he became a repeat offender, Obama’s required move was obvious. He did what he had to do.
    It’s striking how little controversy this sacking has generated – left, right, military, non-military. It’s obvious that many important people besides Obama wanted McChrystal gone. It was a virtual no-brainer. It turns out that there are lots of people in this country, including in the opposition party, who still believe in the principles of civilian control of government. So it looks to me like the system worked and was reaffirmed. I’m actually somewhat impressed by the gravity and seriousness of a lot of the commentary I’ve read and seen.
    I saw a report tonight that said many of the soldiers in the field are thrilled that Petraeus – whom they think of as the “Yoda” of counterinsurgency – has been put in charge of the Afghanistan operation.
    To tell you the truth, before this event occurred, I would have assumed that the rivalries and sniping with McChrystal, Eikenberry, Holbrooke and Biden were just so much of the usual Washington ego head-butting. But this incident has been clarifying. McChrystal was bad news after all. The latter three have earned a stronger right to be listened to in my book.
    “That’s why Obama didn’t just fire him, he dragged him all the way back to DC to fire him personally.”
    Obama was protecting McChrystal’s dignity. Everyone knows that a battlefield demotion is more humiliating than a headquarters demotion. McChrystal got to walk in and out of the White House with his dress uniform on, instead of being left reading a pink slip all alone in his fatigues in Afghanistan.
    It also gave them a day and a half to decide on a successor and put a statement and united front together. If Obama had just sacked McChrystal by phone on the spot, we would have had days of media chaos – with a confused turnover of command, and with trans-national media circus being played on two rings in Washington and Afghanistan.

    Reply

  68. DonS says:

    “How long will it be before the confusion, incompetence, and foolishness of Obama and his cronies results in something really bad happening?”
    Wigwag, your irrationality is showing. Your obsession with hating Obama, and lauding Hillary continues to color your thinking.
    As to McChrystal “who has been in the field almost continuously for more than 5 years fighting for his country”, that’s what they fucking pay him to do and no one is holding a gun to his head. Your militaristic phony patriotism of late is transparent and nauseating.

    Reply

  69. JohnH says:

    “The Afghanistan team has suffered many internal conflicts.” A sure sign of failure. This is what happens when projects go bad.
    What’s endangering America is a bloated “defense” budget financed by borrowing from China. What’s endangering America is wasting money abroad, sacrificing the well being of Americans at home through loss of jobs, health care, educational opportunities, etc.
    There is no military solution to Afghanistan.

    Reply

  70. WigWag says:

    “Barack Obama has to use this mistake by McChrystal as a learning moment — reminding the nation that the President is the Commander in Chief and reminding the US military that pugnacious disdain for diplomats, civil society builders, for strategists, Vice Presidents, and ISAF allies with whom they may have differences is something that they must learn to deal with responsibly and respectably.” (Steve Clemons)
    I don’t recall Steve Clemons objecting when members of the military brass, recently retired Generals (like General Zinni) and operatives in the CIA did everything they could to ridicule and criticize George W. Bush.
    Why is that?
    As for our pathetic excuse for a President, the New York Times story reporting McChrystal’s sacking also had this to say,
    “The Afghanistan team has suffered many internal conflicts, including complaints from the American ambassador, Karl W. Eikenberry, about Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. In one episode that dramatized the building animosities, General Jones, the national security adviser, wrote to Ambassador Eikenberry in February, sympathizing with his complaints about a visit Mr. Holbrooke had recently made to Afghanistan. In the note, which went out over channels that were not secure, officials said, General Jones soothed the ambassador by suggesting that Mr. Holbrooke would soon be removed from his job. The Jones note prompted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to complain to Mr. Obama, and her support for Mr. Holbrooke has kept him in his job.”
    McChrystal, who has been in the field almost continuously for more than 5 years fighting for his country, may have shown poor judgement in making the remarks that he made. But his remarks are clearly accurate.
    Obama and the nitwits who work for him are not only endangering American troops in Afghanistan, they are endangering the United States.
    How long will it be before the confusion, incompetence, and foolishness of Obama and his cronies results in something really bad happening?

    Reply

  71. JohnH says:

    Nadine spews BS again. McCrystal engaged in insubordination last year by going around Obama to the media with his demands. Obama caved to the blackmail and gave him what he wanted. In addition, he gave McCrystal the freedom to succeed or fail in Afghanistan. He failed. Then McCrystal started whining about how bad his boss was. Sounds like sour grapes to me.
    Nadine is stuck on the failed Israeli pattern–if force doesn’t work, use more force. The US has showered toys on the military and fattened the “defense” industry without anything to show for it but massive indebtedness to China.
    But all Nadine can think of is to do more of the same!

    Reply

  72. Neocontroll says:

    “Have you noticed Obama’s pattern, Dan? He reacts quickly if he feels that he has been personally slighted. But if other people are suffering, he doesn’t react at all. If it’s America that is slighted, he either doesn’t react or apologizes.”
    Project much? That’s pro-ject, not pra-ject. Call you shrink for a refill ASAP.
    “Thin-skinned, that’s what Obama is. McChrystal called him unprepared and intimidated. That’s why Obama didn’t just fire him, he dragged him all the way back to DC to fire him personally.”
    No, that’s SOP for these sorts of unfortunate events.
    What’s with you girl? Blinded by the light? Or Obama hatred. By all means, at least get off your knees.

    Reply

  73. Drew says:

    DonS,
    Exactly, such as Petraeus will never send men on patrol with
    their weapons on ‘amber’ (no cartridge in chamber). McC. was a
    phony. How you’d like to be in the shit and have your general’s
    ROE require you not to chamber live rounds? If those are the
    rules, send the Marines home and call in the Peace Corps.
    There’s going to be some ass-kicking in the near-term, I
    predict, just to set the new tone. Obama doesn’t care what
    Petraeus does provided he doesn’t embarrass Obama, and
    besides, he’s working on breaking 90.
    –drew

    Reply

  74. nadine says:

    “Well, I’m glad he moved quickly. No point in leaving this hanging out there.” (Dan Kervick)
    Have you noticed Obama’s pattern, Dan? He reacts quickly if he feels that he has been personally slighted. But if other people are suffering, he doesn’t react at all. If it’s America that is slighted, he either doesn’t react or apologizes.
    Thin-skinned, that’s what Obama is. McChrystal called him unprepared and intimidated. That’s why Obama didn’t just fire him, he dragged him all the way back to DC to fire him personally.

    Reply

  75. nadine says:

    “McChrystal sat comfortably with a near monopoly of resources, a handful of strategists and press staff, and the certainty that he had the confidence of Barack Obama.” (Steve Clemons)
    This is nonsense. Barack Obama hardly spoke to McChrystal. You don’t have any kind of a relationship if you don’t bother to learn about the guy you are appointing and you never talk to him about what he’s doing. What about that arrangement was supposed to make McChrystal certain about Obama’s confidence? On top of that Obama made his job impossible by announcing an exit date, so all the Taliban need to do is outwait him. And beyond that both Eikenberry and Holbrooke were working to undermine him. “Near monopoly of resources” – what an obvious red herring. You don’t need many resources to undermine a General if you’ve got the ear of the SecState like Holbrooke does, or the National Security Advisor like Eikenberry does.

    Reply

  76. ... says:

    lets hope mccrystals approach doesn’t reflect usa hubris when it comes to war in general… this is the first thing i take away from this event, but then i have held this opinion for a long time… the usa is a country that has lost it’s foundation and replaced it with perpetual war, either in the open or covert..

    Reply

  77. Dan Kervick says:

    If I’m Hamid Karzai today, I would start looking over my shoulder. The protector is gone.
    Obama and Petraeus might not be planning on changing the strategy, but I would be shocked if they didn’t take this opportunity to start changing some political and military tactics – since the current ones clearly aren’t working.

    Reply

  78. DonS says:

    Back in December when Steve posted on McChrystal and noted that McC’s training routine inspired him to run more I noted: “. . . there’s a certain rigidity often associated with such ectomorphic types, structured along planes and fault lines and without the ability to bend — just like a crystal! That, and the obsessive traits, give me pause.”
    Obsessiveness can be a heady drug and like most addictive behaviors affects everyone connected. Not saying that is what fueled this crisis. Just saying.
    But all of these so-called ‘leader’ types, from Obama on down, as they say, just put their pants on one leg at a time (ok, maybe McC jumps into both at the same time). Where they get the temerity to think they can make huge decisions affecting the very lives, and definitely the well being of so many citizens, I have no idea. From the outcomes we’ve seen regularly, the process is terribly lacking. And we all suffer for it, some more than others.

    Reply

  79. JohnH says:

    Obama’s being in a tough political position speaks volumes about the dysfunction of the political system. How could he be in a “tough” position when the course is obvious?
    1) The is no compelling reason to be in Afghanistan, other than trying to root out a hundred or so Al Qaeda types or to remake Afghan society. Both are quixotic, delusional goals.
    2) Most would agree that there is no military solution.
    3) Most would agree that, given massive budget deficits and indebtedness to foreign powers, American cannot afford the war.
    Given these conditions, Obama’s decision should be a no-brainer. His legions of PR folks should be able to formulate a narrative explaining it to the American people.
    Yet Obama refuses to do take the obvious, logical course, which makes it clear that he is nothing more than the public face of powerful interests that do not have America’s best interests at heart.

    Reply

  80. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, I’m glad he moved quickly. No point in leaving this hanging out there.

    Reply

  81. erichwwk says:

    Obama IS in a tough spot. Much as I am disappointed in his leadership (what do I know about what is possible?), I do not want more lives lost, or harm done regardless of what pompom (flag)is being used to get poor young men to steal for rich old ones. I get no schadenfreude from the fact that I am certain the COIN policy will ultimately fail. But then I also realize that many politicians disregard the long run, interested only in what influences the next election.
    The ultimate difference is this. Some believe there is such a thing as a just war, that there are cases were “War is the answer”, and others do not. Ultimately, while it may appear to be only a moral issue, it as in fact a REAL Politic or pragmatic issue.
    I see the world as Mark Twain, George Orwell, Mahatma Gandhi did, quoting the later:
    “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
    In regards to crisis, I wish decisions in a political arena could be made BEFORE a crisis, with a calm weighing of the overall costs and benefits of the options. In fact, they rarely are. While I would not use the term “driving” the policy, it is only when a political decisions MUST be made, that the conditions exist that they are made.
    Even though for many folks there are no causes they are willing to kill for, for most there are causes they are willing to die for.
    “Whatever you may suffer, speak the truth. Be worthy of the entire confidence of your associates. Consider what is right as to what must be done. It is not necessary that you should keep your property, or even your life, but it is necessary that you should hold fast your integrity.”
    —- William Channing, to his son, a soldier in the Civil War

    Reply

  82. DavidT says:

    I feel that Obama is in an unusually tough spot here. What frustrates me, Steve, is that you don’t acknowledge your pre-existing policy preferences and loyalties in this post. That you have opposed the Afghan venture from the start (correctly or not) and that you are more enamored w/our likable vice president than anyone else I’ve read can’t not color your views here (whether legitimate or not).
    My sense is so much of the commentary in this fray reflects less the particular example being highlighted than how one views our operation in Afghanistan. Can’t defend the general and the primacy of civilian control needs to be unquestioned but I wonder whether, Steve, you would be so concerned about our troops, their leadership, and this issue if you supported the Afghanistan undertaking.
    Hope moving Petraeus there helps and lucky for Obama to have this option (if every American were willing to take on such a tough and likely thankless job as Petraeus is taking on there we would have so much brighter a future). You don’t have to like any of our military efforts in the last ten years to recognize this. Perhaps Petraeus can set an example for his countrymen that your
    own self-interest (like opposing raising taxes to pay our public obligations is somehow “patriotic”) can be sometimes pushed aside to meet the demands your country puts on you (again, you don’t have to support our Afghanistan efforts to appreciate this).
    Thanks Steve for the opportunity to share my views. Hopefully… :).
    DavidT

    Reply

  83. questions says:

    This is not a crisis that could be “used”.
    To use such a crisis as an excuse to change policy is to grant far more power to McC’s disrespect than would be acceptable. The parallels to the Flotilla mess are similar. When you allow crisis to drive you, you create an incentive for the generation of ever more crises.
    Far better to make the differences known, set up rational arguments and offer good substitutes for current policy.
    The substitutes for Af/Pak aren’t any more appetizing than is Af/Pak itself as currently playing out.
    The real problem is that there really is a problem and we don’t have the power to solve it or to walk away from it. Since we’re stuck, we need to find ways to be stuck and minimize the damage we do.

    Reply

  84. DonS says:

    erichwwk, maybe I’m not saying more than your first paragraph. And maybe Steve isn’t either. We might all be hoping that Obama finds a way to raise the level (his own); and that goes at least equally for the Congress.

    Reply

  85. erichwwk says:

    Sadly, the word is just in that Obama is doubling done on the Afghan strategy that has no chance for success and picked Petreus.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/37875336#37875336
    A learning opportunity lost; a crisis wasted.

    Reply

  86. DonsBlog says:

    It’s more than that. What McChrystal and his staff have done are violations under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) article 88 and he could be court-martialed.

    Reply

  87. questions says:

    According to MSNBC it’s Petraeus. McC is out.

    Reply

  88. erichwwk says:

    Steve’s comments are getting a wide read (no surprise) including the Politico here:
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38852.html

    Reply

  89. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…..rather he and his command staff have undermined the very foundation of public trust in the White House’s legitimacy and leadership”
    Obama doesn’t need McChrystal in order to have his leadership undermined. In just about every arena, Obama has shown himself to be a dishonest, cowardly, and inept empty suit. The man should never have made it to the White House, as he is both unqualified and of too weak a character.
    With “leadership” such as Obama’s, one wonders if ANY general could successfully prevail in these clusterfucks we have going in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even with a stellar and stalwart leader in the White House, which we haven’t had in a very long time, Afghanistan is a huge mountain to climb. The Afghani’s don’t want what we are supposedly trying to give them. Sooner or later we will run out of lies and excuses for being there, and its hard to see how ANY predictable outcome can be sold as a “success” by these sacks of shit in DC, although I’m certain they will try.
    Our military MUST have strong civilian oversight. But that oversight is only as good as the leaders exercising it. And this current crop of buffoons, liars, political opportunists, partisan hacks, and shameless cowards in DC have NO BUSINESS waging war. The fuckin’ pieces of shit can’t even bring BP to heel, or show some spine when dealing with Israel. What the hell are they doing nation building?
    Whether McChrystal stays or goes changes nothing. Afganistan will be the same clusterfuck tomnorrow that it is today. It is undoubtedly as good as it gets, and can only get worse. And if theres any one thing you can take to the bank, with Obama soiling the rugs in the Oval Office; if it can get worse, it will.

    Reply

  90. JohnH says:

    “Barack Obama has to use this mistake by McChrystal as a learning moment”–you don’t go to war without a compelling, just reason, and you don’t go to war without a well defined goal.
    If Obama leaves McCrystal or replaces him with a clone, he will not have addressed any of the fundamental issues in Afghanistan. Sadly, Obama’s style is to finesse the problem, letting it fester, so that he is not forced to make a decision.
    Let’s face it, Afghanistan is a quagmire, and, like Iraq, no one in official-dumb can provide a compelling strategic reason for being there. It’s simply a gold mine for merchants of death and a sandbox for the military and their toys.

    Reply

  91. erichwwk says:

    Don says:
    “…I think the reach that Steve C. makes — or aspires to — is in referring to a set of principles for governance in the nation”
    Thanks, Don. This point seems to me important- could you flesh it out a bit more?
    More on the McChrystal/ AfPAK strategy at:
    http://therealnews.com

    Reply

  92. dirk says:

    Apparently McChrystal talked with an NBC reporter this morning (source: talkingpointsmemo.com) and stated that he hadn’t offered to resign. Sheesh — why McChrystal is talking to the press at all?
    Years ago I was in grad school alongside some military people, and although you could tell that they (for some reason!) hated Clinton, they were adamant in not talking negatively about their Commander-in-Chief.
    The scenario of McChrystal allowing a RS reporter into his inner circle where he and they drink beer and talk bullshit — this is either stupidity, plain hubris, or both.
    As Steve notes — “disdain for civilian leadership” is manifested in his actions and comments — but I dislike the insertion of “civilian” as if it’s some sort of important qualifier. Obama is his superior, period — and this sort of insubordination, to me, leaves Obama with only one of a few options. If it were me, I would refuse McChrystal’s resignation, if it were proffered, and fire him.
    And, although I don’t know the details of Afghanistan that Obama does, I would hope that he would get the hell out of the country, militarily-speaking. Yes, it’s poor, war-torn, tribal . . . etc — send in the Peace Corp, USAID, encourage further humanitarian assistance through Red Cross, UN, etc — and be finished with the military end of it. The McChyrstal moment could be a fork in the road — I hope Obama takes the “right” one.

    Reply

  93. DonS says:

    erichwwk, I can see the parallel you suggest, and agree the WH is somewhat complicit in watering down the financial regulation bill.
    However, I think the reach that Steve C. makes — or aspires to — is in referring to a set of principles for governance in the nation. Not that the principles that McChrystal undermines aren’t crucial, an I am glad Steve laid out the argument in this way, but my fear is that ALL is reduced to politics and spin. That is, to use a silly analogy, if Obama says ‘the sun rises in the East’, there would be debate, criticism, disagreement, disdain and mockery . . .
    Of course, that too is relative, and there would/will be some sensible voices. But what does say about the state of our country when such simple verities cannot be assumed, and their assertion is likely to be overwhelmed by noise? Still, you assert the verities of democracy with the president you have, with all his warts. And I hope Obama plays his role, and with some believability. The learning moment indeed, for Obama and for the country. How many more such chances can Obama be heir to before it’s too late, in some sense.?

    Reply

  94. erichwwk says:

    In the process of “reminding the nation that the President is Commander in Chief”, I hope he recovers lost ground in assuring the public and reminding Congress that he was elected to remind Congress that “pugnacious disdain for diplomats, civil society builders, for strategists” applies equally well to Congress, who has thrown the public under the bus in favor of helping the favored elites.
    See NYTimes “Congress Defends the Big Guys”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/opinion/20sun1.html?scp=1&sq=funancial%20reform&st=cse
    Or, as the Times suggests, is the Obama complicit with Congress, treating the public in the manner in which McChrystal is treating him, with a middle finger salute?

    Reply

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