September 5, 2010

America’s distracted leadership
Posted at 7:45 am on September 5, 2010
In his Oval Office address last week, President Obama left little doubt that he sees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as distractions to his real mission, Charles Krauthammer wrote on Friday. “Obama sees his wartime duties as a threat to his domestic agenda. These wars are a distraction, unwanted interference with his true vocation—transforming America.”

Marine Corps Commandant James Conway said that Mr. Obama’s proposed July 2011 withdrawal date from Afghanistan is “probably giving our enemy substance.” Krauthammer said that while this was an obvious observation, the fact that it was made by an active military officer is stunning.

“It is surely harder to prevail in a war that hinges on the allegiance of the locals when they hear the U.S. president talk of beginning a withdrawal that will ultimately leave them to the mercies of the Taliban,” Krauthammer said.

In his address, Mr. Obama emphasized his desire for a withdrawal, saying “open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan peoples.”

Krauthammer noted, “These are the words of a man who wants out. Most emphatically from Iraq, where Obama has long made clear that his objective is simply ending combat operations by an arbitrary deadline—despite the fact that a new government has not been formed and all our hard-won success hangs in the balance—in order to address the more paramount concern: keeping a campaign promise. Time to ‘turn the page’ and turn America elsewhere.”

With this approach, the president is finding it difficult to win over U.S. troops. According to a Military Times poll, a majority of the military disapprove of the president’s leadership.

Pete Hegseth, an Iraq war veteran who now heads Vets for Freedom said, “Everyone will respect him as commander in chief and everyone will follow his orders, but at the same time, there is a lot of concern about whether or not he’s truly committed to the fight that we’re invested in and whether or not he will truly see through what we need to do to succeed.”