Listening To The Generals And Military Experts

Remember that George W. Bush got excoriated for this kind of thing:

On Wednesday, the president met with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen and Central Command commander four-star Gen. David Petraeus. Gates, supported by Mullen and Petraeus, vigorously argued that the president should back away from his campaign pledge to withdraw all U.S. combat forces from Iraq within the next 16 months and space out the withdrawal over a longer period of time. However, the president instructed the three officials to prepare a plan that would still implement the 16-month withdrawal period, Pentagon sources said.

The discussion between the president and the three officials was friendly and respectful. However, the president’s determination to implement his stated policy took the officials by surprise, one of the sources told UPI. Petraeus, in particular, had expected the recommendation to extend the period of the withdrawal timetable to be accepted, several sources said.

Evidently, no amount of expertise arguing contrary to campaign promises that were meant to win votes among the hard-core Democratic base will suffice in overturning those promises, no matter what the dangers to American national security might be. The President shows no sign whatsoever of being prepared to observe conditions on the ground and implement a withdrawal plan that is based on those on-the-ground conditions, rather than the artificial timetable that he propagated throughout the Presidential campaign. In doing so, he places the success of the Iraq reconstruction program at risk.

I would respect this stance a whole lot more if the Administration would tell us what conditions and circumstances might cause it to alter its 16-month withdrawal plan. However, mum’s the word on that issue. Apparently, President Obama does not think that anything could possibly occur that would justify amending the withdrawal plan.

And they said that George W. Bush was stubborn. To the extent that any of the caricatures of the Bush Administration resemble reality, the Obama Administration will ensure that the phrase “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” gets a lot of play from a lot of people in the coming months and years.