The Grand Game

Yesterday Obama announced that he had ordered 30K more troops to Afghanistan, but will turn around and start pulling them out in 18 months. They will be marching home in time for the next election. In his mind this is a political win because he makes the generals win the war in 18 months, and if they fail he has the perfect excuse to draw down (he gave the generals everything they asked for so the war must be unwinnable, right?).  In either case — a war won or lost — the presidential politics are favorable if you plan ahead and are able to spin it to your liking. The MSM will play their part, as they have dutifully done in the past.

But what happens if the troops win, come home, and Afghanistan falls shortly thereafter? Obama loses, or so it would seem. And why dither for three months? The last question is easier to answer. One, waiting for three months allows Iraq to settle into a more stable democracy before Obama is forced to shift troops. Two, waiting sends a signal to his generals: the tail does not wag the dog, and the dog can swat the tail at his choosing. Obama is playing chicken with the Afghan war to help out-maneuver his political opponents. Three, it lets the Afghan war play out for three more months to demonstrate that the sky is not falling and that he has everything under control; it’s his way of taking ownership and showing that under his leadership events do not force his hand. On the contrary, he forces events. From a political science and leadership perspective, it is fascinating to watch the master work. He has turned a politically unfavorable situation completely on its tail; what was initially making him look weak has made him look more like a leader. So this dithering has some practical roots but is every bit as much a political maneuver. Obama likes to be in control.  He counts and plans on it. There is nothing haphazard behind Obama’s political decisions.[0]

People have said that Obama is a very calm and calculating individual. The above paragraph, however, doesn’t support that. In order to play his political game he had to bet that his generals could contain the Taliban for three months while he let his political calculations play out. There is nothing conservative or thoughtful in delaying his decision. Obama has shown that he will play politics with America’s security, and this pattern resurfaces.

On the budget Obama played chicken with the Republicans by creating the largest deficit in world history — by far — and then topped that by creating a political slush fund, the so-called stimulus, that will last for years. The Republicans blinked. His game of political chicken worked, but will he continue to play this game?[1]

The game of chicken requires at least two parties, but more importantly, if you play to win and look good, at least one of those parties has to be politically expendable. So who is Obama going to throw under the bus if Afghanistan slides into chaos? This is critical. In a traditional presidency the buck stops with the president, but Obama doesn’t roll that way. He has shown that he intends to redefine the presidency, and this is no different. There always has been somebody around him to take the fall, and this is no coincidence. So who is Obama maneuvering to take the fall in case this next venture doesn’t work out? The answer is surprising and will show the size of the stage that Obama performs on.

Obama cannot throw Major General McCrystal under the bus because Obama made a stage show of last night’s event. If Obama had simply authorized Secretary Gates the required resources Obama could have thrown them under the bus when things didn’t pan out the way he wanted. That avenue is now closed, however, due to his own hubris and his own narcissism. The world is a messy place and things rarely materialize as they were originally envisioned, however. A fall-back position is necessary; a scapegoat will do.

Obama’s betting that the American public will feel just fine leaving Afghanistan in shambles as long as we gave it our best shot. But that’s the problem: we aren’t giving it our best shot, we are just going through the motions. We /feel/ an obligation and will try to fulfill it until the obligation becomes too onerous, or at least /feels/ too onerous — then we’ll go home. Obama is betting his presidency that that’s the way most Americans conduct their lives, based on feelings. We were earnest and tried to help but the problem is so hard — can’t I just get a medal for this and go home? There’s an election coming up, for crying out loud. There are no morals, just feelings. There are no obligations, just chores that we may or may not get done. There is no right and wrong, just good intentions and half-hearted attempts at placation.

Yet Obama planted the flag last night that will forever define his presidency. There is no disowning a speech that took three months to prepare. He fully expects the American people to follow him down this path. With public opinion now around 35% in support of the war, there is some justification for Obama’s cynical assumption that America will follow him out of Afghanistan and back home even if the troops are chased out by Bin Laden himself.

Nixon bringing the troops home was received well enough by the public, even though the U.S. had lost the war. So there is some basis from which Obama can make his grand bet, but is it sufficient? Surely there must be /something/ else that Obama is counting on to save his presidency, some political entity that can be blamed if things go south. All past political calculations made by Obama have shown this pattern.

And there is: the coming Israeli-Iran War.[2] When all else fails, blame it on the Israelis.[3] Israel will kill two birds with one stone for Obama. They will fix the Iranian problem, and when that stirs up war in the Middle East Obama will implicitly tie Israel to his failed Afghanistan policy and throw the entire Middle East under the bus. Blaming Israel is done every day in many parts of the world, but as yet not in America. It would be a bold maneuver but possible only if the Middle East situation boils into conflagration and affects the world order, especially America’s gas prices.[4]

As far as political calculations go, it is brilliant. He is thinking on a global scale and his base will love it when they see his plan play out. They can even blame Big Oil for making profits on the mess that Obama lets unfold. There is justification in why Obama deliberately chooses to use the phrase “make no mistake” repeatedly. Even though what he says is usually wrong or grossly distorted, the calculations /behind/ every major decision are painstaking. He truly does a have a plan for everything that he puts into motion, make no mistake (to borrow an Obama grammatical flourish). You may not agree with where he is taking us, but the man has a global plan. Anybody who believes he is just an orator does not realize that one does not reach this political height without skills.

This is truly the grandest game. Except it’s not a game. It’s certainly not a game for the Afghans. It’s not a game when nukes are within a day’s drive from illiterate terrorists. It’s not a game when people wish us and our allies more than ill, they wish us death. It’s not a game when real evil exists, and therein lies the root disconnect: Obama doesn’t believe in evil.

Obama says he does, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t even fully comprehend evil; it’s outside his grasp. A bomber is let loose from prison after murdering 270 people and the Obama administration’s official position is it’s “deeply disappointed”? Are you kidding me? I’m deeply disappointed if I miss my favorite TV show. Are the two situations even remotely similar? Is this a poorer reflection on my TV viewing habits or Obama’s position on letting mass murderers go free?

The Obama administration is subtly distorting the language we use to describe the headlines. When terrorist activity takes place, the Obama administration refuses to use the word terrorist. Instead they use the word “extremist,” or “extremism.” Why is that? Why are they taking great pains to change the very language that is used? To figure that out, come at it from the reverse angle. If you dare to troll the lowest levels of our society, try reading liberal forums and watch the catchphrases that they plant.

If you are a Christian they will try to paint you as an extremist. If you were a part of the Washington Tea Party demonstrations, some of the liberals will very carefully and deliberately smear these people with the word “extremist.” Do you see where this is going? They are tying the word “extremist” to both terrorists and any political opponent that they feel threatened by. They want to associate Americans as being terrorists if they don’t go along with their leftist agenda. It’s an amazing political ploy, grand in its scope, and if they continue without being called out on it I believe they will, eventually, succeed.

This tactic is being used over and over. The word “Liberal” has now been associated with so many failed policies that the left has chosen a new name for themselves, the so-called “Progressives.” It’s hard to believe that the Left has made such a mess of their party that they have to rebrand themselves, yet this is what they are trying to do.

If there is a successful political attack on the left one of the first things they will do is to change the language of the debate. And it works! The Left branded the Tea Party “teabaggers,” and was successful. The Left smears people who question their new “Global Warming” religion “deniers.” If you allow them to change the language they will fight on higher ground. That’s why Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” statement was so damaging to the liberals. It opened the kimono, at least for a short while, and what lies underneath is not pretty. Liberals have little to fall back on. They cannot argue their position on merits because they are on the losing side. So what else is left? Well, that explains the high-degree of personal attacks that emanate from the Left. And if that doesn’t stick, then they can fall back on the bread-and-butter attack, racism. Why do they continue to go back to the well? Because it works. They fan the flames just about every day. If a black man speaks to a crowd of whites, the Liberal will take a picture of the whites, post the picture on their forums, and call them racist because they are all (supposedly) white. It doesn’t matter that they were listening to a black man speak, they are still racist. You just leave the fact out that black men were participating, too. When you have no morals facts are the first thing to be discarded. So how do the Liberals disguise the fact that they are morally bankrupt? More word play.

Facts are so important for Liberals to frame in their likeness that they even try to hijack its meaning. Two of the most-used words you will run across when talking with Liberals is “truth” and “facts.” They desperately want you to believe that all truth and facts emanates from the left, and the opposite from the right. Carefully review the words they use to describe their forums. Many times you will find the word “truth” embedded in either the title, sub-heading, or body text. Again, the left is trying to redefine the playing field, to distort even the words of discourse until they reflect more favorably on them. This is no accident.

Word play comes more naturally for Liberals because they have purposely chosen to use this form of obfuscation to distort their positions. Don’t like our Health Care bill? Don’t worry, we aren’t asking you to give up your current plan. What they don’t say, and what is obvious to all who understand the mechanisms of health care and economics, is that millions of Americans will eventually be /forced out/ of their current plans and made to enroll in a government plan. Technically a democrat will try to speak truth and at the same time skirt the consequences of their actions. Learning how the democrats try to distort reality to feather their nests is a part of growing up. Millions of people never do.

So it’s not too surprising to hear Obama say one thing and disown it the next day. It’s not a contradiction in Obama’s eyes; if everything is a contradiction then nothing is. To Obama not only is it possible to be on both sides of the fence, it is necessary. There is no Good; there is no Evil. In the eyes of a young Obama growing up, the world is full of inexplicable contradictions. And how does a person make sense of these contradictions if they have a school-child’s understanding of morality? By side-stepping the issue completely and convincing themselves that there really are no contradictions, just two sides of the same coin. That’s why he can look you straight in the face and tell you what you want to hear one day, and then turn around and say the complete opposite the next. To Obama this is not lying, it is telling you what you want to hear, showing you the side of the coin you would prefer to see, and he is just playing his part. In fact, it’s a teaching moment for us. We are finally blessed by Obama showing us this “new truth”: there is no absolute truth, just different ways of looking at the same thing. I have never typed a scarier sentence in my life.

So what’s the bottom line? Obama’s Afghan policy, as currently envisioned, will fail. There simply is not enough time to finish the job. Given that, should the troops still be sent? In the restrictive context of just Afghanistan, no, there is no reason to spill more blood since we have already given up and have announced our intent to leave Afghanistan to the Taliban. If we are going to let Afghanistan fall so that the president is not inconvenienced in his next presidential run, then spilling blood and treasure to service the pretense of saving Afghanistan for Obama’s political dissimulations is hard to swallow.

Expand the context of the discussion to encompass the entire region, however, and the imminent Middle East War, and it begins to make sense to have an additional 30K US troops right next door to the biggest troublemaker on the planet. Obama’s half-hearted and temporary act of appeasement may unintentionally temper future Iranian ambitions, especially after hostilities break out at Qom.

It’s a little disconcerting that America, for the first time, will rely upon its smallest ally to do its fighting, but it’s not like America isn’t shouldering some of the load. We just do it reluctantly and have little appetite for more.

Israel, prepare well. The drama may presently be on our doorstep, but soon it will be at yours. Even though America is hobbled with a weak leader we will, eventually, find our way. I doubt our man-child will grow up, but it appears he will be making some fortuitous decisions after all. In return, I ask of you just one thing: if the Health Care bill makes its way out of reconciliation, please start your war the next day. Not only will you be saving your country, but ours as well.

“America will always do the right thing, but only after exhausting all other options.”
– Winston Churchill


[0] OK, there were some sideshows along the way. The Fox News debacle was amateurish, and Van Jones, et al. were quickly thrown under the bus. But from a top political perspective, Obama has stayed one step ahead.

Some of the smallest details were carefully managed for political gain. How does a junior senator from Illinois get recognized? Show up late for a large number of your senate hearings. This way you get to make an entrance and remind everybody that you are too important to attend the full proceedings. In the past, people had obligations and were expected to try to live up to them. Obama was ridiculed for missing the beginnings of so many hearings, but Obama has turned even that on its head. Those are the old rules. The new rules are that if you can look good while sidestepping your duties then you have gained more attention and a political advantage. You don’t even have to pass a single piece of major legislation. Just find a way — any way — to grab the spotlight without going on record with anything controversial. If necessary, take the coward’s way out and vote present. It no longer matters that Obama is a coward. Those are the old rules, and if the Republicans try to play solely by the old rules they will lose.

Obama can’t even pick a dog without there being a political angle that he agonizes over.

[1] Well, it’s too early to tell how well Obama’s games will play out. The repercussions of some of Obama’s decisions wont be known for years.

[2] The symmetric acronym is mildly amusing with respect to recent history. The last great war was WWII. Now there is the pending IIW (Israeli-Iran War). Let’s pray it doesn’t turn into IIWW.

[3] Want proof? Try reading liberal internet forums. They are plowing the ground now. Nay, they have already plowed the ground, and are watering their seeds of hatred daily. This is not hyperbole; watch how often the left is actively fanning the flames. They are stirring the pot not because they are morally outraged every single day, but because this is a carefully conducted plan that may bear fruit for them in the future. You want to watch evil work firsthand? Watch how people are gaming the liberal echo-sphere. Notice the words they use. Each word is carefully chosen to smear and signal to their base who they should direct their hate towards. All for political gain. Blood sport? It goes beyond blood, for the stakes are higher. You would have to sell your soul to be a principle player in this arena.

[4] Obama doesn’t even have to explicitly blame the Israelis. He is the master of insinuation, and Obama has shown he prefers to straddle both sides of an issue. Instead of blaming the Israelis explicitly, he will try to make himself look above the fray by blaming the Middle East and its general chaos and bloodshed, and letting his listeners place blame where they perceive it most. To make this work, however, Obama must paint Iran as a political enemy if Iran fails to come clean, but then pull up short and do nothing about it. Obama knows that the Republicans will do most of the work for him in this regard. He just needs a few instances on the record where he looks tough on Iran. He’s had one of those moments. He will need at least one more, probably with a call for sanctions by the UN. The UN will fail, as they always do, and there is where Obama’s effort will end. Obama will not push it further because by then the Middle East conflagration should have already started. To fix one problem you sometimes create an even bigger problem. Greenspan learned that in hindsight. Obama sees it in foresight. Of everybody on this green, verdant globe, Obama has the best vantage point to see the coming war. If Bush hadn’t stabilized the Middle East as well as he did I would be scared, but Obama is going to rely upon the troops stationed between Israel and Iran to keep the Israeli-Iranian War from escalating out of the region. Another reason why so many troops are being left in Iraq. If the stakes were lower this would be ironic.