Monday, April 04, 2016

Bipartisan for Blame

Did you ever wonder why President Obama kept Secretary of Defense Gates who served in the Bush administration?

Wonder no more:

In a Fox News report Friday that explored the president’s approach to the military, Gates said Obama had promised him that there wouldn’t be any “significant changes” in the defense budget for a while.

When asked by Fox whether Obama kept to his word, Gates replied, “Well I think that began to fray. ‘Fray’ may be too gentle a word.”

According to the report, Gates was told to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the defense budget after already having slashed it.

“I guess I’d have to say I felt double-crossed,” Gates said. “After all those years in Washington, I was na├»ve.”

Why else would the president choose a Republican to be secretary of defense? It was all about avoiding blame for slashing defense capabilities.

What part of the medium term rule that promised defense cuts was unclear?

[We've] made that decision to reduce defense spending and make sure this reduction doesn't affect the current war. given this, the reason for my worry about the long-term spending is the whole "medium term" basis for all these decisions to slight our future (medium term) defenses. We assume no enemies will match us in the medium term. This is undoubtedly correct. But this also sounds too much like we're instituting the British Ten Year Rule from 1919. ...

The problems that will flow from this plan won't show themselves in the near term. We can coast on our past progress in building the best military in the world. But have no doubt that our military strength will erode, and this means we are accepting risks in case we have to fight a conventional war in the medium term despite our assumption that we can still win such a war.

I had a bonus caution at the start of that April 2009 post:

At some level I worry Gates stayed on to cement the win in Iraq at the price of carrying out the Obama defense cuts with more credibility than the president can muster on the issue.

And why do you think Chuck Hagel was chosen to replace Gates?

President Obama wants someone willing to buck his own party good and hard on defense.

Hagel will carry out orders to gut the Pentagon and will have that coveted "R" after his name to make sure the blame is properly cast away from the president and his party.

I'm hardly the only one to notice this.

And sadly, we didn't remain in Iraq to cement the win. We have the consolation prize of going back in to re-win the war, at least, but it didn't have to be this way.

Now because of the the effects of these budget decisions, we have to win the Iraq War 2.0 (new and improved with a Syria theater!) with a weaker military and proliferating threats around the world to compete for our military resources.

UPDATE: Is it too much to hope that Secretary Carter is breaking this streak?

Asked about the fight against ISIS today, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter stressed "we need to get this over with."

This is what I've been saying for a long time now:

I hate it when enemies don't just sit and patiently wait for our perfectly planned killing blow to land.

When you grant an enemy time, they not surprisingly use that time to hurt us and win the war.