On this past weekend’s radio program, I discussed President Obama’s decision to replace General Stanley McChrystal – his top commander on the ground in Afghanistan – with General David Petraeus – the architect of the successful 2006 troop surge in Iraq. I also offer some updates on the BP oil spill, and where conservative candidates currently stand heading into the November 2010 election cycle. Click here to listen.
A Change in Afghanistan Leadership
General Stanley McChrystal is a proven combat leader who commanded all special operations forces during the successful "surge" in Iraq. But, it was inappropriate for this professional military officer to publicly criticize our Commander-in-Chief and even more inappropriate for him to allow his subordinates to publicly criticize the President or the Vice President.
Starting with the inspired example of General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, the United States military has remained firmly under civilian control for over 230 years. Military leaders are under the authority of the Commander-in-Chief elected by the American people under our constitution no matter who that Commander-in-Chief is. Military leaders have a duty and obligation to express their point of view and provide their best advice to our civilian leadership, but once decisions are made, they also have a duty and obligation to follow orders without complaint. One can imagine scenarios where a military General would feel an obligation, at the expense of his own career, to speak out forcefully against the civilian leadership – if for example he were ordered to commit war crimes or to act against the United States Constitution. However, I do not believe that the complaints emanating from General McChrystal and his staff were in the context of such a scenario.
We can all read the press, but only President Obama and General McChrystal know what has transpired directly between them. The President must have confidence in his military Commanders, and if he lost confidence in General Stanley McChrystal, then the President had no choice but to accept the General’s resignation.
President Obama’s decision to replace McChrystal with General David Petraeus is an interesting one. General Petraeus was the Commander of the Army’s famous 101st Airborne Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He later became the Commander of the entire Iraq combat theater. In this role, Petraeus was the architect and implementer of the extremely successful Iraq "surge." He was later promoted to be Commander of "Central Command" which includes American forces across a broad definition of the Middle East from Libya and the Horn from Africa to India — including Afghanistan and Pakistan. General Petraeus is the top American General of this generation, so it makes sense to put our best General directly in charge of our most critical military situation. As I write, it is not yet clear to me whether Petraeus will retain Central Command without a direct subordinate in charge of the effort in Afghanistan (McChrystal was under Petraeus’ Central Command authority), or if another General will take charge of Central Command. If Petraeus is relieved of his Central Command responsibilities to focus only on Afghanistan, he will in effect be "demoted," but it is a logical move for President Obama to make our best, most proven General directly responsible for the outcome in Afghanistan.
Despite everything I have said above in support of our Commander-In-Chief and his decisions this week, there are a number of frustrating elements to this story. While there is really no excuse for a commanding General and his staff making derisive comments to a reporter for The Rolling Stone, some of the criticisms of President Obama and Vice President Biden, were painfully true. First, the President did hesitate far too long (four months) before he made the decision to proceed with the "surge" in U.S. troops destined for Afghanistan.
Second, the position that Joe Biden has pushed, and that has become the Administration’s policy — that the United States will begin major troop withdrawals by July 2011 — makes no practical, military sense. Sure, it has appeal to the American left wing, but critics rightfully point out that you cannot win a counterinsurgency struggle if you tell your enemies the date of your withdrawal. All they have to do is wait until we leave and then attack our allies. Such an early departure on a fixed time schedule which ignores "facts on the ground" smacks of fighting a war with political concerns from Washington, instead of fighting and supporting our allies to actually win.
Finally, President Obama rightly declared that our mission in Afghanistan "demands unity of effort," and that the military strategy will remain the same even though McChrystal has been removed from command. But if President Obama truly wants unity and success, then he must also remove Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul, who is opposed to McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy and regularly questioned the General’s choice of tactics. Failure to remove Eikenberry will result in continued dissention in the civilian and military ranks over the chosen Afghanistan military policy.
A final frustrating element in this story is the sheer hypocrisy of America’s left wing. Last week both large media outlets and left wing blogs praised President Obama for his wise military decision in selecting General Petraeus. But when this same General headed the Iraq "surge" under President Bush, moveon.org and other leftist political organizations belittled the General’s intelligence and named him "General Betray Us." Despite all the ridiculous rhetoric from the Left which called President Bush stupid, actions speak much louder than words. Now that he bears the real responsibility, President Obama has decided that in order to win militarily in Afghanistan, he must use the military leaders and the anti-insurgent strategies that President Bush used to win in Iraq. End of discussion!
Change in the BP Oil Spill?
After almost 70 days, oil is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the BP oil leak. Instead of coordinating a plan to "plug the hole," President Obama has used this environmental catastrophe to push his "green" agenda and his economically destructive Cap and Trade bill. Although Federal Judge Martin Feldman overturned President Obama’s blanket six month moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar vowed to issue a new moratorium within days. If allowed to stand, this moratorium will destroy at least 50,000 American jobs, drive up fuel and gasoline prices for all Americans, send many rigs out of U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico, and force us to purchase more oil from nations that do not like us very much (such as Iran and Venezuela). Meanwhile, the federal government shut down the creation of sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from further devastation, refused Florida Senator George LeMieux access to 2,000 oil skimmers because they MIGHT be needed elsewhere in the country, and still has not lifted the Jones Act to allow foreign vessels to assist us in our clean up effort. Although this catastrophe is the result of BP’s incompetence (primarily the implementation of lax drilling standards and selectively applied safety regulations) the government is also showing its complete inability to successfully run a clean up mission. Obama’s failure to make the right choices in this situation is a painful reminder that Government makes political decisions, not economic decisions.
Is Positive Change coming in November?
Amber Marchand, Press Secretary for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) joined me on the program with insights on how the 2010 political landscape is shaping up for Republicans. The results of this past Tuesday’s primary elections is more evidence that conservatives are rising in our political system. But Amber reminds us that we must not take anything for granted, and affirms that the NRSC will fight "tooth and nail" for every seat in the Senate. Democrats currently control the White House and both Chambers of Congress. As a result, they will likely raise more money than the GOP. But voters agree with the Conservative message of smaller government, less spending, and lower taxes. If we continue to educate voters on these issues and stand firm for individual responsibility & freedom, Amber believes that Conservatives will do very well in November.
Keith Rothfus – Republican Candidate for Congress and challenger to Democrat incumbent Jason Altmire – is a Conservative who is ready to lead! On the program this past weekend, Rothfus explained that he is running for Congress in order to protect our children from the debt and destructive economic policies pushed on us by liberals. Rothfus criticized his opponent pointing out that Jason Altmire has voted for a total of $2.5 Trillion in new deficit spending, including the $800 billion "stimulus" plan that was supposed to keep our nation’s unemployment rate below 8%. Instead, we now face a national unemployment rate of 9.7% and unemployment in Pennsylvania continues to rise.
Altmire also refused to oppose Obamacare during the national debate on Healthcare, literally waiting until just a few hours before the final vote (after he was "released" by Nancy Pelosi) to vote against the health care nationalization. What a wasted leadership opportunity. If Altmire really opposed Obamacare, he should have fought against it publicly for weeks in advance of key votes. As a "moderate" Democrat, if he had done this, he might have turned the tide against the bill. Instead, he was a Democrat Party enabler of the health care nationalization.
And Altmire’s bad votes and bad actions continue. Just this week, Altmire voted FOR the DISCLOSE act, which would limit the free speech rights of American corporations and the people who comprise them. Democrat Hank Johnson (D-GA) said that if the house didn’t pass this bill, "we’ll see more Republicans getting elected." Thirty-six Democrats voted with Republicans against this terrible bill, but Altmire was not one of them. Jason, like other liberal Democrats who pretend to be "moderate’ when it suits their political needs, must be rejected this coming November. I hope that you will support Keith Rothfus with your money and or time now and at the voting box in November.
Please visit Keith’s website, www.keithpa4.com for more information.
Even as Americans reject Democrat leaders and their radical policies, liberals continue to move forward with every component of their "progressive" agenda. They used parliamentary "tricks" to pass ObamaCare. And we now know that if Cap and Trade and Card Check do not become law before the 2010 elections, then the lame-duck session of Congress may try to pass them in December 2010. Mocking the rule of law further, President Obama may pass Amnesty for illegal immigrants with an executive order if Congress refuses to take up the issue before the November elections. The bottom line is that we cannot trust "progressives" to preserve our Republic. They are too dangerous and must be defeated in 2010 and again in 2012.
Have a great week!
Glen Meakem is a successful technology entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and conservative talk radio show host, who offers information and insights on how individuals and our nation can be more successful. Glen’s unique perspective has been shaped by his experiences as founder, chairman and CEO of the B2B internet success Freemarkets Inc – which he founded in 1995, took public in 1999, and sold to Ariba in 2004. In 2005, Glen co-founded Meakem Becker Venture Capital, a firm that invests in early stage start up companies. Concerned about the liberal political agenda that has gripped the United States and his home state of Pennsylvania, Glen launched the Glen Meakem Program in 2008. Glen served as an officer in the United States Army Reserve and is a veteran of the First Gulf War. He also earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his MBA from Harvard Business School. For more information about Glen and the Glen Meakem Radio Program, or to read his blog, please visit http://glenmeakem.com.
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