Tag Archives: Obama

Chain of Command

General Douglas MacArthur is arguably one of the most accomplished military officers in American history.  His resume boasts having lead troops into battle in World War I, superintendent of West Point, Army Chief of Staff under two presidents (Hoover and FDR), World War II Pacific commander, presided over Japan’s surrender in 1945 as well as the military occupation of Japan following the war.  When conflict erupted on the Korean peninsula in 1950, MacArthur pulled off one of the most daring and brilliant invasions in modern history, choosing to land troops at Inchon in order to divide and route North Korean forces (who had pushed South Korean forces to the tip of the peninsula) – eventually forcing the North Korean army to retreat to the North’s border with China.  China – claiming the fear of invasion (a matter the students of history will continue to debate for decades to come) – joined the North Korean forces and pushed MacArthur back to the 38th parallel.

MacArthur had urged President Truman to take the fight to the Chinese.  Just as Patton, in many ways, foresaw the Cold War with the Soviet Union, MacArthur believed China needed to be confronted, and fast.  Frustrated that Truman saw things differently, MacArthur publicly announced his dissatisfaction, ultimately leading to his dismissal by Truman in 1951.  MacArthur was – and still is – celebrated as a hero, and he should be.  What should not be celebrated, however, is his public insubordination to the President.  It’s a difficult position to reconcile for many of us who felt Truman should have taken a different road – possibly even taken MacArthur’s advice.  Truman did the right thing in dismissing MacArthur, even if we disagree with Truman’s choices on the war.  The same goes for President Obama’s dismissal of General McChrystal.  McChrystal’s complaints should have been fully and bluntly discussed, in private, with the President.  If he still felt, after all that, that the President was not giving him what he needed to fight the war, then he should have resigned, retired and taken his case to the public.  Most Americans would have listened, politics aside, to a man who’d served his country honorably and respected the chain of command enough to not publicly denounce the President while actively wearing the uniform.

It’s all too easy for the ‘opposition’ (in this case, conservatives) to selectively ignore the importance of our military respecting the civilian chain of command at the top when the target of the complaint is a President with whom we strongly disagree.  It’s conveniently ignored by the Left as well, when it suits them (take the treatment of Petraeus today vs. the “Betray Us” ad in 2004).  The danger would be for us, as citizens, to take the military’s respect for civilian leadership for granted, or to sacrifice that respect for the sake of politics.  The importance of this principle – and the essential truth that the office of president must be respected, even if you don’t like the man – is one of the many reasons why our nation hasn’t fallen into the cycle of “bloody coup after coup” as other nations have when civilian and military leadership come into conflict.  Our current President doesn’t seem to mind ignoring, dismissing or even undermining the institutions that have made us great, but in accepting McChrystal’s resignation, he – whether for this motive or not – helped preserve them.

An Open Letter to America

To Obama, his campaign and supporters

This is how you lose graciously. First, to you I sincerely say: congratulations. You fought a hard campaign, and it paid off for you.

Second, you will not hear me say ridiculous things like “selected, not elected” nor “he’s not my president” or the variations thereof that we have endured for 8 years. Yes, I am deeply concerned about the impact that Obama’s policies will have on our nation, and yes, I do believe that this election result is primarily about dissatisfaction with the Republican Party and frustration about the economy (how else would someone with so little experience be elected?), but nevertheless, this is the rough and tumble of our democratic republic. The people have spoken, and just as Bush was our president (whether you liked it or not), now Obama is.

Third, Obama can be reassured that I will be praying for him – that he will have the wisdom & the right people around him that he will deeply need in the times ahead.

I believe the years ahead will prove many of us right regarding our concerns about Obama, but I will not be celebrating or cheering for anything that is negative for America.

To the Republican Party

To our leaders: Congratulations, you squandered eight years by not sticking to your principles. You’ve spent so much, that the most liberal Democrat United States Senator looked like a fiscal conservative next to all of you combined. You ignored us, even when Rasmussen showed a mere 7% of the American public supported the $700 billion (actually closer to $812 billion after the pork) bail-out bill. You’ve sat quietly while every major news outlet (domestic and abroad), along with every major Democratic leader declared that capitalism has failed, when if you had had half a brain (and a staff of monkeys) you’d understand that failed government policy in dictating and manipulating supposedly “free” markets is at the root of this failure. And now, thanks to your silence, not only will a generation of Americans grow up thinking that free markets are passé at best, or dangerous at worst, we’ve now elected a government that will seek to undermine capitalism at every turn. In addition, you allowed the wrestling match over Iraq to become a “pull out now” vs. “stay the course” debate, when neither was sufficient. John McCain was one of the few willing to take the political heat while calling for the surge. As a whole, you’ve allowed the War on Terror to be viewed as primarily a military conflict, instead of dialoguing with the American people about what it really entails. Reagan at least left a lasting legacy of positive improvements. The 1994 House Republican revolution built upon earlier successes and managed to balance the budget at least once. But really, we needed $300 billion in more entitlements while we’re fighting two wars? Really, we needed almost $112 billion in pork spending on the “must pass now or the world’s going to end” bail-out bill? Is everyone’s vote in Congress for sale?

In effect, you may have gone to Washington with the intent to change it, but Washington changed you. I could go on – but that being said, you are being served notice. We put you in office, and we can vote you out (at least those of you who held on to your seats). Your primaries are going to be your worst nightmare. There are enough people like me that are saying “enough is enough”.

To the Republican Party members: we are all responsible – we were ok with a lackluster Congress for eight years. We tolerated our elected leaders not listening to us, and all too often making a mockery of conservative values. We sat by, and even encouraged them to drive wedges of division even further – focusing more on what we are against, instead of what we are for. In effect, we wanted to “win the vote” without bothering to win the argument.

To the Democratic Party

There is no doubt that – at least for now – I may come across as a sore loser. Like so many things my parents said to me when I was younger, what I have to say won’t mean much to you until a little later. We have crossed an incredible milestone – the first African American president – and it’s a great moment for our nation. What you don’t want to hear from me at the moment is caution (and I completely understand, believe me). But nonetheless, here it is. Be cautious. You have elected a man, not the “one”. You have elected a man that no one has a clear read on when it comes to major policy issues. His genius lies in being a political blank slate, upon which the hopeful voter can project what they want….what they need him to be. This honeymoon might be sweet, but it won’t last. The old divisions will not be magically swept away, nor will feel-good government programs rid the world of poverty, fear, terrorism, AIDS or sleepless nights. My fear is the deep disappointment many will feel when they see that the waters have not, in fact, receded and that not everyone can pay their mortgage or put gas in their cars, even after Obama takes office. Much ado was made recently about Obama’s campaign trying to downplay expectations should he win. My strongest encourage to you, Democrats, is to be sober minded and learn the lessons of the time: your win is largely based on the fact the ruling party for most of the last 8 years has sharply fallen out of favor, and the recent economic trouble once again proves historically that the party in power takes the blame, whether they are at fault or not.

It will be difficult, if not impossible, for you to not overreach. We don’t need a “New Deal 2.0” – as many of you think this election win mandates. You were elected to bring reform to Washington, not to put more fuel on an already out of control fire. If you focus on reforming the legislative process, cutting wasteful spending, reviewing programs that are not performing and tossing them, etc., then you can be assured that there are many conservatives who will work hand-in-hand to tackle the things we agree on. However, if you focus on entitlement expansions, tax increases, protectionism and radical social and/or environmental agendas, then understand that you will not only have not learned the lessons of the day, but you will wonder why over the next 4-8 years you are voted out of office again. This is your chance to listen to Americans, and not just the radical special interest groups that have driven your base for the last 3 presidential election cycles. If you listen, you will hear us ALL saying that we want our energy resources to be tapped in a safe, but effective way. We want social security reform, we want failing health programs to be reformed and made into worthwhile investments, we want to leave Iraq in victory, not defeat. The majority of Americans don’t even realize that you’ve held Congress for the last 2 years, and the dismal 9% approval rating for Congress has been mistakenly pinned on the Republicans. You will no longer have that to hide behind.

You are now the dominant party again for the first time in 44 years. Understand the responsibility that goes with that (and learn from mistakes both parties have made in this area!) – you cannot govern while being beholden primarily to your core base groups like unions and social “special interest” groups, neither of which represent mainstream America.

To the mainstream media:

You lost all claim to objectivity and impartiality in this election. When independent studies consistently confirm bias in favor of one candidate, we, the public, will no longer tolerate being patronized as simpletons. (Even Obama supporters recognized this was an issue.) Don’t be surprised to see your circulation numbers go down for those of you in print. And don’t be surprised as you are scooped more and more by independent bloggers in the days to come.

To America as a whole:

We are at a dangerous crossroad. John F. Kennedy’s famous quote “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” has been inverted during this campaign cycle to say “Ask what your country can do for you, especially if others are paying for it.” This approach might have won a short term victory for one party, but it has planted long term seeds of enmity and class warfare, and it may have lasting damage on the nature of the infamous “American work ethic” that has set us apart from the rest of the world, and further fractured the social cohesion in our society. Do not so easily give up on the foundational institutions that led us to our stature as a nation today: free markets, individual opportunity, consistent application and interpretation of the law. Every nation or empire that has become a “Nanny State” has soon collapsed under its own weight. Don’t abdicate your personal responsibility to help the poor and improve your community by expecting the government to do it for you. Most importantly – hold everyone in office accountable. Neither party has truly grasped how serious we are about wanting a government that works. But if we stay awake at the wheel, we can drive the point home….