There are two interrelated situations unfolding in the world today, two dilemmas that are threatening to put President Obama to what may be the greatest challenges he has yet faced and could shape the rest of his administration. And how he responds to them could have tremendous consequences for the nation.
The first is how he intends to handle the worsening struggle in Afghanistan. His hand-picked general, Stanley McChrystal, has put forth a plan that he thinks has the best chance for victory. General McChrystal has asked for a minimum of 40,000 more troops as part of a comprehensive strategy.
His request is part of a comprehensive plan that he has submitted to President Obama.
In fact, he submitted that plan almost three months ago, and is still awaiting an answer.
It’s a tenet of faith in military thinking that in most cases, a decision made quickly is better than the “right” decision made too late. Even a less-than-optimal decision is better than dithering and allowing the situation to continue unchecked.
Which is precisely what President Obama is doing now. He is weighing his options, seeking counsel, considering all the possibilities. The current trial balloon involves giving General McChrystal about half of what he called the absolutte minimum.
While more and more Americans and Afghanis are dying.
Meanwhile, the United Nations is pushing ahead on the law enforcement model for the war on terror. Possibly encouraged by the Obama administration’s banishment of the term “war on terror” and instituting the utterly meaningless “overseas contingency operations,” they are now pushing a move to declare the killing of terrorists by missiles fired by remote-controlled drones as “summary executions.”
Which, of course, are bad.
This — more than anything else — clearly defines the difference between police and soldiers.
Police officers are reactive. They don’t prevent crime, as a general rule; they interrupt it, they solve it, they punish it. They are also required to presume suspects as innocent until proven guilty — which is why they are called “suspects” and not “criminals.” They are also very tightly restrained in how they can use lethal force — there has to be a clear and present danger, warnings given when at all possible, they have to announce themselves
and declare their authority, and so on.
Soldiers have entirely different rules. They don’t have to give warnings. They don’t need evidence. They don’t have to presume the enemy is innocent. They don’t even have to give warnings. Oh, they have to accept the surrender of an enemy, but they don’t have to necessarily give them the opportunity to surrender — especially if it might put themselves at any risk.
What the UN wants to declare a crime is an ideal military situation — the enemy is neutralized (quite permanently), and no Americans were ever put into any danger whatsoever.
President Obama needs to reject this push by the UN, and reject it decisively and absolutely. Under no circumstances should our military be subjected to the rules and regulations and obligations of acting like police officers. The war on terror — even if it’s called “overseas contingency operations” — is NOT the same as fighting crime.
Terrorists and enemy militants are NOT criminals. And treating them as such is to guarantee our defeat.
President Obama has, it seems, been content to let slide his obligations a Commander In Chief since last January. Rather, he’s seemed to more cheerfully embrace the job description of “Community Organizer In Chief.”
Last night, President Obama greeted the caskets of Americans recently killed in Afghanistan as they were brought home for honored burial. If we’re lucky, that was not just a photo op, and will help him come to the realization that he has a debt of honor to those men.