Obama and the Search for Audacity

Like too many of our presidents, Obama entered the White House with little experience in national security and limited knowledge of the decision

makers in previous administrations.  Obama correctly perceived the Iraq War as the “wrong war,” but he misperceived the Afghan War as the “good war.”  He soon realized that both wars were hurting U.S. interests and that his national security team—Obama’s team—would not stand up to the Pentagon’s powerful military commanders.  He should have followed his vice president, Joe Biden, who warned that Secretary of Defense Gates and his senior military commanders would do their best to “box in” a new president in 2009 in order to put more forces in Afghanistan.

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Dangerous “War Scares” Of 1974, 1983, And 2021: What Needs To Be Done?

The United States over the past five decades has had dangerous experiences with “war scares.”  This demands an assessment of options for reducing the possibility of a war scare that could result in an actual war, particularly in the nuclear age.  U.S. and allied military exercises are particularly dangerous because military doctrine, particularly in communist states, argues that military exercises are an effective way of hiding an actual first strike operation.

Is It Biden’s Turn to be Boxed In?

It was known as early as 2006 that additional troops would not make a difference; that the Afghan government would collapse without U.S. support; and that the Afghan government was a criminal syndicate.  In private meetings with Obama, Biden dismissed the intelligence community’s view of the Taliban as nothing more than a “new al Qaeda.” It wrongly predicted that the Taliban would project a “global jihadist ideology.”  The fact that Biden was so right 12 years ago probably explains his stubbornness in standing up to the Pentagon, which was still arguing for a “conditions based withdrawal.”  Biden was not going to allow the Pentagon to pursue its “forever war” any longer.

Containing the National Security State

Containing the National Security State