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Obama's War!

Well..........Bush's Fiasco, Obama's War........there's the difference......

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, October 06, 2010.

Bob Woodward's new book, Obama's War, is out and it's a pretty damning work. Not, despite what you've heard, in regards to Obama, although there are revelations of fault, but about the previous administration of George Bush.

Among other things Bush, the saber rattling tough guy, simply lost interest in military contingency planning, and had not prepared for some of the worse case scenarios before the nation. That's part of the job, and the Bushies simply did not do it. It turns out that all the tough guy talk about going to war with Iran over their nuclear program had nothing behind it. The last President to get the military to plan out an invasion was Jimmy Carter thirty odd years ago, and the plans were much like Normandy: a sea landing after 90 days of bombing. The plans, still on the books when Obama took over, required more soldiers than the US currently has. The Republicans were willing to start a third war with no idea how to pay for it, define winning it, or even wage it.

The Bush Doctrine, a phrase made famous by Sarah Palin's ignorance during her interview with Katie Couric, was simply that the US would make no distinction between actual terrorists and those that protected them, which was the basis for the attack on Afghanistan way back in 2001. The Bush Administration just threw money and people into the defense and intelligence agencies - which the GOP claims a stigmata of a Democrat - as well as military contractors with no clear cut missions and with absolutely no real world definition of what victory might be, or even sufficient success parameters to bring the troops home. All that inherited by the Obama crew.

Neither on the page nor in the heart of a reader is this a book of sparkling moods. It is disconcerting to read that neither Richard Holbrooke nor General Petraeus think the Afghan War or the Iraq War can actually be 'won.' We might not lose, however, if we get to leave while a central government in those nations yet lives. Last May First, one Faisal Shahzad ineptly tried to set off a bomb in Time's Square. It was a dud, and after capture and willing confession - absent torture, and by police methods - Shahzad this week was sentenced to life in prison by a Federal court. From crime to sentence, five months. Exactly a verdict at the speed the Bushies said couldn't be done.

A few weeks after Shahzad's arrest, the feds devised a war game to see how the nation would react to a small nuclear explosion implemented as Shahzad wished his more conventional bomb had been. The exercise came to a screeching halt in what could only be termed a fiasco. Like many such acting out workshops, what seemed all encompassing and real life in the preparation on the printed page turned out to be ignorant of reality when the actors had to visualize what was happening and only on what could be known to them. The CIA, for example and as was its job, reconfigured the info given them and concluded that there was arguable material for a third bomb, which infuriated the DHS who'd organized the exercise because now there was no closure, as there had been a beginning and a middle to the game.

On top of that, the game excluded any information about what the media, Congress, or 300 million citizens would be doing while federal agencies strove in a vacuum. It was entirely unrealistic, and probably such a game would always have to be. Obama observed, as he had starting as a Senator, that the nation could survive another such attack as happened on 9-11, but that a nuclear attack was obviously a different kettle of fish, and that the only way to constructively face it was to prevent it at all costs. This raises the spectacle of Obama utilizing the Bush Doctrine, at least in relation to a nuclear attack. Whoever would give al Qaeda or another group a nuclear weapon to use against us - or even just the knowledge and expertise to build such a weapon - would be considered as having fired it at us themselves, and would be incinerated in consequence.

While awful, this is not shocking to grownups, but it may be to those who thought Obama's change was to an adjacent reality rather than to mature, constructive, competence in the real world. That's something the Republicans have tried to claim as their strong points, but as Woodward's new book reveals, they're far more into image and fantasy than reality.