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The Coming War: President Obama Versus The Pentagon and General Patraeus

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Get ready for phase 2 of the low key, but continuing struggle between President Obama and the U.S. military. December is fast approaching and, at that time, this nation may witness one of the greatest confrontations in decades between a sitting president and the military under his command. In phase 1, which took place a year ago, the president demanded a list of optional strategies for the Afghan War; instead he received three variations on only one option, that being escalation.

While Mr. Obama caved in to the military on that occasion and agreed to escalation, he did state, rather indecisively, that a troop withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan would commence in July 2011. Shortly after he announced the withdrawal plan, Defense Secretary Gates and General Patraeus countered his statement, saying that any withdrawal would depend on "conditions on the ground" meaning, in effect, that the decision would be theirs. This amounted to a blatant display of insubordination that, unsurprisingly, brought them no reprimand.

What decisions are made in the strategy sessions scheduled for December will tell us a lot about this president. Is he really as weak and indecisive as he often appears? Well, we will soon see if he can find the strength and courage to stand up to the military leaders and tell them in no uncertain terms what exactly they must do not what they want to do. This time he must set the withdrawal plan in concrete terms and must resist any further attempts by the military to control the agenda. Then, if any one of these subordinates refuses to accept his final decisions, immediate dismissal must follow.

Mr. Obama may have found a new ally in this battle with the military in his new national security adviser, Tom Donilon, who has replaced General James Jones. Previously, with Jones as his adviser, the president must have felt as if he had one hand tied behind his back when discussing military policy and strategy with the Pentagon. Donilon will be a refreshing change as he has openly disagreed with the military leaders on policy several times. This could be a great advantage for President Obama as they enter into the December discussions; if he knows how to take advantage of it.

At this point in his presidency Mr. Obama has allowed the Pentagon and the military leaders to get their way relative to how the war in Afghanistan/Pakistan has been conducted. This military has a long history of dominating American presidents. The best example of these attempts to dominate the agenda occurred during the Vietnam War when the military pulled out all the stops to pressure a succession of presidents, from John F. Kennedy to Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon, to greatly escalate that hideous war.

President Kennedy refused to do their bidding but Johnson and Nixon were unable to resist the relentless pressure which sent multi-thousands of our troops to their deaths for no good reason. One thing we should clearly know by now is that the Pentagon and the military are the operating arms of the gigantic octopus-like Military-Industrial Complex whose sole business is to wage war to make monumental profits. They care nothing about how many deaths are involved in these wars as long as they can be perpetuated.

To return to the subject of Afghanistan and America's obsession with these seemingly endless wars, what in the world is going on in the minds of the majority of the this nation's people? In a nationwide New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last month, 60 percent of Americans said that the economy or jobs were the most important problems facing the country. A mere 3 percent mentioned Afghanistan or the war.

Something is going terribly wrong in America. We the people seem to our own worst enemies. Can these people not see that America's wars are clearly the biggest problem we face? Can they not comprehend that the monumental costs of the military machine, over $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000) annually are destroying the American economy, our ability to create jobs, our infrastructure, our education system and more?

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Do they not realize that if the corporate-controlled Congress would reduce this massive, bloated budget by even one-third, that those funds could fuel the restoration of our economy and bring stability to our nation; that we could then create jobs and restart the economy? If the majority of Americans have been so mentally conditioned that they accept and condone these wars and do not comprehend that they are bankrupting this nation, then hang on tight because the rest of us who are still not brainwashed are in big time trouble.

This looming confrontation between President Obama and the military leadership is so very critical. It will be the major test of his constitutional authority. Mr. Obama must, for once, refuse and resist the relentless pressure and dictates of the Pentagon and its self-proclaimed and self-promoted star, General Patraeus, who is preparing himself to be the 21st century version of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, our 34th president.

Who will President Obama follow into history? Will it be President Truman who fired the famous World War II general Douglas MacArthur for gross insubordination or JFK who refused to let the military intimidate him? Or will he become the modern-day version of Presidents Johnson and Nixon who became totally subservient to the generals?

Some might say, "Wait, he has two more years to address this issue, what's the hurry? No, that is completely unacceptable, America can't wait any longer. It is now time for Mr. Obama to start acting like a strong and decisive leader. Should he fail in this crucial test of his courage and resolve, his presidency will, for all practical purposes, become irrelevant and this democracy will suffer a deadly blow as the military gains control.

This is a pivotal time for this president and America. The military cannot be allowed to take over the decision-making process that determines when we enter into wars and when we disengage from those wars. That process has already been severely damaged by weak, submissive presidents of the past who allowed themselves to be dominated. If the military wrests this authority from the executive branch of our government, especially under our current wartime conditions, then it will be a very dark time in the history of our nation.

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If there ever was a time when this president must assume the role of Commander-In-Chief, that time is now.

Michael Payne

 

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)
 

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