John Bolton

John Bolton

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Obama Won't Use the Word "Victory" in Afghan "War"

But he does know how to apologize!

Historians always used to say that it was important for a President, the leader of the Free World, to have a vision. I wonder if that rule has been scrapped in favor of the affirmative action President who doesn't seem to understand how important a concept like victory in war is to those fighting it:

EDITORIAL: No substitute for victory
The president equivocates on the Afghan war
Washington Times
July 27, 2009

President Obama isn't sure if victory is the U.S. objective in Afghanistan. On July 23, ABC's Terry Moran asked the president to define victory in Afghanistan. He responded, "I'm always worried about using the word 'victory' because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur." Fidelity to history requires us to note that Emperor Hirohito did not sign the Japanese articles of surrender on the Battleship Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945, and was not even at the ceremony.
There is scant difference between the Bush and Obama strategies in Afghanistan. The "stronger and smarter" approach Mr. Obama introduced in March is substantively little different from the Bush administration's 2004 Afghan counterinsurgency strategy. Both seek to secure the country, promote a stable government and defeat the terrorists who seek to attack the United States. However, one important difference is that the Obama administration generally eschews the word "war." Defense jargon du jour indicates that our country has shifted from "fighting a war" to "engaging in overseas contingencies." This renders the whole question of victory moot. Wars are won or lost; contingency operations just come and go.
There is no harm, and a great deal of good, in calling the achievement of war objectives a victory. After all, if you can't say you won a war, the implication is you lost it. The pursuit of victory also makes war's sacrifices more meaningful. John P. Roche, special assistant to President Johnson, wrote in 1968 that the basic issue in Vietnam was whether a free society could fight a limited war for limited objectives. "It is very difficult to tell a young soldier," he wrote, "Go out there and fight, perhaps die, for a good bargaining position."

Gen. Douglas MacArthur famously said that "there is no substitute for victory," a fact that remains true today. We cannot alter the nature of war by redefining it to conform to shifting political fashion. Our men and women in uniform are putting their lives on the line overseas fighting an implacable enemy. Their commander in chief should allow them the opportunity to say that their objective is victory.

President Reagan also cited that quote from MacArthur and he lived by it. Reagan's vision bucked the conventional wisdom and forced the bureaucracy to go along with his plans to WIN the Cold War. If Obama had been President during the 80's, the Berlin Wall and the threat of nuclear Armageddon would likely still hang over us.

If victory is a foreign language to Obama; how does he feel about defeat?


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