Consortiumnews: Obama’s Deadly Afghan Acquiescence


Obama’s Deadly Afghan Acquiescence
January 3, 2017

From his first days, President Obama showed a lack of guts when confronted by powerful insiders. He backed down even when that meant squandering U.S. soldiers in the futile Afghan War “surges,” says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern.

Occasionally a New York Times writer like Mark Landler will be permitted to step up to the plate and write a sensible article about President “No Guts Obama” and how he caved in to folks whom he lacked the political courage to cross.

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, attends a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Landler’s Jan. 1 article shows, among other things, how Obama’s bowing to heavyweights like Gen. David Petraeus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ended up getting thousands of people killed and prolonging the fool’s-errand Afghan war.

The pity, of course, is that Landler’s piece, “The Afghan War and the Evolution of Obama,” comes eight years too late. There is a lot of numbness out there today about how we were all had by “NGO,” together with attempts to blame bad decisions on his benighted advisers. But you know where the buck is supposed to stop. And a number of us, including Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), spared no effort to get through to him in “real time.”

I can understand that some of you will not want to risk being further depressed. Others, however, may wish to be reminded of our efforts to warn President Obama before he let himself be conned into doubling down on the Afghan folly. Those others may want to skim through the re-runs (linked below) of early warnings in March 2009 and January 2010, together with some retrospective comments.

On March 28, 2009, as Obama was beginning his plunge into the Afghan War swamp, I wrote an articled entitled, “Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President,” which republished last year with the intro: “With still no end in sight for the Afghan War, President Obama can’t say he wasn’t warned. Barely two months into his presidency in 2009, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern welcomed Obama to his own Vietnam quagmire.”

Included in that piece was this passage: “Equally relevant to Obama’s fateful early decision on Afghanistan, Gen. Douglas MacArthur told another young President in April 1961: ’Anyone wanting to commit American ground forces to the mainland of Asia should have his head examined.’”

The truth of that advice even eventually sunk into the fellow whom we at the CIA used to call “windsock Bobby Gates” in the days when he was starting his bureaucratic climb to the top by tailoring his positions to please his superiors.

Though Gates helped maneuver Obama into a pointless Afghan “counterinsurgency surge” in fall 2009, Gates later told aspiring officers at West Point: “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it.”

My “Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President” article of March 28, 2009, also noted: “When JFK’s top military advisers, critical of the President’s reluctance to go against [MacArthur’s] advice, virtually called him a traitor — for pursuing a negotiated solution to the fighting in Laos, for example — Kennedy would tell them to convince Gen. MacArthur first, and then come back to him. (Alas, there seems to be no comparable Gen. MacArthur today.)”

Leaked Doubts

On Jan. 27, 2010, I was back at it again, citing the belated disclosure that U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry had tried to warn President Obama against escalating the Afghan War. I wrote:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on May 1, 2011, watching developments in the Special Forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Neither played a particularly prominent role in the operation. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

“I imagine that in years to come, Eikenberry will proudly show his cables to his grandchildren. Or maybe he won’t, out of fear that one of them might ask why he didn’t have the guts to quit and let the rest of the country know what he thought of this latest March of Folly.”

Eikenberry is an interesting case study showing, among other things, that lack of guts on the part of a commander-in-chief can be contagious. A retired Lt. General and then Obama’s ambassador in Kabul, Eikenberry knew more about Afghanistan than the so-called “Gang of Five” – Gen. Petraeus, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Defense Secretary Gates, Secretary of State Clinton, and special envoy Richard Holbrooke – put together.

Eikenberry sent back to Washington some very important, sensible advice, though we don’t know whether Clinton forwarded the cables on to her boss. Nor do we know whether Eikenberry exercised his ambassadorial prerogative to contact the President directly.

Eikenberry had served three years in Afghanistan over the course of two separate tours of duty. During 2002-2003, he was responsible for rebuilding Afghan security forces. He then served 18 months (2005-2007) as commander of all U.S. forces stationed in the country. Surely, he could see the toll in killed and wounded that would inevitably result from the hopeless counterinsurgency strategy being urged on “NGO” by the “Gang of Five.”

And Eikenberry’s cables show that he felt strongly about it. He also knew, of course, that Obama was about to let himself be sandbagged by the Gang and its clever use of the media. So he sent two SECRET NODIS (“NODIS” means No Dissemination) cables to Clinton, who was his boss (and who – along with Gates – was one of what Gates called the “un-fireables”). Eikenberry surely doubted that Clinton would share his advice with Obama, but did Eikenberry ever think of resigning loudly on principle? Apparently not.

So, what did he do when he was overruled? He trod up to Congress and fully supported the feckless surge of troops launched out of the cowardice/stupidity of “NGO” in bowing to the “Gang of Five.” It probably never occurred to Eikenberry to blow the whistle on the “tough guy/gal” policy which would end up getting a thousand or so U.S. troops killed along with a much larger number of Afghans.

For many a graduate of West Point, the academy’s motto seems to get garbled as they climb the ladder of success. Instead of “Duty, Honor, Country,” it becomes “Career, President, Sinecure Retirement.” Perhaps blowing the whistle did occur to Eikenberry. But if you challenge the Establishment in that way, you seldom end up with a cushy job like running a Research Center at Stanford.

Presumably, Eikenberry takes some gratification now in the fact that he turns out to have been correct in his bleak assessment of the “surge” in Afghanistan. He may even have been the one behind eventually leaking his cables to The New York Times, thus earning him applause from his academic colleagues.

But his burnished credentials didn’t save the lives of the soldiers tossed into the Afghan meat grinder or the many civilians who died needlessly as senior U.S. government officials put ideology and careerism – the need to look tough – ahead of what made sense for either Afghanistan or the United States.

In the end, however, the bloody futility of the past eight years in Afghanistan rest most heavily on the “Gang of Five” and the easily outmaneuvered “NGO,” who sits at the desk where the buck stops.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and then CIA analyst for a total of 30 years, and is now a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Tags: Afghanistan Barack Obama Hillary Clinton Karl Eikenberry Ray McGovern Robert Gates
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17 comments for “Obama’s Deadly Afghan Acquiescence”

Bill Bodden
January 3, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Obama had next to no experience in government administration or in foreign policy and was, therefor, not qualified to become president of the United States and commander-in-chief of its department of war. Despite this, he was the lesser evil when he ran against two warmongers – Hillary Clinton in the primaries and John McCain in the presidential election. He retained his title as lesser evil in 2012 against Mitt Romney.

Those were the “good” days when an alleged lesser evil was on the ticket. They stand in contrast to 2016 when Clinton and Trump were compared against each other and a sizable portion of the American people concluded in this case there was no lesser evil.

However, instead of heaping all the blame on the two right wings of the corporate bird of prey and the sorry specimens they offer as candidates we would do well to recognize that the American people are also to blame. Until the American people raise their standards, very unlikely in the short term, our quadrennial charades will continue putting our nation and other parts of the world at great risk.
January 3, 2017 at 7:23 pm

Trump had even less experience in government administration or in foreign policy and was, therefor, not qualified to become president of the United States and commander-in-chief of its department of war. Despite this, he was the lesser evil when he ran against warmongers John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in the primaries, and warmonger Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

Obama 2008: The Audacity of “Hope”

Trump 2016: The Pomposity of “Hope”

Wm. Boyce
January 4, 2017 at 1:08 am

Sure, we’re a nation of idiots, led by captured bureaucrats who administer a dying empire.
Enjoy the ride.
Sally Snyder
January 3, 2017 at 5:18 pm

Here is an article that looks at one of the unexpected costs to American taxpayers of the Afghan war:

This is largely due to a poorly thought out anti-Russia foreign policy.
Joe Tedesky
January 3, 2017 at 5:38 pm

Afghanistan who? It is a sad state of affairs that hardly ever is there even a mention of this horrific war and occupation, and yet life goes on. The heroin epidemic that has hit this country, has a direct line of increase on the charts with the heroin exported from Afghanistan, but no one knows this except the ardent reader of the world news. Still we are there, in case no one has noticed. I even wonder how much any American even cares about this strange war and occupation, excluding those who have loved ones serving in Afghanistan. Remember when Afghanistan was all about catching Osama bin Laden? Boy were we duped with that one. The only time American eye brows get raised over our still being in Afghanistan, is when someone quotes matter of factually how this war is now into the trillions, and Social Security and Medicare will be cut because of it. Other than that, beside no one knowing where Afghanistan is on a map, the American public I swear forgot all about this ugly conflict.
David Smith
January 4, 2017 at 4:44 am

When you see the pictures of syringes with dark brown liquid, you can be sure its Afgani No 3. The little glassine bags in New York are $10 the same price as 1980(but rents have quintupled). So who controls the heroin traffic when the only way in or out of Afghanistan is US military, the CIA, or private sector contractors? It has to be one of those three, who then hands it off(at a hefty markup) to the Mafia for distribution. Is The Deal that as long as Don Corleone buys his “powders” from Haliburton there won’t be no busts?
Brad Owen
January 4, 2017 at 6:12 am

Go to Executive Intelligence Review. There, on the web page, scroll down a little bit; you’ll see “Dope Inc. Britain’s Opium War against the World” . US military, CIA, private contractors are just the mules. See who is holding their nose-strings. Hint: the British Empire has been at the top of the opium trade since the 1790’s. Proved so lucrative that they farmed out their slave trade business to the Spanish and Portuguese Empires. It’s the biggest single liquid asset of the banking community of City-of-London and Wall Street, or so says the book, hence “Dope, Inc.”. Guess what NATO troops were stationed in the opium-growing Province ( see where Brit troops were stationed). And now you know why LaRouche was so blackballed by our illustrious Establishment.
David F., N.A.
January 3, 2017 at 6:41 pm

When the Muslim Kenyan first became president, he was luggin around a book about FDR, but then, after his early concessions to Wall Street and the ACA, I guess this was only a photo op to sell more “Change we can believe in.”

And now it’s the Russian Manchurian’s turn to let down his voters by “Making America Great Again.”

What good is a duopoly if you can’t use good o’ partisan distain as a distraction.
January 3, 2017 at 7:26 pm

The capture of a quasi-independent Obama by the MIC/Israel appears in Woodward’s The War Within. Hillary instantly gave the boys with the medals their request for an Iraq “surge” while Obama demanded evidence that it would bring peace. The generals simply stonewalled him and he came around for lack of courage, forethought, better advisors, and a better plan. They knew the technology and he hadn’t thought about the problems. As the groupthink set in, the mildly dissenting Biden was excluded from meetings. It was all over in a few months. We needed a wise administration to sweep legions of brilliant advisors and administrators into all major positions, and we got a handful of gutless mediocrities who were completely out of their depth and surrounded by policy enemies, whose advisors were picked by their campaign supporters of the MIC and Israel.

Usually the target is captured by gaining a social commitment from which it is embarrassing to back down. He said too much about so-and-so, let someone be killed secretly, was blamed credibly for a bungle costing US lives. Then the controller moves him away from opposing influences, shows him how advantageous its own advisers and systems and estimates are, how much more smoothly its own rationalizations work. Soon the target is surrounded with social commitments and does not have the courage to dump the groupthinkers. He does not have the courage to admit that he was grievously snookered and that many died as a result. He has been rejected by his constituents and cannot sweep them into offices he would have to vacate. So he tags along in the groupthink, desperately looking for evidence even as the policies fall into discredit, contradiction, and ruin.
Josh Stern
January 3, 2017 at 8:04 pm

It’s good to see more criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy. However, criticisms like the one above should be accompanied by the observation that most media reporting continues to back the dumb narrative that US assassinations and wars of aggression around the globe are some kind of positive force for preventing domestic politically motivated death by foreign or domestic terrorism. Most objective evidence and reason points the other way, but that doesn’t matter to the captive press.

Obama’s foreign policy was poor….Obama’s political assessment, that he was more likely to criticized for being too soft on pointless & toxic military adventures in Asia rather than too wasteful was correct.

For Trump, the press is upping the ante. He must continue illegal violence around the world in the name of fighting terror while renewing the Cold War with Russia in the name of protecting HRC’s political legacy & the DNC’s right to hold fraudulent primary elections in secret confidence.
Emanuel E Garcia
January 3, 2017 at 10:35 pm

All we are saying is give peace a chance …
January 3, 2017 at 11:04 pm

“In late 2014, US President Barack Obama, speaking at the McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst military base in New Jersey in front of 3 thousand soldiers that returned home from Afghanistan, announced the end of an era of major US military operations overseas and assured that America will no longer use ground troops in such operations.

“However, he broke this promise two years later. The coalition led by the United States, as well as it’s been reported by the Politico, decided to change their tactics and use ground troops to fight ISIS not only in Afghanistan, but also in Syria and Iraq.

“The US military campaign in Afghanistan has already become the longest war in American history. Despite huge costs (amounting to several hundred billion dollars), over the last 15 years the United States hasn’t achieved any of its objectives, most important of which were the ‘Greater Middle East’ and the ‘Great Central Asia’ projects.

“[…] it’s hardly surprising that Barack Obama is urging the new administration of the White House to take the “successes” achieved in Afghanistan and transfer them to Iraq. That is why the current head of Pentagon Ashton Carter, speaking at a security forum in California, presented a new doctrine of the leaving Obama administration, according to which the US military and other international coalition troops must remain in Iraq after the defeat of ISIS forces, without ever specifying why or for how long. According to Carter, the mission fulfilled by the coalition should not be limited to the completion of the military operation against insurgents in Mosul.

“In other words, everything is going according to the Afghan corruption scheme that has already been tested by the Obama administration, so we are going to hear a lot of excuses for the ‘delayed stay’ of US troops in Iraq. Since it may be a heavy burden to some taxpayers to sponsor foreign wars and overseas bases, while at the same time, it’s a great opportunity for further enrichment for certain politicians. And Obama just couldn’t resist the temptation to remind everybody about it just before he leaves the office.”

Obama’s Urging the White House to Get Stuck in “Yet Another Afghanistan”
By Grete Mautner
Zachary Smith
January 4, 2017 at 12:15 am

From his first days, President Obama showed a lack of guts when confronted by powerful insiders. He backed down even when that meant squandering U.S. soldiers in the futile Afghan War “surges,” says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

Everybody harps on the notion that Trump is totally unqualified to be President. This may be true in absolute terms, but I would maintain the incoming President is at the very least the equal of Clinton, Bush the Dumber, and Obama. A small-state Southern Governor, a failed-at-everything-he-touched dry drunk from Texas, and a community organizer from Illinois. Not a very qualified lot, and it already shows.

Remarking about wet-noodle-for-a-backbone Obama, I now see the man as a figurehead from the very beginning. Bush’s leftover neocons + Hillary ran Foreign Policy, and Big Everything (but especially Big Banks) took care of Domestic Policy for him. His main job was to talk real purty from the teleprompter into the microphone.
January 4, 2017 at 3:13 am

Zachary Smith – “Everybody harps on the notion that Trump is totally unqualified to be President. This may be true in absolute terms, but I would maintain the incoming President is at the very least the equal of Clinton, Bush the Dumber, and Obama. A small-state Southern Governor, a failed-at-everything-he-touched dry drunk from Texas, and a community organizer from Illinois. Not a very qualified lot…”

I think you’re right about that. In fact, I’d go one further and say that Trump is above the three mentioned. One (Bush the Dumber) doesn’t even live in the country, one steals from the country (Clinton) and one wants to benefit from his term serving the country (Obama). I actually (and call me stupid if you want) believe that Trump actually loves his country and gives a crap whether it’s successful or not. It’s just something intuitive, but that’s what I think. One person commented:

“I remember when the City of New York had been “working on fixing” the crack in Wohlman Skating Rink in Central Park for about THREE YEARS (no skating, of course, for all that time, and no apparent progress in fixing the crack). It was in about 1985 that Trump basically stepped up and said “WTF, I WILL FIX IT” and set about to do so. It was operating within a couple of months. I was familiar with Trump at the time, but this act made him public spirited and heroic!”
January 4, 2017 at 12:31 am

Obama voted against the AUMF and spoke out against the war on Iraq.
But for political reasons he did not want to look like a pussy. Too bad for our soldiers and the people of Afghanistan that it was chosen as the anti-pussy inoculation for candidate Barack Obama.

He never explained why.

for some bizarre reason, people running for high office feel that they have to prove their “toughness” by misusing the men and women serving in our military to beat on some impoverished country.

Dukakis, a reasonable, thoughtful guy, made a mockery of himself when he got into a tank with a military hard hat on
Kerry did the same when he donned some ridiculous camouflage hunting garb

What or who are these people afraid of?

If they had real courage they would stand up to the war machine and protect those who serve in our military from useless, “preventive” wars that actually make us less safe. And they would refuse to attack weak defenseless countries and innocent victims of these poor countries who have no clue why we have to bomb the shit out of their homes.

As Andrew Bacevich says, we have no leadership or imagination in Washington to find a way to break with the ideology of endless wars.
January 4, 2017 at 3:41 am

Oil and arms deals – that’s all that matters in the good ole U.S.A. Deaths of sweet young men don’t matter. They are collateral damage.
January 4, 2017 at 3:55 am

Ray McGovern – you are a gem. Good article. Obama was promoted by TPTB because they already KNEW he was gutless, knew he would NOT stand up to them, otherwise they wouldn’t have backed him. “Who is a good teleprompter reader, but gutless? I know, Obama!” He was in a difficult spot; the right color, so nobody went after him, but he was gutless. Whenever you keep your mouth shut and don’t do the right thing (like Ambassador Eikenberry, who went halfway, but not all the way), you are in serous trouble. Whenever you don’t blow the lid off of what you know, you are bought.


Auteur : erlande

68 ans;45 ans d'expérience dans la communication à haut niveau;licencié en lettres classiques;catholique;gaulliste de gauche à la Malraux;libéral-étatiste à la Jacques Rueff;maître:Saint Thomas d'Aquin:pro-vie sans concession.Centres 'intérêt avec connaissances:théologie,metaphysie,philosophies particulières,morale,affectivité,esthétique,politique,économie,démographie,histoire,sciences physique:physique,astrophysique;sciences de la vie:biologie;sciences humaines:psychologie cognitive,sociologie;statistiques;beaux-arts:littérature,poésie,théâtre,essais,pamphlets;musique classique.Expériences proffessionnelles:toujours chef et responsable:chômage,jeunesse,toxicomanies,énergies,enseignant,conseil en communication:para-pubis,industrie,services;livres;expérience parallèle:campagne électorale gaulliste.Documentation:5 000 livres,plusieurs centaines d'articles.Personnalité:indifférent à l'argent et aux biens matériels;généraliste et pas spécialiste:de minimis non curat praetor;pas de loisirs,plus de vacances;mémoire d'éléphant,pessimiste actif,pas homme de ressentiment;peur de rien sauf du jugement de Dieu.Santé physique:aveugle d'un oeil,l'autre très faible;gammapathie monoclonale stable;compressions de divers nerfs mal placés et plus opérable;névralgies violentes insoignables;trous dans les poumons non cancéreux pour le moment,insomniaque.Situation matérielle:fauché comme les blés.Combatif mais sans haine.Ma devise:servir.Bref,un apax qui exaspère tout le monde mais la réciproque est vraie!

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