Per Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the President is granted the position of commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States, and the powers inherited by this position. The President commands and directs the military and is responsible for planning military strategy. The President, as the Commander in Chief, heads the military chain of command within the Department of Defense. The Commander in Chief is kept abreast of all matters affecting the ability of the Department of Defense to defend the United States and its allies.
So, with these responsibilities in mind, when is President Obama going to exercise his duties regarding the war against terrorism in Afghanistan? General Stanley A. McChrystal stated in his 66 page document assessing the situation in Afghanistan that ""Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) -- while Afghan security capacity matures -- risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible." (Washington Post, 9/21/09). Per the same source after reviewing the assessment, General McChrystal warns that without more forces and the rapid implementation of a genuine counterinsurgency strategy, defeat is likely. McChrystal describes an Afghan government riddled with corruption and an international force undermined by tactics that alienate civilians. The counterinsurgency strategy was clearly outlined in his assessment and has been endorsed by General David Petraeus (UPI, 9/24/09), Commander of U.S. Central Command. General McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan sent his assessment to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on August 30, 2009 and it is still being reviewed by the Obama administration in conferences with President Obama's national security advisors. This staff consists of Vice-President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor General Jim Jones (USMC, Ret.), Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ( a strong supporter of Petraeus' troop surge in Iraq but now hesitant to support General McChrystal), Secretary of Treasury Tim Geither, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen (who stated in a Senate hearing that more US troops as well as a rapid increase in the size and capability of the Afghan army were needed to carry out the President’s own strategy for prevailing in Afghanistan [Times Online, 9/16/09]. This council in turn is supported by civilian advisors, many of whom have no or little experience in foreigh policy (check out his support staff from the whitehouse.gov website; not too impressive). Now it has been revealed in an interview on CBS this weekend, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan has only been in conversation with the President once, via video conference.
So, what's my point? The President has not maintained a one-on-one relationship with his commander in Afghanistan to stay abreast of the conditions on the scene. Instead, he is basing his foreign policy in Afghanistan on the advice of civilian advisors, a DOD Secretary who is now hesitant to support his commander in the field despite his previous history as an individual with a pragmatic and consistent point of view, the Vice-President and the "Secretary of Treasury?". We have gone full circle: our federal administration is trying to run a war overseas on their own judgements as opposed to listening to the military leaders on the ground who have the needed experience to make sound judgements. This is the same mistake we, as a country, made during the Vietnam conflict and we know how that turned out. At least in this case, we have a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who is supporting his commander(s) on the ground, as opposed to the problems we encountered during the Vietnam debacle (Army Generals Maxwell Taylor and Earle G. Wheeler).
The President has a moral obligation to address General's McChrystal's assessment in a timely manner (he's had it since late August) and make a decision, for the sake of our troops (U.S. and NATO) in Afghanistan. Otherwise, he is not properly exercising his duties as Commander-in-Chief, as granted to him by the Constitution of the United States.
<b></b><i></i>Of all the cares or concerns of government, the direction of war most peculiarly demands those qualities which distinguish the exercise of power by a single hand. The direction of war implies the direction of a common strength; and the power of directing and employing the common strength forms an usual and essential part in the definition of executive authority<b></b><i></i> Alexander Hamilton: Federalist No. 47
Does it sound like BHO can fit that criteria?