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The cost of Obama’s delay

October 28, 2009

In Jacksonville this week, President Barack Obama spoke to members of our military, mostly naval aviators. While there, he repeated what he’s been saying for weeks:

 I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm’s way

As the same article points out, his words came 1 day after 14 Americans were left dead in 2 helicopter crashes. Overall, 55 Americans have died so far this October in Afghanistan. 2009 promises to be the bloodiest year so far of the campaign in that country. Last year saw 111 American deaths. In July through October, we’re over 270.  It would seem that Americans are ALREADY in harm’s way.

I don’t know why Obama hasn’t made a decision yet. It’s possible that he has no capacity for decision-making. That’s an executive skill; his history as a legislator would indicate a talent more along the lines of compromising.  But leaders shouldn’t comprimise lightly. Not when our life and safety are at stake.

Perhaps Obama wishes to avoid the mistakes that he believes lead Bush into Iraq. But Bush got UN resolutions against Iraq. Congress debated the issue. Colin Powell presented evidence.  Saddam had a history of defiance. But those points aside, there is a huge difference in the two situations. Bush had the options of fight or no fight. Obama is already in a fight- at which point the options become: WIN, or LOSE.

The delay can’t be a lack of input. McChrystal made his recommendation weeks ago. Dick Cheyney says the Bush administration assembled data and presented it to Obama in 2008. Obama announced a strategy early in 2009, and it closely resembled the reccomendations that McChrystal is now making. Joe Biden gives his own advice.

Obama would have us believe that compassion and a desire to protect human life are causing him to take extra time. Important decisions must not be rushed, he says. Well, sometimes you don’t have the luxury of time. Simple decisions become complicated when you delay. Don’t believe me? Try driving down the road and delaying the decision to turn the steering wheel. Or ponder the possible consequences of hitting the brakes as you approach the light, and motor right through oncoming traffic.

In Afghanistan, Obama’s delays result in the death of U.S. soldiers and Afghani civilians. These deaths directly influence events in Afghanistan, in the Taliban’s favor. Our troops lose morale, and Afghans become more bitter. Without the resources, our troops are caught between strategies. That’s a road to destruction and defeat.

As Obama considers options, the Taliban is taking action. They have stepped up attacks in Afghanistan. Is Obama going to cave in to their violence? In the short run, it doesn’t matter. Just the DELAY is killing people.

Obama has been criticizing Bush, and criticizing doctors, and criticizing bank executives, and criticizing the heads of the Big 3. But he does so from the luxury of an insulated world. He says deadlines are important, but the health care bill has missed numerous deadlines. He sets goals for the stimulus plan, and then claims success when falling short of those goals. What executive can succeed this way? What leadership is this?

Any leader knows that you can’t wait for perfect information. At some point, any decision yields a better result than delay. I want Obama to send more troops. But if he wants to pull troops out, then let’s get started. He may think that he’s on a treadmill, but his troops are in a war zone.

The Spanish philospher Maimonides said: 

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.”

This very terror is growing in the guts of our soldiers. And it fuels the resolve of our enemies. We must act, or fail.

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