Subjective Objectivity – The Blog of The Reasonable Man

September 22, 2010

BREAKING: Civilian governments often disagree with the military and amongst themselves about contentious wars

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 11:02 am

Shocking revelations abound in a shocking book that shockingly details the shocking level of disagreement between the US President and his closest advisors (military and civilian) over the shocking strategy to be pursued in a shocking war that divided the nation. In the words of Connery’s James Bond in Goldfinger – “Shocking”*.

That’s right, in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals, she details the frequent disagreements between Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet colleagues and ranking generals over the strategy to be pursued in the American Civil War.

Oh wait. You want something a little more current?

In a new book, Bob Woodward The Ghost of Journalism Past, outlines the fact that the President and his advisors had differing opinions on the strategy to be pursued in a costly and seemingly futile war and that the President himself was somewhat frustrated at “the enduring clusterfuck [he] inherited from those worse than useless shitheels in the [Bush] administration” (Author’s Note: I may be paraphrasing slightly). Or, if you’re a sub-editor for the Daily Telegraph “‘Obama’s White House is in Turmoil‘”.

You know, maybe it’s just me, but this faux-shock that military and civilian advisors prosecuting a war that isn’t going particularly well might sometimes disagree is a bit rich, coming as it does from the 101st Chairborne of the Telegraph pages. In fact, this “turmoil” is basic operating feature of democratic governments. (Perhaps it’s because I’m reading Team of Rivals which I highly recommend for fans of political biography). One might argue that carefully considering whether or not to send thousands of troops to the armpit of the world is actually a sensible approach and that intense debate in this sphere is a good thing. Or you could just jump right in based on an gut belief that what you’re doing is totally correct and completely overestimate your ability to manage the consequences.

Or put another way, I can barely find two friends willing to express an opinion on the Afghanistan war who come close to expressing a unified agreement on strategy, including with myself. I’m sure Nick and I disagree on the matter. Does that mean our friendship is “in turmoil”? Was that a rhetorical question? Was that?

Another example – let’s say a couple are planning a wedding and have disgreements over how many guests to invite, or which Def Leppard tribute band to engage for the reception (“Deaf Record”, or “Jeff’s Leopards” is a tougher choice than you might think). Is their relationship “in turmoil?”. No, their ideas for the wedding are different, and compromise is going to have to occur, but if you were to suggest to their friends that on that basis that their future happiness was “almost torn apart” by the decision making process, they might (rightly) call you a shit-stirring prick. The Best Man might take it upon himself to deliver a sucker-punch to your gut, y’know if he’s taking his duties seriously. Look, I’m just saying man, a wedding is a stressful event, and without a considered planning, may very well turn into an intractable foreign policy quagmire that haunts an administration for years to come a disappointment.

*”Positively Shocking”

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

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