Streetwise Professor

December 16, 2015

Barack “The Bourbon” Obama: Learning Nothing, Forgetting Nothing

Filed under: History,Military,Politics — The Professor @ 9:53 am

The linchpin of Obama’s recalibration of his anti-ISIS campaign (for it is little more than that) is the deployment of US special operations forces in direct actions targeted on ISIS leadership. This represents further proof of Obama’s intellectual rigidity, and his utter inability to learn from experience–or to admit error.

For this is exactly what Obama did in Afghanistan starting in 2009:

Each year during the Afghan “surge” that President Barack Obama initiated in 2009, one declassified document shows, the manhunting task force ran many more missions than the year before–about two per night countrywide in August 2009; six per night a year later, when the Norgrove mission went south; and eleven per night a year after that, at the time of the “Extortion 17” tragedy. By 2011, the JSOC task force numbered more than 3,800 personnel — huge in special operations terms, but still just 2.4 percent of the overall U.S.-led force in Afghanistan, as one briefing slide notes.

Accompanying the overall surge was a “Ranger surge” that put more and more platoons of the elite light infantry regiment into the field alongside the SEALs, allowing more targets to be struck. Operators from the Army’s Delta Force were present as well, some of them providing what a JSOC staff officer calls a “very special capability”: the ability to track a moving convoy of cars or trucks by helicopter and raid it on the go, as depicted in the movie “Black Hawk Down” and numerous YouTube videos. The documents describe one joint Delta-Ranger team specializing in this task as an “expeditionary targeting force”—the same term defense secretary Carter used this week to describe the new JSOC raid force deploying to Iraq.


And this has accomplished what, exactly? The Afghanistan hamster wheel spins and spins and spins, regardless of how many SEAL and Ranger raids are mounted, and how many “high value targets” are killed. The main result of these operations–if “successful”–is to provide promotion opportunities for aspiring guerrillas and terrorists. It certainly has not changed things on the ground.

Actually, the operations have accomplished something: getting highly trained and difficult to replace special operators killed and maimed and just worn out. The details of the operations were only discovered because they were included in FOIA’d reports about two raids that went horribly wrong.

But faced with another difficult situation, this time in Syria and Iraq, rather than contemplating soberly the all pain, no gain lessons of the “Expeditionary Targeting Force” model in Afghanistan, Obama goes to it again.

What Talleyrand said of the Bourbons applies with even greater force to Obama: He has learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.

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  1. Arguably, what Napoleon said of Talleyrand also applies to Obama – “You are a piece of shit in silk stockings”.

    Harsh but fair, from the man who on St. Helena expressed regret that he’d never gotten around to having his chief of police shot.

    Comment by Green As Grass — December 18, 2015 @ 7:32 am

  2. Just started reading Advice To War Presidents by Codevilla. I see relevance in his thesis that the pitiful state of US foreign ploicy is more a matter of blindly ascribing to a fatally flawed paradigm by the political elite. Progressives whine on and on about diversity but in practice the diversity they recognize and refer to is limited to the physical realm. In practice they have not a sliver of doubt that psychologically all people must think as they do and if not then psychological pathology is manifest that must be cured by their goodselves. This paradigm is not limited to Progressives but most at odds with Prgressive rhetoric. I never understood the dichotomy that physical diversity should be treasured and psychological diversity villified.

    If you wage war you must not only win battles but must win the war or only a fool’s errand. The US has already paved a six lane freeway to Hell with good intentions. Progressive’s would fault this and agree only if was a rail line to Hell rather than a carbon inefficient freeway.

    Comment by pahoben — December 19, 2015 @ 7:59 am

  3. Obama’s fixation on JSOC headhunting is reminiscent of Clinton’s attachment to cruise missile strikes. Both offer the illusion of addressing a big problem with an elegant, scalpel-like tool that minimizes political risks due to casualties. Obama probably receives intelligence reports reinforcing his idea that these JSOC operations are “degrading” enemy capability without any gauge of how much this degradation affects the U.S.’s ultimate chances of achieving or not achieving its objectives.

    Comment by srp — December 23, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

  4. A summary of the issue to my view is that instead of representing the interests of the US the elites represent what they believe to be the interests of the Globe. They will have practice in the case the Earth is invaded by aliens but otherwise not.

    Comment by pahoben — December 25, 2015 @ 2:54 am

  5. @pahoben. I have my doubts re aliens. If the aliens arrive, the elites will shift their allegiance to the galaxy. Or the universe.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 25, 2015 @ 7:45 am

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