Monday, October 5, 2009

Nostalgia for Bush?

Just to continue the rant from the previous post, why is it that anyone would look at the Bush Administration's way of doing things, and ponder why Obama would deviate from that? While the ditching of Rumsfeld in 2006 was a significant improvement, the Bush Foreign Policy process was flawed in a great many ways and was not known for producing superb foreign policies.

Obama was elected on a campaign of change, and part of the change he promised was in how things were going to be done. While I find some of the decisions made to be problematic (and way too dependent on some of the folks who were on the wrong side of the financial crisis), it is clear that Obama is handling his team of foreign policy experts far better than Bush. Powell was marginalized, Rice failed utterly in the role of National Security Adviser, Cheney was Cheney, and so forth. Obama, relatively inexperienced in foreign policy (like Bush), has assembled a team of pro's, including Gates, former SACEUR and current National Security Adviser Jones, Hilary Clinton and others, and these folks all seem to have roles to play, giving the President a diverse set of opinions.

The role for the military in these circles is represented by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Stuff--Admiral Mullen. Under Rummy, the JS was marginalized. Under Bush post-Rummy, the Chairman was a marginal factor. But under Obama, Mullen seems to be a credible player, interacting with the others. Therefore, McChrystal and Patreaus don't need to be talking to Obama every day or every week. That is the job of Mullen and of Gates. People have apparently forgotten that the Chairman is the guy to provide military advice to the president. I guess you cannot blame people for that, given Rumsfeld's best efforts to make that role invisible and the willingness of Generals Myers and Pace to go along with that.

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