Secretary Gates and the Facepalm

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had this to say in a recent article by the Daily Mail:

‘If we start adding additional objectives then I think we create a problem in that respect,’ he said. ‘I also think it is unwise to set as specific goals things that you may or may not be able to achieve.’

The first sentence is completely understandable, as analysts from all walks of life have raised concerns over the possibility of “mission creep,” or what is considered an “expansion of a project beyond its original goals.”  The Obama administration has looked to avoid that by failing to establish any goals, whatsoever.  Well that was easily handled.

The second sentence is a bit more perplexing (and vexing to anyone with common sense).  It is unwise to set as specific goals things that you may or may not be able to achieve. I am fairly certain that Secretary Gates just used the definition of a goal as his reason why he does not want to set goals.  You are not sure if you will or will not achieve a goal, but it is a goal, something to strive for… that’s what makes it a goal!  (Take soccer as a prime example: you can watch soccer for 90+ minutes and never see a damn goal, but they still have those goals there to try for.)

My friend (I am not sure if she wants to be mentioned in a conservative blog or not) told me that someone on NPR said ambiguity was the best policy for the Libyan strike, so as not to mislead the public.  The military has to have goals, because without goals you cannot develop and change war plans or strategy.


No More Terrorists in Afghanistan?

RealClearPolitcs has posted a video of Senatorial hopeful, Martha Coakley, making the most asinine statement of the new year.  Apparently, she is under the opinion that we have accomplished all that we could have hoped to in Afghanistan: 

“If the goal was and the mission in Afghanistan was to go in because we believed that the Taliban was giving harbor to terrorists. We supported that. I supported that goal. They’re gone. They’re not there anymore.”


The fact that this woman stands any chance of winning a Senatorial seat is a sad testament to the state of Massachusetts.  Bear in mind, however, that the fact that Mr. Scott Brown is making it more of a race is a sign of hope for the state as well.  To make such blatantly false allegations contrary to sworn testimony of our commanders in the field for the mere hopes of scoring political points is beyond sophistry, and one would not be far if if inclined to consider her actions maleficent.  Let’s listen to the people who know better than this nugatory wannabe-Senator

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES: I would like to provide an overview of the strategic thinking and context behind [President Obama’s] decisions, in particular the nexus among al Qaeda, the Taliban, Pakistan and Afghanistan…Put simply, the Taliban and al Qaeda have become symbiotic, each benefiting from the success and mythology of the other..Al Qaeda leaders in particular have stated this explicitly and repeatedly…

…The lesson of the Afghan Taliban’s revival for al Qaeda is that time and will are on their side…Rolling back the Taliban is now necessary, even if not sufficient, to the ultimate defeat of al Qaeda…The president’s new strategic concept aims to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and reduce its strength, while providing the time and space necessary for the Afghans to develop enough security and governance to stabilize their own country.

Or how about this…

ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, USN, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF:  To say there is no serious threat of Afghanistan falling once again into the Taliban’s hands ignores the audacity of even the insurgency’s most public statements…we see every day of collusion between these factions on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border…through brutal intimidation, the Taliban has established shadow governments across the country, coercing the reluctant support of many locals and challenging the authority of elected leaders and state institutions.  Indeed, we believe the insurgency has achieved a dominant influence in 11 of the 34 provinces.

 Testimony from a December 3, 2009 House Armed Services Committee hearing.  Thank you to a co-worker for grabbing this up and sharing it!