Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Staying on message... NOT!

A week ago our President stated:
"First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban's momentum and increase Afghanistan's capacity over the next 18 months.
But taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.

[emphasis added]
This timeline was widely interpreted as a "deadline" for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

What have we heard in the past week from our President's TEAM?
SecDef Gates:
"Quite frankly, I detest the phrase exit strategy," US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, promising "a narrow focus" on routing al-Qaeda with "observable progress on clear objectives."

"What is essential -- for our national security -- is that we have two long-term partners in Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said.

[Gates: no deadline for US pullout from Afghanistan, 3 Dec 2009]
SoS Clinton:
"I do not believe we have locked ourselves into leaving," said Clinton, who added the goal was "to signal very clearly to all audiences that the United States is not interested in occupying Afghanistan."
If memory serves, the Obama campaign was lauded as a model of consistent public communications - no leaks, everyone on message all the time.

What happened?

I'm all for spirited policy discussions, disagreements, alternative points of view... in White House policy meetings!
Once the President announces a policy, I sort of expect the Administration will promote it without hedging.
Back in the biz world this was called "disagree and commit".

If Obama can't control his Cabinet, he's doomed.

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