Maybe Obama should try LISTENING to one of his Defense secretaries sometime…

… instead of his staff scrambling to “clarify” what the SecDef said.

This is in the WashPost today:

President Obama has not had an easy time with his secretaries of defense.

Two of his defense secretaries wrote books critical of his administration after they left office, and his third was essentially fired. On Tuesday, the White House scrambled to clarify remarks by Obama’s fourth defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter, who said over the weekend that Iraqi forces who collapsed in their defense of Ramadi lacked the “will to fight” Islamic State militants.

Carter’s pronouncement, unusual for its bluntness, angered senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad and seemed to suggest that the president’s strategy, built around supporting Iraqi forces with training and airstrikes, was failing. “Airstrikes are effective, but neither they nor really anything we do can substitute for the Iraqi forces’ will to fight,” Carter said in an interview with CNN. He added that the Iraqi government force, which “vastly outnumbered” the Islamic State attackers, simply refused to fight in Ramadi.

Asked about Carter’s remarks, White House press secretary Josh Earnest pointed to some of the successes Iraqi forces had earlier this year in retaking the cities of Tikrit and Baghdadi from the Islamic State. In both battles, a multi-sectarian force of Iraqi fighters backed by U.S. air power and under the central command of the Iraqi government won relatively quick victories. And he praised the leadership of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

“It’s very clear what our strategy is, and it’s clear that strategy is one that has succeeded in the past,” Earnest said….

Yeah… right… (imagine me saying that as Dr. Evil would). What seems “very clear” is that the facts of the situation fit the Defense secretary’s version, rather than Mr. Earnest’s…

4 thoughts on “Maybe Obama should try LISTENING to one of his Defense secretaries sometime…

  1. Doug Ross

    Has a press secretary ever said anything truthful? Every one I have ever watched has seemed to be repulsive. Ari Fleischer was the quintessential snake oil salesman.

  2. Harry Harris

    The issue isn’t whether Carter’s remarks were accurate, it may well be about the effects of publicly criticizing an ally. Most diplomacy is better conducted away from the public megaphone. He could have simply stated facts about the numbers of Iraqi troops vs ISIS fighters to get the truth of the situation across rather than characterizing the troops’ action as a lack of will. One report claimed that a top Iraqi commander made a bad call to retreat, and the soldiers did just that – facing only about 200 attackers and some suicide bombers. Starting a public “blame game” with a force you’re needing to hold up a big end of a fight isn’t a good strategy.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Or it’s a good time to play bad cop / good cop…

      Does anyone disagree that the Iraqis are turning out to be not Iraqis at all, but rather sectarian tribalists? Is this really hurtful news to them?

      But yes, inartful communication at best.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      So let me see if I have this straight: We refuse to share any actual risk (i.e. being in the fight on the ground) with the Iraqi forces, and then we publicly call them cowards when they fail to hold the line. Do I have that right?

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