Give Obama a break on this one
President Obama is out of the country. With the problems in Japan and now us blowing up stuff in Libya, he finds himself in Rio, one of the most glamorous cities in South America (which is admittedly a fairly relative term). Many on the right are chomping at the bit, demanding that the President come back home immediately from his “vacation”. They’re wrong.
First, this trip isn’t a vacation, but is actually work related. The United States does a great deal of business with South America and we actually spend remarkably little time actually acknowledging that fact. This trip is, in theory anyways, supposed to change that perception.
However, even if it was a vacation, I have no issues with it. You see, the President can’t do a blasted thing about a nuclear reactor in Asia. He just can’t. He was a community organizer, not a nuclear scientist. About the best he could do is organize a protest to the reactors. Somehow, I doubt the reactors would be particularly impressed.
Right now, the reason du jour for him not going on this trip is because we’re bombing the hell out of another country right now. I can kind of see their point, but they’re wrong again. You see, the last thing you really need in military operations is the civilian leadership involved in the minute details of the operation. Do they need to be briefed? Absolutely, and I have little doubt that Obama is being briefed about the situation multiple times per day.
I’m not a fan of bombing other countries, but if you’re going to do it, then do it right. Civilian leadership can and should provide oversight. They can and should hold military officials accountable for what goes on in combat. However, civilian control over combat operations is a disaster waiting to happen. Civilians often lack the tactical and strategic understanding necessary to control combat operations, so they try thinking like military men and muck up everything. Not always, but how many times does it have to happen to be to many? If it’s your kid in harms way, once is way to many.
However, in Rio, Obama can’t “muck” anything up. He can be briefed and give broad orders, but that’s about it. That’s also about how it should be.