President Obama is well known for his love of filling out his “March Madness” brackets. His understanding of college basketball may in fact be outstanding, but that doesn’t mean he knows anything about military operations. The President’s simplistic comprehension of the United States military is evidenced by his continued use of sports metaphors in describing all things military. Much as been made recently about the president’s January 2014 description of ISIL as a JV team. He described them saying just because you wear Kobe Bryant’s jersey doesn’t make you Kobe Bryant. He told NBC’s Chuck Todd that his pending strategy would be characterized by going on offense. Sounds like a comment John Madden might make while broadcasting an NFL Game. He diminishes the seriousness of the force of arms and instills no confidence among our troops.
In an Interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, President Obama stated
“When it comes to foreign policy, that oftentimes the United States has made mistakes not by showing too much restraint but by underestimating how challenging the environment is out there, not thinking through consequences, that there is a lot of blocking and tackling to foreign policy, to change sports metaphors, or, if you want to stick to baseball, that a lot of what you want to do is to advance the ball on human rights, advance the ball on national security, advance the ball on energy independence, to put the ball in play.”
White House staff is equally prone to throw in the sports cliches. In the President’s Wednesday night ISIL strategy speech Obama was light on specifics. When questioned, an unnamed staff member mentioned they didn’t want to say too much because they didn’t want to telegraph America’s punches.
What makes the situation even more disturbing is the pattern that President Obama shows by ignoring the military advice of the true military experts. Obama ignored advice on leaving troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to maintain the long-term stability of those countries. He overruled his military commanders and provided only a fraction of the troops they requested for the surge in Afghanistan. He is once again ignoring them as they advise using ground troops in addition to airstrikes to destroy ISIL. If the president were military genius I would have no problem with this pattern but to steal from the president’s own metaphor; just because you wear a jersey that says Commander in Chief on it doesn’t make you Dwight D. Eisenhower.