In remarks offered to U.S. News & World Report published on Thursday, Ret. U.S. Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director for both the CIA and National Security Agency, compared the air power-heavy strategy President Barack Obama laid out earlier this week in a prime time address to “casual sex.”
“The reliance on air power has all of the attraction of casual sex: It seems to offer gratification but with very little commitment,” said retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA and the National Security Agency. “We need to be wary of a strategy that puts emphasis on air power and air power alone.”
On Friday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Lead,” Hayden elaborated on those remarks. He argued that air power in this situation was appropriate, but eliminating the possibility of ground troops, at least publicly, may have limited the United States to carry out its ultimate mission.
“First of all, I’m really in favor of using airpower in this problem,” Hayden said. “And we’re in a much better place strategically today than we were 96 hours ago before the president made his speech and made his commitment. Actually, the use of airpower, for want of a better term, was very gratifying. But the president limited his commitment. He said an awful lot about things we will not do, including American ground forces. That’s — an audience for that is the United States, the American people, it’s almost a necessary mantra, no boots on the ground, although we have 1,500 pair there right now. But no boots on the ground may have been useful for the president domestically, but there are other audiences. Our allies and our enemies — they view that as limiting our commitment to this enterprise. And you’re reporting today, limited enthusiasm on the part of our allies to take up the role we said we would refuse to do. … And other people read the lack of commitment. American power. Look, people don’t question American power. What people need to be convinced of is American will.”
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor