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Team USA Coach Uses Military Event to Attack President Obama on ISIS

November 5, 2014

In September, Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski guided the USA men's national team to gold at the world championships in Spain. One month later, Coach K was awarded again, this time with the 2014 George Catlett Marshall Medal presented by the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA). And it was there that America's Coach criticized America's Commander-in -Chief over his handling of the Islamic State.
In front of hundreds of military officers, defense contractors, and Army supporters, the 1969 West Point graduate branded President Obama a bad coach in the game against ISIS. As the Daily Beast reported:

"I know it's upsetting to many of you when you hear 'no boots on the ground.' It upsets me too, because that's like saying I'm not going to play two of my best players," he said in his speech accepting the 2014 George Catlett Marshall Award, AUSA's highest honor. "Because that's what you are trained to do. And for decades and decades, the fact that we are a free country and we don't play home games here is a result of having boots on the ground. That's the problem."
"It's about letting your opponent know we are going to use our best players. And whether we use them or not, that's up to the coach. You never tell your opponent you are not going to use [them], like I'm not going to play Grant Hill, J.J. Redick, -Christian] Laettner," he said, rattling off the names of some of his biggest stars at Duke.

As it turns out, Coach K's remarks were more than a little ironic. After all, the award he received was named after George Marshall, whose Marshall Plan helped save Europe and thereby enabled the United States to avoid war with the USSR in the late 1940's and early 1950's. More important, Krzyzewski the great tactician had nothing to say about the bigger strategic questions when it comes to containing the threat from ISIS. To list just a few:

Who's on our team?
Is it even our game?
Where will the game be played?

Does Coach K want Iran and/or Syria Bashar al-Assad on our team? Is the United States going to send troops to help the Shiite dominated government help Sunni tribes battle fight the Islamic State in Anbar province? President Bush, you'll recall, bet heavily on former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki; Team USA lost big time when Maliki betrayed the Sunni Sons of Iraq and tried to ensure Shiite sectarian domination. Should those U.S. boots on the ground be in Syria? If so, who will they fight with and against?
This isn't the first time Coach K has gotten himself in hot water over his political antics. In 2002, he hosted an on-campus fund-raiser for Republican Elizabeth Dole, then a candidate for U.S. Senate. And in 2009, he responded to President Obama's March Madness picks by remarking that "the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets."
"War," Von Clausewitz famously declared, "is the continuation of politics by other means." Basketball is not. Especially when the coach of Team USA is using his megaphone to cheer against the President of the United States.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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