Monday, April 13, 2009


From an AP article yesterday about the pirate incident:

... it goes some way toward dispelling the notion that a liberal Democrat with a known distaste for war -- Obama campaigned on his consistent opposition to the Iraq invasion -- doesn't have the will to call on U.S. military power.

And from today's Washington Post: may help to quell criticism leveled at Obama that he came to office as a Democratic antiwar candidate who could prove unwilling or unable to harness military might when necessary.

You know, it's not that hard to grasp Obama's attitude toward war, because he's made it clear -- in his 2002 speech against the impending Iraq War, for instance:

... I don't oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain.

I don't oppose all wars.

After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this Administrations pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again.

I don't oppose all wars.

And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perles and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne....

His statements on the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008 were consistent with that statement -- and while calling for an end to the Iraq War, he was bellicose in reference to Al Qaeda, as in his convention acceptance speech:

When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell -- but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.

Obama is increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and asking for more troops from allies.

Yet he's "antiwar."

The simple formula -- "I don't oppose all wars.... What I am opposed to is a dumb war" -- makes a lot of sense to a lot of Democrats and liberals, and yet most of the right (and some in the center) willfully refuse to acknowledge even the theoretical existence of this point of view.

This isn't the nouveau separation from reality among right-wingers -- you know, Obama's a foreign-born Muslim fascist/socialist/one worlder who deliberately wants to destroy the economy to accrue power while banning capitalism, the dollar, religion, private ownership of guns, etc. No, this is old-school: it's an inability to process reality that dates back to the Bush era.

During the Bush years, it was impossible to get a right-winger to grasp the notion that you might oppose the Iraq War but still believe people who are trying to do Americans harm -- say, Al Qaeda -- should be the targets of military force. Bush fans just would not process that idea. To them, either you accepted every detail of Bush foreign policy (the Iraq invasion, torture, warrantless wiretapping, no due process of any kind for "enemy combatants," etc., etc.) or you were a full-blown pacifist, if not a conscious collaborator with the enemy.

In a debate on those policies conducted by grown-ups, the supporters of Bush would have said, "Yes, I know you oppose terrorists attacks against America and U.S. interests, but you disagree with specific ways Bush thinks we need to proceed. Sorry, but I think you're really wrong to criticize those Bush tactics."

But we never, ever heard that. There were Bushies and then there were surrender monkeys.

Please, folks -- take the love beads off your mental image of Barack Obama (and a lot of his supporters, including me). This was the right time to use force, so Obama approved the use of force. No surprise there.

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