President Obama, War President

Our President was elected under the influence of great anti-war sentiment. He was “the anti-war candidate”. It ought to be disappointing then, for his supporters, to learn that he is decidedly not the anti-war President. In fact, President Obama is actively pursuing the war-on-terror, significantly expanding the Afghanistan theatre with another troop surge. And we shouldn’t forget that President Obama hasn’t pulled the troops out of Iraq yet, and the best estimates are that troops will be in Iraq for 2-3 more years - the same amount of time President Bush would have kept them there. (The article says all “combat troops” will be out of Iraq in August of 2010, but this is misleading. The article goes on to say that there will still be 30,000-50,000 troops there until 2011. The Obama administration redefined people who count as “troops”.) President Obama’s continuation of the war on terror says a number of things. First, the silence of his anti-war constituency indicates that they were not opposed to the Iraq war on principle, but rather opposed to the Iraq war when a Republican candidate was president. In fact, they seem to have a great and newfound tolerance for war now that they like the guy at the helm of it all. It also tells us that the foreign policy of President Bush was not offensive enough for the country to elect a President who would have actually changed things.

41 Responses to President Obama, War President

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    His foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq are about the only aspects of the Obama Presidency that I do support thus far.

  • Kyle Cupp says:

    Whoever thought Obama was an anti-war candidate must not have read his website or paid much attention to what Obama frequently said during the campaign. He was perfectly clear about his intention to expand American military might throughout the world. His criticism of the Iraq War had to do with his belief that it was a misappropriation of resources. The narrative that Obama is anti-war was never accurate.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “In fact, they seem to have a great and newfound tolerance for war now that they like the guy at the helm of it all.”

    This is both sad and true. But Kyle is absolutely right; it was known all along that Obama was pro-war, and only advocated a different program of war than McCain. Anyone who thought Obama was truly anti-war simply wasn’t paying attention.

    The only anti-war candidates were Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. And D used to be pro-life… just like Jesse Jackson. Sigh. I would have dropped everything to campaign for a pro-life Kucinich.

  • Whoever thought Obama was an anti-war candidate must not have read his website or paid much attention to what Obama frequently said during the campaign.

    You and Joe are right. But many of us who ended up voting for Obama, and who would have loved a true anti-war candidate, never believed for a second that Obama was an ideal presidential candidate when it came to war.

    First, the silence of his anti-war constituency indicates that they were not opposed to the Iraq war on principle, but rather opposed to the Iraq war when a Republican candidate was president.

    An insane statement. The anti-war movement has not disappeared.

    In fact, they seem to have a great and newfound tolerance for war now that they like the guy at the helm of it all.

    Who are “they”?

  • Zach

    As I find to be normal, you misunderstood the narrative. Certainly many people who voted for Obama(which I did not, once again, I have to state that) said that BETWEEN Obama and McCain they believed Obama was the “anti-war” candidate, not because he is anti-war, but because he would do LESS than McCain. Many recognized and stated throughout that Obama’s plans to increase the war in Afghanistan was troubling — you will find such criticism on Vox Nova, for example. But they found McCain’s views even moreso. And they would also agree the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan are two different scenarios with different moral pulls; the war in Iraq had no justification and those who supported it therefore were worse than those who did not, on the issue of war. Got it? Probably not, since this is not the first time you have been told this.

  • On the other hand, McCain was all about Iraq and… IRAN. That’s right. IRAN. Oh how people forget the talk about bombing Iran. The issue with Pakistan again is of a different level of discussion than the issue with.. Iraq and Iran. But again, you will note those who are against the war HAVE criticized Obama on it. I know those of us on VN did.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Actually during the campaign McCain called for tougher sanctions against Iran but not for military action until both low level diplomacy and sanctions were attempted. Obama refused to take any options off the table.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1004116.html

    http://digg.com/world_news/Obama_Iran_a_grave_threat_and_no_options_off_the_table

    The administration is currently deciding what to do next on Iran, since the Iranian regime is not interested in negotiations on nuclear weapons.
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1886123,00.html

    Obama also faces the problem that if he can’t deter Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, the Israelis almost certainly will act.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200903u/netanyahu

    In regard to Iran I rather suspect that Obama is currently thinking what I suspect most Presidents have thought at one time or another: “I wanted this job?”

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    What we are now seeing is a civil war between the far left and the farther left as to Obama’s foreign policy as typifed by the brawl between Daily Kos and Code Pink.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,512446,00.html

    As a conservative I find this vastly amusing! I think Zak is dead on accurate in that the planned surge in Afghanistan would be getting much more hysterical opposition from the Left if the President were McCain rather than Obama, not to mention Obama’s Iraq policy. As I stated on this thread at the top, I basically support Obama on Iraq and Afghanistan where, as far as I can tell, he is largely following the policies laid out by Bush.

  • Rick Lugari says:

    Funny, I would agree that there are different circumstances and moral pulls between the Iraq and Afghanistan situations. However, I think there’s a much stronger justification for resuming hostilities with a country that continually violated terms of a cease fire after having been essentially defeated. That Afghanistan had a rag-tag government that didn’t like us and gave aid and comfort to individuals who didn’t like us doesn’t seem to distinguish it much from Iraq, Iran, or thirty other nations. If Afghanistan was just, I can’t see how Iraq wasn’t. I should note, I have no real opinion on whether the Iraq war was just or not, I can argue it either way and a lot depends on information and insight I don’t have access to – I’m just not inclined to take as truth unsupported foaming mouth rants, and I’m glad I didn’t have to make that call. I do however have problems with those opposed to the Iraq War when they were calling for immediate withdrawal (crickets chirping now). Even if I were to allow that invading Iraq was unjust and gravely immoral, it would be equally or more unjust and immoral to leave it in tattered shreds with no strong governance, services, and a lot sectarian violence.

  • Zach says:

    Henry,

    This argument is not based upon a strawman, it’s based upon an observation. The observation is that people on the left painted Obama as the anti-war candidate. He is manifestly not an anti-war President.

    Where I live, a man painted his entire barn with the words “STOP THE WAR”. After the election, his barn simply says “OBAMA!”

    An anecdote does certainly not make a rule, but I think this man with a barn is representative of a large group of people.

  • Zach says:

    Also Henry, it’s unbelievable to me that you are now trying to make a significant distinction between Iraq and Afghanistan, and even suggesting that the war in Afghanistan may be waged with a just cause.

  • Zach – How ironic that you would ask me that question today, April 4, when there is a massive protest taking place this very second in NYC. Also here in Toronto, and elsewhere. And perhaps you missed reports of huge protests a matter of weeks ago on the anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. If you don’t “see” it anymore, it could be for a variety of reasons, but not because the movement has disappeared.

  • cminor says:

    Well, gee, it’s funny how things shake down.

    In the comments on a number of recent posts charges of hypocricy and other invectives were leveled at those who, seeing that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the candidates with regard to their likelihood of prosecuting a war, chose to support McCain as the candidate less likely to enact radically anti-life legislation.

    Now from the same quarter we get rationalization for supporting (or at least not actively opposing) Obama because they thought he might be just a little less warmongering–and we are supposed to accept this explanation as springing from only the purest motives and most thoughtful reasoning?

    Okay, boys, now that I’ve got that off my chest, this old lady’s moving on. Go ahead–bless me out, call me every name you can think of. Accuse me of a few unsavory motives while you’re at it. I’ve been observing your prior behavior and am unimpressed with either adolescent outbursts or adolescent dogmatism as debate tactics. I suggest that if you really want to make an impression on those who don’t think the way you do, you try reasoned civil discourse instead of coming in swinging. Some pacifists.

  • First, the silence of his anti-war constituency indicates that they were not opposed to the Iraq war on principle, but rather opposed to the Iraq war when a Republican candidate was president.

    That’s something you noted. Here’s something I noted: so many on the right who are calling out Obama for war (and even torture) were most certainly not holding these faults against Bush. On a personal note, I’ve always been disappointed by Obama’s kneejerk American exceptionalism and his very American belief in the transformative power of guns and bombs. As in many other areas, the reason I supported him was that he offered a superior choice related to the alternative. I maintain that position. The big issue is Iran. Israel is now run by men (Netanyahu and Liberman) whose rhetoric is little different from that of Hamas. They are trying to goad the US into a war with Iran. I hope that Obama will not take such bait. I believe McCain would have leapt eagerly for it. That’s the difference.

  • Matt McDonald says:

    That’s something you noted. Here’s something I noted: so many on the right who are calling out Obama for war (and even torture) were most certainly not holding these faults against Bush.

    Really? Cite some who were not opposed to Bush’s war/”torture” policy but are opposed to Obama’s? OR is it more likely that you are taking accusations of hypocrisy out of context as opposition to his “new” position?

    On a personal note, I’ve always been disappointed by Obama’s kneejerk American exceptionalism

    Appreciate your intellectual honesty here.

    and his very American belief in the transformative power of guns and bombs.

    Can you perhaps articulate this belief? I’m unfamiliar with it… unless you are talking about the power of guns and bombs to transform those who murder innocent men women and children into those who no longer murder innocent men women and children. WWII being a great example of this transformative power, or do you think Nazism was defeated by flower-power?

    As in many other areas, the reason I supported him was that he offered a superior choice related to the alternative. I maintain that position.

    If you believe war is NEVER the answer even when others are waging war on you (not sure this is even the case with Obama, may be wishful thinking on your part), but at the same time you don’t object to the waging of war against unborn children worldwide, then that’s a reasonable conclusion.

    The big issue is Iran. Israel is now run by men (Netanyahu and Liberman) whose rhetoric is little different from that of Hamas.

    Oh really? Can you cite either of them calling for the destruction of Palestine (unless by destruction you mean independent statehood). Bear in mind that these men have the power to execute this and I guarantee they will not… would you feel comfortable with betting your life on Hamas not destroying Israel if it had the power?

    They are trying to goad the US into a war with Iran. I hope that Obama will not take such bait. I believe McCain would have leapt eagerly for it. That’s the difference.

    I don’t think goad is accurate, but yes, they do not want to be destroyed by Iran and will not stand idly by while Iran does what it promises it will do. Funny that.

  • John Henry says:

    I hope that Obama will not take such bait. I believe McCain would have leapt eagerly for it. That’s the difference.

    I think predicting what McCain would have done is very difficult, given how erratic his decision-making was during the campaign. And I’m not sure the U.S. could go to war in Iran even if it wanted to, given our budgetary constraints and continuing commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I share your hope that Obama will not choose to go to war with Iran.

  • While I would certainly not have voted for Netanyahu or Liberman if I were an Israeli (and agree that Liberman in particular is a pretty repulsive pol), it strikes me that using a Huffington Post summary of their views rather than a direct quote in order to prove that they’re “just as bad as Hamas” would be somewhat along the same lines as quoting an Ann Coulter summary of Obama’s foreign policy in order to prove the point that Obama would be as bad a leader as Hugo Chavez.

    For instance, I think we can rest assured that under Liberman the Arab members of the Knesset will not actually be shot, whereas Hamas really did kill much of their opposition (PLO sympathizers) when they took power.

  • Matt McDonald says:

    MM,

    you want me to rely on Vox Nova redirected from the Huffington Post? Without a substantial cited statement from the subject? Please, I don’t go to the the Baptists for instruction on Catholic Theology, and I certainly don’t go to the Huffington Post for truth and balance.

  • Well, in terms of “killing their opposition”, the Israelis are quite capable of that too — with a blockade of human aid, the direct murder of civilians, and the use of chemical weapons — all in Gaza during the last Christmas season.

  • Matt McDonald says:

    Morning’s Minion,

    Hmm, each one of those quotes is well established and in the public domain. There’s no conspiracy here, and you seem to go to great lengths to protect your preconceptions…

    But how can you argue with the Catholic Church in Gaza? http://vox-nova.com/2009/03/20/letter-from-a-gazan-priest/

    Just post something from those guys that says it’s ok to strap a bomb to a young man or woman and walk into a crowded restaurant… The opinions of a “gazan priest” do not constitute the “Catholic Church in Gaza”

    Well, in terms of “killing their opposition”, the Israelis are quite capable of that too — with a blockade of human aid, the direct murder of civilians, and the use of chemical weapons — all in Gaza during the last Christmas season.

    So instead of defending your point about these 2 individual’s rhetoric, you declare open season on Israel. Your bias is telling. I’ll bite though, let’s indict Israel. How many Gazan’s died in that massive offensive? How many would have died if Israel had targeted civilians intentionally and on a broad scale? If Israel was really blockading human aid (unless by human aid you mean dynamite to strap to young men and women), do you think a loaf of bread would get past them?

    You seem to think very highly the capabilities of the IAF to kill civilians, and yet they seem to kill a strikingly small number. If the Israeli’s were practicing genocide there would be no Gazans or West Bankers left. You know this, why not be honest?

    Is Vox-Nova and Huffington Post your only source of news?

  • MM,

    If your point is primarily to make us aware that you dislike Israel and instinctively sympathize with the Palestinian nationalist movements, I think we’ve all got the message. However, I strongly suspect that despite your claims that the new leadership in Israel is indistinguishable from Hamas, that you don’t really believe it.

    For instance, you cited a summary which claims (and given the different standards of political hyperbole there, I don’t necessarily doubt it, though I don’t know the truth of the matter) that Liberman advocated that Israel “bus thousands of released Palestinian prisoners to the Dead Sea and drown them” and currently advocates, “executing Israeli Arab members of the Knesset”.

    Now, we both know that as a matter of historical record that Hamas immediately set out to kill or imprison many of its PLO political opponents as soon as it was voted into power in Gaza. You say the new Israeli leadership is just like Hamas. Would you agree to a $250 bet that within 12 months from today Israel will, under Netanyahu and Liberman’s leadership commit one of the two atrocities I just quoted above from the HuffPo piece?

    I’m up for it if you are.

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