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Works and Days

Obama Indicts Obama

September 1st, 2013 - 3:09 pm

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One of the problems that Barack Obama has in mounting an attack against the Assad regime is that the gambit violates every argument Barack Obama used against the Bush administration to establish his own anti-war candidacy.

The hypocrisy is so stunning that it infuriates his critics and stuns his supporters.

Deriding the Iraq war was Obama’s signature selling point. He used it to great effect against both Hillary Clinton (who voted for the war) in the Democratic primaries and John McCain in the general election. For the last five years, disparagement of “Iraq” and “Bush” has seemed to intrude into almost every sentence the president utters.

And now? His sudden pro-war stance makes a number of hypocritical assumptions. First, the U.S. president can attack a sovereign nation without authorization from Congress (unlike the Iraq war when George W. Bush obtained authorization from both houses of Congress). Even if Obama gets a no vote, he said that he reserves the right to strike.

Second, Obama assumes that the U.S. must go it alone and attack unilaterally (unlike the coalition of the willing of some 40 nations that joined us in Iraq).

Third, it is unnecessary even to approach the UN (unlike Iraq when the Bush administration desperately sought UN support).

Fourth, the U.S. president must make a judgment call on the likelihood of WMD use, which is grounds ipso facto to go to war (unlike Iraq when the vast majority of the 23 congressionally authorized writs had nothing to do with WMD [e.g., genocide of the Marsh Arabs and Kurds, bounties to suicide bombers, harboring of international terrorists, violations of UN agreements, attempts to kill a former U.S. president, etc.]).

So review for a moment the Old Obama case against the New Obama.

On the perils of going it alone without allies

“Where the stakes are the highest, in the war on terror, we cannot possibly succeed without extraordinary international cooperation. Effective international police actions require the highest degree of intelligence sharing, planning and collaborative enforcement.” (2004)

So far no European or Arab nation has offered military support for our planned effort against Syria.

On the need to obtain UN approval before attacking another country

“You know, if the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work, and, you know, those are considerations that we have to take into account.” (2013)

After misleading the UN in obtaining no-fly-zones for Libya (and then bombing troops on the ground), Obama is not even approaching the UN for a resolution to bomb this time around.

On the idea that armed intervention is ever a good option

“I don’t want to just end the war, but I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.” (2008)

The mindset in Iraq was to stop a genocidal dictator like Saddam Hussein who had gassed his own people — apparently the present mission is to stop the genocidal dictator Bashar Assad, who has gassed his own people.

On the folly of starting a wrong war to ensure a president’s sinking credibility

“It’s time to reject the counsel that says the American people would rather have someone who is strong and wrong than someone who is weak and right.” (2008)

“That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.” (2002)

Most believe that we are going to war mostly to restore Obama’s credibility after he issued an ill-advised red line to Syria that he thought would never be crossed — a war, in other words, predicated on “politics.”

On the dangers of not defining a mission or a methodology

“I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.” (2002)

“When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.” (2004)

So far we have not articulated the purpose of attacking Syria, the methods of intervention, or the desired outcome of the war — at a time of deep administration cuts to defense, soon to be made worse by sequestration.

On not intervening in the civil wars and internal affairs of Arab nations

“The U.S. military has performed valiantly and brilliantly in Iraq. Our troops have done all that we have asked them to do and more. But no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else’s civil war, nor settle the grievances in the hearts of the combatants.” (2007).

Syria is currently in “somebody else’s” civil war in which the Assad dictatorship, Hezbollah militias, and Iranian volunteers are battling al-Qaeda affiliates, the Free Syrian Army, and various unknown coalitions of Assad opponents.

On the need for obtaining congressional authorization

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action. As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J.Res.23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.” In response to a question “In what circumstances would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? … The notion that as a consequence of that [2002 Congressional] authorization, the president can continue down a failed path without any constraints from Congress whatsoever is wrong and is not warranted by our Constitution.” (2007)

The president did not ask Congress for authorization for the Libya attack. He just flip-flopped and plans to ask permission from Congress to bomb Syria, but indicated that he might bomb anyway should they say no. Neither Libya nor Syria posed an “imminent threat.”

Dr. Barack and Mr. Hyde

So why is there such a disconnect between what Obama once declared and what he subsequently professed? There are four explanations, none of them mutually exclusive:

A. Candidate Obama had no experience in foreign policy and has always winged it, now and then recklessly sounding off when he thought he could score cheap points against George Bush. As president, he still has no idea of how foreign policy is conducted, and thus continues to make things up as he goes along, often boxing himself into a corner with serial contradictions. Trying to discern any consistency or pattern in such an undisciplined mind is a futile exercise: what Obama says or does at any given moment usually is antithetical to what he said or did on a prior occasion. He is simply lost and out of his league.

B. Candidate Obama has always been an adroit demagogue. He knew how to score political points against George Bush, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain, without any intention of abiding by his own sweeping declarations. The consistency in Obama’s foreign policy is his own carefully calibrated self-interest. Bombing or not bombing, shutting down or keeping open Guantanamo Bay, going or not going to the UN or the U.S. Congress — these choices are all predicated not on principle, but only on what a canny and unprincipled Obama feels best suits his own political interests and self-image at any given moment. In a self-created jam, he flipped and now goes to Congress in hopes of pinning responsibility on them, whether we go or not, whether successful or unsuccessful if we do.  He is a quite clever demagogue.

C. Obama is a well-meaning and sincere naïf, but a naïf nonetheless. He really believed the world prior to 2009 worked on the premises of the Harvard Law School lounge, Chicago organizing, and Rev. Wright’s Church — or least should have worked on such assumptions. Then when Obama took office, saw intelligence reports, and assumed the responsibilities of our highest office, he was shocked at the dangerous nature of the world! There was no more opportunity for demagoguery or buck-passing, and he had to become serious. In short, it is easy to criticize without power, hard with it to make tough decisions and bad/worse choices.  He is slowly learning.

D. Obama is the first president who genuinely feels U.S. exceptionalism and power were not ethically earned and should be in an ethical sense ended. As a candidate, he consistently undermined current U.S. foreign policy at a time of two critical wars; as president, he has systematically forfeited U.S. authority and prestige. There is no inconsistency: whatever makes the traditional idea of the U.S as a superpower weaker, Obama promotes; whatever enhances our profile, he opposes. He is often quite angry at what could be called traditional America — seen often as a downright mean country here and abroad.

Related: VDH talks with veteran Chicago radio host Milt Rosenberg at Milt’s new perch at Ricochet.com, in a 46-minute podcast.

(Artwork based on an image originally photographed by spirit of america / Shutterstock.com.)

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Top Rated Comments   
"Obama is a well-meaning and sincere naïf, but a naïf nonetheless." To Victor Davis Hanson. How the hell can you say he is sincere and well meaning? You are supposed to be a well read and intelligent writer who has been watching this insincere fool just like the rest of us who read a lot of what you write. He hates this country and its now totally eroded traditional Judeo-Christian ethics. He has done all he can to ruin our economy, our healthcare and has made fools of us to the rest of the world. What the hell are you thinking?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The hypocrisy is so stunning that it infuriates his critics and stuns his supporters."

I respectfully disagree. If hypocrisy was a problem for Obama's base, he'd still be hustling walking around money in South Side.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
**Candidate Obama has always been an adroit demagogue**
__________________

This doesn't go far enough. Obama is an arrogant ideological thug. He likes to throw his weight around. The distance between Obama and Third-World thugs is not that great.

Being an arrogant thug works against worms like the Republicans in Congress, but not so much against other thugs or even the rest of the world, which only laughs in response.

But as an ideologue, besides being a thug, there is a method to his madness. He is not all self-centered, all about his own self-engrandizement. He also wants to tear down existing traditional structures and rebuild the world as a leftist paradise.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (88)
All Comments   (88)
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I have a former high school classmate who was upset because Obama didn't follow through on closing Gitmo. All I could think of was that she voted for a man who wouldn't even make a good dog catcher. He is one of the biggest liars that I have ever seen but the MSM won't call him on it unless one of their own is involved. This guy has an agenda but it involves tearing down the U.S. so I go with (D).
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
There used to be a very popular phrase:

“Management by Objective”

We could reasonably expect Government by Objective.

Instead, we have government as a mode of Expression, particularly Self-Expression.

Actions taken by governments for Self-Expression, without so much as a general objective or set of objectives, are totally dysfunctional from initiation, throughout their undertaking, and necessarily in their results.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama is little more than an old fashioned international leftist. In the shower he sings "The Internationale," and while shaving he recites old Bolshevic and Stalinist slogans. The only complication is his Muslim identity. Throughout the day he surreptitiously checks his watch to see if it is time to say a silent prayer to Allah. If it is inconvenient to face Mecca at the time, well that is not too much to sacrifice to expediency, and he can usually face Moscow instead.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
"He is often quite angry at what could be called traditional America ..."

Darn right...
Obamao despises:

1) Christians
2) business men (especially successful ones, unless they donate to him)
3) little old lady tea partiers
4) anyone who dares to disagree with him or ask him difficult questions during an interview
5) that guy who made that hateful video that made Islam look bad
6) anyone who speaks the truth
7) anyone who understands the constitution, and who supports limted government for the people
8) anyone who owns guns
9) probably Ben Carson, for embarrassing him at the national prayer breakfast, and illustrating how large the deficit is getting
10) George Zimmerman
11) bitter clingers
12) people who didn't build their own business, but who benefited from the government's initiative and omnipotence
13) Children who would like to come and tour the WH

He is a sleazy opportunist, perhaps the most successful ever, thanks to the moral rot and cowardice and willful blindness of a large segment of this nation.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
"He is a sleazy opportunist..."
Too mild...
He is a criminal. I hope Benghazi is his undoing. The bastard lied to us, and to the parents and families of the men who were killed there. The fact that he is the president must be the hand of God preparing judgement to be poured out upon this nation... may the people repent as His fierce wrath comes upon us.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think this is all part of Obamas plan to diminish the US on the world stage.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let's speculate a bit. Suppose JCS told him NO, no strikes without Congressional authority?
Remember Joint Chiefs are on their last tours, already have four stars and well over the 30 years needed for max pension. Certainly, even if it never becomes public, some or all will be fired (Which would advertise the coup), but they have nothing to loose!!! They would become the darling of the Constitutionalists and be fetted and employed, for years to come.
Actually, it could be a good career choice. lol.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
A refusal by JCS? Hard to imagine. Are these unimaginable times? - Yes. The four stars tasking their JAG officers for guidance? From the same lot of lawyers that ran the manning and hasan debacles? Valid or informed, patriotic advice back?

Are there now any flag officers ready to fall on their own swords for the troops entrusted to their commands? I doubt it. Will check the milblogs, but careerists, they all are. In fairness, even the best wear down.

Am reassured that so many commenters see that the moron-in-chief is not truly "sincere" , cannot learn, - - -.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Learning? What's our evidence of that?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting. I'm inclined toward option D for downsizing "Amerika." As I recall, Bush one, leading up to the first gulf war, remarked that, regardless of congressional approval, Sadam is being forcefully evicted from Kuwait, which certainly wasn't driven by an option D mind set. Seems to me the the president's proposed Syrian fling is based primarily on option D, which better explains his past behavior, while all the other options are just second order causation.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama "mouth twerks" so well. He's a twerk teller.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Over 100,000 human beings brutally murdered in sub-Saharan Africa since Obama became president and not a "peep" from this administration.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Do you mean the farm murders?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sudan? Chad? ...?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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