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Works and Days

War Was Interested in Obama

June 15th, 2014 - 1:35 pm

 

obama_trotsky_6-15-14-1

Leon Trotsky probably did not quite write the legendary aphorism that “you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” But whoever did, you get the point that no nation can always pick and choose when it wishes to be left alone.

Barack Obama, however, never quite realized that truth, and so just declared that “the world is less violent than it has ever been.” He must have meant less violent in the sense that the bad guys are winning and as they do, the violence wanes — sort of like Europe around March 1941, when all was relatively quiet under the new continental Reich.

One of Obama’s talking points in the 2012 campaign included a boast that he had “ended” the war in Iraq by bringing home every U.S. soldier that had been left to ensure the relative quiet and stability after the successful Petraeus surge. In the world of Obama, a war can be declared ended because he said so, given that no Americans were any longer directly involved. (Remind the ghosts of the recently beheaded in now al Qaeda-held Mosul that the war ended there in 2011.)

Iraq is in flames, as is “lead from behind” Libya, as is “red line” Syria, and as are those places where an al Qaeda “on the run” has migrated. Had Obama been commander in chief in 1940, he would have assured us that the wars in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and France were “over” — as they were in a sense for those who lost them, but as they were not for those next in line.

Of course, the Maliki government owns most of the blame for the spreading destruction of Iraq. Its retrograde exclusion of Sunnis from meaningful government helped to offer a fertile landscape to a resurgent al Qaeda. Now in extremis he seeks U.S. help. But Maliki’s pathetic past chauvinistic posturing over the status of forces agreement made it easy for Obama to pull out. (Hint to former U.S. clients: never horse-trade with Barack Obama over a needed U.S. military presence by threatening to eject all Americans; he will gladly call your bluff and leave every time.)

What, then, happened to Joe Biden’s boast that Iraq “could be one of the great achievements of this administration”? Biden said this after the successful Bush-Petraeus surge (that he had opposed and declared a failure) had ensured a relatively quiet country when Obama assumed office.

We know the predictable Obama script for Afghanistan. He “ended” that conflict too, or at least he will have by 2016. His habit in that accordion war was to contextualize every surge, escalation, or new operation in Afghanistan by promising a date when we would leave or deescalate. Behind the recent quietude in drone missions and the Bergdahl swap, we see Obama at work “ending” the war in the following actions: We talk with the Taliban; we deliver to them their bloodiest cutthroats (captured at a cost in American blood and treasure); and we wink that we will not be so offensive-minded as in the past.

In exchange, the Taliban promise to behave and dial down their barbarism until we “end” the war and are gone. Then, like Saigon in 1975, all hell breaks lose and the executions begin. How odd: we went into a chaotic Libya to stop the killing and were about to go into bloody Syria to stop the killing — and left a quiet Iraq to ensure it.

So older Americans who remember 1975 will recognize the outlines of the looming Afghan tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of refugees will head out of the country. Millions camped on hillsides will want to reach the U.S. Afghanistan has no seacoast, so we will not be able to call the escapees “boat people.” Ending two wars will mean that our allies would lose both and eventual enemy satiation with defeat and mass-scale murdering would ensure closure.

Remember Libya? War was interested in Obama as well in Libya. “Leading from behind” did not mean that we were not at war or that we did not in the off hours bomb the Gaddafites or violate the UN resolutions by going well beyond “humanitarian aid” and a “no-fly zone.” Islamic chaos followed and continues. Whatever we were doing in Benghazi, it was supposedly not war. Yet al Qaeda not only butchered our diplomatic personnel, but also used their cell phones to boast of the fact.  So we jailed a video maker and thus that war too was brought to a close.

War was sort of interested in Obama in Syria. But he ended that conflict when he promised to bomb Bashar Assad’s gassers, and then not so much.

The looming crisis with a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran is over too. We dropped tough sanctions, agreed to talk while centrifuges spun, and more or less took off the table any thought of military preemption. The result was Obama ended the tensions, and will leave it to others to deal with a theocratic bomb.

Perhaps war in the South China Sea is interested in Obama, given that he most certainly is not interested in it. But trying to negotiate down U.S. nuclear strategic strength with Vladimir Putin (who does not, as we do, have clients who could easily become nuclear but choose not to because of U.S. strategic guarantees) and lecturing China enough to antagonize it without much else have all our friends worried. Either we redouble our efforts to assure Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Australia of our unshakeable resolve to protect them, or they will either eventually go nuclear or make the necessary arrangements with an ascendant China.

Resetting Russia was a euphemism for dismantling what meager punishments we had imposed on Putin for invading Georgia. Consequently, reset ended whatever conflict we had with Vladimir Putin. And because the Crimea and Ukraine are “far off distant places” — as are the Baltic states — Obama has assured us that those conflicts are now over as well.

The war on terror?

Obama ended that as well. He fought the first battles with the powerful weapon of euphemism. Terror ended when we simply renamed it “workplace violence” or “man caused disasters” involving “overseas contingency operations.” The Islamic component vanished as well, when NASA announced a new effort to reassure Muslims that we recognized their illustrious scientific past, when James Clapper rebranded the Muslim Brotherhood as largely secular, and when John Brennan assured us that jihad was almost anything other than the use of violence to further the spread of Islamic fundamentalism.

Obama won the second phase of the war on terror by shrugging that stuff happens in the Middle East. It sure does. And now that war is winding down there too, as al Qaeda annexes petro-cities, loots banks, and dismantles nation states. (Obama made health care work when he pronounced the Affordable Care Act successful, solved the IRS scandal when he declared it without a “smidgeon” of scandal, fixed the VA mess by expressing his outrage, and ended the problem with the Bergdahl swap by characterizing it as another Washington drama of much to do about nothing.)

As far as war and peace go, closure for Obama is when the United States is surrounded by war and confronted with looming conflicts, and yet has ended them all by declaring that we choose not to be interested in any of them. Obama is right about one thing: losing is certainly a way of reducing the violence.

(Artwork created using multiple Shutterstock.com elements.)

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Top Rated Comments   
Our biggest mistake was letting the Iraqis choose their own government so quickly. We sat on the Germans for awhile and de-Nazified them enough that democracy was able to take hold. We didn't do that in Iraq. We should have imposed a constitution similar to our own on them, and stayed long enough that they would live by it. Instead, we get Maliki and the like, who just exacerbated the Sunni-Shia divide. Banning Islam in the public square a la banning Nazism in Germany might have helped. Sadly, we didn't have any politicians with the eyes to see the problem, the brains to understand it or the balls to fix it.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
What nonsense...really Victor you have not got a clue about how to deal with a President who is a traitor do you? You want to blame his failures on stupidity when failing was not a bug but a feature of his Presidency. HE WANTS THE COUNTRY TO COLLAPSE!!! WRAP YOUR HEAD AROUND THAT AND STOP THINKING THAT HE IS AN IDIOT. The only idiots in the room are those clowns who keep hoping that he isn't as evil as he is.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama ends wars the way a spendaholic ends credit card debt.

Bankruptcy.

The debts aren't paid, they are avoided.

We owed a debt to people we said we were going to help. Obama files for military bankruptcy and declares himself a man who doesn't owe anybody a thing.

Capitulate, surrender, run away. Not exactly the script of a John Wayne movie.

He has made Iran much more powerful. And...just to make sure...he has Kerry make a secret deal to give them billions and nukes.

He has made Russia bolder. They are seizing land, running Syria and playing bagman for Iran.

He has made China more aggressive. The South China Sea is now a test of nerves.

He has expanded al Qaeda. Weakness and fear turn them on. They are in predator mode, prey drive crazed.

He threw open the borders at the precise moment in time he rolled over and played dead with every enemy.

How is that NOT by design and intent?
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (109)
All Comments   (109)
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The Iraq War was never about WMD's, Saddam, Halliburton, or democracy. It was about our geostrategic objective to hold back Iranian Islamic Revolution sweeping over Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and Israel. Borrowing from classical understanding of Niccolo Machiavelli, Iraq War was an indirect war against Iran by occupying its neighbor. Indirect wars are always difficult to legitimize to parents sending children to war. Secondary legitimations are always suspicious because they are used as covers for real objectives, as they are in all indirect wars. As a Viet Nam War vet, the Viet Nam War was also an indirect war against Communist expansion. It was perceived we lost the Viet Nam war when Saigon fell in 1973 but the "Asian Tiger" nations of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea embraced Capitalism not Communism under the barrel of a gun. So we accomplished our strategic objectives in South East Asia, albeit not in South Viet Nam. We don't know yet, but it might be that ISIS and the Sunnis will provide a check against the expansion of the Iranian puppet Maliki Shi'a regime. But appears an unintentional outcome rather than a coherent strateby of the Obama administration. The original geopolitical objectives in Iraq are still sound and vindicate Bush and Cheney. Obama merely inherited those objectives. The test is not if Baghdad falls but whether Obama can hold Iran in check. Despair at the "incompetency" of the Republican Iraq War strategy is premature and misplaced.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bush screwed up when he invaded Iraq, and then mishandled the insurgency. He also screwed up in relying too much on a pure democracy, without insisting on a constitution that guaranteed freedom of religion, protections for minorities, and no state Islamic religion, like exists in Turkey. But he mostly redeemed those errors with the success of the surge (admittedly at great cost), which created several sensible factions, like the Kurds, the Sunni Awakening, and secular anti Iran Shias, and left a fairly stable Iraq, which could have gradually improved. Biden and Obama both praised that new stability and used it to justify the withdrawal. Maliki was not great, but with a US presence he could have been restrained from his worst pro Iranian impulses, and been pressured to work with the other sensible factions.

But then Obama made his collosal error, by completely pulling out of Iraq, before the reforms had fully ste in, and leaving them completely alone, at which point Maliki alienated the other sensible factions, and the insanity took root. And typicall Obama and the dems falsely blamed everything on Bush and Maliki, admitting zero blame for himself.

But I also mistrust the neocons who now want us to go back in. The sensible factions are now gone. Why should we help an Iranian puppet like Maliki, at least without demanding significant reforms from him, and demanding he make peace and reconcile with the sensible factions described above. For now it might be better to just stay out, and let the crazies there kill each other, and only help them when some sensible factions remerge, like what finally happened with Vietnam. Of course maybe sensible factions will never reemerge. If so, just stay out, let them murder each other, and only attack somebody if they attack us. As for the Iraqi refugees, they did not have to support Malikis idiocy, or the present Sunni crazies, so they partly deserve what is happening to them, maybe they will learn from it.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ugh, to be greeted by a photo of that tyrannical Commie bent on destruction of the capitalist system. And then you add a photo of Trotsky, too.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Islam brings hope and comfort to millions of people in my country, and to more than a billion people worldwide. Ramadan is also an occasion to remember that Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind. Islam is a faith that brings comfort to people. It inspires them to lead lives based on honesty, and justice, and compassion. Islam is a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. It's a faith that has made brothers and sisters of every race. It's a faith based upon love, not hate. Mohammad's word has guided billions of believers across the centuries, and those believers built a culture of learning and literature and science. All the world continues to benefit from this faith and its achievements. The Islam that we know is a faith devoted to the worship of one God, as revealed through The Holy Qur'an. It teaches the value and the importance of charity, mercy, and peace.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are completely delusional. Islam is a form of control with no mercy, no meaning and no purpose other then to keep it's foot squarely on the neck of those unfortunate enough to have to live under it's intolerant message. I'm trying to conjure up an "achievement of Islam and finally thought of one; SUICIDE VESTS FOR MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN, Great achievement, eh????
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unfortunately el quaida, the taliban, IIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran did not get the memo. And also explain executing people for herasy, blasphemy, converting from Islam to another religion, preaching another religion in many majority Muslim countries, or Islams abominable treatment of Christians, women and gays. Before you go on about Islam being a religion of peace and love, you had better explain these completely toxic elements.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are either joking or completely delusional. There is nothing at all peaceful or loving about shrouding women beneath the hijab, hacking their genitals, killing them for refusing to marry someone whom is chosen for them, refusing to allow them access to the most basic of human rights, such as an education. There is nothing at all peaceful or loving about killing those who don't subscribe to islam. These people who do these things to others don't deserve to live.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
"You are either joking or completely delusional."

Do a yahoo or google search on a sentence or two and you will see who said all that.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure. Graveyards are often quite peaceful. Islam creates plenty of those.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
AIR FORCE. AIR FORCE. Sorry to shout but what's so hard about this.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
And who do we help, the Iranian crazies who currently dominate the Maliki gov.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Importing German or Korean values isn't a bad thing, though.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
(A reply to F.Beloit's thought on staying decades in Germany or Korea, last post on this thread)
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
I guess not? I guess not.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is sadly true that Obama believes there is power in speech. He is so much more comfortable issuing executive orders. Dealing with enemies that he can't get to submit to mere words on paper is something that will forever remain beyond him.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama is the archetypal victim. It permeates his entire being, and all of his policies are constructed on the foundation of victimhood.

In the Middle East, Obama thinks that he won't be raped if he wears his dress lower and lower. Of course if he wears it too high, it'll be offensive, and someone will have reason to attack him. So lower and lower it goes, and the attacks get larger and stronger.

Pretty soon he'll be wearing a burka, wondering why all those countries just won't leave him alone.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
The gathered Left and its social democratic allies have determined that America and Israel are demonic societies, deserving of total destruction. Read Eric Hobsbawm on Israel for instance. Or why I left the left here: http: http://clarespark.com/2014/05/10/why-i-left-the-left/.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Me ? I am ready ro fight to the LAST Sunni And the LAST Shia. If we run out of them things will run much smoother in Iraq.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
And the rest of the Middle East, for that matter.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
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