If Mr. Obama persists in the latter, his already checkered record as commander in chief (sic) may make him... [emphasis added]This statement puzzled me as I wasn't aware of Obama failing in
his duties as Commander-in-Chief in any significant way. Turns out that
Gaffney was complaining about things like the scheduled US withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
This was a withdrawal that President G.W. Bush agreed to after both the
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and presidential candidate Barack
Obama agreed that US troops simply had to leave. The other presidential
candidate, John McCain, grumbled a bit, but agreed with the other three
that the US simply had to leave Iraq. Gaffney comes up with arguments as
to why Obama should turn around and break the agreement made back in
2008, such as: Iraqis may have changed their minds and might want US
troops to remain, the neighboring country of Iran essentially ends up as
the victor of the Iraq War and "the immense investment we have made in
lives and treasure" will have been wasted.
Problem is, all of these drawbacks were obvious in 2008 when the
agreement to pull out was made. The only possible exception is that
Gaffney suggests that Iraqis may have changed their minds on US troops
leaving Iraq, but that seems highly unlikely and Gaffney doesn't provide
any kind of proof by linking to anything that might constitute
evidence. Remember, Muntadhar al-Zeidi
"gained cult status" by hurling his shoes at G.W. Bush, a sign of great
disrespect in Arab culture. If it was a popular idea for US troops to
remain there, why would al-Zeidi's shoe-tossing have been such a big
So Gaffney is calling Obama weak on national defense because he is
refusing to break an agreement that was agreed to by the four principal
players in the situation several years ago.
the valor of our troops and others
trying to build a 21st-century nation (Afghanistan) out of a backward
sixth-century tribal/Islamist entity which sounds really wonderful, but what's the likelihood of
success when the US has less than one percent of its population that's
actively engaged in that project? There is absolutely nothing in our
popular culture about this struggle. There is no modern-day equivalent
of the Rudyard Kipling novel Kim
, that was written in 1900 about the Great Game
in Afghanistan and was widely popular in Britain. What popular movies,
TV series, magazines or even websites are concerned with the wars in
either Iraq or Afghanistan? It's not that no one is aware of the
fighting over there, but when the information on those two wars are
presented only to a small and select audience and when soldiers who are
taking part in it are on their third or fourth or even fifth or sixth
tours of duty, which even in 2008
, were getting pretty exhausting, I just don't see that Americans in general are engaged.
Looking at the polls, it's far from clear that Americans citizens even approve of our troops being over there to start with. PollingReport.com quotes the AP-GfK Poll of May 5-9 of 2011 to say that 59%
of the public opposes the war in Afghanistan, 80% approve of the
official plan to leave there and 57% think the pace of the withdrawal is
With the Republican Party making all sorts of noise about the US overspending and insisting that Congress can't even deliver on disaster relief
unless Democrats agree to still further cuts in the budget, I just
can't see US citizens agreeing that the project of building Afghanistan
into a modern nation is something that they feel any real or serious
Sorry, but the question is not "How ignominious will be our defeat," but "who cares?"
"Then there is Mr. Obama's first 'elective war,'" i.e., Libya. I
generally agree with Gaffney's lack of enthusiasm and have lots of
reservations on that war myself, but one item I don't have the
slightest concern over is that Mr. Obama has tried to limit the costs
and offload responsibility for this fiasco onto the French, British and
other NATO allies.
That's precisely as it should be. If we're going to be involved
over there to begin with, why on Earth would it be a problem for the US
to have allies in the effort? The US has far more buy-in and approval
from not only NATO countries, but from neighboring Arab and Muslim
countries than G.W. Bush did not have before the invasion of Iraq.
For some odd reason, Gaffney identifies the following as a problem:
In his speech last week to what he
calls "the Muslim world," the president made it U.S. policy to support
whoever manages to get elected in the various nations of North Africa
and the Middle East currently undergoing political upheavals.Uh, more idealistic Americans might refer to that as "supporting
democracy," which, as far as I'm aware, is something that Americans
generally endorse. If the US is going to ignore existing political
groups, then the only option for carrying out various political projects
is to implement them via military occupation. As I pointed out above
with Afghanistan, that's really not an option at all. If the US doesn't
work with local groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, then the US is free
to pack up its things and go home. Regardless of how many problems US
policymakers might have with the Muslim Brotherhood, the option of
working without them or around them simply doesn't exist.
Gaffney appears to believe that the US is an energetic and ascendant
empire that has unlimited resources that it can commit to the various
projects it has going on in the Mideast. Sorry, but that's what G.W.
Bush believed as well and his invasion of Iraq rapidly turned into a
No, I don't agree that President Obama has a "checkered record as
commander-in-chief (sic)," I think President Obama has played a so-so
poker hand about as well as it can be played given the realities on the
ground over there and with US public opinion.
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