President Barack Obama was elected last November to bring change to America’s governing establishment and end our senseless foreign wars.
However, Clinton administration retreads populate the Obama administration through and through. There has been no scaling back of the intrusive and controversial government measures the Bush administration enacted such as the Patriot Act or FISA, no less spending, and no less transparency in government. Altogether, the scope of the Obama administration looks remarkably similar to the Bush administration.
The one area where it was suggested that there might be a change is the one area where we see the most consistency: foreign policy.
Despite all the best efforts of the Republican Party hacks and talk radio bobbleheads in 2008, Barack Obama is not an isolationist, not willing to “surrender” in the “War on Terror” and perfectly willing to use the American military with the same aloofness as his predecessor.
Take, for example, President Obama’s pledge to remove American combat troops from Iraq by August 2010. That pledge comes with a caveat: 50,000 are staying. This is not the same as American generals staying in Saigon until the Communists were breaking down the door. This is no residual force.
If as many as 50,000 American troops are staying in Iraq to train the local army and police forces, then they will inevitably be called upon to continue fighting all of the warring elements in Iraq. If post-2010 Iraq descends into rampant violence again, what is to stop President Obama from sending more American troops back to Iraq? By keeping one foot in the door, he leaves open the probability that he will have to bring the other one back in as well. It is not as though American troops are leaving the region.
And what exactly is the withdrawal plan for this “residual force” of 50,000 troops? If the plan is for the end of 2011, why keep such a large force there? If I was a cynical guy, I would say that just keeping them there re-opens the possibility that we could be in Iraq for 100 years. What then, would be the difference between President Obama’s plan with these 50,000 troops and John McCain’s plan that would keep some form of military presence in Iraq for 100 years if that’s what it took?
Now let us look at President Obama’s Afghanistan plan. In what could have been as many as 30,000 additional troops, the president settled on sending 17,000 to the graveyard of empires beginning sometime this month.
This plan calls for 17,000 troops, many of whom have already served in Iraq or were trained for duty in Iraq, only to shift them to a completely different theater. Afghanistan, a place probably worse than Iraq, is isolated and highly tribal, whereas Iraq was fairly centralized and comparably united. The military has already acknowledged that Iraq tactics which these soldiers were already trained for will be obsolete in Afghanistan due to the latter's hazardous terrain. Do we have time, in a war about to enter its 8th year, to wage a war by trial-and-error? What will be the reaction of the American people when hundreds of Americans are photographed in flag-draped coffins this year?
And how will the American people react when embattled Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who faces a difficult election this year, might be tempted to cut a deal with a rejuvenated Taliban that controls at least as much of Afghanistan as he does, in order to consolidate power? What will President Obama do then? How will they react when hundreds of young Americans lose their lives for a nation that no longer houses Osama bin Laden but are instead stuck in another inescapable nation-building venture?
If Secretary of War Robert Gates is correct and there is "no military solution for Afghanistan," then why is our military still in Afghanistan?
This does not even cover the drums that are beating for war with Iran. Everyday there is another "new revelation" about Iran’s capability to build the bomb. Everyday there is a new scare tactic employed by the government and the media to convince the American people that there is a nuclear bomb being secretly built in Iran with their name on it. Everyday we are told that our way of life could end in any instant, at the hands of a figurehead in Iran who has no control and barely any support in his own bankrupt country.
Couple all of that with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who as a presidential candidate threatened war on Iran over the security of Israel, is now saying that diplomacy is not likely to work on Iran. What does it mean when the nation’s top diplomat says diplomacy is not expected to work? It’s not that diplomacy might not work on Iran, it’s that it is not even being considered.
Did we really learn nothing from the Iraq debacle? How many "news reports" were we subjected to that Saddam Hussein was behind the anthrax attacks, the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the next nuclear attack?
Hussein at least had weapons of mass destruction in the past, which made the pre-war claims plausible. Ahmadinejad has no weapons, no military, and losing support in his own country. A mountain has been made that they have the capability to launch a satellite. And after all that happened in Iraq, shouldn’t at least an ounce of skepticism be permitted before marching off to war on the drop of a hat?
We have wars that won’t end in Afghanistan and Iraq, we have a war being prepared for in us in Iran, we are firing missiles into Pakistan supposedly intended for Osama bin Laden that kill as many civilians as suspected terrorists.
Considering all the military quagmires, all the negative capital around the world generated from our escapades, the military budget that contributes to the bankrupting of this country, and the fact that bin Laden is still at large, tell me this, what have our military excursions actually done for America?
And what of any of this makes President Obama antiwar?