Wednesday, December 9, 2009

#179 Obama/Gates and the New Culture of War

Let's return to those two disturbing (to me) paragraphs in the text-version of Obama's AfPak speech last week. Not only has our new President allied himself with the failed policies of the last administration in conducting the Middle-East War--is Robert Gates really a secret Bush/Cheney mole?--but Obama has apparently pledged us to a future and perpetual state of war. The BlogMan hopes he's wrong.

The speech, however, did little to dispel that notion. Before making it, the President and his advisers went under a "cone of silence" about the war for three months for a "review" of its current conduct:

... the review has allowed me to ask the hard questions, and to explore all of the different options along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and with key partners [?]. Given the stakes involved, I owed the American people--and our troops--no less.
And what did this heavy-duty "brain-trust" come up with? A "surge." They might as well have phoned it in. More aggression, occupation. This is the best they could do? Of course the premises dictating the context of the confab were probably all wrong to begin with for any hope of peace. To be fair, Obama has said forever that he would pursue the war in Afghanistan. But then, if so: what was the three-month deliberation all about. There might have been a glimmer--Obama now having seen the blood at his feet and the slough of carnage on the horizon--that he could have taken the right course and get us the hell out. Statim. But no, too much I fear of "Defense" Secretary Bob Gates and General Stan McChrystal--career militarists--in the mix for that.

You can hear them in those two ominous paragraphs of speech-text, which I'll re-quote with emphases added, beginning with:

Let me be clear: none of this will be easy. The struggle against violent extremism will NOT BE FINISHED quickly and it EXTENDS WELL BEYOND Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will be an ENDURING test of our free society, and our LEADERSHIP in the world. and unlike the great power conflicts of and clear lines of division that defined the 20th century, our effort will involve DISORDERLY REGIONS and DIFFUSE ENEMIES.

Watch out you "disorderly" peoples ... we'll send in the troops. And to qualify as "enemies" of America, you don't have to be terribly well-defined. To be a "diffuse" threat is good enough. And then there's the next one:

So as a result, America will have to SHOW OUR STRENGTH in the way that we END WARS and PREVENT CONFLICT. We will have to be NIMBLE and PRECISE in our use of MILITARY POWER. Where al Qaeda and its allies ATTEMPT to establish a foothold--whether in Somalia [has he forgotten total failure there?] or Yemen [?] or ELSEWHERE--they must be CONFRONTED by GROWING PRESSURE and strong partnerships.
Res ipsa loquitur. C'mon ... Can you read the above as anything less than a retro-manifesto of America as Policeman of the World? There can be little doubt that Obama has decided to cinch the mantle of War-President tightly about him. And moreover to take very seriously the "commander" part of Commander in Chief. Just listen to his "military power" being "nimble and precise" and exerting "growing pressure." Sounds like a tactical field-manual. Might as well have been Sun Tsu or Napoleon or Stonewall Jackson on the TV podium last week. I can hear old Stonewall now (from his letters) positing his like-minded kind of military strategy in, eerily, much the same words: "Find the enemy and strike him, invade his country ... move swiftly and strike vigorously ... and always keep the skeer on him."

Too bad it's against the rules of the Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize posthumously. (more)

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