War Prez

by lizard

Obama is now a commander-in-chief responsible for launching/continuing varying degrees of military actions in six nations: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. As this reckless, expansionist president continues to stretch our dwindling national resources to play the hegemonic chess game for global spoils, he plays the still-jocular domestic pussycat at home, saying silly things like how he hopes the Republicans will act responsibly regarding the debt-ceiling theatrics we’re being subjected to. This from Mother Jones:

During a White House press conference on Wednesday, the president declined to get into a food fight with Republicans playing chicken with the debt ceiling negotiations. Repeatedly, he noted that he expected GOP leaders to act responsibly. He did not lambast House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the GOP representatives to the in-limbo talks led by Vice President Joe Biden, for storming out of the negotiations because the White House insists that any deficit reduction plan include revenue boosters, not just spending cuts. “Call me naive,” he said, “but my expectation is that leaders are going to lead.”

No, Mr. President, we could have called you naive the first half-dozen times the Republicans bitch-slapped you. Now I’m beginning to wonder if you’re over-medicated.

It’s too bad the only arena Obama has shown any actual resolve is the War arena, and even there it’s tellingly selective. An American born cleric in Yemen deserves to be assassinated while the apartheid state of Israel that actually murders American citizens gets a disgusting standing ovation from Congress when its prime minister appears to, again, bitch-slap the president on national television.

Bush’s third term has become nauseating. Total immunity for war crimes and constant, pernicious expansion. Syria, Lebanon, Iran, who knows what nation will be next in our imperial crosshairs.

Does any of this make us more safe? Hell no, quite the opposite. It only inspires more hatred and makes competing world powers who will do no better gain more traction while worsening the domestic landscape and paving the way for the totally improbable return of the GOP.

endless global warfare is the ultimate challenge of our time. In that regard, Obama has matched and in some places exceeded the crimes of the Bush regime. How absolutely discouraging to see this president protect criminals while going after true patriots.

I wish Elizabeth Warren would break out of the cage Obama put her in (he gave William Daley the keys) and hook up with Feingold to rattle this imperialist from his war pulpit. Virtually impossible? Yeah, but it’s a beautiful day, and a kid can still dream in America…right?

  1. I am *not* saying that you’re wrong, but I remain skeptical about hanging the tag of ‘expansionist’ around a President who is carrying on military operations preceded by other Presidents. It doesn’t mean at all that he’s doing the right thing. I’m just wondering if your assuming aggressive agenda in lieu of weakness. Probably much more could be discussed here.

    Virtually impossible? Yeah,

    No, It really isn’t. And I remain wondering why those who desperately want such a thing remain convinced that it can’t happen. Feingold argued that people-powered candidates can (and must) defeat establishment candidates. But I can’t find any credible PAC willing to recruit and fund such a candidate against Obama. Not even Feingold himself. The only officially announced exploratory to primary Obama has come from Evan Beyh, and that got dropped like a hot rock when he took his lobbying gig. I guess where you and I agree is that an accomplishment is virtually impossible if no one is willing to work for it. And no, I’m not terribly happy about that from either angle.

    Here’s the deeper problem, though. Liberals/leftists/progressives/Democrats are caught in something of a Catch 22. Morally speaking, we as a nation have been killing people since WWII for very poor reasons. Even during the Vietnam fiasco, the electorate didn’t seem to get that very simple point. Now, for 4 years, we have been making the argument that eternal war is bankrupting the country. The electorate hasn’t seemed to get that point either. And the moral argument has now been undercut by the economic one. We all recognize that what is first and foremost on the minds of voters is jobs (the economy in general). When it suits purpose we cry that to the high heavens. So do the Republicans./wingnuts/right actually. It really is what people care about, yes? No moral argument can hold traction against what doesn’t concern and effect people. They won’t care about the poor reasons we kill folk. They want prosperity in their time and peace becomes an afterthought. An anti-war candidate simply won’t have the chops to get elected unless they can make the argument that less war brings more jobs. Just ask Ron Paul.

    Despite what some ’round these parts might think, I’m pretty unhappy with Barack Obama and have been since about February of ’09. He should have been making the economic argument for troop and resource reduction since day one. I knew he would escalate Afghanistan and Pakistan; he said as much in the campaign. But his rhetoric hasn’t matched reality, and we should be unhappy. Here we are in 2011 trying to argue that a reduction of our military spending would result in a rosier economic picture and at the same time trying to argue that reducing the deficit/debt is a “smokescreen”. No, it really isn’t. Cessation of endless war is precisely the deficit reduction we want, but are arguing isn’t the actual point, when it is. Obama started that divide in perception and we’ve kept it up until it now bites us in the ass. There’s a young company here in the Gallatin valley that makes back-packs. They struggled until 2005(?) when they got a military contract for field packs. They’ve grown and hired since that point. I don’t mean to be a smart ass, but how do you think those folk are going to react to the moral argument of military drawdown? I’m thinking “not well”. Regardless of any of their political leanings, if Feingold stands up and tells them “I’m going to kill your job”, they’ll vote Obama or Bachmann or anyone who speaks to their concerns. The moral argument against war won’t matter. Catch 22.

    • lizard19

      welcome to the conversation. and i’m glad to see you’ve got a principle of your own to champion.

      i ran across this piece at Counterpunch today, titled “Stealth Bill to Approve Libyan War Defeated.”

      i really recommend reading it. it looks like the administration is trying to rush congressional authorization through two bills that failed a week ago. the bills masqueraded as “anti-war” bills, but Ron Paul called bullshit. Here’s what he said, from the article:

      Mr. Speaker I rise to oppose this legislation, which masquerades as a limitation of funds for the president’s war on Libya but is in fact an authorization for that very war.

      According to HR 2278, the US military cannot be involved in NATO’s actions in Libya, with four important exceptions. If this passes, for the first time the president would be authorized to use US Armed Forces to engage in search and rescue; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; aerial refueling; and operational planning against Libya. Currently, absent an authorization or declaration of war, these activities are illegal. So instead of ending the war against Libya, this bill would legalize nearly everything the president is currently doing there.

      That the war in Libya can be ended by expanding it and providing the president a legal excuse to continue makes no sense. If this bill fails, the entirety of what the president is doing in Libya would remain illegal.

      Additionally, it should not really be necessary to prohibit the use of funds for US military attacks on Libya because those funds are already prohibited by the Constitution. Absent Congressional action to allow US force against Libya any such force is illegal, meaning the expenditure of funds for such activities is prohibited. I will, however, support any straight and clean prohibition of funds such as the anticipated amendments to the upcoming Defense Appropriations bill.

      I urge my colleagues to reject this stealth attempt to authorize the Libya war and sincerely hope that the House will soon get serious about our Constitutional obligations and authority.

      Obama made a BIG mistake acting so cavalier with this “weeks not months” (or was it days not weeks?) war.

      i’m curious, Rob, would you vote for an alternative to Obama in the primary?

      • Evan Bayh? No. Who have you got?

        • lizard19

          i would direct you to the last paragraph of the post. and if you remember, you’ve asked me who my alternative to Obama would be before, and i said the same.

        • My response was too curt. Apologies.

          My brother has pronounced that he has joined a grouping of folks who will vote the person, not the party. My only question is “what took you so long”? I’ve believed that for many years, many many years. It is a fib spread widely that I am the defender of the Democratic party because I believe in partisanship, and Party politics. I vote mostly Democratic because they are mostly the better choice to vote for. And hell yes, I believe in partisanship. If you’re for something, you’re generally against something else. That’s just the way it works. As for Party politics, it is a false assumption that to recognize the function of a machine is to ‘support’ it. It’s the machinery we have to work with. Isn’t it at all ironic that a political party (the Green party) has tried to gain credibility by denouncing others as supporting ‘party politics’?

          That in mind, the answer to your question is “yes”, I would vote for an alternative to Obama in primary or general *IF* I thought several things could happen. 1) They would have to profess the will to carry out much (notice, not all) of what I want to see for the future of the country. That leaves out most every Republican save maybe Ron Paul, and he’s not altogether sane. 2) They would have to have the political capital to actually do what they say they would do. That leaves out pretty much all third party candidates and Ron Paul. 3) Their rhetoric would have to match their actions. (There is a reason I thought John Edwards was a snake. I’ve laughed at taking insult when pointing out to supporters that I was right. His “two Americas” ideal was factual but irrelevant. We lived in one, and he lived in another.) Here’s where I can up the ante on my brother. I will vote the person, not the ideal, of which “party” is just a form. Neither in the White House or in Congress have I ever been represented by an ideal, nor have I ever expected to be. That leaves out most Democratic pretenders. 4) They will have to have the wherewithal to actually achieve an electoral victory. For me, that leaves 3 choices, 2 weaker than the one. Russ Feingold, who nails 1 and 3, but remains weak on 4 and deeply uncertain on 2. He’d have to run one helluva campaign, and I just didn’t see a will to take that road at NN. Senator Al Franken would be my absolute first choice for President. He passes 1, 2 and 3 with flying colors, but 4 is suspect. And to be honest, I prefer him in the Senate. The only candidate who could carry all 4 of my criteria is Governor/Doctor Howard Dean. I certainly didn’t get the sense that he’s willing to run either.
          One of those principles you find surprising that I have is something I’ve been writing for a long time. The President is the executor of the people’s will, as Figurehead, CiC and Chief Secretary of departmental Secretaries. What he is not is the dictator of the people’s will. That would be Congress, and I’ve found it craven for years that the ‘bad guys’ have been able to convince us all that we should focus on the President as our Supreme Executive Power. That’s probably a discussion for another time.

    • ochenski

      Rob –

      What’s the name of the backpack company?

      • I don’t remember. It was from a Chronicle article, I believe a couple of years ago, in the business section. At that time they were posting many articles about Montana companies that were ‘doing okay’ in the bad economy due to war production. I trust you have access to better resources in looking it up than I do.

  2. Jesse Homs

    You left out Colombia under the pseudonym ” War on Drugs”. Also, Bahrain, where the fifth fleet is docked, has been under brutal repression with Saudis doing US business. Make it 8?

    The war making is to be expected. The Arab spring threatens US backed dictators (Egypt has come alive again, seeing that there has been no real change.) The “killing” of the long-dead Osama signaled a shifting of resources as it became apparent that “stability” was threatened. In Libya, Qaddafi had tried to shake down the oil companies. In Yemen, we want the thug to stay in power. Afghanistan, which is really all about Pakistan, is seen as something that can be back-burnered until the other uprisings are put down. (Oh yeah, and Syria – that uprising is a good uprising, and so gets news coverage.)

    But I think your fatal failing at this point, L, is to fantacize that we affect foreign policy by electoral politics. The president is more like the Queen than an actual decider. It is important, for sake of domestic tranquility, that we believe him to be in charge. But if you cannot see by looking at US foreign policy say just from 1989 to present that it is consisten, unaffected by elections, then you are not thinking it through. Bush did not decide to invade Iraq, Obama has no say about Libya or any other war going on. His only job is to sell it to the public. He’s not very good at his job, is he.

    • lizard19

      i entertain all kinds of speculation, Mark. don’t presume that what i post is the extent of what i think.

      • Jesse Homs

        I’d be curious to know, then, what you think. If I am unable to access your thoughts via your words, what exchange currency do we have? I’m always curious when I am told that I have read too much into someone’s words whether the words were even worth reading. Why should I bother if you’re holding back?

        • lizard19

          i don’t discount the notion that behind-the-scenes elites set the agenda, and presidents follow. the continuity of US imperialism does seem to indicate a shared consensus unaffected by party affiliation.

          but if that consensus does exist, i would think it’s tenuous and subject to the same economic stressors that are currently causing unrest in places like Greece.

          the flailing US economy is the main reason our plethora of military engagements are becoming unpalatable to the public; if we were more economically secure, i doubt the broader electorate would really give a shit about who we were bombing.

          but right now there is a strange space that has been created to address the audacious claim made by the president that the war powers act doesn’t apply because what’s happening with NATO in Libya does NOT constitute “hostilities”.

          i’d like to see that space exploited, and another lawless president forced to experience the consequences of his actions.

          whether or not they are truly “his” actions, at this point, doesn’t really interest me.

          • Jesse Homs

            Got it. So when we talk about foreign policy, we say “The President” is doing this and that as mere shorthand. We know it’s not him, just as we know that when they say on the news that “The White House said…” that the building doesn’t talk.

            There is confusion around the idea that the president does not make decisions, as when I say that it is an elite consensus and he is merely the face that sells it on TV, it somehow drifts into conspiracy talk, that is, as if events are planned. But events are still the product of planning and subject to randomness. Planning is ongoing and flexible. No one foresaw the Arab Spring. The US is being forced into these wars. It’s events dictating planning.

            On the other hand, the invasion of Iraq was on the table from at least 1989 forward, so it was planned. But no one in power forsaw the indigenous resistance that followed. They thought they could just overthrow the Baathists, install a puppet government, and let the oilies have their playground. So that war was both planned and random as hell.

            However, if electoral politics has no influence on planning (other than perhaps affecting timing), and you know this, why do you write of Obama as if he is making decisions? If it were President McCain, nothing would be different.

  3. Ingemar Johansson

    I’d like to thank the anti-war left for one thing.

    The assassination of OBL.

    No re-opening of closing Gitmo wounds, no high profile show trial with pink clad protesters.

    Couldn’t risk a slam bam thank ya ma’am war tribunal either, or even worse yet, more water board success stories.

    • Jesse Homs

      You, on the other hand, should consider holding back those thoughts. There isn’t much there there.

  4. Ingemar Johansson

    Since it certainly looks like I killed this poat, I’m really going to digress.

    You libs might want to keep the kids inside during the 4th.

    Quote: Democratic political candidates can skip this weekend’s July 4th parades. A new Harvard University study finds that July 4th parades energize only Republicans, turn kids into Republicans, and help to boost the GOP turnout of adults on Election Day.”Fourth of July celebrations in the United States shape the nation’s political landscape by forming beliefs and increasing participation, primarily in favor of the Republican Party,” said the report from Harvard……..

    …….Their findings also suggest that Democrats gain nothing from July 4th parades, likely a shocking result for all the Democratic politicians who march in them.

    “There is no evidence of an increased likelihood of identifying as a Democrat, indicating that Fourth of July shifts preferences to the right rather than increasing political polarization,” the two wrote.

    Also from the Harvard study:

    The three key findings of those attending July 4th celebrations:

    *When done before the age of 18, it increases the likelihood of a youth identifying as a Republican by at least 2 percent.

    *It raises the likelihood that parade watchers will vote for a Republican candidate by 4 percent.

    *It boosts the likelihood a reveler will vote by about 1 percent and increases the chances they’ll make a political contribution by 3 percent.

    • Jesse Homs

      A post that centers around the futility of the American electoral system in influencing public policy degrades to this? Go pop your firecrackers.

    • JC

      Ah, more from the white picket fence crowd.

      Now I know why I never go to 4th of July parades–at least not one’s on Main Street.

      • lizard19

        if you want to read a dark short story about the fourth of July, Weldon Kees is your man. what’s astounding is this story was written in the early fifties (maybe late forties). Kees is an interesting character; i need to focus on just him for one of my WPS posts.

  5. swede- barnum & bailey welcomes you under their big tent….

  6. We’ve been having similar conversations elsewhere, liz. President Obama has been nothing short of Lincolnian in his first term. Let’s let him finish his sentence before we condemn him to the dustbin.

    Your post fell short of the plate; push for a Paul/Kucinich ticket if you really want to throw a curveball at the electorate in 2012.

    • Statehood for Mexico.

    • lizard19

      nice baseball metaphor. i don’t know what game we’re playing, and apparently neither do some stalwarts of progressive accountability, like Kucinich, because for whatever reason he voted to cover the president for Libya with the stealth authorization bill that failed. apparently no one is clean in this clusterfuck of commodified governance we got going.

      letting Obama finish means letting him do what he’s been doing since getting (s)elected; keeping the big donors happy, while tossing scraps here and there to the base.

      if the (still) highly improbable scenario of Obama being defeated by whatever crackerjack candidate the GOP inflates with corporate cash actually happens, then we’re so far down the rabbit hole, any hope of an electoral realignment is basically zilch.

  7. Ingemar Johansson

    Besides not watching any fireworks or parades you’ll probably want to skip this too.

  8. lizard19


    What is Nato doing in Libya? Drive through any town in rebel-held Libya and the slogans from the early days of Nato’s offensive are plain to see. “Thank you USA, Britain, France”, “Thank you Nato”. The graffiti is a reminder of the moment when airstrikes prevented Muammar Gaddafi’s tanks from overrunning the rebellion in Benghazi. But three months later that sentiment is evaporating. Last month, at a rebel outpost in the Nafusa mountains, in western Libya, this was very much in evidence. Gaddafi has been shelling the town of Nalut for weeks, and rebels on the mountain tops can see the launchers in plain view. They say they pass the co-ordinates to Nato, but these are rarely used.

    According to them, on one occasion a Nato jet was actually overhead while a launcher fired, but did nothing. A rebel commander asked: “What is Nato doing about the shelling from Gaddafi? A girl was orphaned here because Nato isn’t helping. It’s all talk and no action, the revolutionaries have lost confidence in Nato, it’s clear that they are serving their own interests.”

    hearts and minds and saved civilians? or killing Ghaddafi along with a few of his grandkids?

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