Yesterday, the President of Peace struck again. President Obama spoke to the nation and told us that America will be leaving Afghanistan by a date certain (2016).
So naturally, proponents of killing more of our soldiers in overseas wars had a sad. What was surprising though is some of the places that sadface came from.
When I opened up Google News today, I saw a Washington Post link titled "President Obama continues his retreat from Afghanistan" staring back at me. I thought that for sure it was penned by Post's resident wingbat columnist Jennifer Rubin. So imagine my surprise when I clicked on the link and found out that it was the opinion of the full editorial board of the Post.
The article reads so much like a neocon hit piece that it may well have been authored by Cheney, Rumsfeld, or any of the cast of characters that plunged America into decade-and-a-half-long wars with no planning to bring any war to an end. The Post's editorial uses the right wing neocon language and accusations with such ease that it would be funny if it weren't so tragic. Terming President Obama's foreign policy - specifically his nagging habit of actually ending wars - a failure, the Post's editorial board skips the president's crowning foreign policy achievements such as the end of Osama bin Laden, reducing the world's nuclear arsenal, and disarming a country of chemical weapons without firing a shot.
So what is their focus? Like I said, that nagging insistence of the President Obama that wars and military actions have a definitive end date is really bugging newspapers that make money covering shock-and-awe entertainment style bombing and selling it as "news." As if to quote George W. Bush and his administration's chickenhawks, the Post editors have termed President Obama's focus on bringing our troops home "cut and run."
Mocking the president's willingness to achieve America's objective by means other than the barrel of a gun, the editors opened:
YOU CAN’T fault President Obama for inconsistency. After winning election in 2008, he reduced the U.S. military presence in Iraq to zero. After helping to topple Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, he made sure no U.S. forces would remain. He has steadfastly stayed aloof, except rhetorically, from the conflict in Syria. And on Tuesday he promised to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
With the exception of the gratuitous bashing of the president for not launching military strikes in Syria when American objectives were fulfilled and Syria disarmed of weapons of mass distruction without an invading American force, one might wonder just what exactly is wrong with the United States getting out of decade-long wars or taking on targeted military missions (such as in Libya) which don't go on into perpetuity.
If you are among the vast majority of Americans who think that way, the Post editors have an answer for your puny mind.
what’s remarkable is that the results also have been consistent — consistently bad. Iraq has slid into something close to civil war, with al-Qaeda retaking territory that U.S. Marines once died to liberate. In Syria, al-Qaeda has carved out safe zones that senior U.S. officials warn will be used as staging grounds for attacks against Europe and the United States. Libya is falling apart, with Islamists, secularists, military and other factions battling for control.
That's a lot of words to essentially say that America needs to be involved in every sectarian conflict everywhere on the planet with boots on the ground for as long as those sectarian conflicts last. Well, if not everywhere on the planet, at least places that have oil. Oh, and we need to nation-build.
Obviously, Iraq and Afghanistan didn't already slide down the road of sectarian violence and Al Queda strongholds while American forces were on the ground. Not in the fantasy created by the Post.
And can I just say that I have had it with the flag-wrapping of the chickenhawks in newsrooms who probably have never seen war and will never? The apt point on American soldiers in Iraq isn't so much that they died "to liberate" Iraqis - it is that they died. Despite the fact that the Post's editorial board seems to be under the spell of some Neocon magic potion, most Americans remember that the war in Iraq was based on lies told to us by the same neocons whose boots the Post's current editorial board is drooling over.
Trying to re-ignite that warmongering fervor by appealing to dead marines isn't only a cheap shot at the current Commander in Chief, it is the height of disrespect to every soldier, sailor, marine and airman who left the life or limb in that needless war of choice. It is the Post's seeming demand that more Americans be committed to die there that is unpatriotic, not the President's commitment and actions to finally bring our troops home.
The lion's share of the scorn, though, from the Post editors is directed against the president's decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by 2016.
For years the United States promised to be a partner to a democratic Afghanistan, to help ensure that girls can keep going to school and to lock in the gains that have been won at such a high price by U.S. and other NATO troops. Mr. Obama’s implicit message Tuesday was: “Not so much.” If al-Qaeda can wait out the United States, it may get another chance.
This has to be a back to the future joke right? Wait us out? Is this a Washington Post editorial opinion or George W. Bush campaign literature circa 2004 (or John McCain circa 2008)? Al Queda can always "wait us out", therefore we can never leave, therefore we must have our military occupy wider and wider swaths of land throughout the world. Because we can't have a date certain for withdrawal, or the terrorists will wait us out!
What garbage. We went into Afghanistan, despite the rhetoric, because of one reason: the 9/11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden, trained and coordinated the attack from there. Last time I checked, bin Laden is still dead. Mission accomplished. No, really. And now, as the president committed, we are leaving as carefully as we got in carelessly.
But the neocon Post editorial is nothing if not patronizing.
“Ending wars.” “Nation-building at home.” The “pivot to Asia.” These are popular and attractive slogans, and they make a lot of sense in the abstract. But they don’t necessarily bring peace to a dangerous world, and a president can’t always safely choose which dangers he would rather confront.
Yes, because who knows better how to bring peace to a dangerous world than the people begging for more wars? Certainly not a president under whose watch Al Queda has been splintered, decapitated and severely weakened. Certainly not a president who is slowly but surely cutting down on the danger of a nuclear winter. Certainly not a president who ended the life of the world history's most notorious terrorist.
The president certainly cannot choose which dangers he would confront. But the president can choose not to create more danger like George Bush did in Iraq. Ending wars is no slogan. It is the right thing to do. It is what we need to do in the interest of our national security. The Bush years have conclusively proven that military occupations of other lands is not only a bad way to fight terrorism, but that it is counterproductive. Diplomacy, targeted operations, and intelligence are the tools of the battle we are fighting, along with the power of our ideals.
There is nothing abstract about ending wars or building our own country. There is nothing abstract about engaging the world's emerging economies and enlisting them in the battle against both terrorism and poverty, which is a root cause of terrorism. There is nothing abstract about a president's solemn responsibility to America's men and women in uniform - not to send or keep them in harm's way a moment longer than necessary.
At first, the Post's editorial truly surprised me. But now I think I realize what is going on. With President Obama's success in targeted operations and winding down long wars, the military industrial complex and the neocon movement is aching for a new war, for new entanglements that allow Halliburton to make more cash and their benefactors to thump their chest without making our country even the slightest bit more secure. The Post editors are representing that voice, crying out for a bygone era in which presidents and politicians played our soldiers for pawns.
Cry me a river.