Friday, July 25, 2008

Militarism you can believe in

President George W. Bush, speaking in Germany this week, defended continued U.S. involvement in Iraq, stating:
This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Iraq, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Iraq. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that . . . [the mission] is a success. For the people of Iraq, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Iraqi people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the [insurgency] and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.
Bush also criticized "the all too common" belief in Europe that the United States is anything but an unmitigated force for good in the world:
In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.
Whoops. If you've been paying close enough attention, you might realize that both quotes were not from the much reviled "Decider", but rather the messianic Barack Obama, the Democratic savior of the United States -- nay, the world. As Obama makes clear, American forces in Germany "still help to defend the security" of Europe (really?), and the United States sacrifices ever so much to uplift the world's downtrodden. Disagree? Why, you're just like those right-wing francophobes on talk radio, sayeth the would-be lecturer-in-chief.

[Note: in the first excerpt above, one must substitute "Afghanistan" (The Good War) for "Iraq" (The Bad War), which, clearly, makes everything sound so much more logical and, frankly, courageous.]

Naturally, Obama's call for a troop escalation in order to fight another failing Middle East war -- since it's coming from a Democrat -- is likely to be greeted with hosannas by his partisan followers, where the "anti-war" candidate's every utterance is met with faints and praise (not be confused with feint praise, as you will find here). Never mind the fact that U.S. casualties in Afghanistan are outpacing those in Iraq this year, and that civilian deaths in Afghanistan are up 62% -- at this point, it has become liberal conventional wisdom that Iraq was merely a "diversion" from the right and just killing of Afghan newlyweds.

But, as I'm fond of saying whenever a politician reveals that they are just that -- a politician -- this should come as no surprise. After all, the anti-war Obama has explicity endorsed expanding the military by 100,000 men and women. And as Madeleine Albright -- just one of many near-dead war criminals advising the would-be emperor -- once said to Colin Powell, “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about, if we can’t use it?”

Obama has always been a follower unwilling to challenge conventional wisdom. Since entering Congress he repeatedly voted to fund the war he claimed to oppose (when he was safely outside of Congress representing a liberal district in Chicago), and like nearly every other member of the world's greatest deliberative body, he endorsed Israel's inhumane carpet bombing of Lebanon in 2006. Even Obama's much-ballyhooed calls for talks with Iran reflect the general consensus of the Washington establishment -- as does his repeated statement that "no options are off the table" when dealing with that country.

And as McClatchy Newspapers notes, Obama has adopted an even "more militaristic tone" since he locked up the Democratic nomination. More militaristic -- from a man who during the primary raised the idea of unilaterally attacking the tribal regions in Pakistan, and ruled out the possibility of pledging to remove all troops from Iraq by the end of his first term. So please don't feign surprise when the Great Democratic Hope orders some impoverished country to be bombed during his first year in office just to show that he has no qualms about flexing America's military muscle (and killing a few innocents here and there), New Yorker cover be damned.

But at least under a President Obama wars will be fought for humanitarian reasons:
Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?
If by "we" Obama means the U.S. government -- and if Iraq has taught "us" anything -- the answer should be an unequivocal "no".

Groups like Amnesty International and other non-governmental human rights organizations do a much better job at raising awareness of victims of state oppression -- with much more credibility than the U.S. State Department -- all, somehow, without having to resort to murder (or "tactical air strikes"). And there exists countless groups dedicated to helping suffering people the world over that find no need to employ the types of brutal trade embargoes loved by all the good humanitarians in Congress.

In contrast, whenever the U.S. government discusses "human rights", it usually means some poor people in a far off land better start running for the bomb shelters.

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