President Obama goes to War

Our President was elected under the influence of great anti-war sentiment. He was "the anti-war candidate". It ought to be disappointing then, for his supporters, to learn that he is decidedly not the anti-war President. In fact, President Obama is actively pursuing the war-on-terror, significantly expanding the Afghanistan theatre with another troop surge. And we shouldn't forget that President Obama hasn't pulled the troops out of Iraq yet, and the best estimates are that troops will be in Iraq for 2-3 more years - the same amount of time President Bush would have kept them there. (The article says all "combat troops" will be out of Iraq in August of 2010, but this is misleading. If you read it, it actually says there will still be 30,000-50,000 troops there until 2011. The Obama administration redefined people who count as "troops".) President Obama's continuation of the war on terror says a number of things. First, the silence of his anti-war constituency indicates that they were not opposed to the Iraq war on principle, but rather opposed to the Iraq war when a Republican candidate was president. In fact, they seem to have a great and newfound tolerance for war now that they like the guy at the helm of it all. It also tells us that the foreign policy of President Bush was not offensive enough for the country to elect a President who would have actually changed things.


Anonymous said...

Maybe I missed it, but I don't remember Obama ever promising to bring the troops home within his first 3 months in office. He was actually quite transparent and pragmatic about this, and took a lot of input from Petraeus and others.

We should not expect Obama to be able to snap his fingers and make everything better overnight. And then of course when he fails to do the impossible it really isn't fair to claim that he's already failed or that he's been disingenuous. The economy didn't turn sour overnight - the real estate and stock market bubbles and outsized risk in the financial system had been building up for some time. We've been in Iraq for 7-8 years now. There are no quick fixes or easy answers.

Conservatives have been accusing Obama of trying to handle too many things at once, e.g the economy, foreign policy, carbon emissions, healthcare, etc. Then they attack him for not being able to fix everything immediately and simultaneously. Which way do you want it?

Also, I think it's incorrect to imply that most people who voted for Obama did so because they were against the war in Iraq. If you'll recall, over the summer McCain and Obama were pretty much neck and neck when the headlining campaign issues were Iraq, Afghanistan, and national security. That all changed when the economy fell apart, and people started to worry about their homes and jobs more than anything else. If Obama won on any issue, it was the economy, which McCain had previously acknowledged was not an area of expertise.

Zach said...

Thank you for your comments.

Hmm. Obama did say he wanted troops home ASAP, multiple times. This is how he won the support of the moveon.org crowd. I'm aware that he didn't quite mean what he was saying, but I don't think it's wrong to claim that he said as much. I also think it's correct to claim that opposition to the war and war generally has been a theme of his campaign.

To your second remark - I have not criticized Obama for trying to tackle too much at once (although his rhetoric suggested he would try so much), nor have I expected Obama to fix everything overnight. These remarks may be applicable to some persons, but not to me. If I am wrong about this and I have said so publicly, please call me on it.

Lastly, you are right that I may have overstated the influence of the war. I did not, however, suggest Obama won only because of the war. I do think it was a key difference between him and McCain, and it was certainly the difference that got the Democrats elected to Congress in 2006. How much of that sentiment remained once the Democrats regained power is questionable, but I do not think the sentiment was non-existent or not influential. The war was extremely unpopular, and the Republican party was very much associated with the war (although the Democrats should have been equally associated with it as they spent their time the past few years funding it). It is not unreasonable to think that this connection helped to elect a man who has "consistently opposed the war".

Am I wrong?

CMinor said...

Was going to apologize for having Godwin'd your cross-post at AC, but discussion seems to have picked up again over there. At any rate I hope I didn't interfere with any vital info you had hoped to gain from your detractors. I suspect not, though they can be full of surprises.

I was just really tired of the trollish behavior I'd been seeing from several of those guys.

Zach said...


I thought your comments were an excellent contribution.

It's certainly difficult to read some of these websites and maintain any semblance of peace.