Presidential Pettiness

Alan W. Dowd writes on defense and security.


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In the less-than-gracious way President Barack Obama compares himself to his predecessors and other mere mortals, we’ve come to expect oblique swipes at President George W. Bush. They’ve been sprinkled in Obama’s inaugural address (“we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals…our power alone cannot protect us”); in prime-time addresses (“the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world…I’ve spent this year renewing our alliances”); in his Cairo speech (“Iraq was a war of choice…there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq”); in his Ankara address (“Turkey’s democracy is your own achievement…not forced upon you by any outside power”); and now in his belated address to the nation announcing U.S. intervention in Libya. But what’s most intriguing about this address is that it took a swipe not only at Bush, but also at President Bill Clinton.

First, let’s look at what we’ve grown accustomed to, the verbal backhands at the Bush administration. Obama boasted that the Libya operation “carries with it a UN mandate and international support…If we tried to overthrow Khadafy by force, our coalition would splinter.  We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next. To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq…regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives and nearly a trillion dollars.”

We should hope that Obama is able to oust Khadafy without putting U.S. boots on the ground, but he should know that once war begins mission creep is hard to contain. Just ask the elder Bush, who wanted a clean, clear-cut finish for the Gulf War, but ended up intervening in Kurdistan, occupying Saudi Arabia and unwittingly setting the stage for what amounted to a 20-year engagement in Iraq. And while we’re being blunt, we went down a very different road in Afghanistan, and yet even with a UN mandate and responsibility spread out among some 45 countries, regime change has taken 10 years, thousands of allied and Afghan lives, and hundreds of billions in treasure—and it’s still not over.

“American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves,” Obama added, an undeniable reference to the media myth contrived about his predecessor.

In fact, at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 35 countries contributed troops. Fully 21 of the European Union’s then-25 members supported the campaign in Iraq. Seventeen NATO members deployed troops to Iraq. NATO has been training Iraq’s army for the better part of a decade now. As late as 2007, after four years of war, 20 countries still had troops in Iraq. In short, Iraq was anything but unilateral—and hardly lacking in “international support.”

In defending his decision to intervene in Libya’s civil war, Obama intoned, “The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security.”

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  • Pierce

    Lets face it, Obama, from my point of view is a PINHEAD, not a PATRIOT and becoming more so with each passing day.

  • kdhy

    Excellent article. Obama is a clueless 'schoolboy'— NOT a strong, intelligent, insightful leader of this country. He spends a great deal of his time explaining why 'others' did everything wrong in order to 'prove' that he is doing everything right. His charisma got him elected the first time. Will it get him elected the second? I am constantly amazed at all who listen to this man/boy and fully BELIEVE that just b/c he says something, it makes it so. No, NO it doesn't. God help us all if he is reelected.

    • tanstaafl

      "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

    • Jim_C

      Who's going to beat him? I don't see any real candidates out there yet from the GOP.

      • Andres de Alamaya

        You are absolutely right and this is a major worry. The only man I've got a glimpse of that has his head clear on the most important issue – Islam – is Allen West. I pray he has the same smarts in all other departments and that the GOP gets behind him. The rest come across as lost nonentities.

  • geez

    What's hilarious is that Bozobama is in lockstep with almost all the previous Bush policy, from Gitmo to Iraq. All his big shot, community organizer, no experience promises were nothing but hot air and in many cases lies. He says whatever it takes to appease his base while trying to calm the masses, much like dictators Chavez and Castro. He's an empty suit with a teleprompter just waiting for the next line to read. He has no original thought of his own and no leadership qualities. Why else would he do whatever it takes to hide his past, his past writings? Because it shows his lack of intelligence and understanding of leadership. Bozobama loves the fact he can hide behind nato and un if things go bad, like a small child hides behind their mothers skirt. What great leader in history would have been so elated to turn over their military and decision making to others? When you boil it down he's selling out the US sovereignty plain and simple. I compare Bozobama, the Clinton's and many more elected leaches both left and right to the character in Superman, Lex Luther. All they want after handing the US over to the one world government is a small island called Australia. This clown has to go in 2012… let's put him on the book tour or let him go back to what he called his true home… Kenya.

  • Texasron

    Obama seems to be channeling earlier presidents. First FDR, then Eisenhower, then Reagan, and now George Bush. This guy can not lead.

  • USMCSniper

    Some people have the skill to sum up things in a way you can understand them. This quote was translated into English from an article appearing in the Czech Republic as published in the Prager Zeitung of 28 April 2010…. In fact, the sentiments expressed, which a large number of Americans now agree with, are from a reader comment made in reference to the events of that week in Prague:

    "The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."

    • geez

      That's naked truth.

    • Andres de Alamaya

      That is the truth and the tragedy. The decline and fall of Rome took centuries. We're doing it in decades.

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  • jgreene

    Unless, this coalition of numbskulls led by President Arrogance gets lucky Khadaffi is going to survive. Worse case for Khadaffi is he will end up in another country.

    But what WAS the rationale for this Kinetic Military Action? Some BS doctrine about saving Libyans from what? How about those millions in the Sudan? How about supporting (at least with words) the Iranian people from the crazy 7th Century Murderous Clowns running that country who are about to perfect a nuclear weapon?

    This scatter-brained incompetent left wing radical in the White House is out of control and his foreign policy seems like something out of a Keystone Kops movie.

    The House of Representatives has to say ENOUGH! No more Kinetic Military Activities interfering with a Civil War between barbarian Muslims. Screw them.

    • Jim_C

      This is our foreign policy, jgreene. I agree it sucks but it ain't new to Obama. fact is, if we left Libya alone conservatives would be all over Obama for staying out of it (you watch the news, right?)

  • Jim_C

    I agree with Texasron's post, above. Obama seems to want to "try on" different presidential styles.

    However the best quote on Obama remains: " Both the Right and the Left expected Obama to be Hugo Chavez; both were disappointed when he turned out not to be."

    • Fred Dawes

      Obama is a tool of big money, "people end of story", The story is about to end, within 20 years this nation will be just like mexico in all things and will look just like a butt that is really reek and the whitehouse will be a really stink place full of bad odors coming from the butt of the third world monkey PEOPLE. And guy's a people make a nation not the government in fact a government is just a side-show of the people.

  • Fred Dawes

    as PEOPLE We are all fools and can't really see facts in front of our own butts, in fact face it this nation is BUTT, JUST LOOK WHO IS Our main butt, God get down here and help us all before this butt starts the third world war inside this nation.

    I for one cannot listen to a butt like obama talk about anything this guy is just a tool.

  • Fred Dawes

    well yes if the bankers want him for 4-more years he will be in office if not someother monkey will be in that office, and if obama is our next butt-wipe what new? its all in the game.

  • Tomstobamster

    I like Obama. (OMG I gotta get outa here before I get cybershot by you freaks! ) What is this, the open minded rational thinking debate club that will clearly look at both sides of every issue before struggling to solve problems instead of spewing ignorant CAPITALIZED nonsense. We are going down because no one wants to think before they speak.

  • Harless C.

    It still is amazing to me that this leaderless, souless, lying Hussein guy was ever elected to the highest office in our United States. Did people not vote? I would not shake hands with Obama, but if ever it were to happen I'd be sure to count my fingers afterward. There has to be a person in our country who has the mind and ideas of a man like Ron Paul, but nowdays he'd have to be young, have good hair, and 'look good' on TV; perhaps having these shiny and shallow attributes he could garner some votes. If only Dr. Ron Paul were younger I truly believe our people would vote in such a 'straight talker'. The waning middle class real people of this country (not the rich and corporations) are the backbone of this country and we are over carrying everyone else! I still cannot believe that someone named Hussein is 'our' president – what were people thinking?