In 2004, Senator John Kerry famously inaugurated his motto of, “I was for it, before I was against it.” These days, the former Senator and current Secretary of State is applying that motto to Syria where he was for Assad, before he was against Assad.
Kerry’s cynical turn was emblematic of a whole gang of Democrats who had been for the war when it was popular and rushed to come out against it when it wasn’t. Kerry joined the likes of Al Gore and Hillary Clinton in initially backing the Bush Administration’s policy because it was their policy to begin with.
Invading Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein had been a policy explored by the same Democrats who went on to become the loudest voices against it; sometimes after voting for it. And that hypocrisy made them unelectable.
Everyone remembers the loathsome spectacle of mainstream Democrats suddenly embracing creatures like Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan for no other reason than that they made useful weapons against George W. Bush. That alone should keep us from embracing the equally repulsive Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald.
At least the Democrats went deeper to their side of the spectrum, further to the left, once they realized that they could score political points over Iraq, but some Republicans are going not deeper into their own side of the spectrum, but also to the left.
It’s an ugly spectacle in which a man who escapes to a territory held by an enemy nation and reveals information about intelligence gathering that goes far beyond any domestic surveillance and that alerts enemy states to our capabilities becomes a patriot because his revelations are temporarily damaging to Barack Obama.
Americans should be watchful of what their government does. But that watchfulness should be based on actual actions, not on potential actions.
The IRS scandal is so compelling because there is clear evidence that political targeting had occurred. The NSA scandal is apolitical. It’s about how extensive the information gathering capabilities of the government have become. It’s a valid topic, but it’s also an apolitical topic.
The IRS was used to suppress dissent. The NSA was not. Turning the IRS into a weapon of political destruction is all on Obama, but the NSA has been making people apolitically uncomfortable for a while now.
It’s sensible to distrust what Obama is capable of doing with the NSA, but preemptively shutting down defense and intelligence capabilities out of fear of what Obama might decide to do with them would cripple our national defense.
Kerry and his fellow Democrats did not stop and think before turning the War in Iraq into collateral damage in their war on George W. Bush. We might want to pause before turning the War on Terror into collateral damage in a war on Obama.
Recent attempts to depict drone strikes or extensive information gathering as some gimmick that Obama cooked up on the golf course are as dishonest as the revisionist history that was peddled by Gore and Kerry. If those things are to be opposed, then they should be opposed honestly.
Obama did not invent the War on Terror. He inherited it and mismanaged it. It’s one thing to take issue with that mismanagement and another to take issue with the war. And that is what we’re really talking about.
The War on Terror has mostly been pared down to clumsy intelligence gathering and drone strikes. Take those two off the table and the war is over. It’s not over in the sense that a victory has been achieved or peace has been obtained. It’s over in the sense that we revert back to a pre-9/11 reality in which Islamic terrorism is treated like organized crime.
That outcome is not one that Obama opposes. Instead it’s one that he has fervently worked toward over the years.
We can attack Obama from the right for bungling the War on Terror or we can attack him from the left for continuing the War on Terror and that will just push him in the direction that he already wants to go.
Obama left the remnants of the War on Terror in place because it was the politically safe thing to do. Federal law enforcement has been blinded and neutered when it comes to dealing with Islamic groups, but “smart” intelligence gathering programs and drone strikes have been used to fill the gap to avoid domestic terrorist attacks and accomplish foreign policy objectives.
Both of those tactics have failed. The Boston Marathon bombings and the defeat in Afghanistan are proof of that. The only way to hold Obama accountable for the loss of all those lives is to explain how he tied the hands of the FBI and American soldiers in fighting the real enemy, instead of hooking up with enemy propagandists like Glenn Greenwald who claim that we are the real enemy.
It’s only sensible to have a national conversation about the tactics that we are using to fight terrorism, but giving the anti-war movement the microphone turns the conversation into a choice between doing something and doing nothing. And not even Obama is self-destructive enough to choose doing nothing because once a bomb goes off in a crowded place, there are political consequences to having done absolutely nothing.
Kerry became a walking cartoon because of his dishonesty. Like so many Democrats, he wanted to change his views without admitting that they had changed. If we are going to have a conversation, then it should be an honest one.
We face an extensive conspiracy of Muslim terrorists operating in global organizations on a large scale, and as individuals and cells locally. These groups and individuals communicate through everything from burner phones to coded posts on abandoned forums to Xbox Live game console chats making tracking them a challenge.
Yes, a lot of this would be less of an issue under President Allen West, but under Barack Obama the options are limited. We can’t have the War on Terror that should exist. We can advocate for it, but for now we are stuck with the shambling skeleton of the War on Terror that is. That War on Terror is a mixed bag, but we should be wary of tossing it completely overboard for a temporary political advantage.
The mismanaged War on Terror in its current state may not stop the next bomber. But then again it might.
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