12 July 2010

Declare Victory and Go Home

A quick follow up on the previous post:

Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, recently brayed that Afghanistan is "a war of Obama's choosing." This is not contrary to my point; the surge, urged by Petraeus and McChrystal, certainly is. That Obama might have been cowed into it is part of the jab. As Steele goes on to say: "This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in." I'm not at all convinced that this "Obama is a pussy" statement was a gaffe. And it certainly generated a lot of press, the sure sign of effective PR.

BDR points us to this piece by Andrew J. Bacevich. Bacevich concludes:
"The responsibility facing the American people is clear. They need to reclaim ownership of their army. They need to give their soldiers respite, by insisting that Washington abandon its de facto policy of perpetual war. Or, alternatively, the United States should become a nation truly "at" war, with all that implies in terms of civic obligation, fiscal policies and domestic priorities. Should the people choose neither course -- and thereby subject their troops to continuing abuse -- the damage to the army and to American democracy will be severe."
BDR may not be wrong in thinking that, given the state of things, choice may no longer be an option. The drumbeat for perpetual war keeps pounding in the background: North Korea, Iran, and now, we read, Yemen.

IOZ rightly points out "There is no evidence that Obama 'wants nothing more than to rid himself of his war.' There's no evidence that he wants to rid himself of his war at all." Likewise, true. (h/t BDR)

But let's not forget the charges leveled by the now-"discredited" Rep. Eric Massa against Petraeus and quelle surprise former Vice President Dick Cheney:
"Four retired generals — three four-stars and one three-star — had informed him, he said, that General David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, had met twice in secret with former vice president Dick Cheney. In those meetings, the generals said, Cheney had attempted to recruit Petraeus to run for president as a Republican in 2012.

The generals had told him, and Massa had agreed, that if someone didn't act immediately to reveal this plot, American constitutional democracy itself was at risk. Massa and I had had several conversation on the topic, each more urgent than the last. He had gone to the Pentagon, he told me, demanding answers. He knew the powerful forces that he was dealing with, he told me. They'd stop at nothing to prevent the truth from coming out, he said, including destroying him."
Read more here.

On whose behalf and at whose beckoning did Massa deliver that broadside on potential treason as he fell on his sword. Certainly (as I don my tin foil hat) running Petraeus back to Kabul would tend to put the kibosh on that particular coup.

In the comments to my previous post, Frances Madison points out that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also been a hawk on the wars and, along with SecDef Gates, an advocate for the surge. To which I have no answer. Is it 'good cop/bad cop'? Would the generals like to march alongside her into the White House? One may only surmise.

But, from all this ferment, I do suspect there's more going on here than meets the eye, and the long knives are, at a minimum, at the ready. I don't pretend to know what is happening behind the scenes; as my profile says I'm just a blogger. But if—and this is a big if—if Obama were attempting to end these wars in a manner befitting his own sense of cautious professionalism and presidential dignity, what would the effort look like? Mightn't it initially take the form of leaked conspiracies and toppled conspirators? Perhaps.

One does not have to be a true believer or Kool-Aid drinker to hope that Obama is living up to his promise to end these disastrous imperial warlike foreign military adventures. Nor does one need to be an Obamapostate to think he has become hopelessly compromised by forces over which his office may have little or no control.

I do believe that institutional war strategy is not something that can pivot on a dime. Short of the 'great war' and its truce, one simply can not just pack up one's war things and go home unilaterally. (Hell, it took well over a year to get a health care bill passed.)

Personally, I believe we should extricate our armies from Iraq and Afghanistan with all due speed. I also believe that demilitarizing our country's budgets and politics is the only way to get the U.S.'s, and thus much of the world's, economy going again. And reduce the deficit to boot.

I would like to believe Obama holds these same beliefs and is working against the entrenched interests at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill and around his own Cabinet table to achieve these ends—however deliberately. But I can't be sure.

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