"When they allow a talk show host to play them like a two-dollar banjo, they demonstrate what kind of backbone they'll bring to the job later on, if we elect them. After they get elected will they continue to allow Jeff Crank to put a nickel in them and wind them up every Saturday morning?"

Barry Noreen, former columnist, Colorado Springs Gazette

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

THE OBAMA DOCTRINE


BY

ROBERT HARKINS

A campaigning President Obama promised Americans that he would not commit the nation to war,

“without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands.”[1]

The president, adhering to the Obama Doctrine, supported the real war in Afghanistan; and just last year promised everyone, including the enemy, that American troops will leave Afghanistan in 2011. We may wonder to what strategic use the enemy will put this useful information. The president’s unalterable decision, however, is “evolving.” That the president has informed the Taliban that American soldiers will shortly leave the battlefield appears to be one with that solitary wisdom by which he saw the trial of terrorists in New York as a spectacle “true to our values” and the closing of Guantanamo as a critical, strategic necessity.

Perhaps so as to avoid the breaking of another campaign promise—there are so few now left to break— President Obama, without congressional debate, has declared a “kinetic military action” on Libya. American and NATO jets are shooting Libyan jets out of the sky. The same American drones used in a “war” in Afghanistan are now killing off Libyans in a “kinetic action.” Libyan soldiers are everywhere shooting and killing armed “Libyan rebels” who in turn are shooting and killing Libyan soldiers. Frankly, the president’s kinetic military action, taken without congressional advice or debate, does not appear to be all that different from war.

Generally speaking, Congress and not the President, retains the power to commit the United States to war. The president, however, perhaps because he declared kinetic military action, rather than war, felt that it was not necessary to permit Congress to debate the issue.

Unfortunately, the president has not justified the use of military force with anything remotely resembling the “a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands—” as he so eloquently explained the Obama Doctrine in his autobiography The Audacity of Hope. Instead, he has premised a personal commitment of the United States to a Libyan war upon rhetoric that is time worn and disingenuous.

The president claims to stand upon a moral high that only he is capable of reaching. “Some nations,” he claims, (without actually saying who they are),

" may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. [But] The United States of America is different.

In the end, however, the president who never tires of telling the world that the presidency “is not about me’ informs us yet again that indeed, the presidency is, “about me.”

[For]… as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

While the president’s words are admirable and moving they are also false. In fact, the president did wait for the images of slaughter before doing anything. The mass graves, of course, await the dead and dying.

The tragic consequence of resting a declaration of war upon humanitarian rhetoric is that such rhetoric is always used to justify war. In the First World War, the British characterized the German “Hun” as a rapist. The Germans characterized its European neighbors as oppressors. Hitler would demand “Living space” for a German people, “stabbed in the back” and savaged by the draconian Treaty of Versailles. The Russian Communists, under orders of V.I. Lenin, slaughtered the Russian Czar Nicholas, his wife and children, and thereupon began the mass slaughter of wicked Russian aristocrats.

President Obama’s eloquent words would have justified as well, the American invasion of Iraq. After all, Saddham Hussein probably slaughtered more men, women and children, and filled more mass graves than any other Mid East despot. And yet President Obama, unmoved by Saddham Hussein’s atrocities, condemned President Bush for the congressionally approved toppling of Hussein’s socialist regime.

While President Obama now justifies war to “save lives,” the president’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, stated that the crisis in Libya "was not a vital national interest to the United States."
[2]

President Obama, in his creation of a “Well Articulated” litmus test for war wrote,

"Why invade Iraq and not North Korea or Burma? Why intervene in Bosnia and not Darfur?"

Why indeed? While one may sympathize with human suffering in Libya, millions of North Koreans starved to death at the hands of a North Korean communist dynasty; and while America contributed food to the starving she did not seek to remove a communist dynasty now in possession of nuclear weapons. Similarly, an American government, now hopelessly indebted to an ambitious communist China, has engaged, for more than a quarter of a century in hearty business and borrowing even as it ignores China’s gulags, execution chambers mounted on wheels, Tienernan Square and other acts of implacable barbarities.

The American government knew of Abu Grahib as Saddham Hussein was engaged in war with Iran. Inmates told of chemical and biological weapons and unspeakably cruel experiments on prisoners. Hundreds of Iraqi citizens were executed in the 1990s upon the order of Saddam's son, Qusai simply to ease over crowding. Saddam ordered and taped for his later amusement the severing of prisoners’ hands. He doused Kurd villages with mustard gas and cyanide.

We have seen the dead and reddened faces of men, women and children lying in the village streets—and yet President Obama condemned President Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Indeed, he used his condemnation of the Iraq war to lever himself into the presidency. It is quite undeniable, however, that to ignore Hussein’s mass murder and mass graves one must turn a blind eye.

While the president claims that he “refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action” in Libya, he ignored, out of necessity or ambition, the images of slaughter and mass graves in Iraq. No nation has the power moral or economic to repeal evil. It is inevitable, therefore, that Americans will see new mass murderers. More then is the tragedy that the president has failed to conform the war in Libya to the Obama Doctrine.

Finally, in a statement to the Boston Globe in 2007, the president made a passing and now ironic reference to the Constitution. “The president,” he explained,

"does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. History has shown us time and again ... that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the legislative branch.”

The war in Libya was not authorized or supported by the legislative branch. Where then in all his posturing has the president, in his committing of America to a third war, explained “a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands.”



[1] The Audacity of Hope

[2] President Obama Exceeds Constitutional Authority by Attack on Libya Associated Press writers Jim Drinkard and Robert Burns.

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