Despite the fact that the United States plans to pull all troops out of Iraq by the end of the year, President Obama is proving to be as willing to use military force as even his most hawkish conservative adversaries.
Oh, sure, Republicans get tarred all the time by ostensibly liberal leaders for starting the pointless, expensive, protracted wars that we’ve been involved in over the past decade — Afghanistan, Iraq, parts unknown. And they rightly should be blamed for these utter failures in diplomacy, as should Democrats, all but a few of whom voted to keep funding these quagmires at the expense of domestic economic stability.
But Obama — whether to prove he’s tough enough, or because he really believes in using military power to liberate freedom-starved people from tyrannical dictators propped up with ill-gotten oil money, or simply because he’s trying to get reelected — appears prepared to employ “whatever means necessary,” as US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told CNBC’s Rachel Maddow Monday night, to accomplish his wartime foreign policy objectives.
If those goals include assassinating Osama bin Laden, and sending Navy SEALS to kill the al Qaeda leader, so be it. And he got him, crossing into supposedly noncombatant Pakistan to do it — that is if we can believe the “official” story.
If “getting the job done” means using the military to take out al Qaeda’s other top leaders in sneaky drone attacks, Obama has demonstrated that he will do that too, be damned the sanctity of international borders and innocent collateral casualties.
If coming out on top means working the United Nations and having the US direct NATO airstrikes against deceased Libyan tyrant Moammar Gadhafi’s substantial military forces, he was prepared to do that. As it turned out, it was a good move, with the US playing a vital military role in freeing the Libyan people from Gadhafi without one Marine, soldier or sailor stepping onto the battlefield.
However, for us it’s somewhat troubling to see Obama, who railed against the Iraq war as a “dumb war” when he was a senator, now resorting to military violence — albeit extremely limited — to settle disputes with other countries, much as George Bush did over his two terms
But if you were a world leader with a boot on the throat of his people, and you heard the tough-talking Obama denounce both Gadhafi and deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak of Egypt just prior to their respective falls from power, and you then saw him accomplish his limited military objectives in Libya in a very short time and with such monumental success, all without incurring any American casualties, what would you be thinking right now?
One thought that might come to mind is the realization that this guy is serious. He will kill you, or them, as it were. Perhaps not to the extent that Bush and his gang were ready to take over entire countries, but Obama won’t hesitate to use force when he thinks it’s necessary, or more accurately when he thinks it might serve broader purposes, among them his own.
The next thing I would ponder if I were leading one of these rogue regimes is: Am I next?’
Surely Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must be wondering at this point just who they’re up against and what this American president is actually capable of doing.
A few weeks back, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed allegations as “meaningless and absurd” that Iran contracted a Mexican cartel hitman to assassinate Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, at a swanky Washington restaurant — on American soil. The scheme, CNN reported, involved a connection to the Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, which formally answers to Khamenei.
Regardless of Khamenei’s vague denials, the administration’s stern condemnation of the plot must have surely told the Iranians that the US president is prepared to do something about it, and soon. But what?
Here at the Weekly, we are against war, and we always have been. We’re both surprised and at times disappointed in some of the military actions the president has engaged in. Not because they were failures, but because war and state-sanctioned assassinations are never the answer. With that said, we hope and pray that Obama has no plans to further fuel the unrest shaking that volatile region of the world.
But you have to admit, there is something to be said for steely efficiency, especially after 10 torturous years of the still-undecided War on Terror.
One thing those authoritarian leaders can be sure of is whatever happens next in their relationships with the US will be done to suit the pragmatic Obama’s military and political needs at the time. And at this particular time, what promises to be a very contentious presidential election is just more than a year away.