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Monday, June 23, 2014

What Is Feckless When You're Reckless

As the last known stockpiles of Syrian chemical weapons are removed from that country to be destroyed by the United States, think how the so-called "feckless" Obama foreign policy last year not only meant no US bombing of Syrian civilians even though everybody seemed to believe such an outcome was inevitable at the time, but also means now that the horrific images we are seeing and stories we are hearing do not include images and stories of civilians choking to death in clouds of weaponized poison gas in Iraq.

As ISIL victories cause the Iraq/Syria border to melt away, take a moment to think how much worse the already terrible stories we are hearing now in the chaotic aftermath of our immoral criminal catastrophic war and occupation there could have been had John McCain and the rest of his belligerent crew gotten their way and showered his random pet Syrian rebel forces with sophisticated heavy American arms. It is easy to know what to say and how to say it forcefully when your answer is always "arm the rebels" and "bomb from the air" -- even if the consistent application of that principle would mean the US budget would be devoted entirely to bombing half the countries on earth while arming all the factions fighting on all sides of all conflicts on earth at the same time.

There has been plenty of media exposure lately of the hypocrisy of the killer clown neocon architects of the bloodcurdling criminal fiasco of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's foreign policy re-appearing in the midst of the ruins of their idiotic vision to advocate more of the same aggressive insensitive military madness (it should be noted, however, that all that exposure of hypocrisy has not actually resulted in anybody refusing to give these sociopathic losers a free megaphone to funnel their so-called expertise), but it is interesting that there still has been little to no complementary concession that the obverse of the neoconmen represented by Obama foreign policy in the years since have actually accomplished some extraordinary successes on their own terms.

The extrajudicial killings by drone and domestic spying overreach and failure to close Guantanamo have been too important to activists on the left -- and obviously with good reason -- to leave much space there for recognition of the successes of the multilateral foreign policy of the Obama epoch. So too the explicit decision of the GOP to couple unprecedentedly monolithic obstruction of and insistent public delegitimization of the Obama Presidency (a central tenet of which involves insinuations of either his foreignness or sympathy with foreign enemies) leaves even less room for such recognitions on the right. Meanwhile, the lazy acquiescence to outdated narratives on the part of mainstream media outlets leaves them "balancing" declarations that Obama's attentive and flexible opportunism represents a "lack of focus" with reports of success framed in mostly conservative terms, usually involving photogenic murders or moments in speeches that sound "tough" in the usual way.

I am far from proposing that the Obama foreign policy has been an unqualified success, nor do I believe that anybody in the Obama administration can possibly feel very good about the way global conflicts in the world have played out. But it is unquestionably true that many things could have been quite a bit worse (recall the first couple paragraphs of this post and think how rarely that is a perspective one hears), and also that many things could also have been quite a bit better had the President had a reasonable press to illuminate the actual issues at hand and the levels of support across the aisle that Presidents have rightly expected hitherto (Guantanamo would have been closed for years had it not been for cowardly and hypocritical Congressional obstruction, and it is crucial to grasp the extent to which the drone program and Special Forces ops seems far more attractive than they might otherwise do as comparatively low-cost and considerably executive-controlled modes of foreign intervention when one cannot trust the discretion and support of the Congressional branch).

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