Friday, September 14, 2012

The War Nerd Explains Why Obama Gets So Little "Credit" for His Warmongering

You almost have to feel for President Hopey-Changey. No matter how many innocent civilians he butchers in pursuit of a foreign policy that in its way is even more bloodthirsty than Chimpy Bush's, he just doesn't ever seem to get the credit as evidenced by the way that Willard tried to used the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens to score political points against him this past week.

So why is that, exactly? Well, Gary Brecher, author of the always entertaining and informative War Nerd column for The Exiled, explains it in an essay published on this most recent September 11th. The whole thing is well worth a read, but here is the relevant excerpt:
When you look back at Obama’s wars, you get a pretty clear idea what went wrong over the last four years. It wasn’t the way Obama’s team handled the wars. Truth is, they did damn well at that, better than I ever thought they would.

The real problem is that they don’t know what world they’re living in. These are people who’ve spent their lives getting straight A’s, collecting gold stars, avoiding mistakes. And they think war is just like all those other little hurdles you face in life.

That’s why they’ll never get credit for any of it. They have this delusion that sanity matters, and they’ve run their wars as sanely and boringly as an exterminator going after termites.

It’s sensible, it’s semi-effective, and it irritates the life out of the 99%. I don’t mean the Occupy 99%, all those “goodhearted ordinary Americans”; that’s a totally made-up imaginary species invented by people just as naive as Obama’s crew. I mean the real 99% of us living our rotten lives out there, mean and dumb and miserable, just waiting for some gore we can really get behind.

Obama just doesn’t understand his job as war chief of this big crazy tribe. A war chief doesn’t have to win; only a wonk’s view of the world would see things that way. A war chief has to look like a war chief and talk like one. And yell a lot. Obama just can’t manage that, and when he tries, he makes us feel stupid. He embarrasses us, trying to sing along to a tune you know he thinks is just dumb.

It’s a shame in a way, because his war wonks did a pretty good job actually running the wars. I like to think of them grumbling about it now, a bunch of youngish dressy-casual technocrats drowning their sorrows in frappucinos at some suburban DC Starbucks, counting off their so-what accomplishments: “We got out of Iraq … not one American killed there this year; we took down Qaddafi without one single American casualty; we killed bin Laden right in front of the Pakistani Army and got away with it; what does a C-in-C have to do to get a little respect around here?”

The answer is: He has to look convincing when he holds our enemy’s head up on a stick and shows it to the crowd, all drippy and drawing flies. That’s what we want, and Obama, with all that creepy self-control, is the last guy you’d pick for that job.

It was obvious, after he ordered the hit on bin Laden. For ten years Americans had been seeing that big long bearded face in their dreams, blasting it on gun-range targets, printing it on toilet paper, waiting for the big day when we could see the bastard in a pool of his own blood.

And boom, at last, Osama was dead. On Obama’s watch. Whoo-hoo! Let the victory parades begin!

Except there weren’t any. I remember real well the weird queasy hush after bin Laden died. Nobody ever tells the truth in this country, so nobody could talk about why Obama never got the cheers he expected, but we all know why. It’s simple: There are two tribes in America and neither one was in a mood to cheer. Obama’s liberal fans couldn’t cheer because they have some taboo about parading around with your enemy’s head on a stick. They think it’s crude or something, “a regrettable necessity”—you know that NYT editorial jabber they use.

And the other tribe, the flyover state white glob I come from, would sooner comp bin Laden a suite in Vegas than give Obama any creds for taking him down. They sulked through it like a confused, hungover Pillsbury doughboy; the way they saw it, Obama got bin Laden on a technicality. There’s always been a lot of Osama/Obama blur in the way they see things, and they might’ve been happier if it’d been Osama zapping that snotty Hawaiian instead of the other way around.

War always comes down to demographics — even this slow cold war we’re having in the US now. And Obama is stuck in the crotch of big demographic forked stick, between the sullen majority and the queasy coastals. The coastals don’t want a war chief, and the sullen doughboys can’t see him in the job.
As for me, admitted antiwar zealot that I am, I really don't know which aspect of Obama is more appalling...that he is as big a thug as Bush and Cheney, or that he is so damn cool about it. But go ahead, Democrats, keep convincing yourselves that he is morally superior to Willard Mitt Romney so you can spend the next four grueling years in just as much denial as you've spent the past four.

Bonus: "And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control"


  1. "...the other tribe, the flyover state white glob I come from, would sooner comp bin Laden a suite in Vegas than give Obama any creds for taking him down. They sulked through it like a confused, hungover Pillsbury doughboy..."

    Did he just say it's because he's black?

    1. Actually, if you read a little further in the article, he states that another black president, say a cool cat like Samuel L. Jackson, probably would have had a much more enthusiastic reaction from "flyover country."

  2. Habeas corpus? Not only was America not shown a head on a pike, we never saw a body at all. What we got was a script read to us. There is no possibility of any independent verification of any part of that script. You swallow it whole or you don't. So it was not the most emotionally satisfying sort of a script.

  3. Plus these wars are out of sight out of mind.

    Guns and Butter and all that jazz.

    Most of the killing are drones being flowen by some 20yearolds out of a base in Kansas.

    Armchair war at it's bestest.

  4. Anti-war? LOL! I don't know a single authentic anti-war American.

    They drive cars and cook with gas and every single one uses hydrocarbons based plastics. Hydrocarbons come at a price: violence, whether it is violence against Americans (watch GasLand) or Africans (google Blood+Oil) or Asians (Operation Iraqi Liberation.)

    Using hydrocarbons, gas, plastics, etc. and being against war is like eating at McDonald's and professing to be against killing other animals.