The Obama Doctrine Reborn

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Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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39 Responses

  1. Avatar Wardsmith says:

    I couldn’t find “lead from behind”. Are you sure this is the complete version?Report

  2. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Even after we take these steps, one issue will remain: how to deal with those GTMO detainees who we know have participated in dangerous plots or attacks, but who cannot be prosecuted – for example because the evidence against them has been compromised or is inadmissible in a court of law.

    Because if he said “torture” in plain English, the GOP would stop being no nice to him.Report

  3. Avatar George Turner says:

    Good googly moogly. When he opened his remarks, the audience was just students. When he finished, they were halfway to retirement.Report

  4. Avatar Lyle says:

    While reminiscent of tactics used by the Soviet Government, one could say that a belief that killing folks in the name of religion is a mental disease. Then since the person is a danger to others, he/she could go in a mental hospital for a long time. Or you could rule that if a person absent a mental disease is found to be a danger to others, then confinement is possible. Of course I would make the confinement in a super-max type facility with absolute minimum contact with humans. Build the facility in question on Attu at the far end of the Aleutians of Johnstone Island in the mid pacific.Report

  5. Avatar Russell M says:

    good speech.Report

  6. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    Some good, some bad.

    His claim to rely in civilian courts is a blatant lie (he’s used the state secrets privilege to keep harmed people out of courts, and he demanded the indefinite detention language in the NDAA (that he then publicly claimed to oppose–my source is the Congressional Record)). I also don’t buy his claims of care in using drones.

    But I’m glad he bluntly said we sacrificed our values in the GWOT, glad he’s trying to redirect away from the GWOT concept, and appreciated how clearly he stated the importance of both planning and luck in the OBL mission, and particularly his emphasis on the cost we paid for that mission in our relationship with Pakistan.

    Not perfect, not all of what I want from a POTUS, but far better than anything we ever got fom his predecessor.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

      Lots bad. You’re absolutely correct, Obama has not relied on civilian courts. Bush43 was given all those powers in the wake of 9/11 and Obama hasn’t retreated an inch from any of them. If anything, he and that shitweasel Eric Holder have only expanded their reach.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

      Goodness. If we’re going to nitpick, the whole thing is a Fiskable smorgasbord.

      Americans are deeply ambivalent about war, but having fought for our independence, we know that a price must be paid for freedom. From the Civil War, to our struggle against fascism, and through the long, twilight struggle of the Cold War, battlefields have changed, and technology has evolved.

      He forgot all the wars in between the Revolution and the Civil War (bunches) and we really didn’t struggle much against fascism, hardly bothering to remove them from office as we rolled north through Italy. In paragraph three he said we were at peace from the fall of the Berlin wall till 9/11, completely forgetting that the Gulf War (rolling into Kuwait and southern Iraq, highway of death, etc) ever happened, or the long string of terrorist attacks during that period that kept escalating as we pursued a law-enforcement model of response. Then it gets worse, and there are seventy something paragraphs of it.

      So I’ll stick with Drudge’s headline about the speech: “Obama Promises to Drone Less…

      Classic!Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

      Here’s something somewhat controversial and probably liable to upset some people here. If you’re a fan of a more peaceful United States, Obama’s actions during his Presidency was the best possible way for that to happen.

      Because, after Obama’s two terms, the national security deficit no longer exists and as somebody else pointed out, Obama’s main argument in his speech wasn’t defending himself from the right, but the libertarian/left about drone warfare and such. Can you ever imagine say, President Kerry making a speech at any point about repealing the AUMF.

      Now, I don’t think American foreign policy will ever be that which will make a lot of people happy, but I do truly believe that the last five and a half years has given Obama more wiggle room in his last few and will give Hillary even more room to maneuver than if Obama had done a lot of things that people on the left and in the libertarian movement wanted him to do.

      You can or can’t agree with it, but in 2016, any Republican candidate, especially among the frontrunners can throw the “weak on national security” coat on Hillary or most other Democratic candidates.Report

  7. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Gawd what a herd of platitudes, a buttload of blether and fuss. I want to fisk this but can’t be bothered. Maybe I could be bothered. It’s disturbingly horrible.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Dang, if I had known that scandals would get Obama to act like he said he would back when he was campaigning in 2008, I’d have suggested that he start the IRS investigating teabaggers back in 2009.Report

  9. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Guantánamo Bay is still open, and we haven’t begun trials for its detainees because… Congress hasn’t been good with that?

    The Department of Justice is part of the Executive Branch. It can unilaterally order trials to begin. Granted, the results may not be quite as much of a slam-dunk as people might hope, but when the United States prosecuted Ahmed Khalfan Ghaliani, a conviction was obtained and a stiff sentence imposed.

    The real problem is that we tortured people like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, apparently under direct Presidential authorization. Let us stipulate that KSM is human scum and I can, on a visceral level, understand if not necessarily sympathize with a desire to hurt him. So the only evidence we could levy against him and others who have been treated thus since their capture is that derived prior to their torture or that derived from other sources.

    Substantial legal procedures for courts to deal with confidential information during trial already exist. If more robust procedures are needed, then yes, Congress can help out. But Congress can’t prevent or cause the Department of Justice to try anyone. So long as we don’t have show trials, Obama could order trials to commence for each and every defendant in Guantánamo, and I for one would be good with that.

    As for the drones? Drones are weapons. All things considered, I like drones as weapons since they keep our pilots safely at home in Las Vegas and Tampa instead of at personal risk out in the battlefield. It’s how these weapons are used, and against whom, that matters.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Let us stipulate that KSM is human scum

      Therein lies the moral failing of torture. KSM is scum, but he’s human scum.

      (Not to take away fom your legal point, with which I wholly agree.)Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Burt Likko says:

      When push comes to shove, you may (or may not) be right about what Congress can’t actually prevent from happening. But they can sure make it hard, and they have taken steps to do that. It’s absolutely fair to say they’ve sought to make themselves as much an impediment to these things as they possibly can. Do you deny that?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Ex.: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704774604576036520690885858.html

        …and you know that there are a ton more efforts like this that have been undertaken by Congress as well.

        Now, I don’t know exactly, and don’t claim to know as well as you, how much these things actually constrain the “Executive Branch”‘s options in this area. But I know they’ve happened, and I know that, among you links here, there isn’t any accounting for any of these actions that have taken place that are at least intended to constrain the freedom of unilateral action that you say, on a seeming assertion of a general axiom, that the president (“Executive Branch”) has to determine the course of these cases.

        I’ve been trying to figure out what these efforts by Congress have actually meant for the options that the president has in this areas for as long as this dance has been going on – basically, four and a half years, now. I’ve heard informed people say conflicting things about it more times than I can remember. As a non-expert, I have never been able to arrive at any firm conclusions. But I think the least persuasive argument I’ve ever heard about it is the kind of bare assertion of principle that simply says that the Executive Branch isn’t constrained at all by whatever Congress might or might not have done, and that makes no attempt to even address the things Congress has done, and to show why they have ne effect in constraining the Executive Branch. You essentially don;t even look at the actions of the branch of government that makes the laws, and treat the idea that they could possibly influence Executive options in this area as not even worth considering.

        It’s impossible to even take this approach seriously. There’s no argument here. If you want to say that what Congress has done to, by its own affirmative account, constrain the Executive Branch’s options in this area has no effect in doing so, you at least need to make some accounting of what they’ve done, and show why it has no effect.Report

  10. Avatar George Turner says:

    This thread has gone silent, but I suggest we breathe new life into it now that all the various foreign policy experts, pundits, and journalists have had a chance to weigh in.

    I’ll avoid linking too much to avoid the spam filters, and just summarize a few of the arguments.

    Rep. Peter King rejects Obama’s moral ambiguity about targeted drone strikes.

    Rand Paul was pleased, but added “Due process to most of us is a court of law, it is a trial by jury. And, right now, their process is him looking at some flash cards and a powerpoint on ‘Terror Tuesdays’ at the White House.”

    Newt Gingrich said the speech was “stunningly breathtakingly naïve,” and added “Right after you have somebody beheaded in England, you have a bomb go off in Boston…and the president announces cheerfully that ‘the war is going to end because I’m not happy being a war president.’”

    The reviews seem to vary from “Meh” to “Blech.”Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to George Turner says:

      Seriously? Your “experts, pundits, and journalists” are three partisan Republicans?Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

      I assumed that people with other perspective would supply the reviews they’ve been reading. I saw some likely candidates at CNN and elsewhere, but those were the reviews that I referred to as “Meh.”Report

    • Avatar LWA in reply to George Turner says:

      The reviews confirm one thing, which is that the Democratic Party has successfully stolen the hawkish position from the Republicans.

      Maybe Peter King and Rand Paul should be locked in a room until they can put together a coherent position.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LWA says:

        People of a certain age might see it as “stealing it back”.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to LWA says:

        Throw Newt in too, to guarantee they’ll never get out.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to LWA says:

        That would please McCain very much. ^_^

        MEMRI translated a pretty vicious review in the London Muslim press, saying that Obama is selling out the moderates in a badly misguided attempt to appease the more radical elements, and that the blow back will afflict the region, the world, and the US for a very long time to come.

        One of my longstanding complaints is that the administration, and especially the State Department, clings to a college social-activist world view where Islamic militants must somehow be authentic agents of change who will become reasonable and enlightened if we just accommodate their legitimate demands, and of course their demands must be legitimate or they wouldn’t be so demanding about them.

        For some reason such thinking never seemed to apply to the Moral Majority or other Christian coalitions, who they regard as an existential threat, an eternal enemy, and the embodiment of the forces of darkness. In any event, we’ve been happily selling out the Arab reformists and moderates, falling all over ourselves to recognize the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, negotiate with the Taliban, undercutting the moderate president of Libya, and probably arming militants in Syria and Libya who are aligned with al Qaeda, and people in the Arab world have noticed.

        Other than that and a few other issues, it’s hard to have a firm opinion on Obama’s speech because there’s so little in it to have an opinion on.Report

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