Obama Disappoints Me

This is no April Fools Joke.

Contrary to the beliefs of my conservative friends, I am no down-the-line Obama supporter. I voted for him gladly and still much prefer him to our nightmare of the previous eight years. Unlike many I think his cool manner, deliberative posture, and refusal to hastily make major decisions is an exhibition of strength, not weakness. I also recognize that, far from him being a doctrinaire socialist, or at least a far-left liberal, he is, in fact, most of all a pragmatist.

It is also evident that he occasionally must bow to political realities; not electoral politics, but the politics of building support for his choices within his own party certainly but also with independents, of which I am one, and preferably also those Republicans who have not yet succumbed to the Jim Jones kool-aid proffered by Limbaugh and Beck and their ilk.

But some select policy choices he’s made puzzle and disappoint me as they seem to be extensions of  wrong, if not abhorrent, parts of the Bush years.

Broadening the war in Afghanistan will, I believe, merely prolong the inevitable. The 2001 invasion of that country was more an emotional response to 9/11 than a rational long-term strategy to deal with terrorism. When I watched on TV the morning of Oct. 7 that the war had begun, I was barely convinced it was the proper way to go. The Trade Center attacks had occurred not 4 weeks prior and everyone was looking for revenge against SOMEBODY.

But quick revenge on a nebulous enemy does not serve American interests. Instead, a comprehensive plan should have been established that would actually lead to positive results, not simply killing Bin Laden or his followers,or, as happened, failure to keep him in our sights and allowing escape to Pakistan. Such failure can be attributed to Military Brass, not the troops on the ground.

Also, this strategy is remiss in not recognizing that terrorism is not a conventional threat that can be suppressed by military action. And to make moves in Afghanistan under any circumstance is folly, given that region’s long history of ineffective intervention and the relatively recent Soviet occupation.

And did no decision makers acknowledge we were now fighting the Taliban, the very same Taliban we financed and equipped to resist the Soviets? I read Bob Woodward’s book concerning the build-up to the invasion (which title I can’t immediately recall). It sure appears that no hasty decisions were made. But under reflection it is evident that geo-political and military effectiveness concerns were not given the thoughtful analysis required to avoid making a choice which was going to bog down our troops for over eight years. That’s over TWICE as long as WW II which involved dealing with a much broader and more realistic threat to our security than  a somewhat ragtag bunch of goat’s milk swillers.

When Obama took office I fervently hoped he would immediately begin a withdrawal of our troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan.  I’ll admit that, practically  speaking, this could not be done overnight. But now, with the draw down from Iraq proceeding slowly and the “surge” in Afghanistan, I fear that, regardless of stated deadlines, further rationalizations will arise to maintain our presence beyond those deadlines. ( By the way, sales figures show an alarming increase in the sales of surge protectors in both countries.)

Guantanamo Bay is still open. Totally needlessly so. It never should have been established in the first place and has provided no tangible benefit to the USA nor has its use meant we are safer. Very few detainees have been proven to be major players in terrorism. And the Bush administration, instead of treating them as the criminals they are, and entitled to constitutional protections,  or at least as prisoners of war which requires a different set of protections, instead made up a whole new Kafkaesque category, neither fish nor fowl, neither animal, vegetable or mineral. To boot they were abused, tortured, humiliated and otherwise treated as no decent Americans would want anyone to be treated, particularly if such treatment could result in justification for similar treatment of our citizens in the hands of foreign powers. (Dick Cheney is NOT a decent American).

Now the Obama administration is perpetuating this abomination by failing to close Guantanamo and try the accused in cvil courts in New York or another venue if appropriate. THEY ARE CRIMINALS. Terrorists are criminals. Does anyone recall Timothy McVeigh? Bombed Oklahoma City federal building. Tried in a civil court. Found guilty. Sentenced to death. Executed. No one proposed he be treated any differently.

World Trade Center bombers of 1993. Charged as criminals. Tried in civilian courts. Several currently in prison. Neighbors of prison remain unharmed.

Numerous other terrorists tried in civilian courts without detriment to our justice system. Obama’s  reticence to follow through on plans to do the same with Guantanamo detainees infuriates me. Those on the airways or in print who rail about what an affront civil trials would be and what dangers lurk in doing so are idiots and fearmongers. They also have no regard for the US Constititution they profess such a great love for. Come on Obama. Keep this promise.

Yesterday calls of  “Drill Baby Drill” echoed through our nation’s capital. However, they emanated not from the moose-killing, mavericky, leather-jacket wearing, political-pandering, shallow, half-term-serving citizen of Wasilla, but the Obama administration. This is a cautious call because while there are oil reserves off Virginia’s coast (likely run-off from those greasers at Virginia Tech) most of what I’ve heard in response is that these reserves probably provide nothing more than a temporary respite from and lowering of the importation of foreign oil. Perhaps this will only prove to be a small part of a more comprehensive energy plan. But it was not announced as such. What gives, Barak?

I read on Slate this morning that a judge in San Francisco had declared illegal some of the wiretaps carried out under Bush. The disturbing aspect is that arguments for these wiretaps were made by Obama administration lawyers. I know that sometimes in the transition from one administration to another such acts are common. It would seem illogical for the government to support one side in early litigation and then reverse itself under a new president. But this is not binding precedent. REVERSE this policy, Barak!!

Don’t ask, don’t tell. Surely one of the most misguided policies ever adopted ostensibly to protect individual troops as well as the military itself. It has grievously failed to protect the individuals and the military as a whole never needed such protection. Be stronger in your demands to end this travesty, Barak!!!

Congratulations are in order for the passage of health care reform. Obama used leadership skills of a different nature to achieve passage than have been used by previous presidents. Given the determination of Republicans that health care would be Obama’s “Waterloo” (I didn’t know they were such ABBA fans), I don’t believe the traditional arm-twisting exemplified by LBJ would have been as successful. Some folks believe leadership must be loud, hard-headed, and threatening  to be effective. It just ain’t so.

All good presidents get off track once in a while. (Notice Bush never was off-track? I said GOOD presidents). Lets’ see if Obama can be re-railed. I still have faith.

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