Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama the war hawk

Barack Obama has not yet been sworn in as President and already he is abandoning campaign promises.

In the primaries, when campaigning against Hillary Clinton, she ran as a staunch hawk on foreign policy issues. Obama ran a campaign opposing both Clinton and Bush by running as a peace candidate, pledging to withdraw from Iraq and to favor diplomacy over military action. By successfully tying Clinton to Bush and running against both and for peace, he was able to defeat her in the primaries.

Then, in the general election, his anti-war rhetoric was dramatically softened. He still ran on a pledge to withdraw from Iraq and to engage in diplomacy with other countries perceived as potential threats, but favored escalation in Afghanistan. That was sufficient given that his opponent publicly stated he was willing to remain in Iraq for one hundred years and joked in song about bombing Iran.

After having won the general election, Obama’s first major cabinet appointment was pro-war Rahm Emanual for Chief of Staff. Now it appears he is planning to offer the major diplomatic spot, the Secretary of State, to Hillary Clinton. The Secretary of State is the highest diplomatic office, and Obama is offering the spot to someone whose position on diplomacy is the opposite of Obama’s campaign rhetoric.

This follows quickly on the heels of his promise to not hire lobbyists, another change that he quickly abandoned. Already the special pleading has begun to explain why this shows he is showing superior judgement.

Combine his newfound hawkishness with his calls for national service, and the potential for a draft becomes quite ominous.

When Obama promised change, many people assumed he meant to change the country, but it seems that instead he proposed to change himself once elected. Which Barack Obama was actually elected, the one whose record he appears to continue or the one his supporters thought he was?

1 comment:

Paolo said...

Excellent blog. Obama, like most successful politicians, has won the election by being sufficiently vague on all the key issues. Thus, he wants to get us out of Iraq (allegedly), but hedges his bets with the "subject to the advice of my generals" trump card. You can bet the pullout will be slowed down and revised. After all, we have to keep at least fifty thousand soldiers there to defend our new, Vatican-sized embassy.

On Iran, Obama committed a gaffe (also known as "speaking an inconvenient truth") when he said Iran is a tiny country that is no threat to the US. Of course, his off-the-cuff, unrehearsed "gaffe" was completely true. Iran has a GNP about on par with those other dangerous superpowers, Denmark and Norway!

Of course, under pressure from the ubiquitous Israeli lobby, he had to back down and "clarify" that statement, saying he would do "absolutely anything" to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon (even though no one has produced a single shred of actual evidence that Iran is even working on such a weapon).

Still, if he has real courage and character (doubtful for a successful politician), Obama could actually take the bold stand and get the US out of the Middle East. He would face stiff resistance from within his own party, and from the GOP.

But it would be a great thing to see.