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David Sirota
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Thursday 31 January 2013
Obama, let’s remember, is the president who escalated the Afghanistan War and whose spokesman recently reiterated that U.S. troops are not necessarily leaving that country anytime soon

The President of Perpetual War

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Four years into his presidency, Barack Obama's political formula should be obvious. He gives fabulous speeches teeming with popular liberal ideas, often refuses to take the actions necessary to realize those ideas and then banks on most voters, activists, reporters and pundits never bothering to notice - or care about - his sleight of hand.

Whether railing on financial crime and then refusing to prosecute Wall Street executives or berating health insurance companies and then passing a health care bill bailing out those same companies, Obama embodies a cynical ploy - one that relies on a celebrity-entranced electorate focusing more on TV-packaged rhetoric than on legislative reality.

Never was this formula more apparent than when the president discussed military conflicts during his second inaugural address. Declaring that "a decade of war is now ending," he insisted that he "still believe(s) that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war."

The lines generated uncritical applause, much of it from anti-war liberals who protested against the Bush administration. Living up to Obama's calculation, few seemed to notice that the words came from the same president who is manufacturing a state of "perpetual war."

Obama, let's remember, is the president who escalated the Afghanistan War and whose spokesman recently reiterated that U.S. troops are not necessarily leaving that country anytime soon. He is the president who has initiated undeclared wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. He is also the president who, according to data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, has launched more than 20,000 air strikes — and those assaults show no sign of stopping.

We know that latter point to be the true because just days before Obama's inaugural address declaring an end to war, the Washington Post reported that the administration's new manual establishing "clear rules" for counterterrorism operations specifically creates a "carve-out (that) would allow the CIA to continue" the president's intensifying drone war.

That's the "perpetual war," you'll recall, in which Obama asserts the extra-constitutional right to compile a "kill list" and then order bombing raids of civilian areas in hopes of killing alleged militants - including U.S. citizens.

According to a study by the New America Foundation, roughly one in five of those killed by such strikes are civilians. However, even that troubling number may understate the situation. That's because, as the New York Times previously reported, the Obama administration "counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants" even though, according to a CIA official, Obama aides "are not really sure who they are."

Obama partisans' typical riposte to these horrifying truths is to first and foremost attack the messenger. As just one example, a confidante of Obama's national security director recently berated war critics as "Cheeto-eating people in the basement working in their underwear."

These same partisans then typically blurt out two words: national security. But the argument that the president's drone war is protecting America is as flip as it is inaccurate.

That's the conclusion of a new analysis by the Council on Foreign Relations - an establishmentarian group that cannot be dismissed with insults about snack food, subterranean dwelling and tighty-whities. Citing a concurrent increase in drone strikes and terrorists in Yemen, CFR says there is a predictable "blowback" effect whereby bombings result in "heightened anger toward the United States and sympathy with or allegiance to al-Qaida" among local populations.

These facts, of course, are a downer for those mesmerized by the president's soothing inauguration rhetoric. No doubt, he is hoping we simply ignore reality because we so want to believe the anti-war oratory. If we do that, though, we will be aiding and abetting the very state of "perpetual war" that the president has created.

Copyright Creators.com


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ABOUT David Sirota

David Sirota is a best-selling author of the new book "Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado.

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18 comments on "The President of Perpetual War"

wildthang

February 01, 2013 6:08pm

Any President instatntly morphs on taking office into a Steprford Predisent stepping in their predicessors footsteps. The systm runs them, if you resist there are considerable consequences and you are under guard for the rest of your life. The President sets the tone, makes the excuses to his/her base they need to to get reelected and like all Great White(or Black) Fathers(Mothers) in Washington speak with forked tongue. Some culture wars sops make some difference and they get patronage rights and the protection rights for their big donors.
It is the warfare state of the poor for the welfare state for the rich. It's not that much differenct from a monarchy or dictatorship in that the ruler is still the system of powerful interests behind the Wizard of OZ and we are all inmates in the asylum!

Clark Orwick

January 31, 2013 10:16pm

I never had any faith in Obama.
Americans get two choices every four years.
Choose the neo-fascist tool from column A.
or
The one from column B.
Either way you get a tool of the international banking cartels, not a representative of the nation as a whole.

Alan8

February 01, 2013 2:57pm

"Americans get two choices every four years."

A myth. The Green Party runs candidates every election, from the Federal level, to State, to local. They don't accept corporate money and they represent CITIZENS' interests.

Check out the Green Party's Green New Deal: http://www.jillstein.org/summary_green_new_deal

Just a few percentage points for the Green Party sends a message to the corrupt Democrats telling them WHY they didn't get your vote. It also contains the implicit threat of them losing MORE votes to the Green Party next election if they continue selling us out to the 1%.

It's time to make the Democrats start to fear the swing voters ON THE LEFT!

Ron in NM

February 05, 2013 10:35pm

Wasting your vote to "send a message to the Democrats" is futile. Green Party votes are not strong enough to make the party change course.

I have voted for state and local candidates of the Green Party, but never for president. When I see that the Green Party can truly build a power base in Congress and the state legislatures, then and then only will I vote for a Green Party candidate for president.

As it is, it seems that the Green Party runs some unknown for president every 4 years, but it's not enough to give voters a "none of the above" choice on a recurring basis. I know that Greens love to look down their noses at my choice to vote for the lesser evil, but I had some Pol Sci in my undergraduate degree, and I've always had my feet on the ground, not floating through the air on wishful thoughts.

The author of this essay must be a Green, since he loves to damn the president and cast him as either a war-monger or an ineffectual panderer to Wall Street, but somehow he never presents any reasonable options for voters, just whines and moans and throws rotten tomatoes. Wow, how effective that is, and how original!

Peter Loeb

February 01, 2013 5:19am

I voted for Obama twice in O8 (primary,election). I could not in good
conscience be fooled twice. I did not cast a vote for ANY candidate for
President in 12.( It is not a requirement. )

William Bednarz

January 31, 2013 3:31pm

. . It seems you missed a couple of points. During the debates both sides talked "we will win at any cost"...We will not allow a soverneign nation Iran develop nuclear power - "CITING WEAPONS GRADE DEVELOPMENT" . . but to protect whom ??? Israel has had nuclear weapons for years. . . . . and are very good at defending themselves.
. . President Obama gave cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his talks over the Fiscal Cliff.( NOT SIGNED).....and he signed NEW PERMANENT TAX CUTS to replace the expiring BUSH tax cuts....approved increased military spending ( no aid for storm sandy) Now that the debt ceiling is up coming.....will Social Security & Medicare cuts be put back on the table ( second time???)
. . . these Perpetual Wars are the only way Washington can put forth a budget. As Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta promised an accounting of waste at the pentagon - and both Afghanisrtan and Iraq - GEE - HE RETIRES.... no comment......
. . the only way to see the truth is to overturn the SECRECY ACT - - remember that nuclear power has been secret here in the United States since 1945 - - - SECRET FROM THE PEOPLE......
worried about Iran but not north Korea that BUSH gave humantarian aid to feed his people while he developed nuclear weapons ......

diannek

January 31, 2013 1:05pm

Meanwhile, as the U.S. government is bankrupting the country while blowing up the world and changing friends or neutrals into enemies, the Chinese are using their money in a much wiser fashion. They are winning hearts and minds through investments in infrastructure, including things like a sports arena in a small Latin American country. When did we become so stupid as to believe that we could control the world through fear?

anono

January 31, 2013 12:43pm

Obama is just doing what must be done to keep the nation is a perpetual state of war and power and wealth in the hands of a few supreme white beings, creating enemies.

FullBlad

January 31, 2013 12:23pm

Obama is the definition of venal.

greghilbert

January 31, 2013 11:58am

President Barack "The Lip Service" Obama.
President Barack "The Audacity of Hope" Obama.
"Yes, let them eat hope. It is cheaper than cake!"
"Yes, we need more cannon fodder for war, give women equal right to die for us."
"Yes, you're right, we're now so wealthy we can afford a little increase in our taxes to keep the peasants duped. Just don't tell the peasants that we'll still be getting two thirds of the huge tax cut we got from Reagan in 1980."
"And keep your mouth shut about the trillions we've stashed offshore."

danh

January 31, 2013 11:21am

I'm glad David Sirota is on top of the game.

I think the first two paragraphs are the most succinct description i've seen yet of how President Obama operates.

What to do?

Well, i'd say be sure to vote in every election, especially the primaries.

And in the general election, if both major candidates are traitors to the people, then vote Green (as Alan says). Or just about any other 3rd party if for some reason you don't want to vote Green.

If your major party candidate is not delivering the goods, then you are wasting your vote, imho.

RealityBites

January 31, 2013 11:15am

Obama is nothing but Bush with a tan. Same liars wars, same patriot act, same torture... Only a psycho can send someone else's child to die in a liars war.

makaainana

January 31, 2013 11:15am

Grrrreat Article. Right on. Our President speaks peace and acts war.
"Your actions are so loud I can't hear your words."

Look at his latest appointments.

Hagel as Sec Def. Hagel is known to be ready to cut the military and its budget. A popular agenda.

Brennan a drone, torture, rendition advocate to CIA.

The result. Obama pleases the "Cut Military" and "Bring them home" crowd.
At the same time he builds up his personal secret army with Brennan and the CIA.

He is then free of Congressional Oversight and needs no declarations of war.
His CIA army is his to command without oversight.

Congress needs to pass a law that says the intelligence services must not engage in war and must stick to intelligence gathering. and any violence committed is solely unplanned spur of the moment self defense of the agent.

Additionally the new law should stop special forces from acts of war that are not overt military and carried out in a "legal" combat zone.

JL Stiles

January 31, 2013 10:57am

Yes, yes and yes, thank you David Sirota. You won't find Obama sheep on here commenting, those little sycophantic worms.

frigate

January 31, 2013 10:52am

Is Obama the greatest trick the devil ever pulled?

Alan8

January 31, 2013 10:41am

Finally someone noticed the president's scam.

He learned this from Clinton, who said "I feel your pain!". The voters ate it up, and didn't seem to notice how Clinton INCREASED their pain through NAFTA and the WTO agreements that put corporate profits above workers, consumers, and the environment.

The solution? STOP VOTING FOR CORPORATE-FUNDED PARTIES!

The Green Party is the progressive alternative: http://www.jillstein.org/summary_green_new_deal

Your Green vote sends a message to the corporate politicians that the values in the link above are what we'll vote for. And this message is sent even if the Green you vote for loses.

Jeffrey Hill

January 31, 2013 10:39am

Obama the Neocon U. Constitutional law professor subscribes to the neocon values of perpetual war and using dishonesty to obtain and keep political power.

The corporatist president has made Wall Street's financial health his top priority making sure to protect his thieving Wall Street "Savvy Businessmen" buddies from criminal prosecutions and imprisonment despite the fact of blatant criminal misconduct (megafraud, deceptive business practices, rackeeteering, megamortgage fraud, megaforeclosure fraud, "evidence" falsification, perjury, LIBOR rigging, massive money laundering for drug cartels and terrorist organizations, etc.).

It's amazing how stupid, arrogant, dishonest, and morally bankrupt Obama and Holder (as well as Geithner and others) are for telling the public that no crimes were committed by the Wall Street thieves -- that's the kind of unmitigated audacity that Nixon had which manifested itself in his words, "I am not a crook." and "Anything the president does is legal."

belleville

January 31, 2013 10:39am

I thought the economy was set back 1/2% due to military cuts of some 30%. What was that all about?