Patience isn’t usually my thing.
I’ve tried to be patient with President Obama, waiting all year for signs of that change I voted for. I held my tongue while meaningful health care reform turned into 2,000 pages of oatmeal. I kept quiet while bankers walked off with all that bailout money, trusting that the alternative was another Great Depression. I allowed myself a moment of hope and pride when the president tooled around the world promising a more conciliatory and diplomatic America.
But this is what I’ve been waiting for? This is change?
I understand the need to think things through and do some behind-the-scenes arm twisting before acting on complex matters, especially because the last president acted like Yosemite Sam on mescaline. But after all that waiting, President Obama’s Afghanistan plan is worthy of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Robert McNamara. And the West Point speech was reminiscent of the former Malapropist-in-Chief himself.
Once again, we’re going to spread freedom. We’re going to fight ’em over there so we don’t have to fight ’em over here. All that was missing was “wanted, dead or alive” and “Mission Accomplished.” Wow. I wish Obama had just come out and said, “I’m surging in Afghanistan; suck it, America,” instead of rehashing all that mendacious fear mongering.
So Bush’s war is now Obama’s war, and Bush’s lies are now Obama’s lies. The West Point speech was Obama’s We-Found-the-WMD moment. His I-Did-Not-Have-Sexual-Relations-With-That-Woman moment. His Iran-Contra, Gulf of Tonkin, Cuban Missile, Sally Hemings moment. And Obama’s lies are right out in the open.
Lie No. 1: This is a war. Just like the “wars” on drugs, poverty, cancer, gluten and stupid, there is no true battlefield in the “War on Terror.” Our troops gamely claw across desolate mountaintops; the bad guys duck and run and hide in caves and send out frightened, angry, desperate children to blow themselves up. The best way to prevent terrorism might be subject to debate, but the solution is not war.
Lie No. 2: Occupying Afghanistan prevents terrorism on American soil. For every terrorist we root out, we create 100 more with our 100,000-soldier, $40 billion-per-year occupational footprint.
Lie No. 3: We can outmuscle terrorists. Instead of trying to outmuscle a handful of murderous religious psychopaths, we should be outwitting them. Instead of fighting a last-millennium ground war, we should be sending James Bond, Spiderman, Chuck Norris, Steve Jobs, The Invisible Woman and those guys from Facebook who tricked everybody in America into posting photos of themselves sucking on beer bongs. Today in America we have millions of teenagers having sex via their cell phones. I refuse to believe the civilization that created in-vitro meat and stock derivatives can’t think up a better next-gen method for stopping terrorists than sending tens of thousands of our precious children into the wrong country again to beat them on the head with sticks.
Lie No. 4: The Taliban is the enemy. Nobody can truly even say who the Taliban is (most experts believe them to be an amalgam of Colonel Klink, Borat and Dwight Shrute), but most everybody agrees: They are not al Qaeda.
Unlike Bush, Obama is too smart for all of this, which is why his West Point speech was so feeble. His words were Bushian, but his thought balloons exposed a keen understanding of Terrorism 101: With a steady supply of despondent young men and some nail bombs, you can trick rich nations into destroying their own economies, abandoning their principles of freedom, shredding their constitutions and sacrificing their children’s blood on an unlimited supply of barren mountaintops.
War hawks like John McCain are grousing about Obama’s promise to begin withdrawing troops in 18 months, but history tells us how that will go down. A year from now, without any speeches or prime-time cameras rolling, the White House will issue a statement saying the deadline was never set in stone and that conditions on the ground require a longer stay. But the real reason won’t be conditions on the ground. The real reason will be that war is crack. Military spending is American leaders’ great addiction.
And now Obama, who must endeavor to keep a straight face when he accepts his Nobel Peace Prize this week, has joined their ranks. In his speech, Obama echoed Lincoln, who said, “Right makes might.” Obama’s cause might be right, but, tragically, his plan is not.