Can the US Stop Being a Blundering Giant?

Perhaps the most painful part of the wildly ill-conceived response to 9/11 was the way in which the US behaved like a blundering giant, lashing out at the world, smashing things like Iraq that had nothing to do with the attacks.  The Bush administration’s policies – arrest, torture, secret prisons, drone attacks, two failed wars – were seductive and disastrous and arose from a worldview formed by the Cold  War that saw the world in stark, dualistic ways.

The Obama administration had been stymied by Congress in its efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.  They’ve managed to unwind our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and this week the President delivered the kind of speech that reminded me why I liked him in the first place – morally, ethically he seems to understand the issues, to speak them eloquently.  Too rarely, he’s matched his rhetoric and his action.  But at long last, it seems he wants to move our nation in the right direction, giving up the seductiveness of the imperial presidency and its vast powers.

In an article for the AP, from KSL, for example:

Some call it wishful thinking, but President Barack Obama has all but declared an end to the global war on terror.

Obama is not claiming final victory over extremists who still seek to kill Americans and other Westerners. Instead, he is refocusing the long struggle against terrorism that lies ahead, steering the United States away from what he calls an equally frightening threat – a country in a state of perpetual war. In doing so, Obama recasts the image of the terrorists themselves, from enemy warriors to cowardly thugs and resets the relationship between the U.S. and Islam.

The point is that the tools needed to successfully combat terrorists aren’t armies and drones.

Maureen Dowd, channeling her inner smart person, wrote about the President’s speech.

After four years of bending the Constitution, the constitutional law professor now in the White House is trying to unloose the Gordian knot of W.’s martial and moral overreaches after 9/11.

Safely re-elected, President Obama at long last spoke bluntly about the Faustian deals struck by his predecessor, some of them cravenly continued by his own administration.

The rest of her article describes her visit to Bush’s presidential library, with more than few choice phrases:

You could fill an entire other library with what’s not in W.’s.


Decision Points Theater — a whiny “Well, you try being the Decider” enterprise — lets you make the decisions after getting taped briefings on W.’s crises from actors playing experts. But it is rigged with so many false binary options that the visitors I voted with ended up agreeing with Bush’s patently wrong calls on Iraq and Katrina.

I’m reminded that throughout his Presidency, Barack Obama has been a maddeningly cautious and centrist leader.  The result has been a slow, but steady, progression in the right direction.  No whiplash policy changes for this president, instead a constantly calibrating and recalibrating movement away from the disastrous policies of the Bush administration.

The War On Terror was always a misnamed, mishandled, misconceived thing, a disaster from beginning to end.  It was a fatally misconceived adventure that did more damage than good.  If at long last the Obama administration is turning away from it, rejecting its tactic and premises, I’ll suffice to say better late than never.

  1. #1 by Richard Warnick on May 26, 2013 - 11:29 am

    President Obama has too often taken on the role of Bystander-in-Chief. He issued an executive order to close Guantanamo, but did nothing. The Bush policy of indefinite detention and military commissions continues. He meekly went along with the generals (McChrystal and Petraeus) on a misbegotten counterinsurgency plan for Afghanistan that had zero chance of working (unless we replaced the Afghan so-called government, and committed half a million troops in a landlocked country halfway around with world, which would have been a logistical nightmare). He let the CIA go past the point of diminishing returns with drone warfare, killing 50 innocent civilians for every “suspected militant.” Four U.S. citizens were killed, three by accident. Oops.

    The best that can be said about the President’s new speech is it reflects some regret about these blunders. But he says it’s mostly up to Congress to fix things, and we know how that goes.

  2. #2 by obama's jack booted truncheon wielding goons on May 26, 2013 - 11:45 am

    The answer is no Glendon, and this presitwit might as well give up his imperial power before it is removed from him for its egregious abuse.

    The president is the leader and CIC. To at this late date, after years of progressive chest pounding, the turning of tail and the whitewash of the criminal man in president they have so unconditionally supported will not wash away so easily.

    So Sorry.

  3. #3 by Richard Warnick on May 26, 2013 - 11:59 am

    In his speech Thursday, President Obama said: “I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.”

    Why wait? The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force doesn’t need refining — it needs repealing, now. Let the President know we’re engaged. Tell him and Congress to repeal endless war.

    H.R.198 — Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the only member of Congress to vote against the September 2001 AUMF).

  4. #4 by cav on May 26, 2013 - 12:30 pm

    To all Hawks: Please feel free to savage any and all talk, massaging, however small, that may someday turn this beast from its present, most lucrative, path.

    We understand that is your job.

    For the time being.

  5. #5 by Larry Bergan on May 26, 2013 - 8:05 pm

    Glenden said:

    The War On Terror was always a misnamed, mishandled, misconceived thing, a disaster from beginning to end. It was a fatally misconceived adventure that did more damage than good. If at long last the Obama administration is turning away from it, rejecting its tactic and premises, I’ll suffice to say better late than never.


    I think it was a powerful speech and it gives me hope. I think Obama has got the Republicans flummoxed, but they’ll die before they ever admit it.

  6. #6 by Salt Lake City Joe on May 28, 2013 - 11:16 am

    I don’t think the US can stop being a blundering giant without stopping being a giant. The “committee” that must be taken into account is too big, no matter what the issue, to yield a result that is lacking. Look at the issues named – both the republican administration which settled on opening Guantanamo as a detainment center and the democratic administration that (says it) wants to close made the decisions that result in what we see today through a “committee” process. The same can be said of initiating and winding down hostilities in Iraq and Afganistan.

  7. #7 by obama's jack booted truncheon wielding goons on May 28, 2013 - 12:18 pm

    Funny that obama adopted the drone, a nazi terror weapon banned at Nuremburg, for his weapon of choice the assassin.

    I cannot believe how low progressive scum will bend to make excuses for this drone murder terrorist criminal of a president.

    I would say aren’t you embarrassed but didn’t you all vote for the Schmuck?

    • #8 by Richard Warnick on May 29, 2013 - 9:46 am

      Enlighten me. What part of the Nuremberg principles banned UAVs?

      I never voted for President Obama. I vote third-party.

  8. #9 by obama's jack booted truncheon wielding goons on May 29, 2013 - 9:59 am

    The V-1 and 2 we’re defined as drones, and terror weapons. Their use was then made illegal..

    If you call what these terror weapons are now, UAV’s, fine, you can join the nazis in support of their and our own use of terror weapons.

    That is how cultural death occurs, one piece at a time. The semantics you now play condone murder, and excuse the policy of preemption, disavowed by the likes of Eisenhower, and many other well regarded military and political leaders.

    Nuremberg banned wars of aggression and the means to perpetrate them. The V-1 and 2 as vengeance weapons, and in the case of the US, they weapons of pre meditation, banned, and fall under this ruling..

    There is some serious cluelessness going on about the morality and ethics of what this criminal president has done.

    He has used terror weapons in preemption.

    He deserves the rope..

    • #10 by Richard Warnick on May 29, 2013 - 10:33 am

      So your contention is that cruise missiles (like the V-1) and ballistic missiles (like the V-2) were illegal after World War II?

      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Or ANY proof.

  9. #11 by obama's jack booted truncheon wielding goons on May 29, 2013 - 10:09 am

    I have to wonder Mr Richard Warnick Nixon, why the hell then, as a 3rd party voter, you carry this drone murder terrorist criminal president’s water?

    • #12 by Richard Warnick on May 29, 2013 - 10:27 am

      Name calling = “I’ve got no facts or logic to back up what I’m saying.”

  10. #13 by obama's jack booted truncheon wielding goons on May 29, 2013 - 1:44 pm

    Tell it to the judge Mr. Richard Nixon, better yet the court of public opinion. The facts all speak for themselves, 4 major scandals at once, and the presitwit doesn’t know anything.

    You are the one claiming you didn’t vote for him yet you shill on his behalf at every opportunity. this leaves you with absolutely no credibility.

    So you deserve the name, as any arguments defending this disaster make you sound like nixon. Anytime you can hop aboard the reality train we can be friends, but you will be Dippy Dick to me.

    They were defined as terror weapons throughout the ENTIRETY of their use by the nazis, by the allies, also called a “coward’s weapon”. I guess when werner starting building them for our way behind military, they became ok.

    That does not change a thing, they were and are defined as terror weapons. Our leaders just fell to terrorism and amoral unethical warfare.

    No matter how you slice it, nothing to be proud of. At all.

    Nuremburg defined what terrorism and illegal war was, and drones were included in that, despite the attitude being promptly dropped as the allies became victors, that however,plays zero bearing on whether or not you think the weapons are illegal.

    Since the US has used these kinds of terrorist weapons constantly since acquiring them, it is hardly a wonder that we as a People and a government are becoming and simply are HATED. That’s what being terrorist engenders.


    For the record the German’s, from which nazism sprang, have defined tanks as terror weapons if the enemy does not have them. To wit they sell them, but no longer make them for their own use…Terrorist weapon..

    A new world is emerging Mr warnick nixon, and you in the deep weeds..

    The proof is in the protocols defined by Nuremburg and it’s trials, which in error were not maintained, and that the human race shall and is regretting probably… forever..

    If you have any doubts about the unethical aspect of drone warfare as practiced by the German’s, the Allied response of incinerating German cities and all the civilians and culture, came AFTER the drone blitz of London…it’s pretty clear what the Allies, supposedly the more legal and ethical of the combatants, thought of them..though who is bad in war is certainly defined by the victors..

    If we were droned there would be an instant revision to the legality of such an act, despite the aspect of hypocrisy so great it would be the equivalent of slamming your dick in a car door..but that doesn’t seen to be any problem WHATSOEVER, after 13 years of terrorism by both bush and obama..

    • #14 by Richard Warnick on May 29, 2013 - 2:20 pm

      I’ve stated here on One Utah that President Obama is guilty of impeachable offenses. And I’m opposed to the ACA. If that’s “shilling” then what is your definition of dissing?

      If you insist on citing the Nuremberg Trials, then a link would be helpful. And you could learn how to spell Nuremberg correctly.

      For the record, the German Army still operates armored battalions equipped with the Leopard 2, considered to be one of the best tanks in the world.

  11. #15 by obama's jack booted truncheon wielding goons on May 30, 2013 - 7:34 pm

    You could also learn to not begin a sentence with “and”, it is not done in the English language, but truly I do not care. So you have spelling as an answer to the troublesome path America has taken since “Nuremberg”. Good to know.

    As for the tanks, the Germans will no longer be buying anymore Leopards for themselves, they are to easy to destroy. Although our American CBO is recommending that we buy this, before we attempt to construct another military hunk of junk disaster..this rig can destroy about anything and is very versatile.

    I would say the Leopard 3 is the best tank in the world.

  12. #18 by brewski on May 31, 2013 - 2:26 pm

    Dear obama’s jack booted truncheon wielding goons,
    Richard is not a schill for Obama. Richard is a paid plant for Krugman, Thinkregress, Alternet, FDL, MSNBC and a bunch of other for profit embarrassments. He is pretty efficient at it. Sometimes he doesn’t even bother making any comment of his own while he just posts a link to one of his benefactors regardless of how weak and inaccurate the link is. Then if you counter his feelings with actual data he just waves his arms and mumbles something about how “everyone knows” and changes the subject. He really isn’t very good at this but you have to give him points for shear tenacity. Paid spokespeople can be that way. He is just like the guy in “Thank you for smoking”. He can rationalize any position if he is paid enough. That is the only explanation.

  13. #19 by Larry Bergan on May 31, 2013 - 4:58 pm


    Blame the other side of what you’re doing. You’re following the Karl Rove playbook perfectly.

    Atta boy!

  14. #20 by cav on May 31, 2013 - 6:11 pm

    No doubt at all it’s the president’s fault!

    Which prez? McCain or Obama. Only the republicans can know for sure.

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