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Monday, March 25, 2019

President Obama made only one veto threat during his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.

“The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible,” he said, referring to the economic, trade, scientific and military sanctions on Iran. “But let me be clear: If this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it.”

And this threat — unlike his promises to go around Congress to improve America’s domestic situation — was targeted at Democrats, who had been plotting with Senate Republicans to pass new sanctions against the Persian nation even though an interim agreement preventing weapons-grade nuclear enrichment is now in effect.

This strong stand against his own party came in the middle of the last quarter of the president’s speech, which was entirely focused on honoring the troops and using their sacrifice to make the case for a humble but vigilant foreign policy.

President Obama won the Democratic nomination largely because of his opposition to a war. He saw his timetable for withdrawal from Iraq adopted by President Bush as a presidential candidate, and carried out that timeline as president. Still, critics have blasted his embrace of “dirty wars,” which include expanded use of drones, reportedly leading to hundreds of civilian casualties.

The president also approved a military surge in Afghanistan, which he quickly lost faith in, according to his former defense secretary. Despite this, several thousand American soldiers may remain in the country, even though that would likely not be enough secure the limited gains of more than a decade of war.

Critics still argue that the president’s willingness to leave a residual force in the country where we have waged our longest war, along with his failure to close Guantánamo Bay prison or rein in the surveillance state, indicate that he has been captured by the defense establishment.

But the idea that all that stands between America and the end of a perpetual war is President Obama has been completely confounded by his administration’s courageous efforts to forge a long-term nuclear deal with Iran, which could avoid a war even more destructive and costly than the one we waged in Iraq. 

The push to enact new sanctions that would sabotage negotiations with Iran has reunited the coalition that helped bring us the invasion that deposed Saddam Hussein: moderate Democrats and neo-conservatives. But with the wisdom of that failed adventure behind them, even some hawks support the president’s forceful insistence that peace should be given a chance.

The death of Osama bin Laden and shattering of al Qaeda’s core had led to a diffusion and expansion of that network. Throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia, groups loosely affiliated with al Qaeda represent an ideology of radical Islamists seemingly unified by a willingness to attack civilians. The president has signaled no willingness to give up the fight to contain them, though he said again Tuesday that “America must move off a permanent war footing.”

President Obama’s success in fighting terror has given Democrats an advantage on national security that they have not seen in generations, providing him with the confidence to speak out against even his own party in the name of diplomacy.

Since just weeks after 9/11, America has been engaged in active combat somewhere in the world at all times. A military conflict with Iran could extend that decade and a half by a decade — or decades — more. While the idea that terrorism could ever be defeated is a fairytale that has been dismissed, the idea that America could be finished with “large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism” is still very viable — if negotiations are given a chance to succeed.

The president closed his speech by paying tribute to the determination and sacrifice of Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg, who was seriously injured in his 10th deployment to Afghanistan.

The absurdity of 10 deployments in a war that was ultimately unwinnable, especially after resources were diverted to Iraq, was the subtext of the president’s argument: We must honor the men and women who serve by not starting new wars that can never be won.

Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT


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19 responses to “President Obama’s Greatest Ambition: Leaving America Without A War”

  1. daniel bostdorf says:

    “The president closed his speech by paying tribute to the determination
    and sacrifice of Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg, who was seriously
    injured in his 10th deployment to Afghanistan.”

    All of us are Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg….. in spirit.
    This country has been seriously
    injured by 911 and the 2 wars we engaged in over false claims of weapons of mass destruction…

    The metaphor of an individual, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg, who has sacrificed everything… yet still prevails against what war has done…. applies to the determination, resillience of all of us albeit not the physical trauma and horror of Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg….

    America has barely survived the overreaction politics of Bush/Cheney and the evil “Patriot Act” that wa s a WAR on the spirit of our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    The Patriot Act and NSA abuses have inflicted SERIOUS harm to the American people.

    Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg is a metaphor for what war does.
    Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg. is a metaphor for our country overcoming the evils of war.

    Jason Sattller brilliantly sums it up:

    “Since just weeks after 9/11, America has been engaged in active combat
    somewhere in the world at all times. A military conflict with Iran could
    extend that decade and a half by a decade — or decades — more. While
    the idea that terrorism could ever be defeated is a fairytale that has
    been dismissed, the idea that America could be finished with
    “large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed
    extremism” is still very viable — if negotiations are given a chance to

    Obama wants us to leave America without war.
    Obama wants us to leave America with peace.
    Obama wants us to have a united global community based in love….not fear.

    Jason again:
    “We must honor the men and women who serve by not starting new wars that can never be won.”

  2. disqus_ivSI3ByGmh says:

    Leaving the country without a war? Not if John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Benjamin Netenyahu have anything to say about it!

    • Allan Richardson says:

      Which U.S. State or Congressional district does Netanyahu represent? Answer: none of them! Even the ones with a majority Jewish population have a majority AMERICAN Jewish population, and AMERICAN Jews do not automatically say yes to everything Israel wants to do.

  3. howa4x says:

    The president has realized that fighting the new brand of terrorism cannot be done by large armies but rather special forces backed up by drones. I know the left doesn’t like them but they are effective. Problem is collateral damage, but there would be much if we sent troops in, and people forget that. Also the current jihad fighters come in all types of different organizations. Most are local and have local support in their areas. In Syria they came in to help the Sunni Syrians fight the Shia Syrians. In Islamic countries there is a new civil war emerging. One fought between different sects of the same religion. Mostly like the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. British troops couldn’t stop it and terrorism was the weapon of the Irish who were outgunned. This is the new landscape we face.
    Iran doesn’t want war but look at it from their perspective. We just finished fighting 2 hot wars on both borders and our Navy controls the Strait of Hormuz which borders their country. They support their brothers in war and back Shia clients, much like we have done for our client Saudi Arabia.
    We cannot become enmeshed in this regional civil war. We should have learned that in Viet Nam. Besides we need nation building at home. Lets rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and let the Middle east sort it out.

    • SeekingOut says:

      Good post. I agree that using drones is a smart idea and collateral damage is unavoidable under all options. I suspect that some of the “civilian” losses are more correctly people consorting with the Al Qaeda warriors in one way or another, which they will not admit to.

      Regarding war with Iran, from what I’m reading and hearing, the majority of the Iranian people want normalization of relations with the US. This is, imho, a great opportunity to develop an important friend in the Middle East.

      • howa4x says:

        The neo-cons always want war. Part of the reason they do is because too much of our economy depends on industrial jobs liked to weapons production. We need to create a different economy and link those jobs with creating the manufacturing and energy future of tomorrow

    • Dominick Vila says:

      You are right, shifting military strategy from large crusades to targeting specific foes may occasionally cause collateral damage, but that is preferable to what happened in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan where hundreds of people were slaughtered…and nothing was accomplished.
      The old “domino effect” reflected the paranoia that consumed our psyche decades ago, and like all the excuses used to invade hapless Iraq, they were used to support our arms industry, achieve personal goals, advance our economic interests, and impose our values and culture on others…even when it was obvious that our culture is as offensive to them as theirs is to us. Fear, greed, intolerance, and arrogance have driven our foreign policy for decades. Hopefully, President Obama’s approach will be the start of a new era for us, but I doubt it. There is simply too much money at stake for peace to last indefinitely.

      • howa4x says:

        Good post!
        Most Americans don’t realize that the CIA really works for our corporations by defending their interests around the world. They were the ones that destabilized a freely elected government in Iran because BP was being nationalized and as a favor to the British. We installed a brutal dictator Shah Pahlavi who used our weapons to suppress his own people and especially against the Kurds. This is why we were hated after the revolution since we were propping up a suppressor to his people who jailed both intellectuals and religious clerics.
        The actions of the CIA, and our foreign policy in the 1950-60s and 70’s created the problems we have today. Between us and the British, who drew the current map after ww1 that created countries where populations of mutual hatred existed between Shia, and Sunnis. We need to show Iran that we are sorry and start a new relationship based on mutual respect and aligned interests.

        • Dominick Vila says:

          Let’s not forget the way we helped, armed and trained the Jihhadists, including Osama bin Laden, when they were fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan; the way we helped the infamous Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, including giving him satellite imagery that suggested collusion between the Kurds and Iranian with predictable results; the way we ignored Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11; the fact that our decision to invade Iraq was influenced, in part, by Saudi Arabia’s threat to discontinue U.S. Treasury bond purchases and grant lucrative contracts to companies from other countries if we didn’t invade Iraq, whose forces were close to the Saudi border.
          Our record is far from glamorous or logical, and it is probably the most important reason for the overt hatred that so many people throughout the Islamic world and other parts of the world have towards us.
          Needless to say, you are right about the removal of Mossadegh and his replacement with Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

      • Independent1 says:

        Those who bemoan the collateral damage of drone attacks, fail to take into account several things: 1) as you pointed out, there would most likely be collateral civilian casualties no matter what method was used to get to and eliminate the terrorists threatening American and other innocent civilians’ lives, 2) sending in American agents or troops to deal with these terrorists may also result not only in collateral civilian casualties, but also casualties to those sent in after the terrorists – such that even more lives may be lost and 3) they give little regard to the lives of the innocent civilians (for which it’s impossible to make an estimate) whose lives have been saved by using the drones to eliminate the terrorists.

    • latebloomingrandma says:

      Exactly! Especially since the President stated we have greatly reduced our reliance on foreign oil.

  4. TZToronto says:

    Almost any cultural anthropologist could have told the U.S. that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would not have good outcomes. Just like they could have told LBJ and RMN that the Vietnam War was unwinnable. But do you think anyone listens to people who know? No, jingoistic leaders listen to opportunistic people who have agendas other than doing what’s best for America. . . . As Deep Throat said, “Follow the money.” All anyone has to do is look at the example of Yugoslavia. Tito, like Saddam Hussein, held the country together (sometimes brutally) and, for the most part, neutralized tribal animosities that would otherwise have ripped the country apart. Once Tito was gone, well, just look at what happened. And thanks to Bush and Cheney and their Neocon pals, Iraq has turned into a similar mess.

  5. Sand_Cat says:

    Even if he succeeds, the first GOP president to follow him will likely “correct” the situation promptly.

    • Independent1 says:

      Absolutely! But let’s hope that at least some of our congressional representatives have learned something from the charades of the Bush & Cheney debacle and will provide some bushback on America getting involved in another war. (Of course I wouldn’t bet my life on that happening.)

  6. Todd Nelson says:

    Due to Obama’s giving the Iranians the money to finish their nuclear weapons, there won’t be any protracted war. The Iranians will finish their quest for a nuclear weapon and try to nuke Israel and Israel will nuke them, leading to a good old thermonuclear war. Thank Barack Obama when the mushroom clouds start going up. Yeah, he’s done a great job in stopping war. That is sarcasm about his great job, just in case you couldn’t tell

  7. Robert Roberto says:

    When every country showers other countries with nuclear bombs there will never be anymore wars.

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