Oliver Willis

The NY Times Is Lying About Obama And War, Again

Let us dispense with the notion that Barack Obama is “anti-war.” He never was and has never said he was. Both the media and the far left have often claimed that he held this position, but he never has.

The New York Times has once again published a hit piece disguised as news analysis. This time the question is whether Obama has betrayed his own promises on leading America at war.

Here’s how the Times piece begins:

President Obama came into office seven years ago pledging to end the wars of his predecessor, George W. Bush. On May 6, with eight months left before he vacates the White House, Mr. Obama passed a somber, little-noticed milestone: He has now been at war longer than Mr. Bush, or any other American president.

The first line is false. Obama began his campaign for president in 2007 with the promise to end the Iraq War, not any kind of pledge to end all war. That would be unrealistic and simplistic, especially for the president of the United States.

Obama is on the record as early as 2002 as someone who isn’t opposed to war under all circumstances. Here’s the opening from his 2002 speech when he was a state senator in Illinois:

Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don’t oppose all wars.

He continues:

After Sept. 11, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

In the Times piece, they acknowledge that their original premise isn’t actually true, based on Obama’s actions – but they wait four paragraphs to do so:

Granted, Mr. Obama is leaving far fewer soldiers in harm’s way — at least 4,087 in Iraq and 9,800 in Afghanistan — than the 200,000 troops he inherited from Mr. Bush in the two countries.

“Granted” our premise is nonsense. “Granted.” How cute.

Obama again showed that he was never “anti-war” in his speech upon accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009:

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there’s nothing weak — nothing passive — nothing naïve — in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

The Iraq War is over, as Obama ran on and promised. American military casualties in Iraq have gone from a peak of 904 in 2007, down to 54 in 2011 and 6 so far this year. It is absurd to act as if there has been no policy change between the Obama and Bush administrations.

In Afghanistan, where the reason for being at war is at least based on reality and not half-baked WMD lies and deception, casualties are down to 3 this year, compared to 499 in 2010 when Obama ordered the surge there.

As Obama noted, he agreed with Bush on invading Afghanistan, but even there it is clear the policy has changed.

There is an annoying tendency in the media and on the left to act as if Obama ran as part of the Dennis Kucinich peace wing of the Democratic Party, when in fact he ran – and has led – much more in line with the traditional American foreign policy consensus that existed before the Bush administration.

Bush changed the American outlook on the world into a twisted ideology where we would invade and occupy Middle Eastern countries with the insane belief that we would recreate the American Revolution there and produce democracies. It was hubris of the highest order.

I agree with most – not all – that President Obama has done on foreign policy, but it is especially beneficial to America that he doesn’t have the delusional notion that everywhere is going to magically coalesce into a Western democracy. And it is certainly not worth American lives and treasure to babysit nations (like Iraq) until they get there.

It is ultimately their country and their choice, and while we will always have a role as the world’s superpower, we can’t make those decisions for them.