Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Obama talking sense

This post may disturb some of my leftish friends, but I'm thanking my stars in the aftermath of Paris that we have a President who is seven years in office. He never has to face a misinformed, xenophobic, and easily frightened electorate again. He has learned that U.S. power has many limits. And he still shows some instinct to avoid "dumb" wars. Obama was goaded into telling the press a lot of truths Monday at the G20 summit in Turkey.

“What I do not do is take actions either because it is going to work politically or it is going to somehow, in the abstract, make America look tough or make me look tough.”

... he said large numbers of American troops on the ground would repeat what he sees as the mistake of the Iraq invasion of 2003 and would not help solve the terrorism problem around the globe.

“That would be a mistake, not because our military could not march into Mosul or Raqqa or Ramadi and temporarily clear out ISIL, but because we would see a repetition of what we’ve seen before,” Mr. Obama said. Victory over terrorist groups, he said, requires local populations to push back “unless we’re prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries.”

... he said he would not be pressured into “posing” as a tough president by doing things that will not make the situation better to satisfy his critics.

“Some of them seem to think that if I was just more bellicose in expressing what we’re doing, that that would make a difference,” he said. “Because that seems to be the only thing that they’re doing, is talking as if they’re tough.”

... “The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism; they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife,” Mr. Obama said. He added: “We do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”

Without naming him, Mr. Obama singled out a comment by former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, one of the Republicans seeking to succeed him, for suggesting the United States focus special attention on Christian refugees. “That’s shameful,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not American. It’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

New York Times

Now we've seen him back off a lot of other relatively sane things he said before. Maybe he'll crumble and plunge us into more ground war this time too. He did that in Afghanistan. Not only will the Republican clown show howl for his head, but the C.I.A. is already trying to use Daesh atrocities to justify more and better spying. Will he give them their latest wish list? Can he keep his grip on reality?

In truth, the U.S. practice, as opposed to promises, of providing refuge to escapees from Syria stinks -- less than 2000 admitted since the civil war broke out.

And the Syria policy -- a preposterous attempt to defeat two sides of a civil war at once -- is not likely to succeed.

But people in the United States who know better than to respond to Daesh crimes with more atrocities need to be making our voices heard. For the moment, that means having this deeply flawed President's back. He certainly can't stay his course if left out on a limb among the hostile mob.

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