Monday, February 16, 2015

Are We Heading Back Into a "Global War on Terror?"

In a way, Paul Waldman is correct in saying that - with ISIS - we're seeing the re-emergence of the "global war on terror." For the last three years I've been hopeful that the Obama presidency would mean an end to this indefinite war. It's now clear that is not likely to happen. But Waldman needlessly ramps up the rhetoric by implying that this one will resemble the one waged by the Bush/Cheney administration.

For starters, we're not seeing torture employed or "enemy combatants" sent to Gitmo. But the big difference is that we're not hearing lies about the need to invade the wrong country. The "regime change" that was necessary for Iraq to effectively fight back against ISIS was done via diplomacy rather than "shock and awe."

Another big difference is that this time there really is a "coalition of the willing." Much of that is a result of the fact that Muslim countries in the Middle East are significantly more threatened by ISIS than we are. Just recently Jordan, UAE, Egypt and Libya either joined the battle or stepped up their efforts due to atrocities committed by ISIS. That is an affirmation of how President Obama described the situation.
But this is going to be a generational challenge in the Muslim world and the Middle East that not only the United States but everybody's going to have to deal with. And we're going to have to have some humility in recognizing that we don't have the option of simply invading every country where disorder breaks out. And that to some degree, the people of these countries are going to have to, you know, find their own way. And we can help them but we can't do it for them.
In the end, Waldman acknowledges that a return to the "global war on terror" of the past will be more of a possibility if our next president is a Republican.
So as much as anything this debate [about the AUMF against ISIS] is about what powers the next president will have. Republicans pushing for a more expansive authorization are hoping that president will be a Republican, and that this resolution can be a tool for him to renew the Global War on Terror to all its former glory. Which could happen whether a resolution passes or not.
With that perspective in mind, I'd say that whether or not we return to the Bush/Cheney "global war on terror" is a question that American voters will decide in 2016 rather than Congress this session. As the saying goes...ELECTIONS MATTER!!!


  1. Obama's quote above is spot on. Every word of it. The Muslim world has to reach a point where they and their leaders say enough is enough. If they cannot or will not, the rest of the world can't do it for them. All the GOP cares about is revving up the Military/Industrial Complex year after year.

    1. This president is accomplishing what progressive have demanded - we are NOT running the wars. The local nations and people impacted by ISIS and its horrific genocidal actions are stepping in, leading the response, and the USA is just the support team. This. Is. What. We. Want.

      To the ridiculous naysayers who see the president's actions as an open door for oil grabs and more US imperialism are just so much knee-jerk (racist?) reaction. This president has fundamentally altered the way a superpower engages as an ally of those whose lives are affected by specific events. We have finally begun to do what we know we must - respect national sovereignty and support local control.

      So yes - whoever the next president is will determine whether we become a mature democracy or a whiny would-be imperial power. Every pundit who says they cannot 'see' a foreign policy is someone who is not paying attention. Addressing situations with a sharp precision rather than a club to beat at will is amazing. That is what we want from any future president. The question, of course, is whether anyone - ANYONE - apparently running in 2016 has this much maturity, wisdom, and moral vision.