Saturday, January 7, 2012

Obama: "We're turning the page on a decade of war"

Lately I've been speculating that one of the things on President Obama's agenda is ending the indefinite war that started after 9/11. This means more than just getting out of Afghanistan (as important as that is). It also means that, for those concerned about civil liberties, things like the AUMF and NDAA provisions will be ended as well.

This week, President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced their proposals for reducing our defense budget. Here are a couple of phrases from the President's introductory remarks to that announcement.

Now we’re turning the page on a decade of war...

...the tide of war is receding.

David Ignatius at the Washington Post noticed.

It was easy to miss the impact of Obama’s words: He was declaring that the era that began on Sept. 11, 2001, is over. Al-Qaeda’s top leader is dead, and most of its cadres are on the run; secret peace talks are under way with the Taliban. And across the Arab world, the United States is talking with Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist organizations that a few years ago might have been on terror lists. It’s a process that’s similar to the way Britain ended its long war with Irish terrorists, by engaging in negotiations with the IRA’s “political” wing.
(Emphasis mine)

Want to talk about a transformational president? I'd suggest that closing the book on the 9/11 era would do it! Other than giving our economy a chance to get back on an even keel, I can't think of anything more important for this country.


  1. Smartypants, this is excellent. I have, as one who was engaged nationally in abolishing our nation's use of terror, been watching this president move away not just from the Bush Doctrine but the Cold War. He has rejected use of the National Security Council Memor #68 that, in 1947, insisted the US had to respond aggressively to every hiccup in any foreign land. Obama has not rushed in to any situation, has solicited international presence on issues then worked cooperatively with the UN, NATO, etc., and has not also rushed to embrace RW thugs such as in Honduras. Some criticize the move to include Honduras in the OAS - but that gives local control to Latin American nations over the Honduran actions rather than making the US the Big Daddy over them all. These (not so secret) discussions with Muslim groups, with those who are not yet acting as terrorists is indeed exactly what the UK did with the IRA. Bringing groups and nations into the political world to have a say over their own lives is essential to ending the Superpowers-Rule-the-World post-WW II polity. Historians of empire know that there is a breaking point for empires when the cost of social control via military or police bankrupts those empires. Said empires have collapsed always under the weight of their dominance. Human beings do not stay passive when they are oppressed, and for our nation to wake up to this and remove the boot heel of our domination from the necks of so many nations is to improve our very survival as a nation. Those pounding the drumbeat of eternal war are getting less and less attention, and those - Paul - who pretend to be anti-war simply to remove government from aggression and free corporations to engage in it, are also showing their moral, political, and intellectual bankruptcy.

    This president is about as far-sighted and intelligent as any we've ever had. His protection of our nation rests on our doing the right thing, honoring other nation's and people's sovereignty, not just perpetuating business as usual for our national ego. We are ending decades of unwarranted expenditure of our political as well as fiscal capital but, more important, regaining our legitimacy and survival in the process.

  2. Anonymous

    Thanks so much for pointing to the bigger picture on how President Obama is engaging in a very progressive foreign policy.

    One of the things that's been frustrating for me to watch is how most people ignored the dramatic changes that have happened in South America over the last 10 years. To see Obama pay homage to Oscar Romero in El Salvador was a moment that will forever be one of the most profound of his presidency to me.

  3. The one question I have with regard to this is who, exactly, has the authority to declare the "war" started on 9/11 to be officially over?

  4. Chris,

    That is a good question and I don't know the answer.

    The AUMF was passed by Congress and says:

    "That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."


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