The War Of The Two Obamas


I’m going to make this one simple, everyone. After all, if the fact that 91 percent of Americans want war in Syria almost as much as they want Obamacare, union thugs at their workplaces and the National Security Agency reading their emails doesn’t stop President Barack Obama from sending our service personnel to the sand-infested craphole next door to the one they just left, there’s only one other person who might be able to stop them at the goal line: Obama.

Actually, I’ll yield the floor to then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, who shared the following foreign policy gem with a crowd of redoubtably anti-war Democrats in October 2002:

I don’t oppose all wars. 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 attempt…to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals… That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power… The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him… But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors… and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

The same guy who wants to start rolling tanks into Syria in the immediate future said that about rolling tanks into Iraq just more than a decade ago. I know Obama likes to frame his policy shifts in terms of “evolution,” but asking us to keep straight faces on that magnificent a hypocrisy is just plain mean. Expecting us not to notice that he suddenly got serious about flexing military muscle at the same moment his stateside scandals reached a new fever pitch is likewise cruel. It’s almost as vicious as requiring the entire Democratic machine twist itself like a double-jointed Cirque Du Soleil contortionist on prescription muscle relaxers. By the way, Saddam had definitely used chemical weapons on his own people and invaded other countries, facts that cannot be welded to the current Syrian mess.

Having dispensed with his Presidency, let me point out the silver lining in the latest leaden cloud that floats above us: Neocon warmongers like Paul Wolfowitz and Karl Rove may be fading, but their heirs have been made apparent. Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and many members of the Republican establishment are standing up to be counted with Obama on Syria. The Republicans — who, theoretically, should be our white knights against the Democratic Huns — have turned their lances on us. They’re so enamored of war that they’ll even side with Obama — not to mention al-Qaida (it’s true, kiddies!) — for the chance to lob cruise missiles into another place with a funny-sounding name.

Meanwhile, Obama has arrived at loggerheads with his former self. His latest ploy involves attempting to make his war in Syria a referendum on everyone’s credibility but his own. At least he has that part right. It’s not as if he has any credibility to spare.

–Ben Crystal

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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