Election 2012

Election's Over, Can We Focus on the Wars Now?

Barack Obama tried to extend the war in Iraq, has more troops in Afghanistan than Bush did, and is ordering drone strikes at a dizzying pace.


never forget
Ken Opprann/Norwegian Nobel Institute

Is there a charitable interpretation of much of the left's silence about Barack Obama's war policies? Either they don't know about them, they don't care about them or they find building the welfare state a more urgent cause than dismantling the warfare state. Maybe they assume he wouldn't be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate if he weren't a peacemakrer? You can suggest other interpretations in the comments.

Nevertheless, while Barack Obama built a name for himself on his 2002 opposition to the Iraq War (as a state senator out of Hyde Park, Chicago, mind you, where supporting the Iraq War would have been political suicide), he made it clear on the campaign trail he wasn't a non-interventionist. He promised if there was information on Osama bin Laden's whereabouts in Pakistan and the Pakistani government didn't act on it, he would. You couldn't get through the campaign season without hearing at least one Obama booster (or even the president himself) trumpeting that kept promise. Ending the war in Iraq was another promise Obama ran on in 2008. He claims he's kept it and campaigned on ending the Iraq war. Obama, of course, actually tried to renege on the status of forces agreement negotiated under President Bush and extend the war in Iraq.

The war in Afghanistan, meanwhile, continues. There are more troops there now than there were when Obama took office. The president, having opposed the surge in Iraq, ordered one in Afghanistan. Any opportunities for resolution created by the surge, however, were promptly wasted by his government. Afghanistan's grim milestones (2,000th dead U.S. soldier earlier this year) received a lot less attention than such milestones did during Bush's prosecution of the Iraq war. Barack Obama called Afghanistan the good war in 2008, but in 2012 the mission in Afghanistan is as muddled and open-ended as the mission in Iraq ever was.

Yet these two wars, seared into the public consciousness over the last decade, are far from a complete picture of American war abroad in the age of Obama. The president's war in Libya received scant attention during the campaign trail. Congress never approved the action, but never did anything about being ignored either. An ambassador and three other Americans were killed by militants in Benghazi on 9/11, but the incident has been decontextualized from the initial intervention in Libya that very well may have helped lead to it. Though America's intervention in Libya went along unchallenged, there was some measure of debate in Congress about its legitimacy.

Not so for America's drone war, accelerated at an outstanding pace since Barack Obama took office. In Pakistan, where statistics are clearest (though still quite murky, remember, the whole thing is technically a secret), there were about 46 drone strikes in Pakistan from 2004 until the end of the George W. Bush's presidency. Since then, there have been about 288, likely killing more than 2,000 people. (Numbers from the New America Foundation, which undercounts civilian casualties).  Most victims of drone strikes are identified as "militants" by the U.S. government. What's a militant? A Muslim male of military age, according to the definition the government uses. The government, led by a president who "cares," even targets rescuers and funerals, under the doctrine that anyone who would come to the aid of or to mourn a militant must be a militant too (you're either with us or against us). Under Obama's auspices, this drone war has extended from Pakistan to include Yemen and Somalia.

Barack Obama's victory Tuesday is being ascribed at least in part to empathy. Maybe he can spare some for these kids:

shhh, it's a secret

George W. Bush's critics (many on the left) skewered him for authorizing waterboarding, placing the issue on political center stage in his second term and forcing his apologists to insist it wasn't torture. Barack Obama's war critics so far have numbered much fewer, his apologists preferring to see no evil rather than having to engage or justify it. Here's hoping that changes in the second term.

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  1. Jesus, Reason is getting into the graphic image business hardcore over the last few days.

    1. If that’s what it takes, so be it.

      1. agreed – it works. I got a jolt when scrolling down.

        1. It works on those of us already objecting to unlimited warfare, anyway.

          1. Well then share away for maximum effect!

          2. I shared it on FB. Probably won’t get any responses though. But perhaps it will stick in the craw of an ‘bammy voter. Really, I think many of them are oblivious to the casualties of the drone war.

            1. Ditto. I expect to get lectured for it any moment now.

              1. Well as Tony would say, when you don’t offer free prostate exams you are killing children in your own country.

    2. It would work better if they were being shoved in the faces of the suburban soccer moms who voted for the fucker.

      1. Sure, but reason has a limited reach. They do what they can.

        1. I know how we can get to them – start posting this shit to Pinterest (or as I like to call it, the Vajayjay-board). Something like 25% of all women who are on the internet use pinterest.

      2. Their vaginas are unable to process such images. And even if they were, they’d just get lippy with you.

    3. It’s important that people be made aware. I asked one of my most hardcore liberal friends, who was posting several elated messages about Obama’s victory on facebook, if she was bothered by things like his involvement in drone strikes. It has barely registered on her radar.

      1. Hmm, I kind of said the same thing as ant1sthenes, but a tad more wimpily. I do feel the way you do, ant1.

      2. Afghanistan’s become a “yeah, but” talking point for the left now.

        “Yeah, I wish he would have pulled out of Afghanistan yesterday, but what would you have him do, issue a royal edict against the advice of his generals?” (Actually said to me, paraphrased, by my hard-left professor buddy).

        1. Commander-in-part-kinda

        2. So much him being the Commander in Chief, eh?

      3. Aaagh, in fact why do I even go on facebook at election time. A neighbor just posted a picture of a little girl kissing a TV screen with a picture of Obama giving his victory speech.

        1. You should photoshop an Obama button onto the dead children and share that with your neighbor.

          1. I should. I’m held back by stupid concerns like wanting to be tactful, and get along with neighbors, and my wife getting dragged into my pissing off all our neighbors. On the other hand, I really, really hate remaining silent about this shit.

          2. You should find one of a dead kid with crossed hands, photoshop some writing about free birth control on his hands, and post that to the retarded Twitter campaign tag. Of course, a week ago would have been a better time.

        2. How do they do that? I can’t get my kids to obey me with that kind of fanaticism, let alone program them to worship some awful politician like he were Jesus.

        3. Reminds me of the end of Cult of Personality, but in reverse.

    4. i should have put that on a poster board and stood outside my polling station.

  2. Obama’s re-election means no sound from anti-war crowd for another 4 years. The letter after his name is the only thing that matters.

    1. Yup. Gotta make sure Hillary isn’t damaged by the wars in 2016.

    2. The biggest reason to pull for Romney was that maybe the MSM would grow their balls back and start questioning the unchecked war making powers of the executive.

  3. Barack Obama’s war critics so far have numbered much fewer, his apologists preferring to see no evil rather than having to engage or justify it. Here’s hoping that changes in the second term.

    HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

    Oh wait! You were serious?

  4. Either they don’t know about them, they don’t care about them or they find building the welfare state a more urgent cause than dismantling the warfare state.

    Why can’t it be all three?

  5. T o n y should have that photo framed and mounted prominently over his fireplace.

    1. I mean the second one. I assume he’s already got a framed portrait of Obama.

      1. a stained framed portrait that is

    2. The thing is, for all the Left’s bitching about Iraq during the Bush years, they never truly gave a fuck. Sure, there are some diehards that did, but most of those voted for Stein or Rosanne/Cindy Sheehan in the general. The rest only care about one thing: eating the rich.

      These people are fucking Leninists, the kind that murdered Romanov children for nothing other than being born into the aristocracy. Dead kids don’t matter as long as they’re sticking it to people with money.

  6. As much as I admire the Free State Project. What we really need is for lots of libertarians to move to Iowa, register Republican, and then takeover the caucuses so that we can boot the so-cons back to wilderness.

    1. You should get right on that, k.

      1. I’ve been there for Ron the last two times. I need a couple more people to help out when Rand runs 😉

        1. If Rand runs a serious campaign, I’ll quit my fucking job and volunteer to run his Ohio office. True story.

          1. Of course, my not being a registered R might put the kibosh on my offer.

            1. You can change that on a whim, so long as you do it sufficiently in advance of an election.

          2. Iowa is a totally purple state. We now have 2 D’s in the House, 2 R’s in the House, 1 D in the Senate and 1 R in the Senate.

            In order to win an election, the republican candidate has to carry blue collar workers in states like Ohio. You would think that a state like Iowa that also has a sizable blue collar population, the caucuses would produce a candidate appeals to Ohio.

            But in reality, all those people vote in the democratic primaries, and the republican primaries are dominated by fundamentalist christians and neo-cons that have somehow decided to link arms and hum Kumbaya and give us Romney & Santorum as the two top vote getters.

    2. I have a friend who moved to Iowa. He hates it.

      How do we make it more fun first?

      1. More libertarians perhaps.

        1. The temperature kind of kills it for me. Nice place, great people, but goddamn if I’ll spend winter there voluntarily.

        2. I’m also fond of steamed crabs and crabcakes. Is there anything to replace these in Iowa?

      2. Iowa City is not a horrible place.

  7. This is what I hate so much about this past election, and what’s driving me crazy now. All my wonderful liberal FB friends celebrating the Great Accomplishment. Christ, I just read a diatribe by one of them on how selfish people who vote third-party are. Selfish because we want to amplify stupid questionalbly-true narratives that are obviously out of the mainstream which is of course limited to the War on wimminz and The Gayz.

    I have no issue with folks who voted for Obama; do as you will. But I take big fricking issue with the goddam cheerleaders who talk about how great this guy is. He killed an American kid, without trial. He’s bombed the shit out of poor brown kids. He’s directed the Justice Department to argue for indefinite detention of citizens in the US.

    M o n o T o n y, Joe, Buttplug, all those FB types: go screw. You actively wanted this. You enthusiastically got behind the man who promoted this evil shit. How the hell you can look yourself in the mirror is beyond me. The balls it takes to bitch out a bunch of libertarians when you cheerlead for this stuff – well I just can’t even.

    1. But hamilton, without Lord Obama it woulda been worse. IT WOULDA BEEN WORSE!

    2. They’re scum, dude. Pure, unadulterated scum who care nothing about killing foreign kids, or civil liberties, or anything. They have descended so far into collective groupthink partisanship that they are literally not individuals any more. They are cogs in their collective, just pieces of the fucking TEAM machine. Nothing can get through to them because they don’t have a mind anymore. The TEAM thinks for them, they are the Borg.

      They really are this low. And we’re surrounded by them. They’re willingly relinquishing individuality, integrity, and morality.

      1. I get so angry. Goddam it, what the hell is evil any more? You’re exactly right – the TEAM mentality has gone so deep THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE.

        Jesus wept.

        1. It’s like a sports fan who learns that his team was cheating. Denial, denial, and more denial. It’s all okay, so long as the team “wins.”

          Of course, when the parties or the government win, America generally loses in one way or the other.

          1. If the Sox had won it woulda been worse! IT WOULDA BEEN WORSE!

      2. They really are. I hammered them for months about this, yet on FB and in person all I heard was how great O was on social and civil liberties.

        This is honestly the only place where I find people who give a rats arse about foreign kids killed by our toys.

        1. How can that be? Libertarians are evil sociopaths.

          1. Clearly. I mean positive rights are positive right? Who can oppose progress or anything positive?

            Trying to teach them about natural rights is like trying to teach a cat not to lick its own arse, they’re not conditioned or equipped to understand the concept.

        2. Same. They wouldn’t even engage in the posts. It’s easier to plug your ears and scream “ALALALALALALALALALALA”

      3. It’s simple to think that, but they really aren’t scum. They’re just unaware.

        1. Actually I’m going to agree with Epi and hamilton on this one. Sure, some Obama voters might have serious reserations about the guy, especially when it comes to the wars and civil liberties. But they could have voted for Gary Johnson, or Jill Stein, or fucking Rosanne Barr. But they didn’t. When they had a chance to at least not support outright evil, they stood up to be counted right along with the cultists who insist that the great and magnificent O can do no wrong. Fuck them all.

    3. “The left-liberals who stand by this war criminal and Wall Street shill have made their choice: better to have the militarism and police state, so long as it means a little more influence over domestic politics, even if that too is compromised by corporate interference, than it is to embrace a radical antiwar agenda that might complicate their domestic aspirations.”


      1. The thing is, they could have “embrace[d] a radical antiwar agenda” that wouldn’t have complicated their domestic aspirations. They could have voted for Stein. But they didn’t. Which means that free shit and being on the winning TEAM is more important to them than dead children killed by their “messiah”.

    4. The only thing progressives give a shit about is forcing other people to pay for their healthcare. I debated so many douchebag Obama supporters during the election who had no fucking clue about the NDAA, the PATRIOT Act renewal, drone strikes, medical marijuana raids, record numbers of whistleblower prosecutions, record numbers of warrantless wiretaps, attempts to take over the internet, etc. Nothing. All they could say was “FREE HEALTHCARE HURR DURR”

      1. Same here. Whats depressing and infuriating is that they consider themselves the reality based party. Any attmept at discussing policy, actual outcomes, etc. led to goalpost shifting, defriending, or simple avoidance.

      2. I’ve put up post after post on Salon.com about Obama’s war mongering and murder of US citizens and the response has been “we don’t care”. It’s sickening.

        1. What’s really terrifying about that is when the inevitable Republican president next comes along and starts killing people via remote control, the left will have already lost any credibility complaining about it. The GOP lost its small-government bona fides with Bush, and the left has lost “peace” with Obama. They’re not just sacrificing their own integrity, they’re sacrificing any pretense at ever stopping it in the future, no matter which TEAM is in charge.

    5. Yeah, this is what I find the most baffling. Okay, you want to play the “lesser of two evils” game, and you think that’s Obama, so you’re going to begrudgingly vote for him? Fine. But so many people (particularly on Facebook, but also on other social media sites that I unfortunately waste my time on daily) act like he’s been this great president and that we should all be honored and excited that we’ve got him for another four years. I don’t understand the hero worship at all.

      That, and so many of my female friends saying completely off-the-wall crap about Obama saving their uterus and Mitt Romney taking away their birth control pills.

  8. I look forward to the pictures produced by President santorum in 2017.

    1. The Santorum leaks will lead to a premature exit from orifice.

    2. Fuck your tu toque, you piece of shit. Too bad you can’t look forward to the picture a President Paul would produce, because he wouldn’t be the war monger piece of shit your idol O-bomb-a currently is.

      1. Are You Serious?

      2. Are You Serious?

      3. Holy straw arguments, Suxman! No need to get all anal over Santorum.

      4. You obviously haven’t read the whole thread.

      5. your idol O-bomb-a

        This is actually funny.

        So you’re a new troll that doesn’t recognize the names of all the long-term commenters here.

        1. Admit it Kinnath!

          You’ve secretly loved O-bomb-a for a long time, and all the nasty things you said about him was a lame attempt to deny your crush!

          1. Bush I wasn’t in office long enough for me to come to hate him. I didn’t really hate Clinton until his second term. Same for Bush II.

            I started hating Obama before he completed his first year. I’ve reached the point where I can’t hate him any more, and I just have a dull throbbing pain behind my eyeballs every day.

  9. The Left isn’t anti-war. They’re anti-US-winning-the-war. When will you fucking idiots here wake up? Seriously.

    From 2003 to 2008, when the Left grew tired of being anti-US-winning-the-war, then all of ’em suddenly became armchair generals.

    Why, if their guy was in power, the Baghdad zoo wouldn’t have been destroyed; they became experts in what types of body armor were necessary for desert combat; they told us breathlessly that General Shinsecki would have turned Iraq into Vienna. Blah blah blah.

    Then when they realized that talking about the military might entail learning about the military, which might entail a few history lessons, they grew sleepy and boref and put on their comfortable old slippers: Bush lied (Of course, if Bush lied, so did Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Kennedy, Daschle et al, but who cares what a bunch of old white guys think anyway.)

    The Left doesn’t even care about FDR’s internment camps. I bet you less than 10% of the drones who voted for Obama have any knowledge of that.


    2. “…the drones who voted for Obama…”

      Wait, the drones can vote now?!?

      1. If you don’t let them…THEY BLOW YOU UP!

    3. Dude, I had a leftist flat out call me a liar when I brought up Japanese internment. He also actually believed the Republicans were pro-slavery during the Civil War, and the Jim Crow party after that.

      That’s one thing I give the GOP. The real mouthbreathing Republicans I’ve met don’t pretend to be intelligent. They just want taxes low, the ‘bortion banned, Mooselimbs dead and miniature American flags for everyone.

      The Democrats who literally don’t know shit but think they’re the smartest fucking people ever make me really really angry.

      “It’s not that our liberal friends are ignorant, it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”-Reagan

  10. BUSH LIED! Children Died!!

    OBAMA LIED! Feel Warm Inside!

    1. …from the hot blast of jizz after a good sodomizing?

      1. I don’t know. Does it feel as good as you make it sound?

  11. Somebody remind me what the f*** we’re doing in Afghanistan. This must be really important, right?

    1. Near as I can figure, there’s some sort of time loop where we have to be there to kill bin Laden over and over again.

      1. This is victory for O!…

        Dead Osama being dumped off a carrier deck into the sea, forever.

        1. Somebody needs to make an infinite loop youtube video of that plus a slidesbow of all the innocents he’s killed running in the background under a transparent repeating video of a shrouded body being dumped into the ocean.

  12. I want to send this picture to all my in-laws with the subject “HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY”, but I am pretty sure my wife would be pissed.

    1. No, you need to make it sound pro-Obama. Photoshop “women’s rights” on a kid’s hands, and change the text to “The best is yet to come. Four more years!”

      If they complain, act confused and tell them that as a libertarian, you’re incapable of empathy and hate children, and that you were congratulating the president on his kills and wishing him luck in next year’s Afghani hunting season.

  13. You can suggest other interpretations in the comments.

    1. They were never serious about their anti-war views to begin with and were just a bunch of craven TEAM BLUE partisan hacks who have never cared about dead brown children unless they can be used as an excuse to bash BOOOOSHHHHH!!!!11!!!11!! or TEAM RED in general.

    2. They’re fucking morons.

  14. Barack Obama’s war critics so far have numbered much fewer, his apologists preferring to see no evil rather than having to engage or justify it. Here’s hoping that changes in the second term.

    It won’t. As I said above, they’re a bunch of craven partisan hacks who only care about dead brown children when they can be used to attack the other party.

  15. Question. I’ve seen linked here at Reason a study that said we kill 49 innocent civilians for ever confirmed militant killed. But the other way I’ve seen claims that the ratio is 8 militants killed for every civilian casualty (huge difference), and also other numbers in between. Any good idea what the real ratio is approx?

    1. Your guess is as good as ours. Here’s the site for the Stanford study that claimed to have some hard facts.

      Even if they’re militants, there’s no guarantee they’re Al Qaeda. Or Taliban. Or just some tribe that that someone with the ear of the TPTB owes money to.

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