August 23, 2009
It appears that most liberal opponents of the wars in the Middle East/ Central Asia have ceased their opposition with the Obama presidency. The liberal Democrats who abhorred Bush’s war policy (and most grass roots liberal Democrats did vehemently oppose the Bush war policy although this was not always the case with liberal politicians and media figures) apparently were simply opposed to wars led by Republicans. As Byron York, a conservative, writes in the first article below: “For many liberal activists, opposing the war was really about opposing George W. Bush. When Bush disappeared, so did their anti-war passion.” Anti-war protest leader, Cindy Sheehan, agrees completely, stating: “The ‘anti-war’ ‘left’ was used by the Democratic Party. I like to call it the ‘anti-Republican War’ movement.”
Obama is perceived as a liberal, a man of peace, and a charismatic figure, which enables him to get away with things that had been impossible for Bush the Younger.
[efoods]Thus Obama can say such things as the war in Afghanistan is “fundamental to the defense of our people” and not be savaged by the former critics of the war. This is not to say that the former anti-war people have become cheerleaders for war. Rather, they have become largely indifferent to it. Their attention has been largely diverted to the health care issue, the economy, the environment, or some other liberal cause. This political indifference has given Obama a virtual freehand in military policy. The most dangerous possible development is war with Iran, which is sought by Israel and its Lobby. Escalating American involvement in Afghanistan along with the continued American occupation of Iraq allows for incidents with Iran (or incidents blamed on Iran) that could lead to war. If Obama keeps sagging in the polls–due to the health care reform issue, a continuing problematic economy, and other domestic difficulties– an aggressive foreign policy might likely be seen as a necessary political ploy. Even if war is not the deliberate goal, an aggressive policy, such as a naval blockade of Iran to enforce an embargo of various supplies (proposed in Congress in 2008), certainly brings a high risk of all-out war.
The liberal Obama would seem to better able to expand the wars than the conservative Bush. As Justin Raimondo has written: “it occurs to me that only Barack Obama, who won the White House in large part due to his opposition to the Iraq war, could take us to war with Iran, and rally liberals and much of the left behind it.” http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2009/07/16/obamas-war-signals/
This represents the Nixon-goes-to-China analogy. Just as Nixon with his anti-Communist bona fides had more political leeway to negotiate with Communist China than a liberal Democrat, the liberal man of peace Obama is better positioned politically to expand the wars in the Middle East/Central Asia than Bush the Younger, who was perceived as a warmonger. (To counter this argument, it might be pointed out that liberal Democrats did attack Lyndon Johnson over Vietnam. However, despite Johnson’s success in pushing through liberal domestic legislation, he was never the darling of American liberals and certainly did not have the charismatic appeal of Obama.)
This scenario will not fully come to pass until Obama actually involves the US in war with Iran. But while a war with Iran is certainly politically feasible, the question is whether Obama would actually take such an option since the national security and foreign policy elites outside the orbit of the Israel Lobby are against such a risky venture.