Candidate Obama, like his rivals in the Democratic presidential primaries, ran on an array of antiwar themes. Iraq was lost; the surge had failed; it was long past time for all combat troops to come home. President Bush had supposedly shredded the Constitution by starting up military tribunals and renditions, and by opening the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Bush & Co. had also authorized Predator drone assassinations, pushed through the Patriot Act, and expanded wiretaps and intercepts.(via reader Marc)
Obama's rhetoric reflected the Democratic orthodoxy that by 2006 saw unhappiness with the war as a winning campaign theme.
But after his inauguration, Obama apparently grasped two realities. First, antiwar rhetoric on the stump was easy, but the responsibility of keeping Americans safe from terrorism and Islamic radicalism was not. Second, he guessed that liberal furor over the war on terror and the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan had always been mostly about opposing George Bush -- not really principled opposition to actual wartime policies.
So after early 2009 there was no more talk of a lost war in Iraq, and no more deadlines to bring home our 130,000 troops that are still there. The Bush-Petraeus plan of staged withdrawal instead still operates. There has been a marked escalation in Afghanistan.
Guantanamo Bay is still open 15 months after the inauguration -- and three months after its promised closure date. There have been more Predator drone assassinations during the early months of the Obama administration than in eight years of the Bush tenure. Renditions, tribunals, intercepts and wiretaps go on as before, or have been expanded.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Victor Davis Hanson on May 3rd: