Friday, September 12, 2014

Did The Rabid Right Force Obama To Over-React To ISIS/ISIL?

It goes without saying that I'm merely an interested layperson with respect to such topics, and my opinions should carry virtually no weight.

And this isn't even an opinion. It's more like a worry...

But I was actually rather more happy with pre-speech Obama than post-speech Obama, at least in the sense that I thought degrade was a more reasonable goal than destroy with respect to ISIS / ISIL.

Don't get me wrong. I hate those guys. I wanted to see us degrade the shit out of them. Degrade them into dark stains on the sand...  But...pledging to destroy them, I worry, is a whole different ballgame.

It isn't clear to me that they are the kind of threat that warrants this reaction.

They're evil--that's clear. And I'm inclined toward humanitarian interventions... But we simply spent too much capital of all kinds on the Iraq debacle, and you can only do what you can do.

But the Republicans are playing their preferred role as terrorist force multipliers, pumping up the threat...and doing so, of course, as a means to destroy their real target, Obama...

The media is helping, as is its wont. I turned on CNN after the speech (of course I know better...) and, of course, there was much shrieking and weeping and fear mongering...  Americans are afraid!!!!!111 we were told...  Which...does not seem right to me. I'm not afraid...  I don't know anyone who is afraid...  I'm concerned...but...that's different...

We seem to have a system that is rigged to err on the side of overreaction. This system is, I believe, set up/sustained mostly by the right. Their tendency to over-use the military, and to politically attack any Democrat who doesn't over-use the military...well, it's like we're swimming in a strong current that's always sweeping us toward the use of force. It's possible to resist it in the short term, on occasion...but there's no resisting the overall bias it imparts onto our decisions.

I've been worried of late about the rise of the loony "social justice" (note: not actual social justice) left, and liberals' general refusal to oppose it. But there's no doubt that the loony right remains a much more powerful, must more immediate threat...

Among the many astonishing things I witness on CNN the other night was the spectacle of a rabid, almost unhinged John McCain spewing anti-Obama vitriol masquerading as an analysis of the situation in Iraq. His tirade was so misleading as to nearly count as lying...but, since his goal was to try to make the ISIS/ISIL problem look like Obama's fault rather than Bush's, truth was beside the point. Jay Carney should have called him a liar to his face...but my guess is that he didn't want to lose his new gig on CNN, and he soft-pedaled his response...

It seems to me that we're facing a full-court press by the GOP aimed at getting us to do something stupid--the GOP's forte, it sometimes seems to me.

And I worry that Obama is just worn down. Six years of rabid, non-stop, relentless, unhinged attacks on everything he has done--even the things the GOP formerly agreed with--combined with an unusually challenging set of events in the rest of the world have beaten him down and forced him to fight a kind of delaying action against the forces that besiege him. The GOP's efforts to crush him have been aided by bad luck with respect to foreign policy, and he's retreated from his saner position with respect to ISIL: go slow, wait and see, degrade them as possible, open up opportunities for other people to kick their asses or for them to implode...has been replaced with a more aggressive, but perhaps less reasonable approach.

Honestly, I worry more about the derangement of the GOP than I worry about ISIL. ISIL is bad, but they're just one thing. A deranged GOP pushes us relentlessly to make bad decisions on a whole range of issues. And I worry they may have pushed Obama in a bad direction in this case.

This is not supposed to be excuse-making for the President. My point here is that I worry--though it's a mere layperson's worry--that he's moved in the wrong direction, whatever excusing circumstances there might be.

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