Over the ages leadership in democracies has been symbolized by ringing declarations.
We have, for example, John Kennedy’s magisterial:
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
Or Franklin Roosevelt’s request that a declaration of war be passed by Congress:
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces- with the unbounding determination of our people- we will gain the inevitable triumph- so help us God.
While President Obama is loath to assume the mantle of commander-in-chief, how does his team inspire or explain to Americans his approach?
Well–we have the declaration from one high-placed official that the Obama Doctrine (such as it is) can be summed up in the immortal words “leading from behind.”
This can be paired with the most recent bit of fecklessness regarding any moves in Syria to prevent atrocities: “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”
Surely this reflects the view of the President.
When a President wants to put adversaries on notice, he and his team members should not preemptively tip their hands or display their weakness.
The Obama administration does both (as well as reveal our secrets and plans) time and time again.
What a great commander-in-chief.
Where’s the anti-war left?
President Obama is about to start his third war, and the anti-war crowd is nowhere to be seen.
The problem? The bad economy has caused donations to dry up and besides, no one cares now that a Democrat sits in the White House.
Some activists argue that it’s mostly an issue of money and membership, and not an indication that the left supports Syria intervention.
“Among the long-standing peace and disarmament groups that we work with, everybody is angry and pissed about what seems to be an imminent attack,” said Kevin Martin, the executive director of Peace Action. “Public opinion is not supporting it either. But you’re not going to see hundreds of thousands of people in the street.”
“I don’t think me or Medea or anyone else should be defensive about that,” Martin said. “We don’t push a button and get hundreds of thousands of people in the streets.”
Martin blamed the anemic response among peace groups to Syria on the economy, noting that all nonprofits are struggling — not just protest groups.
Plus, Martin said, the energy on the left has been focused on drones and civil liberties, which “doesn’t rise to the level of an obviously unjust war where hundreds of thousands of people are being killed because of a belligerent president.”
Though Benjamin and Martin both say the fact that Obama is a Democrat is not to blame, other antiwar stalwarts suspect the energy fizzled out when a Republican antagonist was no longer in office.
“The Democrats are missing in action because of course the president is a Democrat,” said David Swanson, a longtime antiwar activist and author of War Is a Lie and When the World Outlawed War, who works with Roots Action, a progressive nonprofit. “That’s the biggest factor, I think. What’s tamping down the activism is partisanship.”
“This started in 2007 when it was time to focus on electing a Democratic president and the Democrats forgot about the wars,” Swanson said. “We’ve been struggling ever since to get back to where we were in 2006.”
Swanson also blamed the apathy on the left on a belief that intervening in Syria is a humanitarian mission, whereas with Iraq the sales pitch was defense-related.
“The war in Syria is incredibly unpopular according to the polls, but there are some who support it because they believe it’s philanthropy,” he said.
At least one activist was honest about it. But what about those leftists who are supporting Obama because they think it’s “philanthropy”?
Yes, I suppose one could say that helping al-Qaeda is a worthy philanthropic venture. But more importantly, it points up the ridiculous posturing on the left when it comes to the US taking any military action.
To most of them, the only reason to sacrifice American blood and treasure is if our vital interests are not at stake. Only a completely selfless, noble, and altruistic intervention justifies going to war. This is a pathetic realization of the liberal self-image that projects a heroic personae for which the rest of us must stand in awe. Their absolute moral goodness places them above petty concerns like nation or even self defense. The natural outgrowth of this philosophy is the now discredited “responsibility to protect” doctrine that was used to justify military action in Libya.
Intervening in Syria is not a “humanitarian mission” and it definitely isn’t “philanthropy.” Killing the enemy is always a brutal, inhuman means to an end – except in this case, there is no discernible “end” except to make good on the president’s ill-advised “red line” comment on chemical weapons.
We’re not going to bomb the Syrian army to save civilians or overthrow President Assad. Nor, apparently, is President Obama going to have to deal with tens of thousands of Americans in the streets screaming at him that he’s a baby killer and a murderer of innocents.
That kind of treatment is reserved for the partisan enemies of the left.
And Jazz Shaw sums up the position of Code Pink nicely:
When it comes to groups like Code Pink, war is a terrible thing if there’s a Republican in the White House. (And make no mistake… war is a terrible thing.) But if it’s one of their own pulling the trigger and giving the Go Command, well… it’s kind of hot and humid out. Do you really want to go marching in this weather? And most of the Magic Markers are dried up and we’d have to go get more if we’re going to make protest signs. Maybe we should just send a nice e-mail to our Senator.
Way to stand firm on those principles, ladies.
Even if Obama were to blunder us into a general war in the Middle East, I doubt there would be much stirring among the fanatics. They just can’t seem to work up any outrage against anyone but their political enemies.
Remember that the next time a Republian is in the White House and we hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the left when the war tocsin sounds.