Summary: Obama announced a new grand strategy for America, and we didn’t notice (being in a deep stupor). It’s a logical evolution of our increasingly aggressive strategy since 9-11. It’s almost certain to end badly for us. Today Tom Engelhardt explains the path our leaders have put us on. Listen and you can hear the rapids in the distance.
Today’s guest post: “War as the President’s Private Preserve – Obama Breaks New Ground When It Comes to War With Iran”
By Tom Engelhardt, originally published at TomDispatch, March 2012 — Reposted with the author’s generous permission.
- The Obama Doctrine
- The Power of Precedents
- War and the Presidential “I”
- About the author
- For more information
(1) The Obama Doctrine
When I was young, the Philadelphia Bulletin ran cartoon ads that usually featured a man in trouble — dangling by his fingers, say, from an outdoor clock. There would always be people all around him, but far too engrossed in the daily paper to notice. The tagline was: “In Philadelphia, nearly everybody reads the Bulletin.”
Those ads came to mind recently when President Obama commented forcefully on war, American-style, in ways that were remarkably radical. Although he was trying to ward off a threatened Israeli preemptive air strike against Iran, his comments should have shocked Americans — but just about nobody noticed.
I don’t mean, of course, that nobody noticed the president’s statements. Quite the contrary: they were headlined, chewed over in the press and by pundits. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich attacked them. Fox News highlighted their restraint. (“Obama calls for containing Iran, says ‘too much loose talk of war.’”) The Huffington Post highlighted the support for Israel they represented. (“Obama Defends Policies Toward Israel, Fends Off Partisan Critiques.”) Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pushed back against them in a potentially deadly U.S.-Israeli dance that might bring new chaos to the Middle East. But somehow, amid all the headlines, commentary, and analysis, few seemed to notice just what had really changed in our world.
The president had offered a new definition of “aggression” against this country and a new war doctrine to go with it. He would, he insisted, take the U.S. to war not to stop another nation from attacking us or even threatening to do so, but simply to stop it from building a nuclear weapon — and he would act even if that country were incapable of targeting the United States. That should have been news.
Consider the most startling of his statements: just before the arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, the president gave a 45-minute Oval Office interview to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. A prominent pro-Israeli writer, Goldberg had produced an article in the September issue of that magazine headlined “The Point of No Return.” In it, based on interviews with “roughly 40 current and past Israeli decision makers about a military strike,” he had given an Israeli air attack on Iran a 50% chance of happening by this July. From the recent interview, here are Obama’s key lines: