Obama Would Send 100,000 Troops…Why Am I Not Surprised.

by Dax-Devlon Ross

So Obama plans to expand the military. I can’t say that I’m surprised, though I am disappointed. For the most part, I really like Obama. I feel like he’s got some phenomenal qualities, but his latest speech on foreign policy just doesn’t sit right with me. It put me into a hyper-critical mood and suddenly now I’m wondering if I can take anything he says at face value. If I wasn’t a skeptic before, I am now. Now I’m starting to think Obama’s ambition is potentially dangerous and that he can no longer get a free-pass because he’s a great speaker and he’s attractive and he makes people feel good about voting for a black man. I think he has to be held accountable for the stuff he says.

The foreign policy speech he delivered before the Council on Global Affairs followed a tried and true formula he’s been using for at least three years. Obama starts with some general remarks that everyone can agree on:

We all know that these are not the best of times for America’s reputation in the world. We know what the war in Iraq has cost us in lives and treasure, in influence and respect.

Then he switches to the personal experience story designed to give him credibility and to make him appear compassionate.

But while we know what we have lost as a consequence of this tragic war, I also know what I have found in my travels over the past two years.

In an old building in Ukraine, I saw test tubes filled with anthrax and the plague lying virtually unlocked and unguarded – dangers we were told could only be secured with America’s help.

Then he launches into some optimistic blather about the virtues of America.

I still believe that America is the last, best hope of Earth.

Once he’s laid the groundwork (i.e. proven that he’s a loyal American with an unwavering belief in our global supremacy), he starts to build his case for the broadening of the military industrial complex.

In today’s globalized world, the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people.

Whether it’s global terrorism or pandemic disease, dramatic climate change or the proliferation of weapons of mass annihilation, the threats we face at the dawn of the 21st century can no longer be contained by borders and boundaries.

But before he commits himself to a military strategy, he reminds us of his past (inconsequential, given his political obscurity at the time) principles.

In 2002, I stated my opposition to the war in Iraq, not only because it was an unnecessary diversion from the struggle against the terrorists who attacked us on September 11th, but also because it was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the threats that 9/11 brought to light.

Once he reminds us of his position on the war, he flips the script and starts making his case for remaining in the Middle East.

I insist, however, that such an abandonment of our leadership is a mistake we must not make. America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. We must neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission – we must lead the world, by deed and example.
We must lead by building a 21st century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people.

Now that he’s prepped us, he lays out his plan,

The first way America will lead is by bringing a responsible end to this war in Iraq and refocusing on the critical challenges in the broader region.

By this he means creating a permanent military force in the Middle East

The second way America will lead again is by building the first truly 21st century military and showing wisdom in how we deploy it.

Obama wants 100,000 new troops. Where will he get these men and women? A new conscription law? Mandatory military service? Bigger signing bonuses?

No President should ever hesitate to use force – unilaterally if necessary – to protect ourselves and our vital interests when we are attacked or imminently threatened. But when we use force in situations other than self-defense, we should make every effort to garner the clear support and participation of others – the kind of burden-sharing and support President George H.W. Bush mustered before he launched Operation Desert Storm.

Did he just do what I think he did? Invoke the name of the current president’s father? As if to say we were facing some “imminent threat” in 1991 when he invaded Iraq?

The speech goes on, but I stopped paying attention once I realized Obama is no different than any of his opponents. Whether he is being pressured to take this stance or actually believes his own rhetoric, it’s important to recognize that Obama must be measured by the same standard as everyone else. When it’s all said and done, he’s an artful, poetic speaker with the same message we’ve heard before.

Lamenting the ultimately recycled message implicit in the speech, Washington Post columnist Bill Akrin wrote,

It sounds an awful lot like John Kerry, with shades of Bill Clinton. A kinder, gentler military will be valued by President Obama; the big, bad military needed for Iran and North Korea (and the completely unmentioned China) will be fed to make space for the president’s non-martial trifles.

It’s not as if anyone could get elected president in 2008 arguing that we need a smaller military. I just wish that the visionary Senator had followed his own instincts and asked whether our “technological edge” and “armor” and equipment — the military we now have and the one he says we need — points us in the right or needed direction.

I couldn’t agree more.