Convincing oneself that one is following a valid process, to do something one’s own lawyers believe to be legal, to achieve something appropriate that others in the future will confirm by following this example must surely be one of the most common and self-deceptive journeys upon which the human mind can embark.
“For an administration that is the first to embrace targeted killing on a wide scale, officials seem confident that they have devised an approach that is so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit.”
“American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb,” reports the New York Times. “Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.”
I really don’t want to be unsympathetic to Barack Obama, or any president, yes, including his predecessor, for having a strong ego and lots of self-confidence. Deciding to run for a major party’s nomination, securing it and then running for election against the nominee of the opposing party are not for the short-winded, weak-willed or those racked with self-doubt. In fact, I don’t want a president who lacks self-confidence. But some explanation of things done or left undone at odds with campaign commitments, whether they be apologies for personal failings in key areas or simply thoughtful expositions of why one has chosen a path other than that proposed need not undermine a healthy ego or a self-confident character.
A cynic might think Obama would rather run in 2012 against the background of a Republican Congress than with a Democratic one that had failed to meet public expectations and thus isn’t going to do more than the minimum to rally Democratic voters in a year when he is not on the ballot. But that’s like deliberately choosing to enter the second half of the game behind rather than ahead of the other team. It may be the modern political calculus but it takes some getting used to to accept that being in the lead the whole game isn’t better.
Glenn Greenwald (I know, him again) makes a list of items in which Obama has not only failed to live up fully to his campaign pledges but has either failed completely or has adopted the very policies he criticized when practiced by his predecessor. Sometimes he’s gone farther than Bush did to make these latter policies unacceptable.
Every now and then, in fact frequently, the Karzai administration takes some step or makes some pronouncement that causes me to wonder if the dire consequences of a “pull out” would, in fact, be worse than what we have now and the direction that government is going. Today the Washington Post reports on Karzai’s efforts to limit international (read US) involvement in anti-corruption investigations.
Note that education of women, in and of itself, is opposed by the Taliban. And we’ve been prating about how we have helped secure educational opportunities for them. If we leave messily, as we almost certainly will, we will not have lived up to our moral obligation to them.
Then remember the people who did not make it aboard the helicopters picking up evacuees from the roof of the US embassy in Saigon (and remember, there were people all over South Vietnam, not just in Saigon, who had placed themselves and their families in jeopardy if we left without securing their safety). Some of those people suffered greatly and others did not. In either case we did not live up to our moral obligation to them, those who escaped retribution did so without our help.
I really would like to see us out of there. I really would not like to see women and those who have served us suffer for our leaving. Any suggestions?
Here is an excellent piece on the mis-use of the “fear” and “war” concerns to justify abuse of governmental power as well as the lowering of our standards as a country dedicated to the preservation of individual liberties.