The editors of The Nation are well known for not mincing words. They are also have a track record for indulging in hyperbole, especially when they play gotcha journalism with Democrats, especially President Barack Obama.
So when my "CC" who is a card carrying Nation man sent me the link below I wasn't surprised at him nor the self-righteous "lefties" at The Nation. As an ex-pat American he loves to poke me in the eye about the inconsistencies of the USA. For good measure he just sent me an article from the Weekly Standard - his version of fair & balanced...
This quote is taken out of context from a speech Obama gave in Brussels responding to Vladimir Putin's defense of the "annexation" of The Crimea. While the world, including the UN General Assembly, has condemned Putin's almost bloodless act of war, apparently the editors of The Nation conflate Barack's statement with Putin's actions. The logic of this escapes me. Barack is removing troops Dubya sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, while Putin has invaded another country.
Here's how the Nation editors framed their rhetorical question "cutting the pasting" Barack's speech:
"Perhaps most strikingly for a Democrat who rose to prominence in part because of his opposition to the Iraq war, Mr. Obama took on and dismissed the Russian claim that the United States was hypocritical because it used force to dislodge Saddam Hussein. [Obama] reminded his audience that he spoke out against Mr. Bush’s decision to invade in 2003.
“But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system,” he said. “We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain.”
The first part of the sentence is accurate - the Bush administration "sought" the UN's and allied blessings on our Iraq misadventure. Remember Colin Powell's infamous WMD speech? And despite considerable public opposition to Dubya's, not Barack's, war of invasion and occupation of Saddam Hussein's Iraq most of our allies joined us in sending troops there including Canada and England if memory serves me. And we did not "annex" Iraq as a 51st state.
CORRECTION: The 40 nations that sent troops to Iraq did NOT include Canada - as the "CC" notes in the "Comments" section below - here's the list - it's bigger than I remembered. The US, England and Austrailia were the largest forces but the list includes many nations who bought the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell "big lie" about WMDs.
But we did make an unsuccessful grab for Iraq's oil - for the record the Russians did too which the Nation folks somehow did not mention. So the brunt of the screed hinges on the ill-fated petro grab. Well who was in secret meetings in Shrub's West Wing with VP Dick Cheney, the architect of our dirty little war - big oil and their allies such as Hallaburton, a Texas multi-national who Cheney worked for prior to being VP.
But why did Barack imply there was no grab for oil in Iraq? Was it a bad job of speech writing? Or was it simply a kind of knee jerk reaction to the rationalizations of a tin horn dictator who fancies himself as the heir apparent of Joe Stalin and the Czars in Mother Russia hell bent on bringing back the good old days of the "Cold War?" Or it may be a deeper need to defend a kinder and gentler American image, something all presidents do at times of crisis.
We don't see ourselves as others see us. I doubt any nation's citizens or leaders do. When up against a thug like Putin it's hard to be objective and acknowledge we too have sinned as an imperial, militarist, neo-colonial power. But again among the elite nations who hasn't sinned cast the first stone - Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, Japan et al? I doubt the capacity for self-reflection is any more robust than in the USA.
But again, Obama is not Putin, the historical parallel is President George W. Bush (aka Shrub, Dubya) and his trusty side kick Dick "Buckshot" Cheney. So to the "CC" and his buddies at The Nation - get off your high horse - at some point in life we all have feet of clay but in this case the buck does not stop at Barack's desk but at his predecessor's who steered us into two wars and the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression.
And let's not forget what Putin has done in Chechnya and Georgia and what Russia did in Afghanistan in the Reagan years! Putin has blood on his hands as does Mother Russia who has played the neo-colonial game since before the "Cold War" in violation of the Yalta Accords signed by FDR, Churchill & Stalin.
Yes, the US involvement in Iraq was "wrong" I've said that again and again. But Iraq was Bush's war not Obama's. Afghanistan is another matter. Both Bush and Barack believed in the mission there but who executed it the best and who is taking us out - the record is clear!
And when you read the ENTIRE speech not cherry pick Barack's remarks in Brussels, one get's an entirely different view than the distortion employed by the editors of the Nation:
Below are the key two paragraphs plus a link to the entire speech:
"Moreover, Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq War was a subject of vigorous debate not just around the world, but in the United States as well. I participated in that debate and I opposed our military intervention there.
But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about its own future.
Of course, neither the United States nor Europe are perfect in adherence to our ideals, nor do we claim to be the sole arbiter of what is right or wrong in the world. We are human, after all, and we face difficult choices about how to exercise our power.
But part of what makes us different is that we welcome criticism, just as we welcome the responsibilities that come with global leadership."
Having read the entire speech, I'm proud of the POTUS and to be an American. He inherited a mess created by the neo-con thugs of the Dubya era. The economy is coming back not as fast as I would like but it's improving. We have Obamacare which has so far gotten 6 million people health insurance who didn't have it before. Is it perfect we in Oregon know the answer to that question, nope but even here 190,000 Oregonians have coverage now.
I fully endorse what Barack said in the conclusion to his speech in Brussels -
"And just as we meet our responsibilities as individuals, we must be prepared to meet them as nations. Because we live in a world in which our ideals are going to be challenged again and again by forces that would drag us back into conflict or corruption. We can’t count on others to rise to meet those tests...
And that’s the question we all must answer... what kind of world will we leave behind?... I believe... if we hold firm to our principles... are willing to back our beliefs with courage and resolve... hope will ultimately overcome fear, and freedom will continue to triumph over tyranny -- because that is what forever stirs in the human heart."