As the year wound down with the recent fracas over the payroll tax extension, America saw the sloppy back and forth of what passes for political dialogue these days. At the end of the dust-up, Obama preened, though his demand to tax those evil millionaires and billionaires to pay for his tax cut vanished. His pals in the press declared him the "winner" and off he jetted to Hawaii.
In the course of this mudslinging, there was one interesting point when Obama called on the congress to pass his tax plan to, in effect, live up to the standard set by veterans returning from the Iraq War. While this might seem an uncomfortable reversal of the maxim that domestic politics stops at the water's edge, remember this is a president who wages wars according to his domestic reelection schedule. Using live troops as a political cudgel to smack Republicans in the middle of some relatively minor tax spat is simply business as usual. However, something seemed more askew in this reference. Barack Obama loves to soak up the adulation of the crowds and then use them, but what of those who can't be in the crowds? What of those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan? What does their loss mean? What did they die for? With the U.S. headed for the exits in both wars, don't we owe the dead at least that much?
With Iraq blanketed by bombings mere days after Obama met with prime minister Maliki, the war that ended seemingly goes on. With Maliki issuing an arrest warrant for a governing coalition partner, a Sunni vice president, the newly hailed stable democratic government appears unstable and rather undemocratic. In Afghanistan, due to a friendly fire incident, (or maybe not so friendly) Pakistan refuses to let shipments of fuel and supplies through to the United States and its allies in Afghanistan. Though the U.S. has been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2002, in fact the United States overthrew them, we now hear from Vice President Joe Biden that the Taliban is not our "enemy per se." Rather than try to figure out what Biden means, (which may well be impossible) I'll let that statement stand. Asked to describe the future of Afghanistan recently, a Marine general replied, "I don't know." Who can blame him for that response, since Obama has insisted on his own political strategy independent of the soldiers and their military strategy. What was the point of a surge in Afghanistan anyway if the end game was simply to declare victory and get out? This starts to have that old Vietnam flavor which is where the phrase declare victory and get out came from originally. We all know how that war ended. We can go on about the ramifications of this current chaotic war effort like bases lost, geopolitical threats and countries falling like dominoes and perhaps this applies to Iraq and Afghanistan as well, but who pays the cost of all this? Who pays the debt? In this case, it's Steven Gutowski.