War isn’t always bad; sometimes war is required. And Obama may well be a better than average president. But this is so strange: Many voted for Obama saying Bush was a warmonger. Obama just won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Its not strange at all. Its expected. The standard tactic for Democrats is to say the opposite of what you are planning on doing when what you are planning is unpopular for your base. (I don't mean this as an impeachment of Democrats, just that I see them do it most.)
In the short term (which is what most politicians care about) people will remember your words more than your actions.
While I may agree with your comment, I think your comment is relatively meaningless. At least point to some specific issue with some data instead of empty rhetoric.
If you really do your homework you will find that the 8 years of the Bush administration were easily the worst 8 years in USA history.
Such is the toxic legacy that Obama inherited
The post isn't very good at all. There is one point - Obama has a reputation as a peacemonger, yet increases troops in Afghanistan - that is weak, arguable, but valid.
But then there is the line about Bush, simply serving to add partisan politics to the argument, the appeal to incredibility in this is so strange and the odd disclaimer And Obama may well be a better than average president. This isn't the democrats party blog-site; there is no need to caveat criticisms of Obama with initial compliments.
Very far from the usual (high) standards.
No, OB isn't being lazy. They are just trying to manipulate people. They probably know the average person doesn't remember what Obama said in the campaign so when they have an article like this it gets them mad. If OB wasn't trying to manipulate, they would have put the caveat that Obama said he was going to do this almost from the beginning of his campaign. OB is not deleted from my rss.
Yes, the top area says "Iraq" to the left on the graph.
I have to agree with many of the other comments here, this is pretty sub-par for OB. I don't want to defend Obama, I was already unhappy with his implicitly pro-war take on foreign policy before the election. But your hammed-up confusion seems predicated on the willful exclusion of a lot of relevant context.
There are some good comments accompanying this item. I don't believe it was a lazy post, but just an interesting graphic that this crowd could appreciate and comment on.
There's the issue of whether Obama inherited the war or not - which is valid. But I just think it's interesting to look at the space between what we imagine a president to be and what he must do in office, which is what I think this graphic is really about. Noble war or not, Afghanistan isn't called the graveyard of empires for nothing. Whether it's the just war or not has little to do with how we'll remember it.
We collectively remember Kennedy as honorable in spite of drawing a line in the sand with regard to Vietnam. Two administrations supported action in South Vietnam and he didn't do a thing to alter that trajectory. Conversely, though, we hate Nixon and his administration effectively ended the conflict.
I'm not arguing about whether or not we should agree with those assessments, just that it's fascinating how little our opinions of a president have to do with actual policy. One is governed by our dreams, the other by geopolitical inertia. This isn't a question of whether or not I support our Commander in Chief, just a question of whether or not my support matters.
Seconding the "less war than McCain" hypothesis:
Many people may believe that Afghanistan is a better place to be than Iraq was, and similarly the presence or lack of conflict is a larger signal than the size of conflict (although I'd rather see a comparison of US troop/local civilian deaths alongside the troop numbers, maybe a comparison of the number of battles going on as a better measure of how much "war" is going on).
That said, there was no anti-war presidential candidate. There was "all war all the time" McCain and there was "maybe talking is sometimes a good idea" Obama.
For people who care about policy, this is an unpleasant but obvious choice.
Of course, if that was more than 5-10% of the population I imagine third party candidates like Nader and fringe candidates like Kucinich and Paul would get more votes, so I agree with the overall point (politics is not about policy), although I would suggest that some people care about policy and just can't do anything about it (because potentially effective actions are swamped by people who only care about signalling.)
The graph is confusing, but based on the article I think that the top of the gray area represents the number of troops in Iraq, not the cumulative total. The article says "As of early this month, 65,000 U.S. troops were in Afghanistan and about 124,000 were in Iraq. At the height of the increase in Iraq, in late 2007 and early 2008, about 160,000 U.S. troops were in Iraq and 26,000 were in Afghanistan." So Obama has brought us to about 189,000 troops deployed in Iraq + Afghanistan, roughly a 1.6% increase over our previous maximum of 186,000.
Joshua, the linked article states
"The deployment of the support troops to Afghanistan brings the total increase approved by Obama to 34,000. The buildup has raised the number of U.S. troops deployed to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan above the peak during the Iraq "surge" that President George W. Bush ordered, officials said."
Politics is not about policy.
"fewer" troops at war. Not, as you point out, "few." What bias led me to post so quickly without looking for typos?
Normally I enjoy your blog, but I found your interpretation here confusing. The way I read that graph, it looks like there are few US troops at war now than there were at the start of Obama's term. Even with the doubling of troops in Afghanistan, the number of troops pulled from Iraq leaves a net decrease. Am I wrong? If not, what bias led you to the conclusion that there was "a net increase in US troops at war"?
All this implies is that voters (and the Nobel committee) are willing to settle for "less war than John McCain".
Yeah. This post lost me.
Robin, any chance you'll poke at the right-wingers, too? Just for variety.