Jay Reding.com

The Next JFK? Not Even Close

The New Republic makes the argument that Barack Obama is the next JFK. Let’s see if that holds true:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

And Senator Obama? Apparently preventing genocide in Iraq just isn’t his thing. Selling out the Iraqi people? Fine by him, so long as we tuck tail and run. Let the Iraqis kill each other, and maybe we’ll care when a few hundred thousand are dead. Genocide just isn’t our problem.

JFK? Not even close.

6 responses to “The Next JFK? Not Even Close”

  1. Mentoc says:

    Let the Iraqis kill each other, and maybe we’ll care when a few hundred thousand are dead.

    A few hundred thousand are already dead; our presence doesn’t seem to be keeping Iraqis from killing each other to the tune of hundreds every day.

    Saying that Iraq will descend into chaos seems a little ridiculous when it’s obvious that it’s already in chaos. It’s not defeatism to insist that our actions – including maintaining a costly occupying presence in another country – be justified not just by talk of noble principles, but also by empirical understanding of reality.

  2. Jay Reding says:

    Saying that Iraq will descend into chaos seems a little ridiculous when it’s obvious that it’s already in chaos.

    Except for the part where most of Iraq is peaceful — which would quickly change once the central government collapses.

    And the argument that Iraq’s already as bad as it can get is delusional — the “civil war” in Iraq is a low-level one. An open one with no one to stop it would claim hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives compared to the 60-80,000 who have died since the invasion.

  3. Mentoc says:

    Except for the part where most of Iraq is peaceful

    Sure! Here’s John McCain having a nice peaceful stroll, in fact:

    http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/04/18/the-mccain-market-watch/

    which would quickly change once the central government collapses.

    If the strife is mostly sectarian – that is, Sunni vs. Shiite vs. Kurd – and the country is already largely geographically divided by sectarian lines – which it is – then I just don’t see that as very likely.

    the “civil war” in Iraq is a low-level one.

    The civil war is as high-level as it could be with the armaments and training that the combatants currently have (which suggests that our efforts at training and arming Iraqis is the complete wrong thing to be doing.) They’re going at it as hard as they can. It’s not going to get worse because it can’t get worse.

    An open one with no one to stop it would claim hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives compared to the 60-80,000 who have died since the invasion.

    That’s a critically ignorant understatement of the number of casualties. While it’s true that there’s no official tally, by the best possible measurements we’re well beyond 100,000 already. With 200-300 dying by the day, that’s not hard to imagine,

  4. Jay Reding says:

    Ok, first, it helps to actually look at what he said rather than read a couple right-wing headlines:

    Of course, that infamously “right-wing” MSNBC, home of the ultra-conservative blowhard Keith Olbermann…

    “Nobody is proposing we leave precipitously. There are still going to be U.S. forces in the region that could intercede, with an international force, on an emergency basis,” Obama said between stops on the first of two days scheduled on the New Hampshire campaign trail. “There’s no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there.”

    The problem with that is that 1) where would these US forces be based “in the region?” The whole point of counterinsurgency is that you need on-the-ground intelligence that lets you tell which people are the terrorists and which people are innocent civilians. A bomb dropped from 35,000 feet has no way of distinguishing between the two. A bunch of troops airlifted in an hour ago have no way of telling.

    It’s a convenient dodge, and utterly unrealistic. It just demonstrates that Senator Obama doesn’t understand the very nature of this war. It’s completely unrealistic to suppose that we can effectively fight al-Qaeda without our troops developing the intelligence and networks necessary to fight them.

    Besides, if we take the stance that we can always go back into Iraq, we’re inevitably going to end up back in Iraq because at this point it’s inevitable that things will go south there very quickly.

    Not to mention the fact that we made the same promises to the South Vietnamese after the Vietnam War — and in 1975 when the North invaded, American air power could have stopped the invasion and prevented millions from being killed or put in reeducation camps — yet we did nothing and let them be slaughtered.

    Obama is right, there is a great risk of bloodshed in Iraq when we leave — an inevitable risk.

    “It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.

    Which is completely wrong. The argument that it’s the US that is the problem ignores the reality of the conflict. If the US leaves, Iraq will not cease being a magnet for terrorists — al-Qaeda has already quite clearly said as much. Instead, it will be central to their efforts to create a new Islamic Caliphate under shari’a law. Moreover, does anyone really buy the argument that the Iranians won’t stop meddling in Iraqi politics once we’re gone? The Iranians have every interested in a weak and divided Iraq, and they’ll use their paid agents like Moqtada al-Sadr to cause as much havoc as they can.

    If Obama really believes his own arguments it betrays a blame-America-first attitude that completely ignores the reality of the situation in Iraq. It is not the US presence that creates terrorism, nor is the US responsible for factionalism in Iraq. Instead, it’s the result of meddling by groups like al-Qaeda (responsible for the destruction of the Golden Mosque in Samarra) and Iran (bankrollers of the Jaish-al-Mahdi and Moqtada al-Sadr.

    There is no doubt that a US withdrawal would be a massive crisis for Iraq that would quickly serve to destabilize the region, and no matter how much Senator Obama would like to pretend otherwise, it would be an abject disaster for the United States as well. The idea that diplomacy alone — which Obama thinks is the only solution — will do anything is a fallacy. Diplomacy has its place, but there cannot be any longstanding process on the political front until the security situation in Iraq improves enough to allow civil society to develop. Things in Iraq are for the most part close, but it’s not going to magically come together on an artificially imposed timeline.

  5. Seth says:

    Well, if you’ll notice, the headline goes from “Obama says military solution not answer to Iraq” on July 19 at 9:56 pm to “Obama: Don’t Stay in Iraq Over Genocide” on July 19 at 11:31 pm, which is where most of the AP wires pick it up for good. Some more of your friends kick it around, and by July 20 at 12:00 a.m., it’s Obama: Genocide In Iraq Is No Big Deal, this one with the fair and balanced subtitle, “Absolute stupidity.”

    The funny thing is: all of these are the exact same story.

    Of course, if you want the most accurate headline, you’d go with this one: “Obama: Using Military Might Is Not Always Feasible Solving Sectarian And Genocidal Problems, but then you’d have something a lot less sexy and you’d clearly be working for an indie press company.

    You, on the other hand, report his words as

    Apparently preventing genocide in Iraq just isn’t his thing. Selling out the Iraqi people? Fine by him, so long as we tuck tail and run. Let the Iraqis kill each other, and maybe we’ll care when a few hundred thousand are dead. Genocide just isn’t our problem.

    Which, if you’d read more than the headline, is not at all what he said. And, incidentally, is why I would guess your argument in the preceding comment is quite different than the argument in the original post, as well as all over the map on a range of issues.