Surprise, surprise, surprise – as Gomer Pyle used to say – a candidate for President of the United States actually might favor leaving a substantial military force in the middle east after the nation spilt its blood and spent its treasure getting in there in the first place?
But apparently this is coming as a mystery to the “pwogwessives for Obama” who thought that steering the anti-war movement into the arms of the Democratic Party was really the healthy way to build a real opposition movement and new genuinely democratic foreign policy in this country.
Think again, Tom Hayden, who writes in The Nation this week that Obama is putting his candidacy at risk by moving to the center on the war.
Of course, at least the founder of SDS is not as confused by Obama’s public flip flops as Hayden’s fellow SDS’er Mike Klonsky, erstwhile Obama education blogger, who insists from his new perch in blogger exile that Obama is still committed to “troops out in 16 months.”
But as Hayden points out it was Obama foreign policy advisor Samantha Power who let the cat out of the bag before she was sacked – perhaps explaining why she was sacked – stating publicly that Obama would revisit his policy on Iraq once he was elected.
That this came from Samantha Power should not surprise anyone. She is part of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard which actually thinks it makes sense for human rights activists to advise the U.S. military on how their bombing raids can be carried out within the limits of international humanitarian law (formerly known as the “law of war” – one of life’s most unfortunate oxymorons). She also won a Pulitzer Prize for a book that helped create the culture of “humanitarian intervention” that has steered otherwise well-intentioned liberals into thinking that there could be a progressive role for U.S. military power in the developing world.
Those who have paid attention to Obama know that Power was very important to shaping his way of thinking when it came to foreign policy issues as a new Senator. Through her he was looking for an alternative way of framing the exercise of U.S. power on a global scale. What he has begun to say directly – what Power said at one point for him – is how he thinks that new framework will look. It will likely be a variation on humanitarian intervention with a dash of multilateralism thrown in. But, at its heart, it will be a defense of U.S. interests as defined by the key power centers in American life.
I hope it does not come as a shock to Tom Hayden but Progressives for Obama is not one of those power centers. Far from creating the opportunity for a new independent political movement the apparent widespread enthusiasm for Obama which Hayden’s group wants to exploit is more likely to end in demoralization and an exit from political activity by tens of thousands once Obama’s politics become clear. That is not what I would consider a worthwhile exercise and not one that the left can take much comfort in.
It seems to me it is long past time to turn the page on the Democrats….