Obama Goes to War, the US Left Goes AWOL

Article by Clancy Sigal.
One night, when I was editor of a news wire service on the graveyard shift in downtown Los Angeles, a respectable, middle-aged man in a neat business suit, calling himself Mr Wilson, approached me with a strange tale. We overnighters on duty alone at United Press through the long hours were used to being accosted by drunks, dopers, homeless people and a taster’s menu of southern California lonely souls with their story. Mr Wilson, cleanshaven and persuasively reasonable, told me he’d just been kidnapped by aliens from Venus, had sex with their Queen (“the best of my life”), and then been safely deposited on Venice beach next to Santa Monica.

He was so plausibly likeable that I was almost convinced. So I drove him out to the ocean where, indeed, he was able to point out undeniable scorch marks in the sand where the Venutian ship had blasted off, plus three deep indentations where the tripod-shaped landing-gear of space vehicle had stood. Right then and there, I thought it possible I’d had my first encounter, if at second hand, with a real UFO.

I felt the same way when listening to Barack Obama’s 28 March speech about his reasons for invading Libya on behalf of the anti-Gaddafi “rebels”. For just a moment there he had me. “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different,” he told the nation. In that UFO moment, a part of me wanted to believe that high-penetration US Tomahawks, which by some accounts are coated with extremely radioactive DU (depleted uranium), would be killing bad Libyans to save good Libyans and that our flying torpedoes would know the difference.

A significant section of what passes for the American left seems to share my fleeting suspension of ethics and political memory – by backing Obama’s war against the third Muslim nation that did not attack us. This is the first war he did not inherit from George Bush (although he’s done his best to make Afghanistan all his own). He has shown exemplary courage in facing down a fourth-rate tyrant with a fourth-world army with a toughness he has never shown against out-of-control Republicans at home. If you’re afraid of the big bully in your own block, it’s smarter to find a smaller one to fight over yonder.

Liberal hawks never seem to learn that you can’t get healthcare, decent schools and less unemployment by bombing smaller nations. Military adventures trump domestic rehab every time. We Americans have a very long history – going back to Teddy Roosevelt in Cuba and Woodrow Wilson in the first world war – of progressives going to war for the best, most irreproachable, humane, idealistic reasons, whether that meant saving Belgian babies from fiendish Hun bayonets or rescuing Benghazi civilians today.

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