Democratic Manliness: celebrating the kills

Democratic Manliness

by digby

Paul Begala makes the smart observation that Democrats shouldn't take the election for granted and posits that foreign policy could end up being a very serious impediment for a number of reasons(virtually all having to do with Israel and oil.) I think it's always smart to remember that events can take over the best laid plans in politics and that something major could happen overseas, especially in the Middle East, to turn things upside down. Now whether or not you agree with Obama's foreign policy or not, I think most of us can agree that this is just bellicose bullshit:

Ultimately, the best foreign policy is the best politics. President Obama’s foreign policy has been remarkably successful. Just ask 22 of the top 30 al Qaeda leaders. Oh, wait, you can’t. They’re dead—on Obama’s orders. He has approved 239 Predator drone attacks in just three years. George W. Bush approved 44 in eight years, the wuss. As he promised in the 2008 campaign, Obama has ended America’s combat mission in Iraq, which has been the most divisive issue in America, indeed the world. He is imposing tough sanctions on the terrorists in Tehran and has won what may be pivotal concessions from North Korea. He’s helped lead on the European debt crisis and rebuilt America’s battered global image.

I guess there are Democrats out there who are really getting off on this macho posturing, but it smacks of the same sort of primitive schoolyard taunting that I hated during the Bush years. The celebration of assassinations, sanctions on innocent children --- oh, excuse me, "terrorists" in Iran --- is unseemly to say the least and not just a little reminiscent of the way our enemies tend to behave. It breeds more of that shallow cruelty that led Americans into the morass of Iraq in the first place. It's hard to see much daylight between the flagwaving chauvanism of the Bush administration and that chest thumping screed.

I'll let Glenn Greenwald and other informed critics of the drone operations make the detailed case against them. For me, the idea that a president's foreign policy success is based upon how many remote killings he's approved is simply repulsive, particularly in the context of calling the previous president a "wuss" for failing to approve more of them. (Begala should know that these planes have been mass produced only in recent years, by the way. I'm sure Bush would have happily approved as many killings as Obama if he'd had the hardware. It's one area that we have total bipartisan agreement in Washington.)

I am glad that there seems to be some movement on North Korea, although I understand a lot of kids had to starve to get there, and there is no reason to believe that Obama led Europe on anything to do with the debt crisis. And it's too bad, really. By comparison, he's handled it better than they did although that's small comfort to the masses of unemployed. And as for Iraq, well, the administration tried to extend combat operations and were rebuffed by the Iraqi government. It's possible that the Cheney administration would have put up more of a fight, I admit.

I appreciate the fact that Begala is warning Democrats not to get too cocky because "shit happens." But this is a funny way of doing it. It's exactly the kind of "shit" that makes things "happen" and we should be skeptical of it not celebrating it. Obama successfully cooled the rhetorical temperature when he came into office, which is probably his greatest foreign policy success. Even if you disagree with me on all those points about the foreign policy and think that every one of them has been a correct decision, I would hope that we can all agree that this fratboy machismo goes a long way toward building back the image that got us into many of these messes in the first place.