Despite the jubilation over the death of Osama Bin Laden, our nation’s overstretched and under-appreciated military will continue to be actively engaged in three undeclared wars — Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya.
Perhaps Bin Laden’s demise will usher in new questions for President Obama about the present and future of our international entanglements.
In the meantime while casualties and costs continue to escalate, and public opinion is running against all three wars there is virtually no anti-war movement targeted at President Obama compared to what was waged against President Bush.
What are the reasons for this anti-war silence from the people and the press?
Here are three possible ones: the absence of a draft, George W. Bush is no longer in office, and the main stream media’s conscious decision to downplay the wars while Obama is president.
Imagine if every able bodied 18 year old male (females are excluded from this imaginary draft) from all economic strata lived in fear of being yanked out of civilian life and sent to fight in the treacherous mountains of Afghanistan?
Or, sent to relieve the 50,000 troops still serving, fighting and dying in Iraq?
Or possibly sent to fight along side the rebels in Libya? (Not totally unlikely considering US Marines and warships are now deployed off Libya’s coast.)
Then when you consider the majority of Americans (49%) disapprove of how Obama is handling the Afghan war (47% approve) — and only 27% approve of Obama’s Libyan intervention — if a draft were in effect today there would likely be 1970’s style Vietnam era demonstrations on college campuses and frequent marches upon Washington.
(It will be interesting to note going forward if these poll numbers become more favorable toward Obama now that Bin Laden has been killed by our special forces.)
With a draft, wars would be front and center in the national consciousness especially if 20 year old “Justin” from an upper middle class family dropped out of Yale, lost his student deferment and was heading toward Kabul.
However, the absence of a draft allows for a major disconnect between the all volunteer military comprised of less than 1% of the US population.
It’s human nature that if your family is not threatened with joining the fight, you have the option of not paying attention to the wars or the politics behind them.
Then before you know it complacency sets in, nearly invisible wars are 10 years old and the same troops have done three, four, or five tours of duty.
“Hell no, we won’t go,” has been replaced with “Not my problem.”
A draft keeps wars closer to the pulse of ALL the people and tends to hold elected leaders more accountable. Even the anti-war movement during President George W. Bush’s tenure was tame compared to what it would have been if there had been a draft after September 11, 2001.
No President George W. Bush to kick around any more
Why has the steady anti-war drumbeat ever present under President Bush become virtually silent? A strange phenomenon indeed considering President Obama has continued President Bush’s policies in Iraq, then tripled Bush’s troop levels in Afghanistan, ratcheted up predator drone attacks in Pakistan, and got us involved in Libya without congressional authorization; all this from a President who received the Nobel Peace Prize upon taking office in early 2009.
What could explain the silence of someone like Cindy Sheehan (remember her?) the grieving mother and poster child of the anti-war movement under President Bush?
It is now obvious that all or most of the anti-war sediment was a by-product of Bush Derangement Syndrome because like magic, once Bush was gone from the White House the anti-war movement virtually disappeared.
A case could easily be made that most of the anti-war movement from 2002 – 2008 was fueled by the media and then conveniently used by Bush haters everywhere to wage war against the presidency of George W. Bush. Anti-War = Anti-Bush, which brings us around to the third and final reason:
The media’s downplaying of the wars under President Obama
There is a certain irony that in 2011 our three wars are being lead by Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, who was the Iraq anti-war candidate, first in 2002 as an Illinois State Senator, and then as a US Senator in his 2007 presidential launch speech.
During the 2008 primary campaign Senator Obama said to Senator Hillary Clinton when speaking about Iraq, “I was opposed to this war in 2002…I have been against it in 2002, 2003, 2004, 5,6,7,8 and I will bring this war to an end in 2009. So don’t be confused.”
Well, perhaps Obama should be confused now and asked why April 2011 was the deadliest month in Iraq since 2009 with the loss of 11 American soldiers.
Richard Benedetto, writing on FoxNews.com opined recently in a piece entitled “Why Is Obama So Silent On Afghanistan — And Why Are the Media Letting Him Get Away With It?” Benedetto observed that Obama avoids talking about Afghanistan publically as much as he can, letting others do the talking.
Obama’s strategy of avoiding speeches and discussion on wars that are not going well and that the American people are increasing against, seems to be working for him — otherwise the anti-war movement would spring back to life, whipped up in part by the media.
That said, with the death of Bin Laden, it will be interesting to see if Obama becomes more publicly engaged with the wars especially if he senses some political gain.
However, as long as the main stream media that helped elect Obama and has a vested interest in his success, is not hounding him for answers about the wars while running screaming negative headlines like what occurred almost daily during the Bush years – it is a safe bet that people will not be marching in the streets with anti-war signs reading “Obama lied — people died.”
Consider April 27th when 8 US service members were killed by an Afghan pilot, Obama was busy releasing his birth certificate, flying off for a taping of Oprah and then attending three fundraisers to help fill his re-election campaign coffers.
The media barely mentioned the tragic incident.
With no draft, no George W. Bush, and a main stream media that does not hold Obama accountable to the same standards as President Bush on any issue, is it any wonder these three wars have been largely out of sight and out of mind for 99% of Americans?
At least ABC’s This Week broadcasts the names, ages and hometowns of our brave service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice. For the record, there were 25 names on the Sunday, May 1st morning show while 12 hours later the news broke about Bin Laden. Too bad those 25 will not be celebrating.
Now with Osama Bin Laden gone and if there are no major changes in any of our three wars will the anti-war movement be revived over mounting casualties and costs?
The answer is probably no because the media will most likely elevate Obama to hero status over Bin Laden’s death. And with his new status, the silence of the anti-war movement will continue as a by product of Barack Obama’s presidency with the media’s complicity.
Meanwhile next Sunday on This Week there will be more young soldiers in Memoriam.