The Morning After Obama Went to War

At the risk of sounding like a peace-loving pacifist, the worse kind, or even more alarming, a Republican — I must say I was disappointed by the President’s declaration of war speech Wednesday night. It lacked specifics about how we were going to win a war that has been going on for the last 1,400 years.

Like what?

Well, it would have reassured me to learn that the 450 new advisers would include Dick Cheney. The old duck hunter and advocate of butting into wars where we have no business, knows the area well, his Halliburton pulling off the coup of being hired to repair the damage caused by his administration. I’d also send in Wolfowitz and other war-happy neocoms in the Bush brain trust that told us it would be no sweat straightening out those Muslims. The last war, they predicted, would be over in 30 days. Or was that years? All would be armed with waterboards.

No boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria? Did this mean it would be okay if the troops wore sneakers or running shoes?

I would have liked the president to assure me there would be at least one drop of Saudi blood shed in this most good and noble cause.

I also would have liked him to say to Congress flat out: You are a bunch of yellow bellied cowards, afraid to come in and vote yes or no about this madness on which I’m about to embark, thanks to all your whining about my not having a strategy. This is my Tonkin Gulf Resolution. Don’t let me hang by the thumbs here.

As I say, the speech left me degraded. It was all so vague. The strategy finally enunciated was right out of the playbook of the von Clausewitz of New Jersey, Yogi Berra, who first said “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

I felt like a traitor, or peacenik, not leaving the speech with that fire in my patriotic belly. What was wrong with me, not bursting with pride about my country once again putting its foot in the 1,400 year old Sunni-Shia difference of opinions in which there did not seem to be any good guys?

As a British intelligence agent explained the day after on Al Jazeera, the most reliable cable news network, there are 1,200 groups involved in the fighting in Syria alone.

Fortunately, we Republicans have a group of chest thumpers that can make anyone more confident about getting involved in wars with no winners.

Even before the President’s traditional God bless us all, the leader of the Obama Can Do No Right wing of the party was fighting mad. Field Marshal John McCain of Arizona was on the attack every place I turned on cable network talk news, where wars are won and lost these days. Aided and abetted by his wing commander, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, basically the armchair warriors were saying—let me check my notes here —Obama was doing too little and too late.

McCain never met a futile war he didn’t like. If we had listened to him, we’d have been in three or four other wars by now.

My favorite was the Crimean War of 2013. Our party’s “We are all Crimeans” in the fight against Vladimir the Mad’s land grab made me want to saddle up the horses, look around the attic for my saber, and come to the aid of those Ukrainian freedom fighters. Our cause was just, even if the legally elected president was thrown out of office, along with the Constitution and Parliament.

It’s probably a good thing we didn’t take our party’s advice in the echo chamber of the Sunday morning ghetto areas of enlightenment about going to war in the Ukraine, settling for being angry at the Crimea Desk idiots in the State Department, thus avoiding World War III.

While I am further establishing my credentials as a leading geopolitical thinker, I have an unanswered question rattling around in what remains of my so-called mind.

Where has CIA been in this confusing Middle Eastern mish-mosh? Why has it taken our intelligence apparatus so long to alert the President about the threat of ISIS? Our Congressional leaders should give up on Benghazi – I see where we are starting a fifth inquiry this week— and ask CIA: When did they know and why didn’t they do something about it?

CIA seems to be missing the boat on a lot of issues these days. For example, most egregiously, Langley was surprised by the collapse of communism in the 1980s.

Knowing that history repeats itself, like a good glass of beer, I keep thinking back to the start of Iraq War I, which cost so much in human lives and trillions of dollars in deficit: why didn’t my CIA just send in somebody to kill Saddam?

And while I’m crying over spilt milk, how come CIA hasn’t sent in people to kill the Caliphate leaders? That’s what we are paying them for!

It was the way we used to conduct foreign policy. I still remember how we took out the democratically elected premier of Iran Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953, just as his neo-socialist government was planning to nationalize American oil companies’ wells. Not to mention the CIA-inspired killing of Allende in Chile.

Why is it that CIA seems to do its best work on those who bat from the left side of the plate?

We Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility. It’s time for our budget busters to go over the CIA’s secret black books and make sure we are not wasting taxpayers’ money by not getting enough bang for the bucks.


Marvin Kitman
Sept. 11, 2014

Marvin Kitman was the media critic at Newsday. His column, “The Marvin Kitman Show,” began on Dec. 7, 1969, a day that still lives in infamy, according to network executives. On April 1, 2005, he stepped down from his position of power. As he explained, “Newsday gave me a tryout, and after 35 years we decided it wasn’t working out.” He is the author of nine books.