Republicans have an incentive to avoid a conversation about our multiple wars because the GOP finds it more politically advantageous to portray Barack Obama as a feckless commander in chief who has made the country less safe through grandiloquent displays of spinelessness. To put our wars on the table for discussion and debate would expose the actual truth, which is that Obama has very much governed as a hawk (albeit one who, unlike Republicans, prefers not to brag about it).It is a little disturbing how much in the way of war the president can wage without anyone in America much caring.
Democrats, on the other hand, have several reasons of their own to avoid a conversation about our multiple wars. First, because they quite understandably fear that the American people might object if they realized the Democratic administration was meddling militarily in so many places. Second, because the results of and strategic goals at stake in these interventions are so consistently muddled. Third, because it would reveal that Democrats are closely following the foreign policy vision of their nemesis George W. Bush.
Members of Congress, meanwhile, prefer to avoid making a fuss about our extensive military adventures — all of which are apparently covered by the comically broad Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists passed just after the 9/11 attacks — because their silence shields them from having to take partial responsibility for the consequences of the president's actions. Better to shirk Congress' constitutional obligations than risk having to take part of the blame if something goes wrong.
And finally and most troublingly, the press has an incentive to avoid a discussion of our actions in places like Somalia and Yemen because the details are extraordinarily complicated — and journalists have no faith in their own ability to explain the necessary historical and geopolitical background to each conflict in a way that will keep an audience engaged, or faith in the American people to process and evaluate that information in a responsible way.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
The Press and Foreign Wars
Damon Linker ponders why there is so little attention being paid to what he considers the five wars the US is fighting now: in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Somalia.