Obama and the 'Gravity of War'

Barack Obama held a news conference yesterday to counterprogram against the GOP's Super Tuesday contest. It was one of his rare news conferences of late, as he has avoided them and preferred using direct means to communicate with his fans if not the rest of the American people.  At one point, Obama dismissed criticism of his rather feckless approach towards Iran by maligning Republicans. According to Obama, there is still " a window of opportunity where this can still be solved diplomatically" and when Republicans attack him for being too weak, that's only because they "don't understand the gravity of war."

Really, Mr. President?  Really?

Senator John McCain, who has been a hawk regarding Libya, Syria and has been a leading force in trying to compel Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program, was a Vietnam prisoner of war who was tortured during his years of captivity and still cannot lift up his arms over his head because of his life-long injuries. His father was a legendary Admiral, and his North Vietnamese captors offered to release him as a public relations move. He refused because he felt the honorable path to follow was to stay with his men, thereby subjecting himself to more torture.

Senator Mark Kirk, who has led the way in trying sanctions to force Iran to give up its nuclear program (his latest effort was the Kirk-Menendez amendment to the military authorization bill that would have allowed the President to sanction companies doing business with Iran's Central Bank), volunteered to join the Navy and has been an intelligence officer since 1989.  He was recalled to active duty in Operation Allied Force to help in the bombing of Yugoslavia.  He also flew numerous times over Iraq as part of Operation Northern Watch.  He has also served in multiple deployments in Afghanistan, with his latest concluding just a few months ago. He has been in the forefront, both as a Congressman and as a Senator, in seeking to  tighten the screws on Iran -- efforts that have apparently "earned" him multiple snubs from the Commander-in-Chief.

I think both of these men quite well understand the gravity of war far more seriously than a man who served at Occidental College, Columbia University and then Harvard Law (and associated with left-wing ideologues all his adult life, as opposed to having friendships with men and women who put their lives on the line for their nation).

Barack Obama has such respect for the military that he does not know how to pronounced "corpsman" (the teleprompter programmers must have forgotten to phonetically print this word),  gets the name of a Medal of Honor recipient wrong and confuses him with a dead man  and decided (yet again)  to play golf on Memorial Day -- the holiday that honors our men and women of the military who have fallen . He seems to have a serial problem with appreciating or even understanding Memorial Day. For example, in 2008, he gave a campaign speech in New Mexico on Memorial Day and had this to say:

On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.

Of course, Memorial Day honors soldiers who have lost their lives. His "gaffe" (the rare times when we see the real Obama) gave rise to jokes about Obama's Sixth Sense and his ability to see "dead people" (time for more séances in the White House?).

To top it off, he has an aversion to using the term "victory." How does that build morale among our men and women in uniform?  If Barack Obama alone understands the "gravity of war" one would think he would also appreciate the need to praise our soldiers for their successes in Iraq and Afghanistan -- but he clearly could not honor their efforts because to do so would also show a modicum of respect for the reviled George Bush.

His disrespect towards our men and women in the military is manifest in his administration's efforts to gut the military of the equipment and force levels we need. He is planning on slashing the medical care benefits for active duty and retired military while requesting money for a brand new soccer field for terrorists in Guantanamo Bay

Barack Obama also lifted the photo ban that prevented the media from publicizing photos of the coffins of our fallen. A leading military families group objected to the lifting of the ban believing the decision should be left to the survivors.  Clearly, they did not appreciate that the only individual Barack Obama feels should make this decision is the one he looks at (how often?) in the mirror every day.  For those wondering why Barack Obama would ignore the feelings of the survivors, one need not look beyond his campaign plan.  After his administration lifted the ban, the  White House alerted the media to Barack Obama's helicopter ride to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where he was pictured honoring the return of the remains of 30 Americans killed when Taliban insurgents shot down their helicopter in Afghanistan. Treating our military men and women as campaign props is offensive on many levels, especially when they have been killed in action and their survivors wishes are ignored.

Incidentally, Barack Obama's Attorney General just appointed a lawyer who defends Taliban terrorists as his number three at the Department of Justice.

Obama claimed a great deal of credit for the Bin Laden mission -- with no mention of the fact that the groundwork for finding Bin Laden would not have existed but for our efforts in Iraq.  In his speech announcing the successful mission, he carried on his habit of claiming credit for the actions of others- an unpleasant character trait.  President Obama used his favorite pronoun quite often in that celebratory speech (" I directed Leon Panetta", "today, at my direction"  -- for more examples of the narcissism, not difficult to find when Obama speaks,  see the transcript). Compare Barack Obama egotistical approach to Ronald Reagan's who had a plaque on his desk said  'There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit ." Can anyone imagine those words coming from Barack Obama?

He is the anti-Reagan and it is particularly offensive when he hogs the credit for the heroism of our military.

But it is even worse  when Barack Obama exploits  their heroism for campaign purposes. His friends and donors in Hollywood are ramping up production of a movie celebrating the Bin Laden operation, and his administration has given the people behind the movie unprecedented access to military information. Does anyone doubt that one of the stars of this movie will be President Obama?  Hollywood is the land of illusion after all, the land of make-believe. It certainly would require one to suspend disbelief when it comes to reconfiguring the man who is rapidly drawing down our military as an action hero. And his use of a drones to pick off this "leader" or "that leader" does not alone make him a commander-in-chief (has anyone noted that the media is again carrying water for him by describing every one of his kills as a "leader"; when the Bush administration used such characterizations they were dismissed as propaganda).

But his willingness, if not eagerness, to use our military to bolster his own prospects is even worse than using them as props as a campaign commercial masquerading as a movie.  As Leif Babbin,  a much decorated Navy Seal noted in the Wall Street Journal, Obama's loose lips regarding their secret missions endangers the lives of Navy Seals, who are the people putting their lives on the line-all for the sake of politics.

The Republicans he denigrates are not calling for war. They are calling for something more muscular and impactful on the mullahs than the feckless policy he has followed for three years. He has had his palm and window for negotiation open for years now, and the Iranians have ignored his entreaties as they rapidly develop their nuclear weapons program. The people he insults are trying to avoid war, yet find his somnolence and nonchalance both naïve and dangerous.  His inactions are likely to lead to the Iranians developing nuclear weapons -- and the violence that follows from this leading state sponsor of terror (as Clinton dubbed the Iranian regime) will be far more tragic given his approach.  Yet, Republicans who have actually experienced war and are trying to prevent more deaths  are the ones he denigrates as not "understanding the gravity of war". The audacity!

Perhaps Barack Obama, who styles himself "a student of history" might heed the words of Winston Churchill who reflected after the end of World War Two:

There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe.

Churchill, who actually served in war (as have Senators McCain and Kirk), knew that at various times in the late 1930's violence could have been avoided had the world's leaders taken more forceful and far-sighted actions than they did when by their very somnolence and fecklessness stumbled into a World War.

Yet Barack Obama insults those who are working to prevent war by claiming they do not understand the "gravity of war."

We have a President who slashes health benefits to our soldiers and veterans, does not know how to honor them or the holiday that celebrates their service, does not bother to learn how to pronounce their titles, uses them as campaign props and insults their survivors for the sake of photo ops.  He both disrespects them and then exploits them for political gain.

Does he understand or appreciate their service and sacrifice?

Indeed, does he understand the "gravity of war"?

Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.