Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Patriotism

Further to the post just below this one: Not only would Republicans and Fox News commentators back in 2008 insist that Democrats admit that the Bush surge worked in Iraq, they would be positively outraged--OUTRAGED-- at anyone who continued to dare to criticize the Bush war strategy. Even at the beginning of the Iraq war, there was an effort made (I'm thinking particularly of Dick Cheney) to equate dissent with lack of patriotism; to suggest that anyone who had the audacity to question Bush policies such as restricting civil liberties, roughing up suspected terrorists, and invading a foreign country that had nothing to do with 9/11, might be in league with the terrorists. And while Bush apologists tried to intimidate dissenters, they had to acknowledge that Bush's policies weren't exactly making us a lot of friends abroad. US standing in the eyes of other nations' citizens sank steadily during the Bush years.

That situation has now reversed itself. Is it therefore fair to question the patriotism of critics of President Obama's methods of overthrowing North African dictators? People like Rick Santorum, for example, who said that Obama had "little to do with this triumph [in Libya]."  Not only is Santorum's comment exceedingly ungracious, but anyone who has been paying the slightest bit of attention to what the Libyan rebels themselves say has to recognize that Santorum's refusal to acknowledge America's key role is just completely counter-factual.  The Libyans know that they would not be where they are today without American help, and they have publicly thanked America for our support.


I would probably give these critics the benefit of the doubt as to their patriotism (though maybe I shouldn't), but I don't mind pointing out their hypocrisy. Everybody is supposed to rally around a Republican president, especially on foreign policy ventures, but it is perfectly fine for the opposition party to give no support whatsoever to any Democrat who occupies the White House. The pattern was established under President Clinton, and is being played out even more strongly under Obama. I will not only call it hypocritical. I call it shameful. It wouldn't bother me if a lot of Republicans, even a majority, expressed reservations about the President's policies abroad, but to find virtually unanimous criticism in the face of American success? To find citizens of countries all over the world finally--FINALLY--praising the United States as a force for good, while opposition politicians in this country will not begrudge the administration any recognition of its critical role in assisting the Libyan revolution? To fail to take pride in the sight of freedom fighters in other countries waving American flags, and thanking us for our help? Shameful.

(LA Times photo from Stars and Stripes)

8 comments:

  1. It should be good enough that things have worked out well for Obama -- so far. Whether it was due to his superior strategy or a mixture of indecision and good luck; so far the changes look very good with relatively low cost and no loss of life for American and NATO forces. That is a brilliant success - so far.

    Things have not been resolved in Egypt or Libya. Getting rid of dictators or oppressive governments is the easy part. We toppled the Taliban in about 63 days. That situation is not resolved yet. We toppled Iraq's dictatorship in three weeks. Not resolved yet. It took six months and it looks like Libya's mad man is in a rat hole some where. It's not resolved yet.

    The right understands. People who are listening understand. Last night Karl Rove gave Obama a score of B for his handling of Libya. O'Reilly gave him a B+. Another O'Reilly guest, Col Ralp Peters (no fan of Obama's) gave him an A- and praised the fact that Libyan rebels feel they did the heavy lifting (a good thing). The left mostly gives him straight A's. That's understandable! Rational people understand things have gone well to date. If I hear other wise I just discount the source!

    There are always elements on the left and right that are so predictable. You know what they are going to say: "You did" "No you did" "I know you are but what am I" "No I didn't" "Yes you did".

    Time will tell; not tattle tell.

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  2. Very cool picture, Joe! As well, I heard some great interviews last night from young and old in Libya who expressed themselves well and with an obvious deep sense of happiness. Made me consider that you were right in saying that the locals should be wildly celebrating.

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  3. O'Reilly gave Obama a B+? I might have to do a salute to Bill O'Reilly post.

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  4. It's never an easy decision to go to war, and it's even less easy for a civilian with little experience in such matters to concoct or approve of a winning strategy.

    Criticism of one's government and the people who run it should never be considered unpatriotic. If we buy into Albert Camus's definition of patriotism, that you want your country to live up to your highest standards, then criticism actually makes one more of a patriot than someone who is willing to turn a blind eye to his country's transgressions.

    Patriots want what's best for their country, nationalists think their country is already the best no matter how horrifying it might actually be.

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  5. My favorite Albert Camus quote:

    “Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”

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  6. I agree with you, Jack, and whoever else said that dissent is the highest form of patriotism, except that to qualify as patriotic, the dissent has to come from a genuine desire to improve your country, which sometimes requires criticizing its leaders. But if the criticism just springs from a desire to score political points, or foment dissatisfaction with the government that the opposition party can take advantage of, or spread divisiveness or hate or fear, then I'm not sure I would consider the dissenter to be more of a patriot than those who take genuine pride in their country's accomplishments. I'll leave it to others to decide which category Rick Santorum falls into.

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  7. Bush followed the War Powers Act. Obama did not. 'nuff said.

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  8. if it is unacceptable to hear that anyone would equate dissent with lack of patriotism due to criticism of the Bush administration (a falsehood at best, and in actuality a lie) why is it acceptable to be called racist when anyone criticizes Obama?

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