Obama’s National Security Speech

Yep, President Obama and Dark Lord…I mean…Former Vice President Cheney went head to head today to speak about

Image by newscom/upi via talkingpointsmemo.com
Image by newscom/upi via talkingpointsmemo.com

national security.  I already took a look at Cheney’s speech, and now I’m checking out Obama’s.

I can’t help but feel that this:

For the first time since 2002, we are providing the necessary resources and strategic direction to take the fight to the extremists who attacked us on 9/11 in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

is a dig at the previous administration’s decision to get bogged down in a war in Iraq, which did not attack us on 9/11 nor have connections to those who did until after we invaded their country, distracting that administration from the necessary conflicts in Afghanistan-spilling-into-Pakistan.

This:

We are building new partnerships around the world to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. And we have renewed American diplomacy so that we once again have the strength and standing to truly lead the world.

is also a nod to the previous 8 years whose diplomacy manual seemed to be “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.” Despite all the handwringing that talking or shaking hands with people with whom we disagree is making us less safe, diplomacy is a smart and essential national security strategy, and it makes us safer.

But this:

I have studied the Constitution as a student; I have taught it as a teacher; I have been bound by it as a lawyer and legislator. I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen, I know that we must never – ever – turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.

is where we get to the good stuff. Cheney recently misquoted his own Oath of Office saying he swore to protect and defend the American people, rather than the Constitution of the United States.  This, I believe, belies a fundamental misunderstanding on Cheney’s part about our democracy and our leaders’ role in it: their job is not first and foremost to protect us from outside threats, but to protect our system from threats, both from within, by those seeking to compromise our laws and freedoms for the sake of safety, and from without, by those seeking to compromise our safety perhaps because of how they feel about our laws and freedoms.  You can’t compromise the system in order to keep it safe. Continue reading “Obama’s National Security Speech”

Dick Cheney said about what I expected

So, Cheney gave a big national security speech today (I’d probably characterize it more as a Torture Apologism

Photo via pvera @ Flickr.
Photo via pvera @ Flickr.

Speech). He summarizes most of the Bush years and then says:

So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort.

ONLY those two conclusions are possible? Must we think the Bush administration EITHER did everything right or everything wrong? Or can we not look and see that in some areas, they were right, such as centralizing intelligence gathering and going to war in Afghanistan, but wrong in deciding to get sidetracked in Iraq, lie to the American public and the UN, spy on Americans, and torture detainees?  I mean, I minored in history, and the way we tend to judge history is to look at successes as well as failures in the life or administration of a figure.  For example, FDR is known for many successes, but Japanese Internment was a definite FAIL. Continue reading “Dick Cheney said about what I expected”