21 Jan 2010

Anthony Gregory on Obama’s First Year

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This is really a top-notch job. I don’t have to clone myself because Anthony Gregory is on the scene. There are no shocking revelations in this, but if you want to read a very thorough assessment of the “hope and change” of this past year–and not from a Republican sympathizer by any stretch–I heartily recommend Anthony’s article. Two excertps:

In Afghanistan, the situation has been far worse than we could have probably expected under another year of Bush. This is all because, tragically, Obama has kept his promise: He has expanded the war from the beginning, and announced in November the deployment of about 30,000 additional troops, bringing the total number up to about three times what it was when he took office. 2009 became the worst year for the Afghan people since 2001 – more depredations of children’s rights and the most civilian deaths since the invasion, including in air strikes that are ripe with scandal and can only contribute to the terrorist threat. As commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Obama picked General Stanley McChrystal, who became the target of controversy in the Bush years for the draconian handling of detention centers, the blocking of the Red Cross from these prison camps, and for his involvement in covering up the truth about Pat Tillman’s death. Needless to say, when McChrystal publicly contradicted the president’s assessment of what was needed for victory, he was not fired for insubordination. Obama and the Democrats always criticized Bush and the Republicans for “neglecting” Afghanistan. The Democrats’ due diligence has successfully made Afghanistan a far deadlier place than Iraq in the last year. About 300 U.S. troops have died there since Obama took office.

In May, Obama stood in front of the National Archives – in front of the Bill of Rights itself – and engaged in the most impressive example of doublespeak in our time. He spoke well about the principles of the rule of law and how important they are to our country, even as he unveiled a plan to try some detainees in court, try others in front of military commissions and keep some of them imprisoned indefinitely – a policy of “prolonged detention” that, in a sense, went beyond the Bush policy of executive detention in that it was now asserted to be a part of our legal fabric, not just an ad-hoc executive prerogative. This was akin to Bush’s saying he had to destroy the free market to save it, except it was much slicker and actually fooled many people.

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