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Home Obama War Don’t Mention the War

Don’t Mention the War

Bill Clinton was ambiguous about the definition of “sex” and “is”. Barack Obama is uncertain about what the definition of “war” might be.

And wars are central to the duties of the man in the White House.

Whether or not we’re in a war depends on who you ask and on which day of the week you ask him. Secretary of State John Kerry said that bombing ISIS in two countries wasn’t a war. After the White House spokesman said it is a war, Kerry agreed that maybe it might be a war after all.

Forget about finding a strategy, this administration can’t even agree on whether the thing that it needs to find a strategy for is a war.

Democrats don’t like the “W” word. They bomb more countries than Republicans do, but they find a prettier name for it.

One of the first things that Obama did in Iraq was to change the name of the war. It was no longer Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was now Operation New Dawn. Even though there were 50,000 troops in Iraq, the combat mission was officially over. The 50,000 were renamed “Advise and Assist” brigades.

As John and Yoko said, the “W” word really could be over if you wanted it to be. Or pretended it was.

Obama bombed Libya to implement regime change, but no one called it a war. It was just one of those things where we dropped a lot of bombs on another country in coordination with rebels on the ground to help them take over that country. Definitely not a war. Possibly one of those “man-caused disasters”.

At least that was how Obama Inc. tried to rename terrorism in the early heady days of hope and change.

A compulsive need to avoid calling things what they are is an obvious form of denial. But when a politician at the head of a government begins behaving in that shifty way, it’s also deeply dishonest.

Democrats could defend Bill Clinton’s need to lie about what they termed his private life, but even they can’t defend an administration that plays Clintonesque word games with something as big as a war.

We are currently not in a war with the Islamic State, which according to this administration is neither Islamic nor a State, with a strategy of possibly destroying them (unless that doesn’t work out and then we’ll settle for degrading them) and we are backed in this non-war by a coalition of Muslim nations that can’t as of yet be named, but which have possibly pledged to help us with certain undetermined things.

These undetermined things include aiding the Syrian Islamist rebels, some of whom are fighting alongside ISIS, some of whom are fighting ISIS and some of whom switch back and forth based on their mood, the latest shipment of TOW missiles from the CIA and how much the Saudis are paying them.

We don’t know a lot more about the war, which may or may not be a war, than we know about it.

And that’s the problem.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was mocked for talking about “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” by people who are too stupid to realize that their ignorance has turned the world around them into “unknown unknowns”.

Obama’s culture of denial, his charm bracelets of Orwellian synonyms for conflict that seem to have been invented by a bureaucrat with no sense of humor, turn everything into unknown unknowns. If we can’t even properly define what we’re doing, how can we do it at all? If we can’t even admit that we’re fighting a war and that ISIS is inspired by Islam, how can we beat an enemy that we can’t fight or name?

For the longest time this administration refused to admit that ISIS was a threat or that it was at war with us. Only when the Jihadists were preparing to knock on the doors of the US embassy in Baghdad, was it finally able, after a delay of some weeks, to use the “W” word.

What you call something is important. Ideologues, like the kind that fill the ranks of Obama Inc, think that changing a name changes reality. It doesn’t. A rose will still be the same plant by any other name and ISIS will still be the same band of Islamic headchoppers even if you insist on referring to them as a junior varsity team of man-caused disasters belonging to no particular faith or religion.

It’s your awareness of reality that changes.

Casinos and credit card companies use substitution to diminish your awareness that you are spending money. Drug companies play soothing music and show pastoral scenes while telling you the lethal side effects. Car salesmen and cable companies avoid giving you the full amount that you’ll be paying.

Obama has a bad habit of using these same tactics. His administration tried to make the illegal war in Libya look good by refusing to call it a war and comparing the cost to the Iraq War using bogus figures. It tried to erase the existence of terrorism by refusing to use the word to describe terrorist attacks that were taking place, whether at Fort Hood or in Benghazi.

His tactics showed that he didn’t believe that the problem was terrorism, but the overreaction of Americans to terrorism. All he had to do whitewash every attack as an isolated incident that had nothing to do with Islamic terrorism and then Americans would cease to be aware of terrorism. If Iraq were to vanish from the evening news, no one would know that Al Qaeda there was getting bigger and bolder.

In the latest leaked private conversations printed in the New York Times, Obama whines and mopes, he blasts critics and denies that his policies have failed. Despite his muscular rhetoric in public, in private he complains that he is being stampeded into bombing ISIS. It’s a revealing conversation because it shows a man who believes that his failures are not the problem. It’s other people becoming aware of those failures that concerns him and forces him into addressing them. ISIS isn’t the problem: America is.

ISIS is to Obama as Monica was to Bill Clinton. They’re both the dirty little secrets of powerful men that they did everything possible to hide. And once that was no longer an option, they quibbled over words.

Denial only works until reality forcibly intrudes. Even with a friendly media, the philandering of the President of the United States couldn’t continue indefinitely. And even with a friendly media, the rise of a new generation of Al Qaeda after the Arab Spring wouldn’t stay buried in the back pages forever.

It was only a matter of time until everyone knew.

Futile exercises like debating the meaning of “War” are delaying tactics. People are not interested in abstractions like the meaning of “Is”, “War”, “Sex” or “You can keep your doctor”. They take words at their common meaning. If bombs are falling, it’s a war. And if it’s a war, then it has to be won.

Democrats don’t believe in wars now because they don’t believe in winning. Instead of wars, they spend a lot of time on “interventions” as if dropping tons of explosives on a country is like telling your drunk cousin to stop drinking. They never win any of these interventions and that’s fine because Americans don’t really care what happens in Yugoslavia, Haiti or Somalia.

But on September 11, thousands were murdered in one day. The Democrats don’t like calling what happened on that day an act of war. Americans however know it’s a war and are determined to win it.

Obama was guiding Americans away from the awareness that we were in a war. In wars, someone wins and someone loses. If he refused to call it a war, maybe we wouldn’t realize that we were losing.


  1. Anonymous18/9/14

    Daniel, I haven't heard or read that Obama has ever said ISIS. He always uses ISIL.

    The Democrats have been so successful at redefining the meaning of words to suit their political ideology and win support for so long, it can't be surprising they use the same tactic with the reality of Islamic terrorism. Besides, their ideology is in sync with it; they are domestic terrorists and we know that birds of a feather flock together.


  2. Anonymous18/9/14

    Don't share your politics, but I love the Basil Fawlty reference.

  3. Love the illustration, Daniel. But I wonder how many readers know that it's a still from Fawlty Towers, with John Cleese, the hotel manager, with a head injury, doing his imitation of a goose-stepping Hitler (which was hilarious,he had the legs for it, and because he had German guests). No, Obama really doesn't want to commit himself to anything as firm as a genuine war against a "country" that has issued as many threats against us as perhaps Iran, perhaps more. One really can't believe that any president would be that treacherous and devious. But, there it is.

  4. Re my first comment: Forgot to mention that you took the title from Fawlty's warning to his staff: "Don't mention the war!" to the German guests. He's also escaped from the hospital where he was recovering from the fall of a moose head on his own.

  5. Anonymous18/9/14

    For me the Fawlty Towers reference gets at something different. I have been a fan of the show (all one season's worth) since I was a teen. Basil's wife seemed like a real villain when I was a teen. Now that I watch the show again I realize she is competent and reasonable and Basil is an out of control loon. At first I thought Basil was a bit of a victim. Now I see the passive aggressiveness and can only imagine what the hotel would be like without his wife. Actually I can. It would be out of business by the end of the episode.

    This is also the Obama view of the world. Like Basil he thinks he's cultured, refined, sophisticated and deserving. He's also a crazed nut in a position which he has no idea how to run or real desire to be.He likes authority. He likes fawning on some and spitting on others. When real problems arise he panics. Problems are not simply something to competently handle. They are proof the world does not appreciate him enough. I'm sure if we got underneath the veneer we would see a lot of Basil in Obama. I'm sure a lot of time is spent soothing him and reminding him he's the boss (why? well an episode needs a main character and so does a sitcom of an administration).

    Terrorists get at the issues at the heart of Socialist corruption. Terror asks Democrats how will they protect their constituency and not how they will find constituents to protect them. Terrorists are the mafia coming after the Community Organizer. If the Community Organizer admits he is a figurehead for organized corruption he is done for. The terrorist says you are a nothing and we will kill you. Is there any wonder why the CO in Charge won't acknowledge the problem.

  6. Anonymous18/9/14

    The Fort Hood massacre was 'workplace violence' as I recall..
    If you take in a stray dog, feed it, and give it a name, you are now a dog owner, like it or not..

  7. When the word "war" polls well with focus groups, then he will start using it.

  8. Horace Staccato18/9/14

    The only way to win the "war" that started Sept. 11 is to close the borders to all third-world savages from Mexico to Asian to Africa to the Middle East. Then deport ALL of the ones that are here already, legal or illegal. And THEN leave them alone in their own countries; no aid, no immigration, no "advice", no interventions. Just buy stuff they have that we want. They'll take the money.

  9. Anonymous19/9/14

    Under Koranic doctrine, anyone who actively fights against the establishment of athe Caliphate is considered an infidel and should be killed. Obama is more concerned about his legacy in the Islamic world, than his legacy as an American President. Looking at his actions in that light ---whether not wanting to have US "boots on the ground" against ISIL, taking troops from Iraq, releasing arch-terrorists from Guantanamo, not calling the Islamo-fascist war a "war", "workplace violence", selling $11 billion of arms to Qatar (a country of 300,000 people) which is actively supporting Hamas, giving money directly to Hamas, pressuring Israel to prevent Hamas' defeat, supporting the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, enabling Iran to go nuclear, opening the southern US border to terrorists, distancing us from our traditional allies while pandering to those who declare their hatred for us, and countless other misadventures, ad nauseam--his seemingly naivete or incompetence disappears.

  10. It wouldn’t be possible for ‘muscular rhetoric’ to sway the populace into servitude unless the majority were not sheep unable to think for themselves. Throw in manipulated polling and you have the perfect vehicle for those with dark agendas to overcome and rise to power.

    That the sheep remain clueless in spite of all that is visible to be seen, is the conundrum and the reason history is circular not linear.

  11. Anonymous19/9/14

    "Islam' is Obama's sacred cow and no matter what in entails, the danger it poses - it does not make any difference. He will continue to deny that ISIS?ISIL are Islamic jihadists hellbent in bringing destruction not only throughout the middle east but the 'big satan and the little satan'.
    The slaughter of Christians by these savages did not move Obama to take actions nor did he find it necessary to speak out on behalf of those Christians - which began with the manipulated arab spring; bringing his preferred muslim brotherhood into power followed by the eradicating of the Coptic Christians.

    ISIS/ISIL has been building beginning in Benghazi and took on form in Syria - the 'moderate rebels' who have been armed by this administration for a long time with the purpose of overthrowing another head of state - Assad - in Syria.

    There are no moderate rebels in Syria - they are all part of ISIS/ISIL - and yet, again yesterday the congress critters voted to again arm them even more. As Obama overruled his military commanders regarding boots on the ground - he reserved the right to micromanage the bombing campaign in Syria - only he will decide what and whom to bomb. Is that because he finally sees his chance of being able to take out Assad? I would not be surprised.

    In the meantime - our borders are wide open and anyone who so desires can waltz right on in - even jihadists who have bad intention once here.

    On the other side - he sends 3,000 troops to Liberia to fight Ebola - a task that has nothing to do with what our troops trained for.

    Does this man in the white house has a death wish for ameriicans - such as an jihad attack or importing famine such as ebola?
    (Considering that the DOD has a Bio Chem Weapons Lab in Kenema - at the center of the original outbreak of Ebola by Africans who were in the hospital while being injected with the Ebola virus - many of them died and the epidemic began.)
    Something about sending our troops there stinks to high heaven.

  12. The current vote to approve money to arm rebels in Syria shows for sure that our government has been compromised. We are going to arm the people we fight, and it's being allowed. When beheading innocents on video because acceptable and our government doesn't just destroy the enemy, it shows we have enemies working in the government. It's time to use the neutron bombs. America is in serious trouble, and the Liberals would rather see the country destroyed than admit they did something wrong.

  13. Anonymous19/9/14

    I wonder if the Nobel Committee has ever rescinded the award of one of its prizes. If so the absurd Nobel Peace Prize that our WH Basil Fawlty received for waking up 3 weeks in a row after taking the oath of office surely is a candidate. But that will surely never ever happen.

  14. Anonymous19/9/14

    anon, Obama makes sense if you view him as filled with hatred and resentment of Middle America, and a Muslim to boot. According to that standard, he is succeeding quite well.
    Middle America is used intentionally, he is part of Elite America, so he still wants it to have nice golf courses and fine dining at his disposal, top grade medical care too, just like any wealthy Islamist.



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