Barack Obama, otherwise seen



November 5, 2013 – Obama denies he made a promise that was videotaped two dozen times:

November 19, 2013 – 23 Obama Quotes That Turned Out To Be Broken Promises Or Cold-Hearted Lies:

January 24,2014 – ‘The White House has acknowledged President Barack Obama lived with his uncle, Onyango “Omar” Obama, after previously denying that the two had met.’
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9 thoughts on “Barack Obama, otherwise seen

  1. Obama denies he made a promise that was videotaped two dozen times

    November 5, 2013

    Despite more than two-dozen video recordings showing otherwise, President Obama said that he never promised Americans they’d be able to keep their health care plans under the Affordable Care Act.

    Speaking to supporters in Washington on Monday, Obama claimed that in the past, he said, “You could keep [your plan] if it hasn’t changed since the law was passed.”

    However, the Daily Caller reports that there are at least 29 videos showing the president leaving out the crucial words, “if it hasn’t changed.” Instead, he unambiguously stated numerous times that “if you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan, period.”

    Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that some White House officials were worried about making such a pledge, but that ultimately the administration decided to move forward with it.

    “Simplification and ease of explanation were a premium, and that was true throughout the process,” Jon Favreau, formerly Obama’s senior speech writer, told the paper.

    The last week has seen a flood of stories about individual health care plans being cancelled by insurance companies. As the Washington Post noted, 7-12 million Americans on the individual market are at risk of losing coverage, while the Daily Caller claims an additional 150,000 small-group market plans in Kentucky are being cancelled.

    According to Obama, the loss of these plans will be made up by the increased benefits of new ones, which can be purchased in the marketplaces on or via the telephone.

    “If we had allowed these old plans [to continue]… then we would have broken an even more important promise – making sure that Americans gain access to health care that doesn’t leave them one illness away from financial ruin,” he said. “So the bottom line is, is that we are making the insurance market better for everybody.”

    Complicating the fact that Americans can shop for other plans isn’t just that continues to suffer from technical issues. New reports are surfacing that show some insurance companies are misleading individuals in an attempt to push them into costlier coverage.

    According to a report by Talking Points Memo, the Kentucky-based insurance company Humana “was pushing customers into a Humana insurance plan that was more expensive than the plan Humana was selling on the Obamacare marketplace, without the financial help available under Obamcare.”

    The rollout of the Affordable Care Act was likely to run into some trouble regardless, but the current landscape seems to be one in which Americans are confused by a dysfunctional website, promises made by the administration, and maneuvering by insurance companies.

    In his remarks, the president denied he told Americans they’d be able to keep their plans, but admitted that mistakes have been made, such as the bungled management of

    “We got [Obamacare] done. Now, let’s face it, a lot of us didn’t realize that passing the law was the easy part,” he said.

  2. 23 Obama Quotes That Turned Out To Be Broken Promises Or Cold-Hearted Lies

    November 19, 2013
    #1 “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

    #2 “My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government.”

    #3 “We agree on reforms that will finally reduce the costs of health care. Families will save on their premiums…”

    #4 “I don’t want to pit Red America against Blue America. I want to be the president
 of the United States of America.”

    #5 “We’ve got shovel-ready projects all across the country that governors and mayors are pleading to fund. And the minute we can get those investments to the state level, jobs are going to be created.”

    #6 “And we will pursue the housing plan I’m outlining today. And through this plan, we will help between 7 and 9 million families restructure or refinance their mortgages so they can afford—avoid foreclosure.”

    #7 “I will sign a universal health-care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”

    #8 “We reject the use of national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.”

    #9 “For people with insurance, the only impact of the health-care law is that their insurance is stronger, better, and more secure than it was before. Full stop. That’s it. They don’t have to worry about anything else.”

    #10 “We will close the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, the location of so many of the worst constitutional abuses in recent years.”

    #11 “Allow Americans to buy their medicines from other developed countries if the drugs are safe and prices are lower outside the U.S.”

    #12 “We will revisit the Patriot Act and overturn unconstitutional executive decisions issued during the past eight years.”

    #13 “Will ensure that federal contracts over $25,000 are competitively bid.”

    #14 “We reject sweeping claims of ‘inherent’ presidential power.”

    #15 “Will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year. This will eliminate taxes for 7 million seniors — saving them an average of $1,400 a year– and will also mean that 27 million seniors will not need to file an income tax return at all.”

    #16 “We support constitutional protections and judicial oversight on any surveillance program involving Americans.”

    #17 “If we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home, we will end this war. You can take that to the bank.”

    #18 “Will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.”

    #19 “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

    #20 “We have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division and conflict and cynicism…. That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, ‘Not this time….’”

    #21 “We’ve got to spend some money now to pull us out of this recession. But as soon as we’re out of this recession, we’ve got to get serious about starting to live within our means, instead of leaving debt for our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren.”

    #22 “[T]oday I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office. This will not be easy. It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we’ve long neglected. But I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay – and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control.”

    #23 “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will execute the office of president of the United States faithfully, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States.”

  3. November 5, 2013 – Obama denies he made a promise that was videotaped two dozen times:

    November 19, 2013 – 23 Obama Quotes That Turned Out To Be Broken Promises Or Cold-Hearted Lies:

    January 24,2014 – The White House has acknowledged President Barack Obama lived with his uncle, Onyango “Omar” Obama, after previously denying that the two had met:
    (After publication of this message: ‘Not found – Sorry, this page is no longer available – Click here to watch the live experience’)

  4. Obama’s Health Care Promise Named “Lie of the Year”

    December 13, 2013

    He apologized on network television, and his aides have been doing damage control for weeks, but President Obama’s repeated assertion that under his signature health care law, “you can keep your health plan” continues to haunt him.

    This week, the political fact-checking website PolitiFact named the president’s statement, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” the organization’s “Lie of the Year.”

    … To be clear, many of the people who couldn’t “keep” their old plans suddenly found that they were eligible for better coverage at a lower price than they had before. But that wasn’t true for everyone, and political opponents of the healthcare law spared no effort tracking down such people and getting them in front of television cameras. The combination of rightly-aggrieved citizens and copious video footage of the president repeating an evident untruth proved a potent political weapon that eventually led to a presidential apology during an interview with NBC News on November 7.

    The “you can keep your health plan” line continues to be repeated nearly constantly by Republicans criticizing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act rollout, and has become a touchstone of sorts for complaints about what they characterize as Democratic hypocrisy…

    See more at:

  5. Obama Lies America Into Another War

    June 17, 2013

    Around this time two years ago, Barack Obama delivered a prime time speech in which he told viewers waiting for him to shut up and make way for American Idol, “We have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times… America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home.”

    Even while he was delivering a speech promising to begin nation-building at home, the warplanes he had dispatched to Libya were bombing government targets in support of the Islamist uprising.

    A month earlier, Obama had told Americans that he had a duty to protect “Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte”. Given a choice between nation-building in Charlotte and Benghazi; Obama chose Benghazi.

    In September 2012, Obama gave yet another speech calling for a withdrawal from Afghanistan and nation-building at home. Ten days later, the diplomatic mission in Benghazi came under attack by militias and terrorists who had been allowed to take over the city by Obama’s Libyan intervention.

    At the presidential debate, despite the broken promises on Libya, Obama once again brought out his “nation-building at home” card.

    In response to a question about the challenges of the Middle East and the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Obama speechified, “The other thing that we have to do is recognize that we can’t continue to do nation building in these regions. Part of American leadership is making sure that we’re doing nation building here at home.”

    The response should have come with a laugh track. Eight months later, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is preparing to lead America into his second Arab Spring war.

    The script has already been written and it’s the same script that saw airtime in Libya. Claim an imminent threat to civilians that is actually a threat to the terrorists. Carve out a No Fly Zone. Arm the terrorists. And then sit back and wait for the next Benghazi.

    To invade Libya, Obama lied and told the American people that the residents of Benghazi were about to suffer a massacre that would stain “the conscience of the world.” No such massacre had taken place or was ever going to take place. The only innocent people who wound up massacred in Benghazi were the Americans sent there by Hillary Clinton.

    This time, swap out Aleppo or Homs for Benghazi as the cities badly in need of American protection. Never mind that the Christians of Aleppo and Homs, the only innocent parties in a religious war between a Shiite government and Sunni terrorist groups, are in far more danger from the Islamist Sunni terrorists that Obama is proposing to arm.

    The Free Syrian Army’s Farouq Brigades went door to door expelling Christians in Homs. Of the 160,000 Christians in the city, there are now barely a 1,000. Christians in Aleppo have faced kidnappings and car bombings. Some have chosen to arm themselves against the rebels.

    “We see on TV armed young men with beards shouting, ‘Allah is great!’ and calling for jihad. We have the right to defend ourselves,” one Christian in Aleppo said. But Obama won’t be supplying the Christians with any weapons. Those are reserved for the bearded young Allah-shouters.

    In Qseir, the city recently recaptured by the Syrian Army from the Sunni militias, whose loss partly triggered the rush to war by the Western allies of the Muslim Brotherhood, most of the Christians had fled a place where they were once 10 percent of the population following Sunni Muslim persecution.

    The 10,000 Christians of Qseir were ordered to leave the city by loudspeakers on mosques. If Obama’s intervention helps the Islamist militias retake Qseir; there will soon be no Christians left in the city at all. And the same goes for Homs and Aleppo.

    Intervention in support of the Islamist militias in Syria is nothing more than a Christian ethnic cleansing project. And those supporting it should be treated like any other advocates of ethnic cleansing.

    Obama’s intervention in Libya turned Benghazi over to Islamist militias who have persecuted Christians. His intervention in Syria will ethnically cleanse Christians while rewarding the Muslim Brotherhood with another building block for their caliphate plans.

    The Syrian War, like the Libyan War, is built on a pyramid of lies. There are no good options in Syria and nothing we do will help anyone there.

    Despite the belated declaration that the Syrian government had breached a Red Line by using chemical weapons, the evidence points to chemical weapons use by both sides.

    Obama is choosing to hold only one side accountable for actions that both sides have taken. While the Sunni rebels who used chemical weapons will be armed and aided, the Shiite government which used chemical weapons will get bombed. That’s not human rights; it’s cynical hypocrisy.

    The vaunted “Red Line” was and is irrelevant. The White House delayed taking a position when the evidence of a breach first came in and dispatched its media allies to make excuses for not taking an immediate stand because the line was never the issue. The determining factor was whether the Sunni rebels could win on their own or not.

    The Libyan intervention had nothing to do with protecting the people of Benghazi and everything to do with protecting the Islamist militias in Benghazi which were in danger of losing the city. The Syrian intervention has nothing to do with whether Assad used chemical weapons, but the worry that the Sunni militias will lose Aleppo and Homs the way that they appear to have lost Qseir.

    It was only when it became clear that the Sunni rebels were being rolled back by government forces, that the Red Line began flashing in the White House. And if there is any doubt of that, Politico quoted an administration official as saying, “The decision was ultimately driven by the discovery Assad used [chemical weapons], but there were a number of other factors in place that were also important… “Would we have made [the determination Assad had breached the red line] even if we didn’t have the evidence? Probably.”

    Had an official of the previous administration made such a statement around the Iraq War, there would have been talk of impeachment, but the media has long since gotten used to swallowing the bizarre lies put out by an administration that ended the Iraq War twice and kept insisting that Al Qaeda was on the run even as it was expanding across North Africa.

    Obama lied the country into war in Libya. Now no one even blinks as an official admits that he was prepared to lie the country into war in Syria.

    Before the campaign, Obama yammered about nation-building at home. Libya isn’t home. Neither is Syria.

    While Obama botched Afghanistan, he has insisted on committing the United States to intervening in every nation-building war that the Arab Spring can throw up. Despite slashing the military to the bone, he hasn’t slaked his appetite for new wars. Even though he has dismantled the ability of the FBI to track Islamic terrorists at home, he has busily devoted government resources to helping them win abroad.

    Syria is not America’s war. It is the Muslim Brotherhood’s war. Instead of nation-building at home, Obama is caliphate-building abroad.

  6. USA and Al Qaeda: Holy Alliance


    Syria is flooded by terrorists of all kinds. Al Qaeda has committed a number of terrorist acts. According to former Commander of Turkish Naval Academy Admiral Turker Erturk it gets support from the USA. He says that the West and its Arab allies have decided to repeat the “Salvadorian scenario” counting on terrorist groups stepping in instead of the opposition. The suicide bomber raids in Damascus corroborate the fact. Let me remember the operation aimed at destabilization of Salvador with the help of suicide bombers was headed by John Negroponte, who later became US ambassador to Iraq, and would be US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford.

    Peter Oborne, a Daily Telegraph commentator, confirmed that the USA and Great Britain have intensified clandestine cooperation with Al Qaeda recently joining efforts in fight against the Syrian government. In its article Syria’s Crisis is Leading Us to Unlikely Bedfellows he points out that the terror acts committed in Damascus before the New Year had all earmarks of the ones committed by the terrorist organization in Iraq. According to the British journalist the Al Qaeda militants had come to Syria from Libya across the “Turkish corridor”. Peter Oborne sees “the triple Washington-London-Al Qaeda alliance” as a great menace for the UK.

    Omar Al-Bakri, a religious extremist residing in Lebanon, confessed in an interview to the Daily Telegraph that Al Qaeda militants supported by Al Mustaqbal headed by Saad al-Hariri have already infiltrated into Syria from Lebanon. At a press-conference held in Baghdad Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari confirmed the fact that Al Qaeda does infiltrate into Syria across the Iraqi border in order to commit terror acts and bring in weapons.

    The Guardian has recently published an article called Military Intervention in Syria Would Be Disastrous for Its People. The author Sami Ramadani points out the fact an alliance between the USA and Al Qaeda has taken shape. The USA and Turkey intensively destabilize Syria using the oil funds provided by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. While Hillary Clinton is trying to persuade the world community an intervention in Syria is a necessary step, the CIA is actively involved in providing support and training to the militants. As is known the USA and NATO allies have recruited heads of terrorist organizations and common criminals from different countries of the world as mercenaries to make them go through special drilling course in the training camps located in Turkey and Lebanon. For instance, while in Homs a member of the League of Arab states observer mission working for Iraqi special services was very much surprised to see Pakistani, Iraqi and Afghan mercenaries. Especially striking was the fact that some of them had been his kidnappers in Iraq. It’s important to note that over a hundred of hirelings from Arab and other countries, including a significant number of French legionaries, were captured by Syrian authorities after freeing Homs.

    Hala Jaber, a Sunday Times correspondent, is sure religious extremists and foreign mercenaries infiltrating Syria from the territories of adjacent countries contributed to the exacerbation of violence to make international observers terminate their mission. Hala Jaber emphasized the calls of Saudi sheikhs to cross the Syrian border were followed by dozens of people coming from Lebanon, Tunisia, Algiers, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait full of fanatic aspiration to create an Arab caliphate in Syria and the region.

    The British Times published an article in January this year that said Saudi Arabia and Qatar joined in a covert deal to fund weapons acquisitions by the Syrian opposition to topple the regime of Bashar Assad. A secret accord between the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Syrian opposition was reached after the Arab League of Nations foreign ministers Cairo meeting in January. A representative of the Syria opposition told the British newspaper that Saudi Arabia offered any assistance. He added Turkey also took an active part in supporting the opposition by delivering arms across the Syria-Turkey border.

    Mehmet Ali Ediboglu, a deputy from the province of Hatay, said to a United Arab Emirates outlet the National there were great quantities of Turkey-made fire arms in Syria. Ediboglu was part of the Turkish Republican People’s Party team coming to Syria in September 2011. The Syrian officials showed the delegation truckloads of weapons unloaded in deserted buffer zone between Syrian and Turkish checkpoints. According to the Turkish deputy’s interview the weapons were delivered by the Muslim Brothers.

    Pro-Israeli Debka internet-outlet close to the Israeli Intelligence Mossad reported as far back as August 2011 that NATO delivered shoulder-fired air defense systems, anti-tank weapons, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns to the opposition forces across the territory of Turkey. “Syrian rebels have been receiving training inside Turkey” Debka reported. NATO and the USA organized a campaign to recruit thousands of Muslim volunteers from different countries to boost the might of Syrian “rebels”. The Turkish army provided them with training and safe passage across the Turkey-Syrian border.

    According to the Guardian Saudi Arabia is ready to offer any financial assistance to the Free Syrian Army militants to incite mass defections from the Syria’s military ranks and increase pressure on the Assad’s government. Riyadh has already discussed the far-going plans with Washington and other Arab states. As the British outlet notes referring to the sources in three unnamed Arab capitals the idea didn’t originate from the Saudis but rather from their Arab allies willing to eliminate the Syrian statehood. The encouragement of Syrian defectors coincided with arms deliveries to Syria. The Guardian says the discussions with Arab countries officials make it clear the arms supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar (including automatic rifles, grenade launchers and anti-tank missiles) started since the middle of May. The Guardian’s Arab interlocutors said the final agreement to move weapons from storage points inside Turkey into rebel hands was hard won, with Ankara first insisting on diplomatic cover from the Arab states and the US. The authors of the article said Turkey had also allowed the establishment of a command centre in Istanbul which is coordinating supply lines in consultation with FSA leaders inside Syria. The Guardian witnessed the transfer of weapons in early June near the Turkish frontier.

    As the influential New York Times has reported, the CIA has already organized arms and equipment supplies to the opposition. According to the source experienced CIA operatives are “working” involved in distributing illegal assault rifles, anti-tank rocket launchers and other ammunition to Syrian opposition. Arms and ammunition are being brought over into Syria mainly with the help of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood network says Eric Schmitt, the author of the article. Expenses for rifles, grenade launchers and anti-tank systems are being shared by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The CIA operatives provide assistance on spot to deliver the cargo to the desired destination. The agency operatives might be helping the rebels with organizing a rudimentary intelligence and counterintelligence organization to fight Bashar Assad. Andrea Stone from the Huffington Post confirms this information. He notes Central Intelligence Agency officers have been working from southern Turkey since March to advise Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates which elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) they should arm. Besides, the Vice-President of the Turkish Labor Party, Bulent Aslanoglu, confirmed that about six thousand people of Arab, Afghan and Turkish nationalities have been recruited by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to commit terrorist acts in Syria.

    The USA and Al Qaeda’s alliance doesn’t confuse Reuel Marc Gerecht, former CIA operative and a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. On the pages of the Wall Street Journal he argues for “a muscular CIA operation launched from Turkey, Jordan and even Iraqi Kurdistan”. He thinks the limited in scope CIA undertaking against Assad coming into public view thanks to Western media will not lead to anything in concrete terms for those who strive to topple the ruling regime in Syria. Gerecht puts special importance to the fact that “Assad, who depends upon his Shiite Alawite minority (roughly 10%-15% of the population) for his military muscle, does not have the manpower for a multiple-front counterinsurgency”. The scholar of Foundation for Defense of Democracies thinks “a coordinated, CIA-led effort to pour anti-tank, antiaircraft, and anti-personnel weaponry through gaping holes in the regime’s border security wouldn’t be hard. The regime’s lack of manpower and Syria’s geography-low-rising mountains, arid steppes and forbidding deserts—would likely make it vulnerable to the opposition, if the opposition had enough firepower”. The former CIA operative is sure this Syrian action would not be a massive undertaking: “Even when the CIA ramped up its aid to Afghan anti-Soviet forces in 1986–87, the numbers involved (overseas and in Washington) were small, at roughly two dozen. An aggressive operation in Syria would probably require more CIA manpower than that, but likely still fewer than 50 U.S. officers working with allied services”.

    According to Gerecht most importantly, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has irreversibly broken with Assad. Jordan, the country enjoying the most intimate Arab liaison relationship with the USA, is also set against Damascus. Moreover the former CIA veteran assures Iraqi Kurdistan, always eager for more U.S. officials on its soil, would likely give the CIA considerable leeway provided Washington promised to stand by the Kurds in any dispute with Baghdad and Tehran.

  7. An American Identity Crisis in a Losing War

    March 1, 2007

    In recent days, we’ve have two reports on timing, when it comes to the future of the President’s “surge” plan for Baghdad. According to Richard A. Oppel of the New York Times, “The plan, which calls for 17,000 additional troops in Baghdad, will continue until at least this fall, the second-ranking commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, told CNN on Wednesday. ‘I don’t want to put an exact time on it, but a minimum of six to nine months.'” On the other hand, Simon Tisdale of the British Guardian reports that the new military “brain trust,” headed by Lt. General David H. Petraeus, which has just surged into Baghdad’s Green Zone, is operating on a more truncated schedule. Petraeus’s men, who believe themselves to be working with too little of everything, especially boots on the ground — since the Iraqi government has once again not delivered its promised full contingents — have “concluded the US has six months to win the war in Iraq — or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat.”

    Give me a buck for every predicted six-to-nine month window of opportunity from the military or the White House in the last four years and I’d be rich as Croesus. Amid the hopeless chaos of Iraq, you can already hear various individuals preparing their exculpatory “exit strategies” from this war. So many key players are going to stab one another in the back with their various explanations for failure in the coming years that blood will run between the pages of the many memoirs still to be published.

    Of course, for the neocons, the Bush White House, the Vice President and his crew, and various military and intelligence types, the real villains will not, in the end, be themselves. Count on this: The “weak-willed” American people will take the brunt of the official blame (with the “liberal” media, Democratic and Republican politicians who opposed the war, and the antiwar movement, as well as the incompetence of anyone but the speaker of the moment, thrown in for good measure).

    As Ira Chernus points out below, we’ve heard this tune before — and once upon a time, in the post-Vietnam years, it ended up playing us for a long, long while. The question is: Will history repeat itself in the wake of an American defeat in the Middle East?

    Here’s the money paragraph in the Tisdale piece, which should have a Surgeon General’s warning attached to it:

    “Possibly the biggest longer-term concern of Gen Petraeus’s team is that political will in Washington may collapse just as the military is on the point of making a decisive counter-insurgency breakthrough. According to a senior administration official, speaking this week, this is precisely what happened in the final year of the Vietnam war.”
    Mom, I tell you that fish I had hooked was at least as long as the boat and I was just bringing it in when you made me come home Tom

    Mom, I tell you that fish I had hooked was at least as long as the boat and I was just bringing it in when you made me come home Tom

    Will We Suffer from the Iraq Syndrome? Beware of the Boomerang
    By Ira Chernus
    The Iraq syndrome is headed our way. Perhaps it’s already here.

    A clear and growing majority of Americans now tell pollsters that that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake, that it’s a bad idea to “surge” more troops into Baghdad, that we need a definite timeline for removing all our troops.

    The nation seems to be remembering a lesson of the Vietnam War: We can’t get security by sending military power abroad. Every time we try to control another country by force of arms, we only end up more troubled and less secure.

    But the Iraq syndrome is a two-edged sword, and there is no telling which way it will cut in the end.

    Remember the “Vietnam syndrome,” which made its appearance soon after the actual war ended in defeat. It did restrain our appetite for military interventions overseas — but only briefly. By the late 1970s, it had already begun to boomerang. Conservatives denounced the syndrome as evidence of a paralyzing, Vietnam-induced surrender to national weakness. Their cries of alarm stimulated broad public support for an endless military build-up and, of course, yet more imperial interventions.

    The very idea of such a “syndrome” implied that what the Vietnam War had devastated was not so much the Vietnamese or their ruined land as the traumatized American psyche. As a concept, it served to mask, if not obliterate, many of the realities of the actual war. It also suggested that there was something pathological in a post-war fear of taking our arms and aims abroad, that America had indeed become (in Richard Nixon’s famous phrase) a “pitiful, helpless giant,” a basket case.

    Ronald Reagan played all these notes skillfully enough to become president. The desire to “cure” the Vietnam syndrome became a springboard to unabashed, militant nationalism and a broad rightward turn in the nation’s life.

    Iraq — both the war and the “syndrome” to come — could easily evoke a similar set of urges: to evade a painful reality and ignore the lessons it should teach us. The thought that Americans are simply a collective neurotic head-case when it comes to the use of force could help sow similar seeds of insecurity that might — after a pause — again push our politics and culture back to a glorification of military power and imperial intervention as instruments of choice for seeking “security.”

    Ambivalence in the Land

    In current polling data about the war in Iraq, there are obvious reasons for hope, but also less noticed warning signs. In a PIPA poll of December 2006, for instance, three-quarters of the public favored “withdrawing almost all U.S. troops by early 2008,” and fully 62% of Republicans agreed. Even in the south, 64% of Americans now disapprove of Bush’s “handling” of the war. A recent USA Today poll finds 60% against sending more troops to Iraq. But the exact same number wants Congress to fund those new troops they don’t approve of dispatching Iraq-wards.

    In that USA Today poll, a remarkable 63% of Americans favor “a time-table for withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of next year,” putting them way ahead of the Democratic Party Washington consensus on what to do. Yet in a Washington Post/ABC poll released this week, while 64% say the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, only 45% want to set a deadline of all U.S. troops out within a year, and only the same minority number would move to reduce funding for the war. The latest CBS News poll reveals that over 70% of Americans believe the situation is now going “badly.” But fully half say the U.S. is still “likely to succeed in Iraq,” and 43% do not want U.S. troops in Iraq removed or even reduced now. A new AP/Ipsos poll asks people what words they’d use for their feelings about the war. While 81% are “worried,” 51% remain “hopeful.” (That poll also asks how many Iraqi civilians have died in nearly four years of war. The median “best guess” is a woefully uninformed 9,890.)

    Beneath the ever shifting polling figures, the only constant is an ambivalence which haunts the land. Politicians, legendary for leading from the rear, are waiting to see which way any coming gale might blow. While many now follow their constituents and speak out against the war, most of them are carefully positioning themselves to go with the flow of a militaristic backlash, should it emerge.

    And history tells us a backlash is a real possibility. Just as in the early stages of the Vietnam War, a large majority of Americans were not opposed to the Iraqi intervention or the occupation that followed. When Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown, some three-quarters of the U.S. public approved George W. Bush’s war.

    With Iraq, as with Vietnam, the nation did not go sour on the venture until it became frustratingly clear that the United States could not win — and American deaths began to rise. Bush’s ratings have fallen steadily not because he took us into war under false pretenses, but because he failed to deliver the expected triumph. Going to war without winning just doesn’t fit our national self-image, what Tom Engelhardt has called our “victory culture.”

    Victory culture assumes that the United States is bound to win in the end — that, in fact, we deserve to win because our motives are less self-interested than those of other nations. We may sometimes fight a war ineptly or incompetently, but we always mean well at heart. We want democracy, prosperity, peace, and stability — not just for ourselves but for everyone.

    And in victory culture, we kill only because others are out to ambush and kill us. We are by definition the victims, the innocents, never the perpetrators. That whitewashes our motives, whatever they may actually be.

    To go on believing that we are virtuous, we must go on seeing ourselves as profoundly insecure, as beset by enemies, as invariably simply defending ourselves out there on the planetary frontiers of an aggressive, dangerous world; out there on what the President — referring to remote regions of Pakistan — called “wild country; this is wilder than the Wild West.”

    The stories the Bush administration has been spinning in these years to justify its war, and possibly a future assault on Iran as well, are built on the twin pillars of virtue and insecurity. While the war in Iraq itself is, by now, widely rejected, the basic plot outline embedded in the President’s stories remains largely intact. In the mainstream media, and around the country, questions about Iraq are still framed within the narrative of a grand, though badly executed, project to bring democracy and stability to a benighted land (and of the Iraqis’ inability to grasp our gift of democracy or an American naiveté in believing an Arab land could possibly be ready for such a gift). The news stories and political debate in Washington are still all about the U.S. somehow being responsible for protecting the Iraqis from chaos (even if it’s chaos we’ve in fact created). They’re about fulfilling a responsibility, finishing what we started, not to speak of the unquestioned need to go to distant places to protect our own homeland from the ever-present threat of terrorism.

    There’s good reason to see this whole line of thinking as bogus, but thoughtful analysts who explain why can barely get their voices heard, much less be taken seriously.

    Identity Crisis in a Losing War

    By now, in the midst of policy and military disaster, victory culture has narrowed to “supporting our troops.” Congress cannot defund the war because lawmakers fear the ultimate charge of betrayal, a Congressional “stab in the back” for failing to “support our troops.” The obvious logical response — “The best way to support our troops is to bring them home to their loved ones” — doesn’t cut it in today’s political climate. With not a shred of victory in sight, “our troops” have become the prime symbol of both American virtue and insecurity, the prime reason to stay in Iraq now that every other publicly ballyhooed reason has disappeared.

    That’s an old story. Ever since the Minutemen, soldiers have often been iconic emblems of everything that was imagined as pure, innocent, and vulnerable about America. There’s even a history of portraying the American fighting man as a Christ-figure — a staple of Vietnam movies from Sgt. Elias in Platoon to Rambo.

    Now, who can deny that our “kids” in Iraq are, by and large, decent and well-meaning or that they face terrible risks daily? They are the constant heroes in stories of virtue, innocence, and insecurity that fill the media, stories usually detached from any political context, as if Iraq were merely a stage without much scenery and lacking all plot on which “our troops” continuously perform their heroic, sometimes almost mythic, deeds. And those media stories make the image of a virtuous, innocent, and insecure America eminently believable — but only so long as our troops are deployed in harm’s way.

    For the broad center of the American public, “supporting our troops” also means supporting some version, however attenuated, of victory culture. By now, vast numbers of Americans realize that we’ll surely win no real victory in Iraq. Who is even sure what winning there might mean? But whatever our stumbles, our war stories are supposed to have some kind of happy ending. Every generation sent to war is supposed to be “the greatest.”

    The ambivalence lurking in the polls suggests that many Americans want it both ways. The war should end quickly, but somehow with victory culture if not still burning brightly, at least flickering, as our birthright as Americans demands.

    Awash in all this ambiguity, the broad political center is in a terrible bind when it comes to policy choices. A prompt phased withdrawal offers the promise of something like the formula that Richard Nixon offered in the 1968 election campaign (but never intended to deliver): “peace with honor” — in other words, something, anything, that might be packaged as less than a defeat.

    It would, however, be hard to avoid seeing any kind of withdrawal from Iraq as a retreat under fire, as a quitting of the field of battle, as an admission that the U.S. cannot always save faraway people in faraway places. That, too, would call into question all the traditional stories that are still so widely seen as the bulwark of American identity.

    When a whole nation has to cope with an identity crisis, when it has to struggle to believe in narratives that were once self-evidently meaningful, there is no telling what might happen.

    There’s already a hot debate — a blame game — brewing about “who lost Iraq?” The public may well put the blame on the Bush administration, or even on the whole idea of aggressive war as the royal path to domestic security, especially since Iraq can’t be easily written off as a one-time disaster. It is the second massive U.S. failure in war in a generation. And it’s a lot harder to put two failures behind you. So there is real reason to hope that Americans won’t be fooled again, that this fiasco will breed a deep and enduring resistance to the use of military force abroad.

    On the other hand, the very fact that Iraq is a second humiliation may make it all the more urgent for many Americans to put it behind them, to deny the painful reality. The frustration over not getting the ending we deserve remains palpable. And it’s only likely to rise as the situation worsens. So the public could in the post-war years just as easily put the blame where Ronald Reagan put it after Vietnam — on “the purveyors of weakness” (oppositional, incompetent, or micromanaging politicians and bureaucrats, the media, the antiwar movement) — and turn back to the Reaganite (and neoconservative) mantra of “peace and security through strength.”

    Then we’ll be told that Iraq, too, was just an aberration, a well-intentioned war handled with a staggering level of incompetence that simply got out of control. Those who don’t want to repeat the experience, who prefer to try other paths to global security, will be told they are infected with the Iraq syndrome. And the prescription for a cure will inevitably be military buildup, imperial war, and, of course, the possibility of both “kicking” the Iraq syndrome and welcoming our troops home in the sort of triumph they so richly deserve.

    Put the history of the Vietnam syndrome together with the enduring appeal of America’s victory culture, and it’s easy to see how the Iraq syndrome could boomerang, too. Boomerangs can easily catch you unaware and give you quite a smack. When one might be coming up behind you, it pays to stay very alert.

    Ira Chernus is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of Monsters To Destroy: The Neoconservative War on Terror and Sin. He can be contacted at

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