President Obama: ‘Why Is It That Everybody Is So Eager To Use Military Force?’

John Glaser, April 28, 2014

Here is an excerpt from President Obama’s joint press conference today with Philippine President Benigno Acquino:

Typically, criticism of our foreign policy has been directed at the failure to use military force.  And the question I think I would have is, why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?  And what is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?

My job as Commander-in-Chief is to deploy military force as a last resort, and to deploy it wisely.  And, frankly, most of the foreign policy commentators that have questioned our policies would go headlong into a bunch of military adventures that the American people had no interest in participating in and would not advance our core security interests.

So if you look at Syria, for example, our interest is in helping the Syrian people, but nobody suggests that us being involved in a land war in Syria would necessarily accomplish this goal.  And I would note that those who criticize our foreign policy with respect to Syria, they themselves say, no, no, no, we don’t mean sending in troops.  Well, what do you mean?  Well, you should be assisting the opposition — well, we’re assisting the opposition.  What else do you mean?  Well, perhaps you should have taken a strike in Syria to get chemical weapons out of Syria.  Well, it turns out we’re getting chemical weapons out of Syria without having initiated a strike.  So what else are you talking about?  And at that point it kind of trails off.

In Ukraine, what we’ve done is mobilize the international community.  Russia has never been more isolated.  A country that used to be clearly in its orbit now is looking much more towards Europe and the West, because they’ve seen that the arrangements that have existed for the last 20 years weren’t working for them.  And Russia is having to engage in activities that have been rejected uniformly around the world.  And we’ve been able to mobilize the international community to not only put diplomatic pressure on Russia, but also we’ve been able to organize European countries who many were skeptical would do anything to work with us in applying sanctions to Russia.  Well, what else should we be doing?  Well, we shouldn’t be putting troops in, the critics will say.  That’s not what we mean.  Well, okay, what are you saying?  Well, we should be arming the Ukrainians more.  Do people actually think that somehow us sending some additional arms into Ukraine could potentially deter the Russian army?  Or are we more likely to deter them by applying the sort of international pressure, diplomatic pressure and economic pressure that we’re applying?

The point is that for some reason many who were proponents of what I consider to be a disastrous decision to go into Iraq haven’t really learned the lesson of the last decade, and they keep on just playing the same note over and over again.  Why?  I don’t know.  But my job as Commander-in-Chief is to look at what is it that is going to advance our security interests over the long term, to keep our military in reserve for where we absolutely need it.  There are going to be times where there are disasters and difficulties and challenges all around the world, and not all of those are going to be immediately solvable by us.

But we can continue to speak out clearly about what we believe.  Where we can make a difference using all the tools we’ve got in the toolkit, well, we should do so.  And if there are occasions where targeted, clear actions can be taken that would make a difference, then we should take them.  We don’t do them because somebody sitting in an office in Washington or New York think it would look strong.  That’s not how we make foreign policy.  And if you look at the results of what we’ve done over the last five years, it is fair to say that our alliances are stronger, our partnerships are stronger, and in the Asia Pacific region, just to take one example, we are much better positioned to work with the peoples here on a whole range of issues of mutual interest.

And that may not always be sexy.  That may not always attract a lot of attention, and it doesn’t make for good argument on Sunday morning shows.  But it avoids errors.  You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run.  But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.

Uncharacteristically, I’m at a loss for words.




18 Responses to “President Obama: ‘Why Is It That Everybody Is So Eager To Use Military Force?’”

  1. That makes two of us, brother!

    Cheers,

    JQP

  2. All this suggests that the powers that be, and the PR firms in their employ, have taken into account social media to decide how to spin their message in the maintenance of their belligerent agenda. Note in particular, the abuse of the terms "we," and "our," and "us."

  3. What he's saying is, we have the covert regime change option, it's cheap and unaccountable, we can and do use it everywhere in the world, we have compliant media almost globally, we can dismiss and ridicule anybody who puts out the truth because the global public is almost completely silenced, and the GOP know all this, so they are just saying things they know they wouldn't do, as usual. There, that wasn't hard, was it?

  4. Alright, who is this impostor and what have they done with the Nobel Laureate Obama? What the frack is the deal here? Mr. Drone-Those-Muslims is having a case of conscience?

  5. I think the answer is that they are an insular clique that profits from war and does not pay the cost for what they advocate. They are sophist philosopher king wannabes who make the weaker argument stronger, who advocate might makes right, and they reject morality when it suits them. If Dr. Drury is correct then the Neocons have this bad idea that perpetual war via manufactured threats will stave off nihilism through human blood sacrifices and human suffering. War accomplishes the destruction of liberalism, and has in the past created a visible temporary unity in Americans, and in their warped minds provided people with meaning and purpose. http://www.alternet.org/story/15935/leo_strauss%2

    It doesn't occur to them that only a small portion of the population does the sacrificing and most of the rest are oblivious. They do not understand that peace, prosperity, and civil rights are what provides unity, and meaning comes from human relationships, our own efforts, and introspection. If they want a Weimar Republic and what comes after then they should keep on destroying the pillars of American society through war.

  6. I wonder if the bubble Obama lives in can be transported to another planet as in "Godzilla vs. Monster Zero".

  7. That is right, why? When you can create turmoil by using the social garbages as Neo fascism, while you can spend only five billion or six billion of people money in Ukraine, and start a war like in Syria and use Saudis barbarians letting the Turkish government take care of the rest, and use the Neo fascism in Ukraine where a civil war is just about to start. For one is cost the USG less money and it is not the American or European solders or mercenaries that are killed, but rather nations that are killed by nations, while USG and EU making deals and plan their next move for militarization of rest of the world using the very same garbage as they are using.

  8. Doesn't anyone get it? What Obama is doing here is replaying the debate he has, just about every day… with his own staff! This is the debate he has with Susan Rice, with Samatha Power, with John Kerry, and god knows, with Victoria Nuland. When he asks, "why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force?" he's talking about the people he hired to work for him. He's not talking about the Weekly Standard or the Wall Street Journal. He has to have this argument every day with practically every person he has on his payroll in the White House.

    It'd be different if he'd done something radical, like maybe bring in people who agreed with him on the Iraq war, that it was a disaster; if he'd appointed someone who agrees with him as undersecretary for Eastern Europe, instead of the famous necon wife of a famous neocon, maybe someone who will work for him, instead of as a loose cannon, as secretary of state.

    But no, he either kept the Bush team or hired their friends. He hired a whole bunch of people who seriously believe in war.

    Can you picture anyone else who works for him, anyone in the White House, using this language, or talking like this?

    So there's every reason to believe he's having this argument every day in the oval office. And what we're seeing here is a glimpse of how that really goes. Which is nerve-wracking, because it sounds like he's being worn down.

  9. To me, it does not sound like he's being worn down by the neocons in his administration. . .
    He appointed them, and keeps them.

    It sounds to me like he is just giving the usual Obama speech of cleverly using words to effectively lie without appearing to be lying. . . to appear like the nice guy, when he is certainly not.
    http://lemonjuicebruce.blogspot.com/

  10. You are right, he is trying to stay ahead of the game. He gives order to have people droned, arming terrorist to fight other nations and destabilizeing their country, but won't take the blame for it.

  11. The truth is in what Obama does, not in what lies he is currently spinning. If Obama was outraged by Nuland's comments, wouldn't he have fired her on the spot? Kerry is only mouthing what Obama and his inner circle tell him to do. I doubt if Kerry has an original thought left in his fevered brain. Let's face it, Obama has become what he ran against – he's become a neocon in disguise.

    Unfortunately, those who want to replace him – Hillary and the GOP scumbags (save Rand Paul, maybe) would be worse on matters of War and Peace.

  12. Brings to mind the following lyrics:

    I never knew a man
    Could tell so many lies
    He had a different story
    For every set of eyes
    How can he remember
    Who he's talking to?
    Cause I know it ain't me,
    And hope it isn't you.

    – Neil Young “Ambulance Blues”

  13. Rand paul is another no good senator controled by AIPAC lobby. Dont expect him to be any different.

  14. It’s a sad day when this speech seems even remotely worth celebrating. So he wouldn’t take things as far as the neo-cons, so what? He still arms the FOREIGN opposition in Syria, which is siding with the same folks as he supposed drones in Yemen and beyond. The chemical weapon deal had nothing to do with us save for Kerry’s big fat mouth. The rest we can thank Russia for acting as the sane intermediary. Russia is isolated because we’ve pushed them there, not b/c of anything Russia has done independent of Western meddling in Ukraine. In a way, Obama is WORSE than a neo-con, b/c with him, people can/will say “well, it could be worse.” and we continue to lower our standards. Disgusting.

  15. Did he say “sexy”? Hug??

  16. Obama, look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself that question, YOU, who is so gung ho using drone attacks and provoking Putin into starting a conflict which could be the start of WORLD WAR 111!!!! We are sick of your wars and that also goes to the republicans-they are no better!!

  17. Is he saying we have a rogue State Department? Or how about his own words, aren't they enough of an encouragement for aggresive behaviour. Bad language. Bad manners. Disrespect of others.

    It is amazing that he cannot see himself as the least bit responsible for world mayham. Syria, Libiya, Ukraine. Never ends, does it.

  18. Just hire better people! Then you will not have to argue with them. Who is ordering drone attacks? Fire them. Who has messed up Ukraine? Fire them. Who had us almost up to eyeballs in Syria? Fire them. Who has for years on end tried to get us into war with Iran? Fire them. Who has celebrated success in Libya? Fire them — all. Then find some people who think differently, and all problems solved. But the problem is — they seem to order you around, and tell you what to do. So, you not only cannot fire them, they can fire you.