|September 7, 2010|
|Obama Should Have Followed TR's Lead|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|President Obama last night officially declared combat operations are over in Iraq. Who is he kidding? Teddy Roosevelt made a similar declaration on July 4, 1902, saying "the insurrection against the authority and sovereignty of the United States is now at an end." |
Roosevelt, who gets unfairly tarred as a war-mongering imperialist, was referring to the Philippine-American War, which gets very short-shrift in U.S. text books. Bloodshed in the Philippines went on for at least four years. To his credit, Roosevelt acknowledged during his "war is over" proclamation that hostilities continue in certain areas under insurgent control. Does anybody believe that Iraq, a cauldron of sectarian hatred, is to be transformed into a peaceful and democratic oasis within four years?
Obama was not as upfront as TR.
Evan Thomas, author of "The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire," sees many parallels between the U.S. wars in the Philippines and Iraq. The Philippines action was an outgrowth of the Spanish-American War. The White House and cheerleading media snookered America into both conflicts.
[Thomas, who is stepping down from Newsweek after a 25-year run, admitted his own cheerleading, in an interview with Guernica.
He called former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a "great war leader" shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan and wrote a March 2002 Newsweek article about the Bush Administration's "growing consensus" that Saddam Hussein stacked up as the next target in the war.]
Seeking a measure of redemption, Thomas wrote in War Lovers:
"Just as the threat of weapons of mass destruction turned out to be bogus in Iraq, the sinking of the Maine-the pretext for intervention in Cuba—was caused not by a Spanish plot but rather almost certainly by a shipboard accident." Once the U.S. gained political control of the Philippines from Spain in 1898, the war "turned dangerous and ugly."
The U.S. abandoned its former Filipino rebel allies and plunged into a counterinsurgency that ultimately cost 4,234 American lives. The final U.S. death toll in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began in 2003, is 4,416. An American has not yet died in "Operation New Dawn."
In a 1907 letter to Secretary of War William Taft, Roosevelt wrote:
"I don't see where they are of any value to us or where they are likely to be of any value… The Philippines form our heel of Achilles. They are all that makes the present situation with Japan dangerous…. Personally I should be glad to see the islands make independent." When will Obama be as forthright about the value of Iraq and Afghanistan to the U.S.?
The Philippines became a U.S. commonwealth in 1935 and independent in 1946. The last U.S. military installation in the Philippines, Clark Air Base, shut in 1991.
Will it be 93 years until the last American base closes in Iraq?
(Photo: White House)
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