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Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama scores an early military victory -- and the wingnuts are going crazy
Posted by Jill | 5:57 AM
On April 1, 2001, a U.S. spy plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet off the China coast. The Chinese jet crashed into the sea and the U.S. plane made an emergency landing in China. This was the first major foreign policy crisis of the George W. Bush administration (the first being the sinking of a Japanese fishing boat by a U.S. Navy submarine helmed by Bush campaign contributors), and it ended after ten tense days with "a carefully worded apology" from the U.S. Ambassador after 10 days of negotiations, and it was an early sign of George W. Bush's utter refusal to ever acknowledge any kind of fallibility whatsoever. As Samara Aberman notes in this News Hour distillation for students:
Apologies are more important in Chinese and other Asian cultures, than in American culture, where apologies are casually given and received, and often considered simply symbolic.

In China, offering an apology means admitting you are wrong, and it is very serious. In many cases, the moral victory of receiving an apology takes the place of lawsuits or trials.

For example, when the U.S. Navy submarine Greeneville hit and sank a Japanese fishing boat earlier this year, killing nine people, the main thing that the Japanese demanded was an apology -- not just from President Bush, but from the captain of the sub, live and in person.

After several days of hesitation, Captain Scott Waddle, went to Japan against his lawyers' advice and met face to face with the families of the victims to offer what participants reported was a tearful apology. That gesture went a long way in easing the tensions between the two countries.

On Saturday, U.S. Special Operations forces successfully rescued US merchant marine captain Richard Phillips from the Somali pirates holding him captive in an early test of the Obama Administration's relationship with the military. Even the Washington Post can't spin this badly for him:
or President Obama, last week's confrontation with Somali pirates posed similar political risks to a young commander in chief who had yet to prove himself to his generals or his public.

But the result -- a dramatic and successful rescue operation by U.S. Special Operations forces -- left Obama with an early victory that could help build confidence in his ability to direct military actions abroad.

Throughout the past four days, White House officials played down Obama's role in the hostage drama. Until yesterday, he made no public statements about the pirates.

In fact, aides said yesterday, Obama had been briefed 17 times since he returned from his trip abroad, including several times from the White House Situation Room. And without giving too many details, senior White House officials made it clear that Obama had provided the authority for the rescue.

"The president's focus was on saving and protecting the life of the captain," one adviser said. Friday evening, after a National Security Council telephone update, Obama granted U.S. forces what aides called "the authority to use appropriate force to save the life of the captain." On Saturday at 9:20 a.m., Obama went further, giving authority to an "additional set of U.S. forces to engage in potential emergency actions."

A top military official, Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of the Fifth Fleet, explained that Obama issued a standing order that the military was to act if the captain's life was in immediate danger.

"Our authorities came directly from the president," he said. "And the number one authority for incidents if we were going to respond was if the captain's life was in immediate danger. And that is the situation in which our sailors acted."

I suppose the wingnuts would have preferred Obama put on a flightsuit and strut around making bellicose talk instead of working quietly with his generals to just get the job done. Of course if he had, they'd be having the vapors about him dressing up in a flightsuit. But they do enjoy their displays of Biggest Dickus, and they can't hide their disappointment at having a president who speaks softly and gets results, rather than waving his big stick.

Michelle Malkin quotes Navy Vice Adm. William Gortney's statement that “The United States government policy is to not negotiate,” -- and gripes:
Would have been nice to hear those words directly from the commander-in-chief.

Debbie Schlussel gripes that the Obama Administration waited too long to act. I guess she would have preferred an immediate and bigass gunfight that might have resulted in American casualties aboard the ship. That this operation ended with everyone in one piece, no injuries, and with the ship's cargo intact, matters not.

Over at Red State there's a post proclaiming that Captain Phillips saved President Obama from "pansy politics." (You knew that the word "pansy" would find its way into one of these sooner or later, right?)

And over at Powerline, there's a post that admonishes President Obama to adopt some of Captain Phillips' humility (I guess because George W. Bush was a paragon of same, right?)

I didn't have the energy to put on hip-waders and venture into the fetid waters of Free Republic.

The reality is that whenever there's a rescue of this sort, the credit belongs to the guys out there in the trenches far more than to the suits on dry land who give the orders or even create the strategy. But that after the last eight years, the wingnuts still worship before the altar of Blowing Stuff Up Real Good as the answer to everything, just makes me wonder if their parents didn't give them enough attention when they were children.

(UPDATE: While the wingnuts are wishing Obama would thrust his defiance at Somali pirates, Howie Klein wonders why George W. Bush let them fester around the Horn of Africa for eight years.

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Blogger Unknown said...
I hated the politicization of every goddamn thing that happened during the Bush years, and I hate that the partisan score-keeping continues under Obama with the roles reversed. Any American who can't bring himself to celebrate this victory because his candidate is not in the White House is a weenie.

Blogger Batocchio said...
I think for wingnuts, the only purpose the news serves at this point is as Rorschach blots for diagnosing the flavor and extent of their insanity.

Anonymous Bob said...
Dealing with these pirates is in no way comparable to dealing with the government of a sovereign state. They can't be negotiated into good behavior nor can they be bombed into submission or conquered by land invasion; the Somalia coastline is too large. Maritime nations have to resolve to collectively protect the shipping lanes for a few years & in effect starve them out of existence. We were very lucky with this incident. But it will happen again. Pirates could blow up an oil tanker & execute crews to demonstrate their power.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
You think that shooting three black, teenagers in the head is a...victory?

The one thing we can be pretty sure was not going to happen to Captain Phillips was death or injury. The "pirates" wanted money -- to feed their starving villages, btw -- not blood.

But if this was all good to you, then whatever...