After World War II, Americans used to tell themselves that we didn’t start wars, but if someone was foolish enough to pick one with us or our allies, well, we’d sure as heck finish one. In fact, many of those opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq did so on the grounds that the US wasn’t supposed to start wars, although the invasion followed twelve years of violations by Saddam Hussein of a cease-fire from the original 1991 war and seventeen UN resolutions demanding compliance that Hussein ignored. Now we have a new formulation, according to the New York Times, crafted for us by Barack Obama (emphasis mine):
Mr. Obama’s administration, however, has clearly tried to avoid the debate over a strategy beyond that by shifting the burden of enforcing the United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing force on to France, Britain and other allies, including Arab nations like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which on Thursday said that it would contribute warplanes to the effort. In other words, the American exit strategy is not necessarily the coalition’s exit strategy.
“We didn’t want to get sucked into an operation with uncertainty at the end,” the senior administration official said. “In some ways, how it turns out is not on our shoulders.”
In other words, we’re Americans in the Hope and Change era of Obama. We start wars, but we don’t want to finish them.
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Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!