Dream of the Dragon

Tag: obama

Scratched Coin

by Justin

Even the sudden evidence that journalists can wield great power and exert great influence can’t change that I associate the word coin exclusively with Two Face. And that association lands somewhere between Arkham Asylum and Tommy Lee Jones.

I’m a little late in addressing the remarkable piece Michael Hastings wrote for Rolling Stone that achieved no less than the resignation/sacking of the chief director of the war in Afghanistan. President Obama appointed McChrystal barely a year ago to lead a calculated escape from the Afghanistan imbroglio – the revelation of insubordination and the firing of a four-star general should have placed Obama squarely in GOP cross-hairs.

But the man who literally wrote the book on counter-insurgency tactics (this is the COIN we hear so much about) stepped into more than fill McChrystal’s shoes. Upgrade time, really. And it may be that the firm move by Obama to remind the general of the relationship between civilian government and its military arm ends up showing some needed steel. Who knows, this debacle may change things for the better. That’s just politically, mind you, and just for Obama’s reputation in the immediate future. The Rolling Stone profile of General McChrystal resulted in not only a changing of the guard but a sudden, piercing spotlight on the entire counter-insurgency strategy.

That’s the exciting bit, really. Read the rest of this entry »

The Past, Exploding

by Justin

Remember the glory days when we met our enemy on the battlefield, certain of our cause and confident that no amount of diplomacy could check the engines of terror?

I don’t, of course, but my oldest brother and I like to talk about World War II with a sort of desperate longing and an endless admiration for the men and women involved in the Allied campaign. These days the lines are muddier (oilier) and the enemies of freedom seem to be more products of post-industrial greed than any real ideological schism. The terrorism of radical Islam can’t be met directly on the battlefield and offers the quagmire we’re still struggling to escape in the wake of George W. Bush’s presidency. Which is not to say it isn’t a battle worth fighting, but not by traditional means.

The reckless agendas of corporations, however obviously villainous, aren’t generating the outrage one might hope for. The catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico may be some sort of tipping point, but it will require President Obama to mobilize the public and articulate their frustrations. Something remarkable began happening this week as Obama’s careful reactions to the developing economic and ecological disaster gave way to action. Read the rest of this entry »

On Unrealistic Idealism

by Justin

It’s become more and more apparent to me that the extreme polarization of politics in this country isn’t only among the politicians, figureheads, lobbyists, talk-show hosts, whatever – it’s grassroots, too. Sure, the liberal extreme will never match the fevered fanaticism of the Tea Party. That sort of militant (as in gun toting) ignorance lends itself better to insane slogans and rallies than the so-called informed opinions of their liberal opponents. But both camps seem incapable of listening to one another. More importantly, neither side understands the way this country works.

Extremism has its place in politics. It’s useful to demand impossible degrees of excellence, because otherwise the eventual compromise would be laughably insufficient. Read the rest of this entry »