Every morning after “doing the mail” I scan the headlines to see what the world has been up to. This morning, I noticed an editorial in the Chicago Tribune lamenting Obama’s “lack of ownership” regarding the US-Afghan War. The editorial framed all of Obama’s actions in the context of US party politics, contrasting them with the deep real-world impact his decisions had on the “men and women in the field”. (The article based on Gates’ recently-published memoirs.)
It occurred to me how often I’ve seen that style of writing in US media. Especially in editorial commentaries, authors very often focus on the party politics behind given decisions which have either been taken, or which they would like to see taken. What’s awful though is that the object of these decisions is all-too-often far outside the geographic borders of the United States of America. They’ll look at whether or not a particular action should be taken not in terms of what it would mean for the peasants, or opposition movement, or friendly government which are affected, but instead they’ll lavish their attention on the impression it will make on the Democratic base, or the voters in swing states, or the impact it might have on the nomination of a candidate for some political office or other in the Midwest.
The editorial I linked isn’t a particularly good example of this way of thinking, but it will do. The author finds Obama’s decisions reprehensible not because of their impact on the Afghan nation, or farmers or law-enforcement officials or students, but because of their perceived impact on the domestic political constituency and the US soldiers overseas. It’s that sort of lack of regard which will keep causing trouble, or at least fail to stop it.