Fail or Win? – National Review can’t decide

I found this excerpt from the April 6 National Review issue to be rather ironic:

Obama’s wartime detention policy takes cynicism to new heights. It is not a new policy; it is the Bush administration’s old policy. There are some crumbs to satisfy those in Obama’s hard-Left base who actually believed the hopey-change campaign rhetoric: Detainees won’t be called “enemy combatants” anymore, and the administration purports not to be relying on the commander-in-chief’s inherent constitutional powers to hold them without trial. But we are still going to hold them. The Justice Department explained to a federal court that under the international law of war and Congress’s post-9/11 authorization of military force, the president has unilateral power to imprison anyone he judges to be providing substantial assistance to our terrorist enemies – with no requirement that such persons be apprehended on a traditional battlefield or have committed an act of terrorism. Of course, when Bush took this position, the Left was in froth-flecked rebellion, but now there’s nothing more than some harmless grumbling from the ACLU. Sighs of relief on the national-security Right may be premature, however. By apparently forswearing his constitutional war powers, Obama is betting he can prosecute war under the direction of courts (including international tribunals) and an anti-war Congress. We have our doubts.

This seems inordinately odd to me. Essentially, you could summarize this, from the National Review’s point of view, as “We told you so, Obama!” The detention policy Bush put in place is being kept with some different sugar-coated words. (Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.) One might think that these oh-so-sincere-people about “national security” would be praising Obama for coming to his senses and making the “Right” decision about giving himself limitless power to wage war. They obviously have no problem with this presidential power, but they do have a problem with who has it. Their smug demeanor and blatant disregard for traditional conservative thinking regarding international relations betrays what they really feel.

Indeed, Obama’s wartime detention policy should take cynicism to “new heights” about the possibility of “change” taking place (no surprise there), I just can’t see how National Review should be anything but overjoyed with this result. But it’s National Review, they despise the Left more than the State apparatus that makes the Left dangerous (and, in fact, just as dangerous as the Right). I’m not sure it’s meant to be rational. The “national-security Right” has never been about rationality, but justifying imperialism.

Christians should know from their history better than anyone about being held against their will without provocation. It still happens throughout the world today – in the Middle East, China, and many other areas of the world. How we think it’s “ok” to do the same in the name of freedom is unfathomable, and the results unconscionable.


Editorial cartoon by Terrence Nowicki of This Is Historic Times.