While honoring the sacrifices of the fallen, President Obama took the time to make it specifically clear that he will never subscribed to the Bush Doctrine of endless unjustified war.
Here is the video courtesy of C-SPAN:
One section of President Obama’s Memorial Day remarks stood out,
Especially for those who’ve lost a loved one, this chapter will remain open long after the guns have fallen silent. Today, with the war in Iraq finally over, it is fitting to pay tribute to the sacrifice that spanned that conflict.
In March of 2003, on the first day of the invasion, one of our helicopters crashed near the Iraqi border with Kuwait. On it were four Marines: Major Jay Aubin; Captain Ryan Beaupre; Corporal Brian Kennedy; and Staff Sergeant Kendall Waters-Bey. Together, they became the first American casualties of the Iraq war. Their families and friends barely had time to register the beginning of the conflict before being forced to confront its awesome costs.
Eight years, seven months and 25 days later, Army Specialist David Hickman was on patrol in Baghdad. That’s when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb. He became the last of nearly 4,500 American patriots to give their lives in Iraq. A month after David’s death — the days before the last American troops, including David, were scheduled to come home — I met with the Hickman family at Fort Bragg. Right now, the Hickmans are beginning a very difficult journey that so many of your families have traveled before them — a journey that even more families will take in the months and years ahead.
To the families here today, I repeat what I said to the Hickmans: I cannot begin to fully understand your loss. As a father, I cannot begin to imagine what it’s like to hear that knock on the door and learn that your worst fears have come true. But as Commander-In-Chief, I can tell you that sending our troops into harm’s way is the most wrenching decision that I have to make. I can promise you I will never do so unless it’s absolutely necessary, and that when we do, we must give our troops a clear mission and the full support of a grateful nation.
And as a country, all of us can and should ask ourselves how we can help you shoulder a burden that nobody should have to bear alone. As we honor your mothers and fathers, your sons and daughters, we have given — who have given their last full measure of devotion to this country, we have to ask ourselves how can we support you and your families and give you some strength?
One thing we can do is remember these heroes as you remember them — not just as a rank, or a number, or a name on a headstone, but as Americans, often far too young, who were guided by a deep and abiding love for their families, for each other, and for this country.
Beyond the now standard presidential Memorial Day message honoring the fallen, there was a statement of principle. Throughout his presidency, Obama has rejected the Bush Doctrine in both words and deeds. There has been no talk of an “Axis of Evil,” or “fighting them there so that we don’t have to fight them here.” President Obama has very clearly separated the invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan from the hunt for al-Qaeda, and his administration’s anti-terrorism efforts.
The Bush administration used 9/11 as free pass to engage in full scale warfare in a nation that had nothing to do with Bin Laden or al-Qaeda, whereas the Obama administration has been focused on combating terrorism, ending the wars that Bush started, and a very specific and limited use of the military.
Much of the disgruntlement with Obama from the far left is derived from the idea that he hasn’t brought all of the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, but when since World War II has any president brought all of the troops home after an invasion? No president, Democrat or Republican, has pulled all of the troops out of Germany and Japan. Eisenhower didn’t do it in Korea. No president brought all of the troops home after Vietnam, and if Obama can get all of the troops out of either Iraq or Afghanistan it will be a miraculous feat, because no president has been able to take on the military industrial complex and win.
The war industry knows that at best it will only have to tolerate Obama for eight years. Presidents have finite terms, but the military industrial complex is entrenched. Just like any bureaucracy, it can afford to wait out any the agenda of a president. The reality of modern world is that the American people are left with a choice between Democrats who believe in a judicious and justified use of force, and Republicans who are still so enamored by and enthralled with the Bush Doctrine that they can’t wait to line up the next target in their perpetual war agenda (Iran).
2012 is an important year, because the United States is at a crossroads. The nation will either return to the path of new and perpetual war, or it will take another step towards relegating the Bush Doctrine to dust heap of American foreign policy blunders.
Barack Obama solemnly remembered the human cost of the Bush Doctrine, but it is the voters who decide what our memories on future Memorial Days will be.