The number of times in which the accepted wisdom differs from the actual facts is not insignificant. This is especially true when it comes to the realm of politics. To give but one example: it is widely bemoaned that Republicans wish to turn back the clock on abortion, forcing reluctant mothers into alleyways to destroy their progeny. In point of fact, very few Republicans care one iota for abortion, as evidenced by their paltry record in curtailing, however slightly, this barbaric practice.
A similar illusion exists when it comes to war. In the minds of most, the Right wages war, while the Left opposes them. Of course, this doesn't comport with the historical data: most wars have been started by Democrats. But setting aside the American paucity of memory, we cannot even be relied upon to stay focused on the narrative long enough to realize that it is a lie. For though we have elected a Democrat, the wars continue.
Setting aside all of the ridiculous non-wars which nonetheless share that appellation, we are presently fighting two. The first, according to the narrative, was the "necessary war" in Afghanistan. The second, the "unnecessary" one, is in Iraq. Following his election, Obama insisted that we would withdraw from Iraq by 2011. But as with his predecessors "mission accomplished", there is more than a little hyperbole in the assertion. 50,000 troops will remain even then, so Iraq will be occupied long after the war is officially over. Sort of like Germany, or Japan, or South Korea, or...
Meanwhile, despite the deadliest month of fighting in Afghanistan since we first invaded, we're still mired in a war which cannot be won. Worse, Obama continues to waver over whether or not he will send more troops to die in the region. I say this not because I support such a measure, but because if you seriously believe the war can be won, you have to take the necessary measures to achieve victory. It's hard to escape the conclusion that Obama is content to allow the war to continue endlessly as long as it doesn't hurt him politically.
(In this vein, I fully expect him to compromise by sending enough troops to the region for his supporters to claim he's working toward victory, while his detractors can insist he's not supporting the troops--but we'll see.)
What's extraordinary to me about this is not the betrayal the more principled, if naive, Obama supporters are bewailing. After all, anyone who was paying attention knew that if Obama was less likely to bomb Iran than was McCain, he was not at all likely to do anything about either of our wars. Instead, what I find amazing is how the narrative hasn't changed. The Democrats are still seen as the pacifists. Would that they were! The wars might actually end.
I wish I could say I see a way out. Alas, so long as otherwise sensible opponents of war are not a threat to go against Obama, he will be able to keep the wars going. After all, antiwar democrats aren't going to vote for the other guy--whoever he is. So Obama gets to act as if he's tough on terror for the affordable price of a hundred or so dead soldiers a month. Is this a great country or what?