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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The magic of context II: Obama explains his "civilian national security force." Pre-emptively. To the Military Times.

by folkbum

Earlier in the week, we learned that if you take a sentence or two out of context--as the right-o-spherians are wont to do--you can "raise" all kinds of "questions," even though anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that the "questions" are ridiculous on the face and and downright sinister upon examination.

However, the outrage machine can be set to 11 because, you know, the object of their hate refuses to "answer" the "questions" or "explain what he means." Sorry, let me make that "DEMAND THAT THE MAN HIMSELF CLARIFY WHAT EXACTLY HE MEANS." As I should have said in that earlier post (having sadly forgotten the magic word), whallah!, pretty soon you have Barack Obama's secret plan to take away your guns and "re-educate" dissenters.

I wish I were exaggerating. The paranoia is that bad.

Thankfully, Barack Obama figured out, on the exact same day as he made his speech about service to the country in Colorado Springs, that he should elaborate on the idea. To the Military Times.

Actually, Obama doesn't make it explicit in the MT interview that he's following up on the ad-libbed line from his speech; in fact, I would bet the interview with the paper happened a day or a week before (but published on the same day) and, perhaps, it was the way he phrased things in the interview that led to his inserting the sentences in question into his speech. To refresh your memory, here's what Obama said that got the right-o's in a fury:
We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.
Now consider this from Obama's Military Times interview (my bold):
Q: YOU SAID YOU DON’T WANT TO ROB PETER TO PAY PAUL, SO HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY PAUL? TROOP INCREASES ARE AN ENORMOUS EXPENSE.
A: [. . .] I should add, by the way, that part of the change that I want when it comes to Army and Marine structures is the mix of training that we’re providing and mix of personnel that are in these forces. One of the things I have been so impressed with is the heroic job that our men and women in uniform have done basically on the fly having to train themselves on the spot to function as engineers or function as social workers or function as translators or political consultants. There’s just been a whole bunch of work that has been done that we haven’t prepared people for. They learn on the job, but if anything Iraq should have given us a template for the kinds of skill sets that we’re going to have to provide to our military. And that’s true in Iraq. That’s true in Afghanistan. That also means, by the way, that we’re going to have to, I believe, reconfigure our civilian national security force. In a way that just hasn’t been done.

I mean, we still have a national security apparatus on the civilian side in the way the State Department is structured and [Agency for International Development] and all these various agencies. That hearkens back to the Cold War. And we need that wing of our national security apparatus to carry its weight. When we talk about reinventing our military, we should reinvent that apparatus as well. We need to be able to deploy teams that combine agricultural specialists and engineers and linguists and cultural specialists who are prepared to go into some of the most dangerous areas alongside our military.

Q: WHAT SECRETARY GATES HAS CALLED SOFT POWER.
A: Absolutely, but the only problem with soft power is the term itself makes people think it’s not as strong as hard power. And my point is that if we’ve got a State Department or personnel that have been trained just to be behind walls, and they have not been equipped to get out there alongside our military and engage, then we don’t have the kind of national security apparatus that is needed. That has to be planned for; it has to be paid for. Those personnel have to be trained. And they all have to be integrated and that is something that we have not accomplished yet, but that’s going to be what’s increasingly important in our future to make sure that our military has the support that it needs to do what it does the best, which is fight wars.
In other words, Obama wants to do exactly what he said he'd do in that speech, exactly what I tried to explain he would do to the fingers-in-ears panic-knobs who were sure Obama had let slip some reference to top-secret brown shirts.*

It's easy to see how, I think, the phrase "civilian national security force," which is what Obama just described here as everyone who makes diplomacy easier, the world healthier, and America's image stronger, could be inserted into his speech right after the lines "And we'll also grow our Foreign Service, open consulates that have been shuttered, and double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy." In the Colorado Springs speech, the phrase comes after his description, in the MT interview, the phrase comes before. But in both places, he's talking about the same thing, and it has nothing to do with arming civilians and enforcing the Obamacode.

So stop building the bunkers, my rightistatic friends. Ease up on the kung-fu grip you have around your guns and failsafe switches. Put the tin-foil hats back in the drawer.

And stop being so deliberately stupid.

(Hat tip to this amazingly brave and funny website.)

*A commenter inferred from the out-of context quote that Obama was planning to establish his version of the Stasi. Though the Stasi were the East German secret police, I accidentally called this a reference to Nazis. I would like to apologize to all the good Nazis I have slandered by confusing them with the Stasi.

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