Before February 1, 2009 630 US service members were killed in Afghanistan. From February 1, 2009 through September 5, 2010, 645 US service members lost their lives. With more deaths on his watch than on the watch of his predecessor, Afghanistan is now “Obama’s War.”
This poses a severe ethical problem to conscientious objectors. Afghanistan may trouble all who view war as an unacceptable instrument of national policy. In 2012, will antiwar liberals support President Obama as the lesser evil? Or will they rally around a truly antiwar candidate?
The dilemma now facing antiwar voters mirrors the dilemma long faced by conservatives who want government to be small. Democrats increase government at the gallop. Republicans merely trot towards larger government.
Antiwar liberals may recoil at a warlike Obama. Yet if they vote third party in the general election, might they not elect an even more warlike Republican? Many believe that the 2000 candidacy of “Green” Ralph Nader contributed to the defeat of Al Gore by the “Non-Green” George W. Bush.
During the primaries, both small government and antiwar activists can “safely” express their views. Their candidates may well be defeated, but at least the views get expressed. The dilemma arises in the general election of 2012.
The establishment of both the Democratic and Republican parties expect that both the antiwar liberal and the small government conservative will “return to the fold”. After all, these groups appear to have “nowhere else” to go. Any protest vote by either group tends to help an opponent who would be even worse in their eyes. Yet if their votes can be relied upon by the party establishments, they truly lack any ability to advance the causes in which they believe. Might they be sheep, whom Party leaders can shear for votes, year after year?
Time will tell how these dilemmas play out. Each antiwar liberal, and each small government conservative will decide for himself, or herself.
Source of casualty figures for Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan War) is icasualties.org.
US deaths in Afghanistan from Feb 1, 2010 through Sept. 5, 2010 328
US deaths in Afghanistan from Feb 1, 2009 through Dec. 31 2009 317
Obama Administration US deaths (sum of the above) 645
US deaths in Afghanistan 2001 through Sept. 5, 2010 1275