News Release

Obama War Policies: Stuck in “Twisted Politics of Grief”

President Obama’s current war policies are entangled in “the politics of grief,” according to an author who has written extensively on war, media and the modern presidency.

“It can be reassuring when the commander in chief speaks so well,” Norman Solomon wrote in an article published this week. “But Obama’s lengthy speech at the National Defense University laid out a global picture with a big missing piece: grief due to U.S. military attacks.”

Solomon says that such grief is crucial to understand if we are to succeed at, in Obama’s words, “addressing the underlying grievances and conflicts that feed extremism, from North Africa to South Asia.” Yet, Solomon writes, the grief caused by U.S. warfare — when not ignored entirely by Washington’s top policymakers — is “quickly reframed in terms of American dilemmas, essential goodness and standing in the world.”

Citing what he called “a national narrative of emotional supremacy,” Solomon wrote that the United States “presumes to shoulder the greatest grief, with more access to profundities of death. No wailing and weeping at the scene of a drone strike, scarcely reported by U.S. media anyway, can hold a candle. For American grief to be only as weighty as any other just won’t do. We’re number one!”

Solomon — the founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and author of many books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death — wrote in his new article that the Obama administration remains mired in its own refusal to come to terms with the grief and rage caused by American military actions.

Titled “Our Twisted Politics of Grief,” Solomon’s article states: “The ‘war on terror’ was built on two tiers of grief. Momentous and meaningless. Ours and theirs. The domestic politics of grief settled in for a very long haul, while perpetual war required the leaders of both major parties to keep affirming and reinforcing the two tiers of grief…. The first years of the 21st century normalized U.S. warfare in countries where civilians kept dying and American callousness seemed to harden. From the USA, a pattern froze and showed no signs of thawing; denials continued to be reflexive, while expressions of regret were perfunctory or nonexistent.”

The article adds: “In U.S. politics, American sorrow is profoundly important and revs up many rhetorical engines; the contrast with sorrow caused by the American military could hardly be greater. What is not ignored or dismissed as mere propaganda is just another unfortunate instance of good intentions gone awry. No harm intended, no foul.” Solomon contends that such skewed attitudes undermine possibilities for truly ending a state of perpetual war.

See Solomon’s full article “Our Twisted Politics of Grief.”

He is available for a limited number of interviews.

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com, normansolomon.com