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In The (Red) Army Now?

It wouldn't shock me if Obama's uncle was in the Red Army, given his mother's apparent political beliefs, but I suspect that he's either repeating a family myth, or gaffeing again. I don't think that this is his Tuzla, though. If he claimed to have liberated Auschwitz himself it might be Hillary-class, but not this.

[Update a while later]

Does Obama even have an uncle who could have served in the US Army?

It's one thing to get your concentration camps confused, but conjuring up family members puts this in a different class of fabulism. Does he really think that no one will call him on this? Well, considering the way the media has been swooning for him, maybe he does.

[Update a few minutes later]

Heh. From comments, I agree. Maybe he was thinking about his Uncle Joe...


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Carl Pham wrote:

I think what's a little more disturbing is the fact that we know very well that whatever Obama's uncle (or great-uncle, or grandfather) might have done, Obama himself wouldn't have been in the Army fighting to liberate German citizens from the inhumanity of the German government.

After all, he thinks it's plain nuts to be doing that in Iraq, right? Even though the viciousness and regional ambitions of the regime in question were no less ugly, and even though the price in American blood and treasure is much, much smaller.

So what's he doing invoking an uncle whose core values he does not share? It can only be a cynical throwaway gesture to those who do share those values. A more sophisticated verbal version of putting the American flag lapel pin back on while campaigning amongst the bitter gun-totin' rubes in flyover country.

Talk about your cynical postmodern slacker-generation candidate. Blech.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Obama himself wouldn't have been in the Army fighting to liberate German citizens from the inhumanity of the German government.

He might been. There was this thing called "the draft..."

Though it's not clear whether he would have been in a "colored" unit. I don't know how the Army classified mulattoes.

Robert wrote:

Carl, While we are waiting for the facts of this story to get untangled (it shouldn't take long), you could review Obama's famous 2002 speech about Iraq. I think he makes his feelings about WWII clear.

There is something for everyone in the speech, because of his reference to Auschwitz.
I'm curious to see what happens with the Auschwitz story, but the speech is evidence that your claim about Obama's core values is wrong.


Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances.

The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don't oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain.

I don't oppose all wars.

After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this Administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

I don't oppose all wars.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Robert, Treblinka and Auschwitz were "liberated" by the Red Army, so if they were Obama's grandfather's fellow troops, there's a problem there.

If he's going to tell tall tales, he should at least make them plausible (e.g., "Buchenwald and Dachau").

Robert wrote:

I would have hesitated at posting such a long quote, but I knew you would find something in it to enjoy! I'm curious: does anyone know whether allied troops entered the camps after they were liberated? I'm well aware of the geography. What I'm not aware of is what kind of co-operation the Soviets gave their allies in early days after the fighting was over. I'm not interested in grasping at straws on Obama's behalf, but it occurs to me that I wouldn't want holocaust deniers to be able to claim that our evidence for what was found when the camps were opened came exclusively from Soviet sources.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Robert, Google is your friend.

As noted, most of the Polish camps had been abandoned by the time the Soviet troops got to them, with the prisoners often being death marched to Germany. We don't have to rely on the Soviets for what happened there--we have ample testimony from survivors. No, no American troops got Soviet-guided tours of Auschwitz or Treblinka.

Robert wrote:

As for Obama, here's what his campaign spokesmen said: "Senator Obama’s family is proud of the service of his grandfather and uncles in World War II – especially the fact that his great uncle was a part of liberating one of the concentration camps at Buchenwald. Yesterday he mistakenly referred to Auschwitz instead of Buchenwald in telling of his personal experience of a soldier in his family who served heroically." also says the great uncle is Obama's grandmother's brother, who is still alive.

Robert wrote:

Rand, Thank you for the link. That's obviously a better a source than where I was looking.

I didn't mean to imply that the survivors in the East were liars, just that they wouldn't have cameras.

The transition of the Soviets from ally to enemies is interesting to me, and I'm curious about how it played out on the ground amongst the troops in occupied territory in 1945-46.

Bill Maron wrote:

I looked in as many places as the internet would allow and can find nothing that indicates American troops were with the Russians when they liberated the camps. If any came later, it was after the fall of Berlin as far as I can tell. Obama said "first liberated" so I think the whole thing is a fabrication and a scurrilous attempt to win Jewish votes then and now. Why else attach his family to specific camps?

Habitat Hermit wrote:

Obama's grandmother; is that the same one he threw under the bus? If so her brother is probably white not mulatto.

Carl Pham wrote:

Robert, everyone supports a successful war widely perceived, 60 years after the fact, as being in service of a noble cause.

The trick is to be in favor of the successful and "good" war long before it's apparent that that's what it is.

I'm sure that Obama's spiritual descendants, running for President in 2060, will speak glowingly of their ancestors now in Iraq, if the war turns out well.

I think it's fair to draw a parallel between liberating the Jews from Buchenwald and liberating the Kurds from Chemical Ali. Maybe there are key differences why the first was our business and the second not. But I think it's up to Obama -- and his supporters -- to make that case, 'cause on the surface the two situations look very much alike, and Obama's support for a war long in the past while pussing out on the war in the present looks like a nasty combination of cynicism and pusillanimity.

John wrote:

Whoa there my fuckwitted American friend. Way to dishonour a vet for a cheap political shot. It very clearly was Obama's uncle, and very clearly he made a simple, honest mistake. Perhaps rather than wasting everyone's time with this stupid fucking conversation, you should consider his point, that the troops (those guys you claim to support) need your help.

And seeing as that twat of a president of yours has committed the single biggest "gaff" in American history, namely the Iraq war, you might want to consider shutting your mouth for the rest of your sorry excuse for a life.

Jesus pantysniffing Christ Americans are stupid these days.

Robert wrote:


The Kurds who live in Iraqi Kurdistan were already liberated in 2002, from the 1991 war. The US Air Force was guaranteeing their protection.

Still, I agree that there is a parallel between liberating (other) Iraqis and liberating WWII concentration camp victims: neither liberation was the reason that America went to war - any liberation was just a beneficial side effect. A foreign policy based on the idea that we should be willing to fight to liberate the oppressed around the world would look very different from our current policy, and would look very different from the foreign policies proposed by either McCain or Obama.

Habitat Hermit wrote:

"The US Air Force was guaranteeing their protection."

Robert that's wrong, what the US Air Force was protecting was the no fly zones themselves. At times that included limited strikes against Iraqi military equipment threatening towards the US Air Force but it did not enable/allow them to keep Saddam's ground forces from reigning free all across the land below those no fly zones.

CNN in 1996:
"Iraqi forces crossed the 36th parallel into the northern no- fly zone last weekend, and helped a Kurdish faction loyal to Saddam take control of Irbil. The no-fly zone does not exclude ground troops and artillery."

Link here, and this kind of stuff was more or less typical. Notice how the attacks by the US Air Force are based and justified on retaining and securing air superiority.

In northern Iraq (and especially the really rugged parts) it certainly helped the Kurds controlling territory independently of Saddam but that's about it and it's more of a beneficial side effect than anything else even though it was intentional. It leveled the playing field for the Kurds and gave them additional and stronger strategic strongholds that wouldn't exist in the same way if Saddam could use air power.

Compare that to the situation in southern Iraq where no such natural strongholds existed to the same degree. If my memory serves me the USAF didn't even shoot down troop choppers during the uprising there (not for a lack of willing trigger fingers I'm sure).

Robert wrote:

Habitat Hermit, thanks for the balanced correction. Fair enough!

(Also, thanks for the language lesson awhile back - I got very busy shortly after that and didn't properly thank you, but I got a kick out of that exchange.)

Habitat Hermit wrote:

No problem and no need to thank me really, it was fun ^_^

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on May 27, 2008 9:43 AM.

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