On Afghanistan Policy: Obama and the GOP
Commenting on a column by Prof. Andrew Bacevich (republished on The Planetary Movement), I noted that looking backward (and some noted this some years ago), it was obvious that the number one foreign/military objective of the Cheney/Bush administration was to create Permanent War. It would benefit their party politically over the long term. It would also benefit the major economic interests their party represents: the wealthy, the extractive industries, the military industry, and all of the others, large and small, opposed to any major reforms in domestic policy.
Using anger and fear, their principal political weapons, and the implied threat of another “terrorist strike” at the Homeland, they hope to force the Obama Administration to continue that policy, as much as it might not want to for all of the reasons stated by Prof. Bacevich and Frank Rich. If the President follows the Permanent War policy (as recommended by retired General Barry McCaffrey) he will be virtually ensuring his defeat in 2012. Then the GOP will be able to run the permanent war policy directly again (Somalia, Yemen, anyone?). So unless the President is very smart, draws up and then implements a very clever political and military strategy to get the U.S. out of the Graveyard of Empires at the earliest possible time, it will be a win-win for the GOP, and a loss for just about everyone else in this country and around the world.
On Afghanistan and Generaling
Commenting on a comment on the Afghanistan policy speech given by General Stanley McChrystal (published on The Planetary Movement), I observed that McChrystal had committed insubordination. He should have been fired immediately. Any general doing the same thing under Cheney/Bush would have been sent to Gitmo without pause. Generals are supposed to do generaling, while policy-makers make policy. (When Petraeus “spoke out” on policy from time-to-time, he was actually only reading from a script prepared for him by Rove and the boys over at the White House.) McChrystal is in a chain of command, which he completely ignored (following, of course, Cheney, who according to Seymour Hersh had (has?) his own Special Operations Executive on the ground in Iran, outside of the chain of command). But hey, right-wingers get special privileges, don’t they?
On President Obama’s first response on hearing of his Nobel Peace Prize award
Commenting on President Obama’s first response to the notification that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize (republished on The Planetary Movement), I noted that the dust had barely settled from the Republican Scream Machine having a field day on the failure of Chicago to get the Olympic bid. For that one, they said it was Obama’s loss, of course. (It wasn’t. The major factors were the “Bush Effect” and the long-standing parlous state of the U.S. Olympic Committee. For example, its director, a printing industry executive [!] resigned under long-standing pressure from the constituent U.S. Olympic sports organizations just last week, effective after the 2010 Winter Olympics. However, its chairman, a video game executive [!] remains in place, as does the Board that chose these two jokers. There was no chance Chicago would get the bid.) Then Beckoning Savagely Le-vinitating O’RHannibaugh were having a field day over Obama’s win of the Nobel Peace Prize. Boy I tell you, win or lose, these guys and gals just hate Obama, dontchaknow.
I actually heard excerpts from his acceptance statement played on, of all places, Limbaugh’s show. Of course, Limbaugh was just taking apart Obama (he has destroyed America) and the Nobel Committee (just a bunch of European liberals who are thrilled with the destruction), as is to be expected from this very dangerous man who, it appears, unlike other propagandists, really believes the venom he spews. But I heard a tone in Obama’s voice that I had never heard before, expressing total surprise, amazement, humility, and a true resolve to do better. We shall see. It is a remarkable choice for the Nobel Committee, and totally non-traditional. The award usually comes for something already done, not for something that for the most part one might, hopefully, do. It remains to be seen if his mood and his sure inner knowledge that continuing to battle in the Graveyard of Empires can lead only to bad results, for him, the Democratic Party, and our nation, will lead him to make the decision that the Nobel Committee, among many others, would like him to make.
Which leads us to ask, what were the intentions of the Nobel Committee in making such an odd choice, anyway. Some guesses, not necessarily in order of importance can be made. First, the same “Bush Effect” that influenced the International Olympic Committee to reject Chicago’s bid could have had the reverse effect on the IOC. In effect, they might have been giving the prize to the U.S. electorate that rejected the man and threw out the party that have brought so much grief to the world over the past eight years.
Second, they might have been rewarding Obama simply for taking certain pro-peace initiatives: his proposal to eliminate nuclear weapons completely; his expressed intention to get meaningful negotiations to settle the Israel/Palestine conflict underway; his reaching out to Iran, however cautiously for the first time in eight years, to engage in negotiations to try to prevent that nation from acquiring nuclear weapons; his initiatives towards North Korea on the nuclear weapons issue, after the same eight years of belligerent failure under the Georgites; the “Cairo Speech” (on Islam); the open rejection of Georgite “we do what we want to do when we want to do it; you’re either with us or agin’ us;” his not emulating in any way his predecessor, whose prime choice for UN ambassador was a man, John Bolton, who had called for the destruction of the UN or at least, the U.S. withdrawal from it, for many years. Nothing concrete has happened yet in any of the substantive arenas, but at least the President appears to be trying in many of them.
But then there is Afghanistan. Right now in that arena, the President appears to be going in the wrong direction, engaging in a policy that would earn no one any “peace prize.” The Nobel Committee knows this. They also know that by the date of the formal award, December 10, 2009, the U.S. could be up to its armpits in the Big Muddy that would embarrass them terribly and make the writing of Obama’s acceptance speech a challenge that not even his very talented speech writers could meet. So maybe the Nobel Committee decided that it would try to deliver a message on behalf of the world community: Mr. President, if you want to actually do something to prove yourself worthy of the award we have given you, not merely provide a list of good intentions, you need to begin in Afghanistan by December 10. We can only hope that he listens.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor of 30 books. In addition to being a Columnist for BuzzFlash, Dr. Jonas is also a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine; a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad; a Columnist for The Greanville POST, http://www.cjournal.info/; a Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter, http://lists.psalience.org/mailman/listinfo/ths; a Contributor to The Planetary Movement; and a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century (POAC); http://www.oldamericancentury.org/index.htm.