Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Haunted Honeymoon? - or - Obama's Achilles Heel?

by Al Falafel

I have to say that I am enjoying the Obama Pesidential honeymoon as much as anybody else. Not only is it nice to see so many Americans making virtual love to the handsome new face of our nation - all drunk on Obama's good vibes and sending good vibes to him. How great it is - after so much group wretching at the very sight of the previous office-hoder for eight long years: I am right there myself.

It only adds to the pleasure of it all knowing that the hapless, out-of-touch idiots in the Republican Party have become so impotent: unable to get much traction - try as they do - under their wheels spinning foolishly in political mud of their own making. They try and try to derail Obama's raging machine, smear him and his policies with the same empty rhetoric about solving all our problems with tax cuts (laugh track). And all it earns them is a sharper, clearer spotlight on their true collective character: a monolithic bunch of obstinate cretins who only give a damn about the wealthiest 2% of people who helped get them elected (Joe the Voter is not the one who writes their payoff checks).

This is all still so fresh and new. We have been banging our heads against the wall for so long - not wanting to think our leaders are really as evil as nearly everything they did showed that they were. Never knowing for sure whether we should pity them for being so stupid or hate them for being so wickedly corrupt. Even in the face of one unbelievably - but predictably - backward, indecent, despicable policy action after another and another... You know where this is going.

In just one month it seems as though the whole world has changed. And it's true in many ways. But if you have been driven to paranoia like me - having had our hopes dashed too many times in our lives - you can't help but feel like it's still been all too easy. Like we might be moving at such a pace that some major things are liable to slip unnoticed into this blissful honeymoon suite - intentionally or not - that we will end up regretting let go by us before too long.

Nobody wants to be a spoiler. I don't want to be the one to say anything negative in the middle of this lovefest for the New Administration. I do not wish to piss on the rare bold actions they have taken on so many important progressive matters in addition to saving the economy, even getting it to ease up on us common folk who have grown accustomed to being shit on.

But under all this warm and fuzzy, good lovin empowerment I have to say I'm more than a little bothered about certain things.

It's great to be rid of Bush but... What about...?

For instance, what about this surge in American military involvement in Afghanistan? I'm sorry. It scares me that so little attention is being given to the fact that we are quietly rushing headon into that country, committing ourselves to another quagmire waiting to happen with no more clear a purpose or reason than the Bush Administration had for invading Iraq. Few seem to notice it and no one seems to question it much... so far.

What the hell are we doing? Why are we gearing up for another major war in Afghanistan? What are our "vital interests" there? What are the threats to our country? What are we defending there?

Someone has to ask and someone has to explain this. What are we fighting for or against? What is the exit strategy?

I do not want to be thinking about this. I do not like where my mind goes.

I do not want to believe for a moment that some kind of promise was made to one of the Bush Administration holdovers. I cannot bear to think things like maybe it was part of a political strategy to garner Republican support in the general election to keep Bush's Defense Secretary Richard Gates willingly involved in the new administration by granting him free reign over military decisions regarding our involvement in Afghanistan's civil war. Would Obama have done this in order to display a bent for bipartisanship in his government even when we elected them to bring major change to just this sort of thing?

Ew. It feels dirty and cynical to entertain such thoughts. It makes me feel as though I'm falling under an evil spell cast by those hateful racist neocons who still spread so many hateful lies and toxic speculations about our refreshing new President. I loath the idea of someone possibly picking up on my doubts and paranoia about this move toward war and using them to bolster their own ignorance and prejudices.

But I cannot help it. In the middle of this happy honeymoon I fear for the possibility of seeing Obama and all of us who are currently swooning over him made fools of. Especially after seeing how staunchly disinterested the Republican Party is in the concept of true bipartisanship. If, as it seems, we are building up troops in Afghanistan for no better reason than to humor the Republican Gates and keep alive an illusion of inter-party collegiality then we the electorate have a duty to call a halt to it now.

If Gates cannot serve without waging war then get rid of his GOP Bush-kissing ass, no questions asked!

On the other hand, if there is some legitimate reason for the Afghani surge then we must demand to know what it is.

Why are we so eager to fight in what was once called the [former] Soviet Union's Vietnam? Do we have to have an ersatz Iraq or another Vietnam to keep us from feeling like losers? Why exactly is it that we are we standing by while this government pushes another surge in US troops to die on foreign soil now? As much as we love him can we afford to let Obama make this big a mistake already?

Who are we after?

Bin Laden? Do we still feel he is worth risking thousands of more lives - sending many Americans to certain death and running down other human lives as collateral damage? Need I also mention the waste of precious dollars by the billions we would lose trying to swat down a dirty cave-dwelling mosquito like Bin Laden? As much psychological damage as his existence has caused us - is it worth it? Couldn't one such small man be taken out more efficiently with a Mission-Impossible or some other covert style CIA operation and not involve our military?

If the fate of that country affects that whole region of the world why do we have to take the lead in this war? And what are we doing acting unilaterally?

Taliban? Of course Taliban rule was a horrific plague on that country's people and culture when they held power in recent years. If the Taliban regained controlling power there it would be a damn shame. But the last time they held power they were easy enough to depose. We knocked them out in a matter of weeks as a prelude to exercising our new found military muscles in that devastating invasion and costly occupation of Iraq. Big mistake! But now that THAT is winding down must we really go back to Afghanistan as though it is our fate? Or our responsibility?

Sorry. I have not heard a single good rational reason for it. Not from Obama. Not from anybody. We should not be going there. Give us a break from constant warring in that part of the world for crying out loud.

If, in our absence, the Taliban does gain control again then we can talk about how to deal with the situation that develops. Don't we expect our new leadership to talk about such things rather than strike militarily and unilaterally?

This is nothing more than a dangerous and unwarranted folly, I fear, that could severely disrupt this honeymoon and soon sour this country of all the so-far well-deserved good vibrations that we are exchanging with the Obama Administration. Escalating our involvement in Afghanistan is already causing rifts in the progressive coalition that brought what we still hope to be sweeping change to this country.

Peace-niks are growing uneasy and starting to make noise about this and that makes our allies who are less attentive to the issue uncomfortable in their on-going state of bliss. They may tend to reflexively defend Obama, at least giving him the benefit of the doubt. But he is wrong on this. Dead wrong.

We may have to - dare I say it? - take to the streets. As much as we love our new President and wish him the best we should not be afraid to start kicking up in protest of this unacceptable war. Even if it did nothing to deter Bush's rush into conflict with Iraq nothing ever happens until we start making noise, letting our leaders in government know that we feel about them going on a foreign killing spree in our name.

If we don't get some satisfaction on this matter soon, if we are not soon told why this military action is taking place, then maybe we have to plan a massive march on Washington for sometime before summer (DC is totally hell in the summer).

Meanwhile, the old order stands, relatively quiet, arms locked in determined bullheaded solidarity - just waiting on the sidelines to take advantage of the smallest crack in our unity of purpose which they stand ready to pounce and exploit for political gain, so desperate they are to regain control over the power in this American government and destroy our hope for real and lasting change.

Sorry. Hope I didn't ruin the honeymoon.

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