Barack Obama, we hardly knew you. Gone are the inspirational orations, the call for new beginnings, and the promise of a new day. Somehow you’ve gone from “yes we can” to “no we won’t” in less than a year.
You are now the Obama of the corporate bailout; the Obama who will offer yet one more extraordinary gift to the very same insurance companies and pharmaceutical conglomerates who have brought our health care system to ruin; and perhaps worst of all, you are the Obama of war, not peace.
Your Nobel speech was an embarrassment: a pathetic attempt to justify wasting American and Afghani lives and billions of American dollars for a war that will never be won. Their can be no victory for the Afghan people as long as the country is victimized by corrupt leaders like Hamid Karzai and an incompetent and corrupt police force.
How sad that you can only offer us an Afghan version of the Iraq surge. Iraqis, if not Americans, know that the surge was a success only as PR for al-Maliki and America. Our immoral and ineffective intervention in Iraq completely devastated the country. A secular if tortured dictatorship, Iraq under Saddam was a nation where Sunnis and Shia lived beside one another one, and intermarried. There was a healthy middle class and well-respected universities, schools, hospitals, and museums. Today, there are car bombs, hundreds of thousands of civilian death, and ethnic cleansing. If the number of dead Iraqis and murdered American soldier have declined over the past months, it is mostly because there are fewer targets and more exhausted combatants. There is nothing resembling peace in Iraq. That President Obama considers this a victory of sorts is only evidence that he is in the process of selling his soul and squandering his intelligence.
Who beyond our borders really believes American self-justification at this point? Who believes the once-Bush, now-Obama nonsense that we are engaged in a just war. The Iraqis know what a lie this is. The Afghans know what a lie this is. Ask them. Poll after poll has shown they know themselves to be better off without our supposed help.
This is Obama’s idea of a just war: “if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.”
Let’s start with self-defense. Do you really believe the Afghan people waged war on us? Is it really enough that some al Qaeda maniacs spent some time in an Afghan cave to justify a decade-long war on Afghan territory? Am I missing something? How many Afghans were in the planes that attacked us on 9/11? Zip. Zero. None. What about the Saudis? How many predator drones have we launched on the Saudi banks that provided and provide the funding for al-Qaeda?
Proportionality? The greatest air bombardment in history launched against Iraq vs. religious zealots armed with box-cutters. A madman with explosives tied to his chest vs. the world’s most sophisticated, remote-controlled predator drones launched from hundreds of miles away to fall out of the sky and with pinpoint accuracy destroy a small apartment building.
And how well do we do on sparing civilians? 3,000 tragic American deaths on 9/11. Yet, Iraq Body Count estimates approximately 100,000 civilian deaths in the Iraq War. But theirs is a terribly conservative estimate. A World Health Organization study estimates 151,000 civilian deaths from March 2003 to June 2006. And the well-respected Lancet Magazine offered an estimate of anywhere from 426,000 to 793,000 civilian deaths from March 2003 to July 2006.
This must be the American version of proportionality. It can’t possibly be the Iraqi version.
The Taliban are despicable. Yet poor Afghans will often choose the lesser of two evils. I heard an Afghan father say he would rather deal with the Taliban than the Afghan police who rape Afghan daughters.
I have listened to John F, Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson justify the Vietnam War. I have listened to other Democrats justify our immoral intervention in Latin America. I have listened to Hilary Clinton justify the Iraq debacle. I watched the Democratic Party sell it soul before. But sucker that I am I believed for a shot moment in time that Barack Obama, because of where he has come from in life, might truly dedicate himself to bringing change to America.
Unfortunately, for all of us, and sadly for him, he has chosen expediency over courage, acquiescence over integrity. I am embarrassed for Barack Obama, and embarrassed for America. We all lose when “yes we can” becomes “no we won’t.”
Mickey Friedman has probably just blown his last chance to be admitted into the Witness Protection Program. He may never see his friend Anthony again.
Thursday, December 17, 2009 © Mickey Friedman – All Rights Reserved