The President’s Choice & Yours, Colltalers
The U.S. has been at war in the Middle East for all but the first nine months of the 21th century. President Obama may have just signed the guarantee that it’ll remain so for at least another 10 years. Worse: the world seems no longer hesitant to follow such trail of fire as it once did.
After a time of healthy self-doubt, when he warded off Pentagon hawks, weapons industry lobbyists, and a defense contractor-sponsored congressional caucus, the president seemed to have completely disavowed his own professed aversion to engage in open ended conflicts.
We may not need a whole century to see his capitulation as his biggest mistake, and whether this is an understatement or not depends of which part of his legacy you’d rather see etched in stone. With his act, though, such legacy will hardly be that of peacemaker, that’s for sure.
In some ways, his tenure has always been singed by the twin conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, whose expensive bill was handed over to him by George Bush and his merry warmakers. He, and by extension, we, thought it was all figured out, though: troop withdrawal from Iraq, check, troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, about to be checked. The rest was supposed to take care of itself. Or if it wasn’t, we could no longer afford to care.
(Let’s pretend for a second that we didn’t wreck those countries for good, bending them out of shape, along with their neighbors, and did the opposite of what every doctor swears by: primum non nocere, first do no harm. Oh, and produced hundreds of thousands of incapacitated human beings, both here and abroad, doomed to carry to their grave the bitter taste of signing up to serve their country, and winding up being had by it.)
Thing is, al-Qaeda’s endurance kept giving rise to successive groups of avengers against everything the American gun barrel symbolizes, until it culminated in the alphabet soup of intolerant thugs such as Boko Haram, then ISIL, and now, Khorasan, and who knows what tomorrow.
Each one of them was baptized by military hawks and warmongers, and dutifully echoed by the media, as ‘terrorists, bent on destroying America,’ as if, first, such thing was even possible, and second, any group holding a religious grunge, posing, or posting gory videos, with American-made machine guns, or machetes, and screaming hatred words, can qualify to the high status of being on the haywire of the Pentagon drones.
We’ve created these monsters, and by committing the whole country to an all-out war against them, regardless of national borders or whose interests and allegiances they may serve at any particular moment, we are in fact giving them the legitimacy that they crave to grow and thrive.
It may be President Obama’s biggest miscalculation because it’s one that has global repercussions that may take generations to mend and heal. Just as Bush squandered the international sympathy and support received by the U.S. after 9/11, engaging in the illegitimate invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks, the president now is squandering even the little goodwill his election had raised around the world.
No wonder some groups are demanding that he returns his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, for so far, just two years to the end of his stay at the White House, he hasn’t neither been a promoter of nuclear nonproliferation nor has he fostered new relations with Muslims, two reasons invoked by the Nobel Committee to award him such a high honor so early in his tenure. They should have waited a bit longer.
Americans, and the world, however, may not have such a luxury. Despite much more serious challenges to global peace, represented by the climate change, hunger, illiteracy, assaults on women’s rights and the general dignity of human beings, all issues in need to be urgently tackled by all nations, we’re once again diverting resources to yet a new front, which will only benefit those who profit from the business of war.
As for doomed efforts to restore the powers of diplomacy, it should be noted that nations stop talking to each other for some of the same reasons that people do: conflicting views, past grievances, debt, ethnic differences, unfair treatment, Continue reading