With our economic collapse still in full swing and our precious young men and women being sacrificed on the altar of arrogance and greed, the breakdown of this great civilization we call America will head, full throttle, into oblivion if you become the “war president.” Empires never think the end is near, until the end is here. Empires think that more evil will force the heathens to toe the line — and yet it never works. The heathens usually tear them to shreds.
Choose carefully, President Obama. You of all people know that it doesn’t have to be this way. You still have a few hours to listen to your heart, and your own clear thinking. You know that nothing good can come from sending more troops halfway around the world to a place neither you nor they understand, to achieve an objective that neither you nor they understand, in a country that does not want us there. You can feel it in your bones.
I know you know that there are LESS than a hundred al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan! A hundred thousand troops trying to crush a hundred guys living in caves? Are you serious? Have you drunk Bush’s Kool-Aid? I refuse to believe it.
Your potential decision to expand the war (while saying that you’re doing it so you can “end the war”) will do more to set your legacy in stone than any of the great things you’ve said and done in your first year. One more throwing a bone from you to the Republicans and the coalition of the hopeful and the hopeless may be gone — and this nation will be back in the hands of the haters quicker than you can shout “tea bag!”
Michael Moore | HuffPost
When you start in the center (on, say, healthcare or Afghanistan) and readily move rightward several steps to appease rightwing politicians or lobbyists or Generals, by definition you are governing as a conservative.
It’s been a gradual descent from the elation and hope for real change many Americans felt on election night, November 2008. For some of us who’d scrutinized the Clinton White House in the early 1990s, the buzz was killed days after Obama’s election when he chose his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a top Clinton strategist and architect of the GOP alliance that pushed NAFTA through Congress.
If Obama stands tough on more troops to Afghanistan (as Clinton fought ferociously for NAFTA), only an unprecedented mobilization of progressives – including many who worked tirelessly to elect Obama – will be able to stop him. Trust me: The Republicans who yell and scream about Obama budget deficits when they’re obstructing public healthcare will become deficit doves in spending the estimated $1 million per year per new soldier (not to mention private contractors) headed off to Asia.
Jeff Cohen | CommonDreams.org
The American people now oppose the war, and it is folly to keep up a war without support back home. We will hear predictions of dire consequences if we don’t carry out a commitment, and don’t yield to demands of the military to expand forces. We heard that for years about Vietnam. But when we did withdraw, the consequences were not as fatal as those we incurred during the years that saw the deaths of over 50,000 of our soldiers and many more Vietnamese. Some leader has to break the spell before costs mount further while our wars are passed from president to president. Among other things, this will give our military a needed chance to repair the wear and tear on men and equipment that the overstretched regular services and the National Guard have suffered, and to make them ready for other challenges.
It is unlikely that we will soon have another president with the moral and rhetorical force to talk us out of a foolish commitment that cannot be sustained without shame and defeat. If it costs him his presidency, what other achievement can match it?
During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama said he would rather be a one-term president than give up on his goals. Here is a goal no other president we can imagine would have a possibility of reaching. Presidents who just kick the can down the road are easy to come by. Lost lives and limbs are not.
Garry Wills | NY Review of Books
Almost every time you turn on the television, somebody’s carrying on about the projected trillion-dollar cost of Democratic health-insurance reforms — derived by multiplying the $100 billion yearly cost by 10, and often by ignoring the projected $11 billion yearly savings to the U.S. budget deficit.
Pentagon spending this year alone, however, columnist David Sirota points out, is projected at $673 billion, for a 10-year total of $6.73 trillion. That’s assuming costs don’t rise. (Fat chance.) Giving McChrystal the soldiers he wants, along with training and equipping an Afghan army of dubious loyalty, is projected to cost an additional $40 billion to $50 billion each year. Yet nobody’s supposed to ask how anything that happens in that remote land could possibly justify the costs.
Gene Lyons | Salon
This is what Barack Obama did to â€œearnâ€ the Nobel Prize. He put the benevolent face back on things. He is a good-looking black law professor with an obvious bent for dialogue and discussion and inclusion. That he hasnâ€™t actually reversed any of Bushâ€™s more notorious policies â€” hasnâ€™t closed Guantanamo Bay, hasnâ€™t ended secret detentions, hasnâ€™t amped down Iraq or Afghanistan â€” is another matter. What he has done is remove the stink of unilateralism from those policies.
Theyâ€™re not crazy-ass, blatantly illegal, lunatic rampages anymore, but carefully-considered, collectively-run peacekeeping actions, prosecuted with meaningful input from our allies.
You see the difference? The Nobel committee sure did!
Matt Taibbi Â | True/Slant
If the president assents to McChrystal’s request, he will void his promise of change at least so far as national security policy is concerned. The Afghanistan war will continue until the end of his first term and probably beyond. It will consume hundreds of billions of dollars. It will result in hundreds or perhaps thousands more American combat deaths – costs that the hawks are loath to acknowledge.
As the fighting drags on from one year to the next, the engagement of US forces in armed nation-building projects in distant lands will become the new normalcy. Americans of all ages will come to accept war as a perpetual condition, as young Americans already do. That “keeping Americans safe” obliges the United States to seek, maintain, and exploit unambiguous military supremacy will become utterly uncontroversial.
If the Afghan war then becomes the consuming issue of Obama’s presidency – as Iraq became for his predecessor, as Vietnam did for Lyndon Johnson, and as Korea did for Harry Truman – the inevitable effect will be to compromise the prospects of reform more broadly.
At home and abroad, the president who advertised himself as an agent of change will instead have inadvertently erected barriers to change. As for the American people, they will be left to foot the bill.
This is a pivotal moment in US history. Americans owe it to themselves to be clear about what is at issue. That issue relates only tangentially relates to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or the well-being of the Afghan people. The real question is whether “change” remains possible.
Andrew J. Bacevich | CommonDreams.org
Hurts writing this, but I have to agree with so many progressives who have reservations about Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. Greenwald says it best:
Through no fault of his own, Obama presides over a massive war-making state that spends on its military close to what the rest of the world spends combined. Â The U.S. accounts for almost 70% of worldwide arms sales. Â We’re currently occupying and waging wars in two separate Muslim countries and making clear we reserve the “right” to attack a third. Â Someone who made meaningful changes to those realities would truly be a man of peace. Â It’s unreasonable to expect that Obama would magically transform all of this in nine months, and he certainly hasn’t. Â Instead, he presides over it and is continuing much of it. Â One can reasonably debate how much blame he merits for all of that, but there are simply no meaningful “peace” accomplishment in his record — at least not yet — and there’s plenty of the opposite. Â That’s what makes this Prize so painfully and self-evidently ludicrous. â€”Glenn Greenwald | Salon
While there is much about Obama to applaud, as Glenn says, he has done little for the cause of peace. Quite likely, nobody could, given the immense power of the military-industrial-complex.
I have come to doubt that the American war machine will ever be peacefully dismantled. The people with the guns have too much to lose. So, we’re left with waiting for catastrophic economic collapse toÂ force a real revolution and, we can only hope, an evolution to something better.
Maybe the Nobel committee thinks that that’s what Obama was planning when he put the economic recovery in the hands of the fools who caused the trouble — our economy collapses, our weapons factories all close, and the American empire shuts down.
Good plan, give the man a prize.
Michael Sky | Thinking Peace
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied : and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. —James Madison, 1790
Shouldn’t we think about what that means?Â Â All of these subsidiary, discrete battles are shaped by this larger truth.Â We’re a country that has been continuously at war for decades, insists it is currently at war now, and vows that it will wage war for years if not decades to comeÂ (Obama:Â Â we’ll be waging this war “a year from now, five years from now, and — in all probability — ten years from now”).Â Â Exactly as Madison said … as long as we’re choosing to be that kind of a nation, then the crux of the Bush/Cheney approach will remain in place.Â We can sand-paper away some of the harshest edgesÂ (“we’re no longer going to drown people in order to extract confessions”); prettify some of what we’re doingÂ (“we’re going to detain people with no charges based on implied statutory power rather than theories of inherent power”); and avoid making things worse (“we won’t seek a new preventive detention law because we don’t need one since we already can do that”).Â Â But no matter who we elect, the pervasive secrecy, essentially authoritarian character of the Executive, and rapid erosion of core liberties will continue as long as we remain committed to … “the empire created by the National Security State.”
Glenn Greenwald | Salon.com
So we’re supposed to roll into these negotiations righteously complaining about Iran’s “obvious lack of due process.”
For the last eight years and counting, we’ve been imprisoning tens of thousands of Muslims around the world with no charges of any kind.Â Keeping people who have never been charged with any crime shackled in orange jumpsuits and locked in cages for years on a Cuban island has become our national symbol.Â Just yesterday, theÂ Obama administration demanded that a court rule it has the power to abduct people anywhere in the world, ship them to Afghanistan, and keep them indefinitely imprisoned there with no trial of any kind — which is exactly what we’ve been doing for years and still areÂ (in a dank and nasty prison which happens to be right over Iran’s Eastern border).
Our current President just recently advocated and is currently devising a scheme of so-called “preventive detention”Â whereby he’d be empowered to lock up people indefinitely for crimes they might commit in the future.Â We continue to abduct people from all over the world and ship them to third-party countries for interrogation and detention (“renditions”) without any pretense of due process. Â And right over Iran’s own Western border, we not only continue to occupy Iraq, but maintain prisons in which thousands of people are imprisoned by our military without any charges of any kind — including an Iraqi journalist who works for Reuters who was ordered released by an Iraqi court yet continues to languish in an American prison in Iraq, merely one of numerous foreign journalists we imprisoned for years, in Iraq and elsewhere, with no charges at all.
But TheÂ WashingtonÂ Post thinks the U.S. should vigorously object to Iran’s “obvious lack of due process” as a central part of these negotiations. Â What would be the purpose of doing that?Â Creating a jovial mood for the negotiations at the outset by provoking a massive group laughing fit?
Glenn Greenwald | Salon.com
So what was accomplished by the whole venture?Â Â Aside from the grotesque immorality, criminality, loss of innocent life and the disappearance of untold billions upon billions of dollars, the only real change seems to be that we replaced one brutal tyrant with another, although the one that used to be there at least was an enemy of and check against our CurrentÂ Enemy (Iran, the nation against whom Tom Friedman assures us we are waging a new Cold War), while the one that is there now is a strong ally, perhaps even a client, of those Persian Hitlers.Â Â So — other than finding an excellent way to prop up our National Security State — the one thing we “accomplished” with the invasion of Iraq was to provide the largest possible benefit to the country that is supposedly our Greatest Enemy.
We never learn the lesson, because we don’t want to, that things don’t work out well when we invade, bomb, occupy and try to re-make other countries.Â Does anyone believe that, if and when we stop waging war inÂ Afghanistan, the results will be any better?
Glenn Greenwald | Salon.com