May 02, 2011

Obama’s Mission Accomplished Moment

Now is President Obama’s moment when he could declare that our mission to capture Osama Bin Laden has been accomplished and it is now time to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan and let the people there negotiate a peace agreement. That is the message of an ex-Marine who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq and came out to the White House Sunday night to urge us to Rethink Afghanistan.

It took 10 years but they finally killed Osama Bin Laden. Its being presented as a victory for our side but really, 10 years for the largest and most sophisticated military machine in the world backed by the largest and most sophisticated intelligence service in the world to track down and assassinate one man is more of an embarrassment than a great victory.

What should be more embarrassing is the fact in the past 10 years we have killed far more innocent people than al Qaeda did on September 11 and in the decade since then. And the wars we started on the pretext of seeking revenge have escalated the violence, escalated the suffering and lent credence to al Qaeda’s strategy of violence. When Bin Laden conceived of the attacks on September 11, he hoped to lure the United States into a war in Afghanistan that would destroy its empire. This was, after all, a strategy that played a major part in bringing down the Soviet Union. Bin Laden hit the jackpot. He got the US into not one but two wars, in Afghanistan AND Iraq. Of course, he didn’t care about the devastation these wars would cause. He thought that that devastation would further his cause. And he found an enemy in George W Bush who also thought that war would further his cause without concern for the innocent people caught on the battlefield who died by the hundreds of thousands and were driven from their homes by the millions.

When President Obama stood before the cameras May 1 and announced his victory, I thought of the day in 2003, 8 years to the day earlier, when President Bush flew out to an aircraft carrier to speak under the now famous “Mission Accomplished” banner. Bush’s mistake was that he wasn’t satisfied to declare victory with the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s regime. If he had been able to declare victory and leave Iraq at that moment, he might now be remembered as the man who liberated Iraq, rather than the one who brought devastation to it. It is impossible to say for sure how that historical moment would have played out but it doesn’t matter because what Bush, and when I say Bush I mean the whole neo-con ensemble he fronted for, really wanted was occupation and economic domination by his corporate buddies of that country. The rest of the Middle East and the rest of the world was to follow. President Obama promised change but by and large he has followed the same policies in regard to the wars.

I was shocked and embarrassed for my country by the behavior of the crowds I saw on TV Sunday night. It looked like their team had won the Super Bowl, down to the guy with no shirt and a can of beer and the chants of “USA USA USA!” When some people celebrated after September 11, it was shocking and outrageous to us. Now more people have been killed and I can only think about how people in other parts of the world are going to react to our reaction. It is bound to boost the standing of terrorists just as their power was being undercut by the nonviolent power of the Arab Awakening in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere.

Our President tells us that our act of revenge will now likely lead to acts of revenge against us. And we will no doubt exact revenge for them. This leads nowhere. War is not the answer.


cskinnerathome said...

Thank you Dan for writing this down so elequently. How can we affect real change?

cskinnerathome said...

Nicely put...sadly.