THINKING FOR OURSELVES
By Shea Howell
Michigan Citizen, December 5, 2009
Against our best hopes for this administration, President Barrack Obama will continue the war in Afghanistan. The decision to commit more lives to this foolish enterprise comes as no surprise. The signs have been there for weeks.
The tragedy of this escalation of force goes far beyond the present moment. The election of President Obama was an opportunity to move the United States away from a path of self-destruction marked by a culture committed to violence. Long ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned,
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
Increasingly, the President is making choices that move him and his administration further away from life and ever closer to the policies and practices of his predecessor. The generals responsible for some of the worst of these policies are rewarded. Their voices are given priority over common sense, history, and the promises of the man who became president, saying he represented “change we could believe in.”
At his inauguration, nearly one year ago, President Obama said:
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
As the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
But today, there is no “new era of peace.” Instead, we are now committed to an escalation of war that will last for years.
President Obama has squandered his best opportunity to exercise real leadership and challenge Americans to take a long hard look at the kind of people we are becoming. In order to sustain a way of life dependent on access to the resources of the globe, we are now a people of perpetual war. We are on the wrong side of history.
More than 40 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out against the war in Vietnam, recognizing that we needed to confront ourselves if we were to truly create peace. He said:
Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Dr. King concluded by warning:
If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
Today it should be clear to all of us that we cannot depend on a President to stop war. We must find another way.