Make no mistake, with the damage done by Wall Street bankers, the US is limping along on one leg with one arm bound behind its back, made less visible by the charisma and the oratory of its new leader. As a citizen, I'm concerned because when the leader, inspirational as he may be, makes decisions that are antithetical to the laws of the country, such as intervening in the House of Representatives investigation into the Department of Justice malfeasance and its chief architect, Karl Rove, during the last administration, it is more than disturbing, it is outrageous, or in the president's own words, "shameful." It's the same old, same old oligarchy, the political elite taking care of its own.
Obama is no Lincoln and should not attempt to emulate Lincoln's presidency. What Obama should do is just be his own Alpha dog and stamp his own scent on the state of the union. It was Karl Marx who succinctly captured an attempt by a post partisan leader to resurrect the magic of his predecessor in the The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852): "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."
No one can doubt that Lincoln's administration was consumed by tragedy, despite his own brilliance. Whether the Obama administration will result in farce remains to be seen, but the current path he is taking does not bode well for the outcome. The US is in a very tenuous situation historically, and is sitting on the threshold of triumph or disaster. John Feffer writes in Foreign Policy in Focus:
"...the Pentagon is still maintaining the world's largest military force - but we have failed to defeat al-Qaeda, we are quagmired in Afghanistan, and all of our nuclear weapons have done little to prevent North Korea from entering the nuclear club. The global recession is hammering the U.S. economy, and we might finally see the end of the dollar's reign as global currency. With the bank bailout, the stimulus package, the bill for two wars plus the Pentagon's already gargantuan budget, the red ink is mounting. Debt has been the gravedigger of many an empire. I can hear the adding machine totting up the numbers. Or is that the sound of dirt hitting a coffin lid?" [A multipolar Moment]This week President Obama is traveling to Canada on his first international visit to meet with the Canadian government whose people he hopes will endure more sacrifices to fight Bush's war. Once Obama takes on the Afghan war, however, he will own the previous seven years of a failed, if not illegal, war despite Congress authorizing appropriations to fight there. Crimes against humanity are never legal. In the process, the United States will do to the Middle East what it did to East Asia more than a generation ago in Vietnam, wreaking regional havoc environmentally, politically, and economically. Millions of innocent people will be displaced, maimed, or killed. The White House, US military, and the State Department will refer to this as "collateral damage." No one will be responsible for crimes against humanity. So, what has changed exactly?
How can this be avoided? Afghanistan is an adventure to which the rational world should respond with a resounding NO! WE CAN'T! There are rational ways to fight barbarity, like with a multilateral alliance of police agencies working in harmony with the Afghan and Pakistani governments. Of course, that is the problem. Imperialism demands unilateral operations. When your intentions are not good, sharing your agenda with the rest of the world would render pretty words empty. Where is all that diplomacy candidate-Obama shouted to the world? The Obama administration could have started its journey into the abyss by holding a peace conference in Sweden with all parties represented at the table, including the Taliban. Instead, more US troops and expensive boy toys are headed for the Mid-East battle grounds to fight against exactly who? Well, just about anybody who doesn't not look like us. Good luck with that.
Gore Vidal perniciously compared the so-called "war-on-terror" to a declaration of war against dandruff. Like dandruff, terrorists will come and terrorists will go, but if these last 50 years have taught us anything, it is that the US taxpayer will be called upon to keep a predatory military industrial congressional complex well greased. Remember Granada or Panama, those great third world powers to our south for whom we had to call out all the boy toys to show just how powerful the "great" nation can be when fighting for golf courses? Or, Somalia? Had to have a movie about that one to heal some sensitive Alpha dog wounds. Truly, the world cannot be impressed.
Ironically, as a chief Khmer Rouge torturer goes on trial for crimes against humanity this week 30 years after the "Killing Fields", a tragedy that led to the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians—Obama and his military high command are attempting to ramp up another failed policy. This tragedy and US military actions and policies in East Asia are directly linked by the undermining of civil authority in Cambodia. Can Pakistan become the next Cambodia? Afghanistan, the next Vietnam? The answers to both questions are YES, THEY CAN! But, don't expect the new administration to give in, it has something to prove: that an African American president can be as inane as a Caucasian one.