Large sections of both the Democratic Party and the peace and justice community continue to show considerable reluctance to protest the policies of the Obama administration, regardless of the blatant similarities between his policies (and the policies’ drawbacks) and those of President Bush.
During the Bush administration, Democrats (myself included) made a fair amount of hay trashing President Bush’s plan for a “10-year, trillion dollar war” in Iraq. Consider this statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (rightly) lambasting Bush’s listless “strategy” in Iraq:
“…President Bush is proposing, a 10-year war, a war without end, costing trillions of dollars at the expense of our military readiness…We do have a military crisis not seen since Vietnam. …Again, we cannot afford the President’s commitment in Iraq…This deployment, in addition to our military capacity, to protect the American people, is also unsustainable financially. According to the recent report by the Joint Economic Committee, this war could end up costing American taxpayers $3 trillion. Think of the opportunity cost of that money…”
Now, consider this from this month’s news:
“Afghanistan war funding surpasses the outlay for Iraq for the first time in next year’s proposed Pentagon budget…The Pentagon’s $534 billion base budget is $21 billion, or 4 percent, larger than last year’s.
The United States could have fighting forces in Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade, the top Army officer said, even though a signed agreement requires all U.S. forces to be out of Iraq by 2012.
If we couldn’t afford 10-year trillion-dollar wars under President Bush before the economic meltdown, how in the world can we afford them now? The answer is simple: we can’t.
Jeremy Scahill put it best (h/t Steve Hynd):
Ah, good thing the US quest for violent global domination was brought to a screeching halt with the November presidential election. Without Obama’s election, we’d still have an occupation of Iraq, mercenaries on the US payroll, torture of prisoners, an unending and worsening war that kills civilians in Afghanistan, regular airstrikes in Pakistan, killing civilians and an embassy the size of Vatican city in Baghdad, which was built in part on slave labor. Not to mention those crazy “Bush/Cheney” neocons running around trying to become the “CEOs” of foreign nations. Wow, glad that’s all over. Whew! And, it’s a really good thing Bush is no longer in power or else the US would come up with some crazy idea like building a colonial fortress in Pakistan to defend “US interests” in the region.
This is what happens when movements about causes get co-opted by movements about people. I voted for Obama; I wish him all the success in the world in the path of peace and justice. But right now our country continues to careen off that path because people bought the easy lie that they can rely on a Great Man to set the world to rights. Quite a lot now depends on our ability to see through the lie in time to prevent it from robbing us of the potential of the peace and justice movement we’ve built over a decades-long slog, begun long before there was an Obama to ride it to the White House. As Dr. King said,
We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood — it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”
Friends, if you don’t wake up–soon–to the fact that the President’s “success” is dependent on your holding him accountable through social action and protest, your children will be @#! lucky to grow up in even a shell of the U.S.A. of your childhood.