Face of the Enemy



Faces of the Enemy

copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

Today, Americans walk it back, Belatedly, and too late to bring home American and Allied troops who died in battle, government officials released recordings.  The media distributes and discusses these en masse.  Those prominent in the Press and Public Office say “the people have the right to know,” exactly what the tale that could have been told decades ago.  Osama Bin Laden was never more than human, a tragic hero, a comical character, just as you or me.

He had a home, a family. Osama sat around and watched television.  This man, like any of us might, searched for recognition. He sought attention in ways that made sense to him.  Osama Bin Laden had beliefs. He expressed these.  Gratified, when an audience showered him with praise he did more of what yielded greater acceptance.  

Bin Laden came to understand that when he spoke, people listened.  Many appreciated his message.  For good or bad people looked for the hidden meaning.  Countries made deciphering his every word their mission.  Americans and Allies invested trillions of dollars in troops, tanks, and translations all to quell the force of the man known as Osama Bin Laden.

“We did it!” Americans clamored. Some say we “captured” the man we slaughtered.  People poured out onto the streets to celebrate the “mission accomplished.”  We, the Americans are “victorious.” Caught off-guard while with his family, this man was assassinated, Americas rejoiced.

“Ding dong the witch is dead.”  Which “witch” will be next?  Might it be another average guy with ill-intent, or will powerful persons declare it is you or me?  You might say that would never be, but.  .

A week after the massacre, it is now revealed that the real Osama Bin Laden is but a sad and sheltered figure. Past the time when it might have helped save the lives of millions of innocent Iraqi and Afghani people, those displaced, dismembered or just dead, United States Leaders show the people that Osama bin Laden was never more than a mere mortal.  We are now allowed to see that the “enemy” who the world sought and feared, is but a man.  Bin Laden, scruffy in appearance, today, is cast as a megalomaniac.  Americans are told he had an inflated ego. What human would not think him self significant having been given center stage?

When three Presidents, each of whom represents the most “powerful nation” on the planet, formally declares you as “Enemy Number One” might you not consider your forcefulness grand?  To know these Heads of State publicly express the need to have you in their sights how can you not think that you, as an individual must be truly important?  Indeed, anyone with that much command must be a force to be reckoned with.  Given the floor, by those who later would execute him, Osama Bin Laden took it!

Early on, like a character in a book, Bin Laden was assigned a role.  Later, when his performance was recognized a brilliant Osama became more prominent.  The Actor was elevated to the stage.  Broadway beware.  This man mesmerizes. His skills as a speaker, a preacher, a Teacher allowed audiences’ world wide to suspend disbelief.  People forgot that a man has no power beyond what we give him . . .  and oh how we did.  Osama Bin Laden, with our assistance became the “face of the enemy.”

He became larger than life. Feared. Jeered.  “Wanted” “Dead or alive.”  Osama Bin Laden was designated the enemy.  Thus, this human became a faceless monster, an inhuman demon.  Artists, Authors, or perchance more accurately, Administrations painted his picture for us.  “He is a barbarian, an aggressor, a liar, madman, a vile animal that can be exterminated without regret.  Before we make war, even before we make weapons, we make an idea of the enemy.  Every society has its official image of the enemy.”  For Americans and Allies it was Osama Bin Laden.  Tomorrow might it be you?

Follow the Fear Resources . . .

A Day That Lives In Infamy

OsmDd

copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

On this date, May 2, 2011, my thoughts are with those who lost a loved one in war.  Brutal battles cause such harm. Yet, curiously the seem never-ending.  It would appear that humans forget their history.  When attacked, people frequently attack back.  With a loved one lost in war, or other destructive engagement, rather than relate to the pain of another who has experienced as they do or did, a pained person often seeks revenge.  Combat starts a cycle; however, once commenced, it does not cease.  Perchance, we might ponder the past and the people the circumstances of those who are no longer with us. Instead, today, as the headlines herald Obama Calls World ‘Safer’ After Pakistan Raid and Osama bin Laden Killed by U.S. Forces countless celebrate in glee.

This much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation,

and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.


~ Robert F. Kennedy

copyright © January 7, 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

It is the seventh day of the month, a date that now lives in infamy.  On this occasion, she passed.  She was killed by an attack that was all too sudden.  Her physical presence on Earth did not end in the month of December 7, 1941.  This year is not that one.  The events at Pearl Harbor did cause my Mom’s heart to stop.  Indeed, she only ceased to exist in a form that I can see with my eyes or touch with my hand, less than a decade ago.  Truly, it feels as if Mommy just took her leave.  Today, I think of what it must feel like to all those in the United States and Middle East who are now characterized as the dearly departed.  To have lost their lives in the throws of war must  be awful.  

There is no time to prepare or to feel as though you had an opportunity to “properly” say your good-byes. In the instant that a loved one is brutally taken away, rarely is family there.  To know that someone so special was slaughtered in battle, or was a victim of “collateral damage,” must make a family member cringe.  The declaration of death must feel as a new unwanted beginning, not an end,

I know for me, in every second, Mommy is still with me.  All these years later, I mourn my loss.  Oh, if only I could bring her back.  She enters into my dreams almost daily.  Since childhood, I knew, if she were gone, I might not be able to go on.  Today, on the anniversary of her bodily discorporation, I mourn, as I trust she would, the casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Israel, and anywhere that war delays, defers, or denies family time, space, and a proper setting in which to grieve.

Unreported by United States Armed Forces, the Bush Administration, or the American free press, it was estimated that since the US-led invasion began, as of September 2007, over a million Iraqis were killed.  Opinion Research Business, a prominent British survey agency, approximated 1.2 million Iraqi residents violently realized a horrific conclusion to life.  At times, entire families were among the fatalities, survived by only friends, and relatives who lived.  That does not negate the notion, that someone, somewhere, suffered a loss when each one of those individual lives was snuffed out.

Unlike in my situation, those who loved the dearly departed Iraqis, had no warning.  The persons who live to lament were not able to visit their beloved before their final breath.  Opportunities to say good-bye were few, if they existed at all.  The bombs blasted.  The bullets pierced the delicate flesh of the persons now fallen.  Survivors were left only with their sorrow.  Sadly, some probably regret they could not save a cherished soul.  While I might relate to that feeling, at least I know my Mom passed quietly, safely at home, in the company of those nearest and dearest.  She went to her rest in peace.

In Afghanistan, the challenges are equal to those in Iraq.  Homes sit snugly in a war zone.  Soldiers, who are suspicious of Afghani natives, surround local communities.  Troops are also found within indigenous societal circles.  Weaponry is wielded.  No innocent man, woman, or child is out of harm’s way.  When a friend or family folk is maimed or murdered, neighbors may wish to send condolences, as those close to my Mom did.  Colleagues may yearn to congregate around a casket and cry.  People may seek closure.  Cremations, with a chance to offer ceremonial respects, might be as is customary.  Yet, again, since American and allies attacks commenced, citizens of Afghanistan cannot do as my relatives, and I had done when Mommy departed.

No one is certain how many have passed in the roughed terrain of Afghanistan.  The Pentagon does not release statistics of the insurgents killed.  Nor do they dare calculate the numbers of blameless civilian losses.  The United States Armed Services applaud the accuracy of air strikes.  American military speaks of the smart strategy.

(F)or all their precision, American bombs sometimes take out the wrong targets.  As U.S. air strikes doubled from 2006 to 2007, the number of accidental civilian deaths soared, from 116 to 321, according to Marc Garlasco, a former Pentagon targeting chief who tabulates civilian casualties for Human Rights Watch (HRW), an independent research group.  By his count, the death toll among civilians so far this year [September 2008] is approaching 200.

The military dismisses such tallies as exaggerated, and their provenance is often murky.  . . .

Whatever the tally, officials both inside and outside the U.S. military say attacks that kill civilians occur with distressing regularity; they generate headlines only when dozens die.  Afghans vividly recall the July 2002 bombing of a wedding party–celebratory gunfire led to retaliation by an AC-130–that killed up to 48 civilians and wounded 117 in Oruzgan province; many were women and children.

This past July, 47 people were killed and nine wounded on their way to a wedding in eastern Afghanistan.  Among the dead were 39 women and children, including the bride-to-be, Afghan authorities said.

What of the families, and friends, of those who survived?  How must they reconcile the loss?  Joyous, the beloved went to a celebration.  Yet, they never returned.  They cease to exist, taken down by a missile.  How must the living feel?

For the people who were close to these sweet spirits and lived, July must be as January is for me, a reminder of what was, would have been, and will never be.  The difference is, for all the persons, perhaps hundreds or thousands in Afghanistan who were touched by those who perished while at a wedding in 2002 and on their way to nuptials in 2007, they know a life was cut short by unnecessary combat.  Beautiful beings were blow into oblivion.

Yet, all the while, people in the States, those who purchased and produced the deadly artillery, pay little attention to what does not affect them personally.  Indeed, on this January 7, 2009, the death toll on foreign shores mounts, and many in America think that fine.  As long as it is not their Mom, Dad, son, or daughter, citizens in this “civilized” country will continue to plan inaugural parties, propose to escalate combat in the Middle East, and sanction the strikes that ensue in Gaza.  

Oh, some may protest.  A few will state they cannot endorse the murders.  Others; however, will justify the cause for they will speak of Hamas as the enemy, evil, just as they do of those in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Justice is served, the American Administration will assuage, as they offer a convenient truth; terrorist must be eliminated.

In truth, as long, those who inhabit the world’s superpower do not suffer, do not experience the loss, the United States will do little to interfere, to impede, what through their dollars, and decades of support, they have endorsed.

Perchance, my Mom, today, yesterday, and forever gave me a gift that gives even when she is far away, one I wish every American might receive.  Mommy taught me to empathize, to truly place my heart in the being of another.  She modeled what most dare not muse.  

Mommy, who never wished to hurt any one or another entity, understood how bereavement affected me.  She knew; when the soul of someone is lost to this world, I ache.  Hence, she stayed on Earth so that I might see her one more time, hold her hand, and say all that we might.  When she knew I could, and would not regret, my Mom wished me well.  “Have a good trip,” the lovely Berenice Barbara said as I left her physical presence.  “You too,” I replied.

It was January 7th, a day that lives in infamy for me, and one that I trust will be tarnished for those in foreign lands who lost a loved one in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, or anywhere on this globe.

May we all rest in peace.

References and Resources for Reflection . . .

businesscard.aspx

Exit Strategy or Essentially Endless?



USFndsAfghnTlbn

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  

This world in arms is not spending money alone.  

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.  

This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.  

Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.


~ Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech, American Society of Newspaper Editors, 16 April 1953

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The United States Military Industrial Complex has might.  General and former President Eisenhower understood this.  He warned Americans.  Abundant might does not make right; it only advances the notion of righteousness.  Patriotism is promoted through militarism.  His words fell on deaf ears.  The sound was hollow in contrast to the drone of drumbeats.  At the time, Americans were as they are today; dedicated to the customs we think characterize democracy.

We see this in many a war and peace policy.  Questions are asked of the government and the people. Testimony is taken.  Think tanks assess Foreign Policy. Conclusions are drawn and decisions made.  Still, in 2010, a few within the electorate wonder as General Eisenhower had.. With Al-Qaida Fading, Why Expand the Afghan War?

Nationalists take up arms in the name of the greater good.  Compatriots will do anything to defend and protect the principles that guide the American way of life.  Patriots wave the flag and pledge allegiance to this country.  Loyalists are looked upon as heroes.  Soldiers voluntarily sign up for service.  Troops are sent to foreign shores.  Combatants fight for what citizens know is correct.  Few suspect that their tax dollars pay to fund allies who are what has been defined as enemies of democracy.  Headlines herald; Pakistan Aids Insurgency in Afghanistan, Reports Assert.  The business of endless battles goes on as usual.

Perchance, countless citizens surmise, only Presidents past and present, know the secrets that necessitate endless engagements.  Confidential papers might provide clues to the American practice; today’s US-armed ally will be tomorrow’s enemy., A few question group-faith.  Individuals inquire, why might this war or that be deemed “absolutely essential.”  Most are satisfied with each Administrations answers. Indeed, Americans accept as General Eisenhower espoused. Money moves us to war.

Millions more are spent by and on mercenaries.  Billions are paid to private industries that produce weaponry.  Worldwide, economies whirl on with thanks to the war machine.  Whistleblowers are silenced.  When documents are leaked, the persons who snitched are sought out.  Presumably, dissent will be punished by the law.  Prosperity and profits, people’s livelihoods are dependent on the illusion the Military Industrial Complex has created.  

So, strike up the band.  March on and march forward.  Follow in lockstep, or follow the leaders history has left behind.  Ponder a time, when the marketplace will not dictate doctrines and military deeds, a democratic system not defined by deliverance, liberation, or occupations. Think to pursue a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and provide for the common defense. Henceforth, let us promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.  Endless engagements need not be recognized as ideal.  

So please. Pursue peace.  Promote peaceful negotiations. Develop the power of diplomacy.   Move On. Progress.  Speak out as President Eisenhower did!  Do not allow your voice to be muffled!!  En masse, the people can be the absolute power!

Please ponder this petition or its origin, and the reason for its revival.  Reflect upon prose penned by Major General Smedley D. Butler.  If you choose pen your signature .

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war, a few people make huge fortunes.

For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.

~ by Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC Retired

References for a Military Industrial Complex reality  . . .

The War’s Waste



Iraq: Thousands Dead, $747.3 Billion Spent And Not Any Safer

The damage done, affects us all economically.  Years of war have done nothing to further education, enrich, or protect the environment.  Indeed, endless battles have destroyed any sense of balance or betterment.  Ethically, hostilities in the Middle East have helped to erode societal standards.  Might we ask; what have we taught our children? How to waste money . . . that human lives are but waste . . . that their elders think funds and a focus on education are a waste, or that ethical standards are a waste of time and energy.  Surely, attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed nothing to the Seventh Generation.

Documentary Filmmaker Robert Greenwald grieves for the unborn little ones and those who passed, as do the families, friends and familiars of military men, women, and civilians who have been touched by the perpetual battles.  Even those who may not have seen combat have experienced the repercussions.  Throughout the world, the waste is sky high.  Those who do not correlate the debris with the destruction in the Persian Gulf; nonetheless feel the effects.  As Robert Greenwald observes . . .

More than 4,300 American Lives.  At least 95,600 Iraqi civilians dead, with some estimates more than six times that number.  More than $747 billion spent so far, which, combined with the effect on oil prices and with indirect costs, helped lead to the economic crisis. Reduced, not enhanced, American security.

The Iraq war, like the Afghanistan war is a massive case of waste, fraud and abuse.

While it’s a good thing that President Obama committed to ending the Iraq war, he’s ratcheting up a more expensive Afghanistan war while we’re still reeling from the economic impact of the former. With Al Qaida having been driven from the country and with our increased troop presence having been met with increasing violence nation-wide, it’s clear that Obama’s War, like Bush’s War, also fails to make us safer. We don’t have a spare trillion dollars for useless war.

Our new video marks this tragic anniversary. But, we need your help in letting the administration know that we understand the damage done to Iraq and to our country. We also know that there will be no economic recovery as long as we’re spending $100 billion a year on another war that doesn’t make us safer–the war in Afghanistan.

That’s why we’re asking everyone to report the Afghanistan war as an example of waste, fraud and abuse on the White House’s official economic recovery website, Recovery.gov Simply scroll down to the field marked “What” and paste this message into the text box:

“I’d like to report the waste of billions of dollars of our national wealth in Afghanistan on a war that doesn’t make us safer. It’s fraud to portray this as a war that increases our security, and it’s abusive of U.S. troops and local civilians to drag out this war any longer. End the war so we can have real economic recovery.”

You don’t have to fill out the whole form. Just let them know that you think spending more for useless wars is a clear example of waste, fraud and abuse of the taxpayer that will undermine economic recovery.

Thanks to Bush, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been a massive waste of human life and treasure. Let’s not let the Obama administration make the same mistake again in Afghanistan.

While erroneous assumptions have already been made, and acted upon, it is vital that the American people ensure that these costly wars end.  Please, let us remind the President, that dollars devoted to deliberate demolition far exceeds what we spend on our infrastructure, education, the environment, and authentic health care coverage.  Americans have experienced a drastic reduction in police forces, fire departments, and all civil servants.  What we spend abroad affects those at home and on foreign shores.  

In the United States, we must ask ourselves, can we afford the waste that is war.  Was it worth the cost of lives lost?  Can we economically or ethically justify the lessened quality of life for soldiers and, or civilians.  Will we be able to live with the thought that tens, or perhaps hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children have perished all for naught?   More will die, and not necessarily in battles.  Some will be in hospital beds.  Others in homes without the funds for health care coverage.  A few will expire on the streets, be they victims of increased crime, unemployment, caused by a lack of education, or other circumstances that a warfare budget creates. All this occurred because we, as a country, have dissipated billions of dollars in unwarranted conflicts.  

In an effort to maim and murder, many innocent Iraqi, Afghani, American, and allies suffer.  Most of these are as you and I, seemingly peaceful persons who do not have the power policy-makers do.  Thus, Filmmaker Greenwald asks for your assistance, as do other concerned citizens.  Please help our nation, the national budget, and people here and on foreign lands heal.

References . . .

He Works. We Wait



“White House to Main Street” Town Hall: Elyria, OH

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

A recent change of the guard in the Massachusetts Senate race force the President to reveal he is working.  We, the American people, are waiting, just as we have been for months and months.  For a full year, countless citizens have felt as though they were patient.  Yet, the President did not seem to have their interests at heart.  True change has not come.  Countless constituents anticipate none is forthcoming.  Three hundred and sixty five plus have gone by and the American people are tired of being patient.

The circumstances in their personal lives have proven to be critical, worse now than in 2009.  Oh, some remain hopeful. They continue to believe.  Several are waiting for Godot, who as we all know, never comes.  Millions await the Messiah.  Many thought Barack Obama was the great liberator.  This human was perchance, a deity, devotees continue to declare.  He is a divine being, or was in the eyes of the electorate before he entered the Oval Office.  Now, Americans are wasted, wanting.  They trusted and waited for him to transform the nation.  Today, the people wonder; is it too late.  

Senator Obama was and is suave, sensitive, and a sensational orator.  Surely, words would become action.  Progressives suspended disbelief.  The Left listened to a man advocate for more war in Afghanistan. Then, they decided he was the profound peacemaker.  Conservatives too saw themselves in this gentleman.  He was polished, polite, and predominately known for his prestigious credentials. Hence, the fiscally traditional believed the wait was over.  Today, each of these exclaim, as President he is not the one.

In contrast, the markedly Independent did not pause.  These mavericks need no intervals. The detractors, decidedly cynical, opinionated opponents, and the perpetually free from Party politics, never waited for what they wanted.  They did as they always have.  Raging Republicans and “free” thinking Independents gathered the reigns, took to the streets and stood firm.  They rallied the troops of discontented Americans.  They stood their ground.  These lovers of self-governing principles never grew weary.  Self-directed voters shouted; they screamed.  They garnered strength and swayed some from the Right and some from the Left to take their position.  We will kill the Obama agenda, shrieked crowds of “concerned” citizens.

The Religious Right also does not hesitate.  Indeed, they never doubted that the person known as Barack Obama was not a savior.  He was, or so these individuals said, a “socialist.”  Committed Conservatives cringed at the notion that Mister Obama might be thought of as the embodiment of a second coming.  They would chortle in distress; perchance this President would be another Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It was not difficult to persuade those who had previously adopted a wait and see approach.   Numerous issues have not been attended to.  The pledge to end “Don’t Ask. Don’t tell,” frustrated a few.  Gay or straight families and friends have become impatient.  The thought that Health Care For All was left for Congress to ponder, plan, and present was seen as folly. The President, who belatedly cajoled the House and the Senate, was thought ineffective or just not truly interested in the welfare of the people.  Then there were the financial woes the President promised to address and did not adequately do so.  Indeed, millions of citizens muse; Obama sold out.  Our Chief Executive appointed Wall Street insiders to serve as his economic team.  Each of these individuals held a singular intent.  With bailout bucks, they would buy friends, influence enemies, and reward former colleagues.

Common citizens cried out in economic pain.  Rather than enact policies that might relieve the people’s plight, billions were bestowed upon wealthy bankers.

Americans have been waiting for his audacity to bring more than hope for bipartisan approval on program after program.  Most of the electorate wanted Mister Obama to exit Iraq fully, not to leave tens of thousands of troops behind.   Numerous waited for him to assertively enact a renewable energy policy.  However, as was evident at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, the President, does not plan to authentically regulate or reduce greenhouse gas  emissions.

Since Mister Obama took office, small businessmen and women applied for loans, only to have their applications rejected.  Granted, he pressed bankers to respond to the needs of the little people.  Still, calls for cash went unheeded.  Underwater homeowners also pleaded.  Refinance my mortgage please.  Requests were denied.  Ultimately, days before voters in the Bay State cast a ballot for Scott Brown, a banner headline appeared in the local paper; Obama’s foreclosure relief program called a failure.  Most borrowers have not been helped.

Credit card companies were allowed to go wild.  As the President observed, Credit has become “less of a lifeline and more of an anchor.”  Interest rates rose drastically, although not on personal savings accounts.  While the President proposed and [assed legislation to curb the crunch, The Credit Card Industry found other ways to avoid a pinch.  They will Profit From Sterling Payers.  Unemployed and underemployed, well, they were neglected just as they had been before the Messiah came.

These troubles are not unique to any one region.  Trials and tribulations exist throughout the United States.

While some may prefer to wait for the day when the President’s plans bear fruit, doubters do not.  For millions, the results in Massachusetts speak volumes.   These persons proclaim, this election, just as the two held months earlier, were not a reflection of a poorly run campaign by Martha Coakley, Virginia’s Creigh Deeds, or the New Jersey incumbent Democratic Governor, Jon Corzine.  All were sure signs of voter discontent.   The Republican wins were a blow for the Obama Administration.   Now, perhaps, the President will hear the message.

Certainly, Obama enthusiasts have come to accept what cannot be avoided.  Americans lack confidence in the Commander-In-Chief.  The tidal wave of resentment has generated much concern. Loyalists, know not what to do.  They gather round cyberspace chat rooms.  Some seek solace in the acumen of broadcasters.  What will Keith, Rachel, or Jon Stewart say?  How might these masterful commentators direct the stalwart?  A few hop onto another bandwagon.  The theory is a populist philosophy will turn folks around.

This is the position the White House adopts.  Shortly, after the special election results were released, Mister Obama answered without hesitation.  He stood before an audience in Elyria, Ohio, a community devastated by what some suggest is an economic Depression.  There the President enthusiastically proclaimed he is working for us.  For emphasis, Mister Obama forcefully opined, “Let me tell you – so long as I have the privilege of serving as your President, I’ll never stop fighting for you.”  The Nation’s Chief Executive then assured average Americans, “(T)his isn’t about me. It’s about you.” Yet, this novel appearance calls Mister Obama’s assertion into question.

Several observers stated Obama was back.  Fire was, once again, in his belly.  His campaigner style will certainly help his poll numbers to soar.  His persuasive presence would ensure a Democratic win.  However, the familiar rationale proved to be erroneous.

The President had attempted to coax a Massachusetts crowd days before the dire voter decision.  At the behest of Martha Coakley, the nation’s Chief Executive rallied round the Democratic candidate.  Still his rhetoric could not reverse the momentum.  Indeed, what would be an overwhelming demise was delivered.

Possibly, more than a mere Senate seat was lost.  Patience amongst Obama supporters has waned. The reality that American Independents and Republicans never looked back became more clear.  Scott Brown was but the amplification of the incensed mantra.  Stop health care. Do not provide civil trials for terrorists.  Rather than raise taxes; cut them. Secret backroom deals will not stand.  Special interests are not ours.  

Average American Joe and Jane are jollied.  Unlike the blindly faithful, they knew not to wait for Barack Obama or Godot.  The energized, eager, and enraged took the government back.

The hurt and hurting citizens saw that Barack Obama made the office his own, or perchance, he preserved the Clinton presidency.  The incensed did not trust the followers who point to the progress made in the effort to exit Iraq.  Instead, those outraged by slight concessions sympathized with the soldiers who struggle to survive on foreign soil.  

Disheartened, even early supporters squeal at the reality this President has increased America’s involvement in the Middle Eastern affairs. The Obama Administration authorized targeted assassinations.

Today, the once hopeful also speak out.  “He Wasn’t The One We’ve Been Waiting For.”  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan did not foretell what was to come. Devotees did not expect the President to defend the latest unemployment numbers as the he did.   “The jobs numbers are reminder that the road to recovery is never straight.” This thought was not what disciples hoped for.  No, the devoted Obama aficionados did not expect him to  apolitically offer an axiom, the path towards peace. is a rough road to travel.  Nor did the dedicated expect that support of the Messianic President would equate to justification for a mixed record on Counterterrorism Reform.  

Few from the Left thought they would help elect a Republican.  Dutiful Democrats could not imagine the day that they would declare I will wait no more.  For decades, people trusted, a President from their Party was, as Mister Obama opined, working for them.  Yet, this time, perhaps in the previous two elections, and in the next go round, the public will proclaim as Boston area Waitress Vitoria Vigna, did. “I am a Democrat and to say I voted Republican was, I was like, oh, my god, I’m voting Republican.”  However, as Ms Vigna expounded, the sentiment is, “people are more agitated and anxious and a lot of people’s attitude is what has really changed? Really?”  What has changed?  Possibly, the population has given up on Godot and on Presidents who they believe have not fully perform as promised.

He Works. We Wait, or did . . .

CIA’s changing role in U.S. imperialism’s expanding war

copyright © 2010 Michael Prysner.   Party for Socialism and Liberation

Originally Published on Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Attack highlights increased military operations of brutal secret agency

CIA agents in Afghanistan in 2001.

In eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border, a member of the resistance infiltrated a CIA compound and detonated an explosive belt, killing seven CIA operatives and wounding six others.  

The CIA promptly vowed revenge for the attack.  Some agents spoke candidly on the day of the bombing, chest-thumping that they were in this fight for the long haul.  “There is no pullout [in 2011],” said one agent anonymously, “there is no withdrawal or anything like that planned.”

In a statement released by the CIA after the attack, the agency stated, referring to the casualties, that “we pledge to them and their families that we will never cease fighting for the cause to which they dedicated their lives-a safer America.”

This “noble cause” that the CIA and its agents are vowing to fight until the end did not begin in Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11 attacks.  CIA operations in the country began in the late 1970s.  

Washington’s public rationale for why the U.S. government must fight in Afghanistan-lack of women’s rights, Islamic law, lack of education, and so on-have not always existed in Afghanistan.  There is, in fact, a period during which Afghanistan was on a progressive path.  In 1978, under the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, women’s rights and anti-sexist laws were enacted for the first time in Afghanistan’s history.  Schools began opening throughout the country and a literacy campaign was initiated.  The government functioned on a secular, democratic platform, after a long feudal era.

As Afghanistan was building equality, increasing literacy and education, and building a new progressive society, Washington was worried about one thing.  The new government wanted independence and would not allow itself to be made a puppet serving the interests of U.S. capitalism.  The CIA was promptly dispatched, not for a “safer America,” but for a safer region for U.S. companies to exert their dominance.  

The CIA’s history in Afghanistan begins like this: spending billions of dollars to crush the only progressive period in the country’s history.  

How did they do this? By heavily funding and fighting alongside the most reactionary religious organizations, who began killing and maiming women not observing the most fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law, destroying schools and murdering scores of civilians throughout the country.  Those CIA-backed forces then took state power, and ruled the country-while still receiving millions of dollars from the CIA.  Then, they were overthrown by the CIA in 2001.  

The CIA orchestrated the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001, commanding the war with its operatives on the ground.  One of those agents who masterminded the U.S. takeover in 2001, Henry Crumpton, recently spoke out about the CIA tactics used.  He and his agents would visit tribal leaders, and offer them this ultimatum: “If you do not cooperate, the chances of your survival are greatly diminished.” 

If that particular tribal leader refused to assist the invading foreign forces in his country, Crumpton and his team would openly murder him.  Crumpton admitted, “And the next day, we’d talk to the tribal leader that was next door.  … Given the incentive that we had set the previous day, he was much more amenable to negotiations in our favor.”

The terrorist tactics used by the CIA in Afghanistan make it obvious why their base was targeted.

The CIA has long commanded military operations, from its death squads in Latin America to bloody military coups in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.  But there has been a fundamental change in the CIA’s military role since 2001.  

Now, the CIA is on the front lines in Afghanistan more so than in any other mission.  Previously, the CIA primarily commanded U.S. military special operations troops, as well as local militias.  The CIA’s own paramilitary branch, known as the Special Activities Division, was small and rarely used in lieu of U.S. and foreign troops.  

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration began the process of militarizing the CIA, which continues today.  The Special Activities Division was increased in size and funding.  They were given greater authority to clandestinely conduct military operations in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and other countries where U.S.  troops are not legally allowed.  

Now, instead of commanding U.S. or foreign military units and local reactionary militias, the CIA is increasingly conducting military operations with their own agents.  They even operate out of their own firebases scattered all over Afghanistan and Iraq.  This constitutes a major change in the structure of the CIA.  

The growing trend of privatizing the military can be seen as the CIA militarizes.  In addition to increasing their own number of troops, the CIA has also absorbed sectors of the notorious mercenary company known as Blackwater (now known as Xe).  

It was recently revealed that the CEO of Blackwater, right-wing evangelical billionaire Eric Prince, works directly for the CIA.  Blackwater troops became CIA troops, and have been conducting assassination campaigns and military operations in Pakistan and other countries.  

But the CIA’s militarization spans beyond commanding their own troops.  The CIA established a vast network of secret prisons, where suspects endure vicious illegal torture and absolutely no legal rights.

In addition, the CIA now has its own personal air force, commanding and piloting drones that are now being regularly used all over the world, conducting bombing missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.  The Obama administration recently approved even more funds to increase the CIA’s drone capabilities, putting bombs and missiles at their fingertips.  

The CIA is playing a more direct role in U.S. wars than ever before.  The U.S. ruling class wants the so-called “war on terror” to be shifted into the shadows.  

The anti-war movement exploded in late 2002, drawing the largest anti-war demonstrations in history against the invasion of Iraq.  The anti-war movement during the Vietnam War grew to a point where the U.S. government was forced to abandon its colonial aims in Vietnam.  Now, the United States is involved in what is already the longest war in U.S. history, which is growing more unpopular everyday.  The occupation of Iraq still has no end in sight.  The Pentagon brass has made it clear that we should brace for a long and bloody fight in Afghanistan.  Additionally, U.S. imperialism has goals elsewhere in the region.  

Capitalism has developed into a global economic system.  The United States and a handful of countries in Western Europe have competed with each other to dominate the markets and resources of the rest of the world for the past century.  They have also cooperated together in their joint struggle against socialism or against independent non-socialist governments in the developing world.

This has led to the bloodiest century in human history and shows no signs of abating.  

One way that the militarization of the CIA benefits the ruling class is that it allows the U.S. government to substitute other forces for those the U.S. military would have deployed.  U.S. military operations are much more subject to publicity and scrutiny, but clandestine CIA operations are ambiguous.  Working in the shadows allows the government to deny its own role in secret bombings, targeted assassinations and economic sabotage in other countries.  The history of the CIA includes the most blatantly criminal military operations, using the most brutal and murderous tactics to overthrow popular, democratically elected governments who do not submit to U.S. corporations, and installing the most reactionary and repressive dictators, from Guatemala, to Iran, to Haiti, to the Congo, and countless others.  If U.S. troops deployed to conduct these operations, there would have been even greater public outcry.  But they are instead conducted in the shadows, to mask the true nature of the system we live under.

Outright military invasion is often a last resort for the ruling class, when their other methods have failed to achieve their goals of economic domination.  With the changing role of the CIA, the extent of the capabilities of conducting covert operations has been stretched to new boundaries.  The CIA can now deploy its own soldiers, pilot its own bombing missions and manage its own prison apparatus.

In eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border, a member of the resistance infiltrated a CIA compound and detonated an explosive belt, killing seven CIA operatives and wounding six others.  

The CIA promptly vowed revenge for the attack.  Some agents spoke candidly on the day of the bombing, chest-thumping that they were in this fight for the long haul.  “There is no pullout [in 2011],” said one agent anonymously, “there is no withdrawal or anything like that planned.”

In a statement released by the CIA after the attack, the agency stated, referring to the casualties, that “we pledge to them and their families that we will never cease fighting for the cause to which they dedicated their lives-a safer America.”

This “noble cause” that the CIA and its agents are vowing to fight until the end did not begin in Afghanistan in response to the Sept.  11 attacks.  CIA operations in the country began in the late 1970s.  

Washington’s public rationale for why the U.S. government must fight in Afghanistan-lack of women’s rights, Islamic law, lack of education, and so on-have not always existed in Afghanistan.  There is, in fact, a period during which Afghanistan was on a progressive path.  In 1978, under the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, women’s rights and anti-sexist laws were enacted for the first time in Afghanistan’s history.  Schools began opening throughout the country and a literacy campaign was initiated.  The government functioned on a secular, democratic platform, after a long feudal era.

As Afghanistan was building equality, increasing literacy and education, and building a new progressive society, Washington was worried about one thing.  The new government wanted independence and would not allow itself to be made a puppet serving the interests of U.S. capitalism.  The CIA was promptly dispatched, not for a “safer America,” but for a safer region for U.S. companies to exert their dominance.  

The CIA’s history in Afghanistan begins like this: spending billions of dollars to crush the only progressive period in the country’s history.  

How did they do this? By heavily funding and fighting alongside the most reactionary religious organizations, who began killing and maiming women not observing the most fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law, destroying schools and murdering scores of civilians throughout the country.  Those CIA-backed forces then took state power, and ruled the country-while still receiving millions of dollars from the CIA.  Then, they were overthrown by the CIA in 2001.  

The CIA orchestrated the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001, commanding the war with its operatives on the ground.  One of those agents who masterminded the U.S. takeover in 2001, Henry Crumpton, recently spoke out about the CIA tactics used.  He and his agents would visit tribal leaders, and offer them this ultimatum: “If you do not cooperate, the chances of your survival are greatly diminished.” 

If that particular tribal leader refused to assist the invading foreign forces in his country, Crumpton and his team would openly murder him.  Crumpton admitted, “And the next day, we’d talk to the tribal leader that was next door.  … Given the incentive that we had set the previous day, he was much more amenable to negotiations in our favor.”

The terrorist tactics used by the CIA in Afghanistan make it obvious why their base was targeted.

The CIA has long commanded military operations, from its death squads in Latin America to bloody military coups in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.  But there has been a fundamental change in the CIA’s military role since 2001.  

Now, the CIA is on the front lines in Afghanistan more so than in any other mission.  Previously, the CIA primarily commanded U.S. military special operations troops, as well as local militias.  The CIA’s own paramilitary branch, known as the Special Activities Division, was small and rarely used in lieu of U.S. and foreign troops.  

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration began the process of militarizing the CIA, which continues today.  The Special Activities Division was increased in size and funding.  They were given greater authority to clandestinely conduct military operations in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and other countries where U.S. troops are not legally allowed.  

Now, instead of commanding U.S. or foreign military units and local reactionary militias, the CIA is increasingly conducting military operations with their own agents.  They even operate out of their own firebases scattered all over Afghanistan and Iraq.  This constitutes a major change in the structure of the CIA.  

The growing trend of privatizing the military can be seen as the CIA militarizes.  In addition to increasing their own number of troops, the CIA has also absorbed sectors of the notorious mercenary company known as Blackwater (now known as Xe).  

It was recently revealed that the CEO of Blackwater, right-wing evangelical billionaire Eric Prince, works directly for the CIA.  Blackwater troops became CIA troops, and have been conducting assassination campaigns and military operations in Pakistan and other countries.  

But the CIA’s militarization spans beyond commanding their own troops.  The CIA established a vast network of secret prisons, where suspects endure vicious illegal torture and absolutely no legal rights.

In addition, the CIA now has its own personal air force, commanding and piloting drones that are now being regularly used all over the world, conducting bombing missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.  The Obama administration recently approved even more funds to increase the CIA’s drone capabilities, putting bombs and missiles at their fingertips.  

The CIA is playing a more direct role in U.S. wars than ever before.  The U.S. ruling class wants the so-called “war on terror” to be shifted into the shadows.  

The anti-war movement exploded in late 2002, drawing the largest anti-war demonstrations in history against the invasion of Iraq.  The anti-war movement during the Vietnam War grew to a point where the U.S. government was forced to abandon its colonial aims in Vietnam.  Now, the United States is involved in what is already the longest war in U.S. history, which is growing more unpopular everyday.  The occupation of Iraq still has no end in sight.  The Pentagon brass has made it clear that we should brace for a long and bloody fight in Afghanistan.  Additionally, U.S. imperialism has goals elsewhere in the region.  

Capitalism has developed into a global economic system.  The United States and a handful of countries in Western Europe have competed with each other to dominate the markets and resources of the rest of the world for the past century.  They have also cooperated together in their joint struggle against socialism or against independent non-socialist governments in the developing world.

This has led to the bloodiest century in human history and shows no signs of abating.  

One way that the militarization of the CIA benefits the ruling class is that it allows the U.S. government to substitute other forces for those the U.S. military would have deployed.  U.S. military operations are much more subject to publicity and scrutiny, but clandestine CIA operations are ambiguous.  Working in the shadows allows the government to deny its own role in secret bombings, targeted assassinations and economic sabotage in other countries.  The history of the CIA includes the most blatantly criminal military operations, using the most brutal and murderous tactics to overthrow popular, democratically elected governments who do not submit to U.S. corporations, and installing the most reactionary and repressive dictators, from Guatemala, to Iran, to Haiti, to the Congo, and countless others.  If U.S. troops deployed to conduct these operations, there would have been even greater public outcry.  But they are instead conducted in the shadows, to mask the true nature of the system we live under.

Outright military invasion is often a last resort for the ruling class, when their other methods have failed to achieve their goals of economic domination.  With the changing role of the CIA, the extent of the capabilities of conducting covert operations has been stretched to new boundaries.  The CIA can now deploy its own soldiers, pilot its own bombing missions and manage its own prison apparatus.

The Two Faces of Obama

TwFcsObmCgntveD

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

~ Barack Obama (President of the United States.  Peace Prize Acceptance Speech. December 10, 2009)

For years, Americans saw live, and in person, or on television screens, Presidential aspirant Barack Obama.   Several mused; the man is calm in a crisis.  “No drama Obama” was the phrase most often associated with the candidate.  Those closely and personally connected to the potential President corroborated what was for most only an observation.  The election did not change Barack Obama.  His calm demeanor remained intact.  Yet, many perceived a difference, not in his response to a predicament, but in the President’s rhetoric.  Empathy evolved into escalation.  This was perhaps most evident on two occasions, when Mister Obama delivered his Address on the War in Afghanistan, and then again when the Commander-In Chief offered his Remarks in acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize.  After these events, the pensive pondered; what was there all along, Cerebral Discord, the Two Faces of Barack Obama.

During the Presidential campaign, millions were aware of the dichotomy.  For Barack Obama the need for empathy and the escalation of armed forces seemed to safely coexist.   Others, hopeful, for a change may have chosen to forgive what was a concern.  Perchance Mister Obama’s persuasive language assuaged the American people, or they too may have suffered from the same condition, intellectual disharmony.  

Possibly, the public was either so eager or expectant, that they did not wish to wonder what might occur if Barack Obama acted on the more aggressive stance he often took.  Troop escalation in Afghanistan is a must.  The words the President of the United States postured in his recent remarks at West Point and in Oslo, at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, while countless thought anathemas, were as he presented in his published plan on July 14, 2008.

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there.

Yet, most Americans and the Nobel Prize Committee were stunned when as President, Barack Obama fulfilled his promise.  More struggled with what they heard days later.  In his acknowledgement of the award he was about to receive, the Peace Prize, Barack Obama explained, and exclaimed, as has been his well-established habit; empathy is essential and compassion can not cure the world’s ills.  

While the rhetoric was exquisite, and the rationalizations seemed sound, the inconsistency awakened awareness.  At once, observers were alarmed by what was apparent for quite awhile.  There are Two Faces of Barack Obama.

The few who had feared his empathetic side welcomed the warlike stance of the current Commander.  Others felt the sacramental observance, the Nobel Peace Prize Presentation, was not the place to promote war.  Nor is it thought apt for the beneficiary of such a significant award to advocate for armed conflict.  Even those who trusted he would do as he had done, and say as he did, found it difficult to grapple with what Barack Obama has for all of his life: cognitive dissonance.

Some may ask; how can one man, woman, or one mind so adamantly adhere to the idea of empathy, and also embrace the notion that our fellow man is our enemy.  What is it that drives a desire to reason love and peace are  harmonious with hatred and war?  Why would a brilliant being think violence builds benevolence?

The cause, or perchance the effect, of the President’s condition was delineated and defined in 1956.  five years before Barack Obama was even a thought in the mind of his mother Ann Dunham.   Prior to his conception, few imagined that today a baby, born to an average Americans schoolgirl, would be addressed as Mister President.  All those decades ago, an individual whose background was as varied as Barack Obama’s is, could not be expected to achieve the grandeur he has.  At the time, to even ponder the possibility might evoke Cognitive Dissonance,  had the notion been a known construct.

Today, Social Psychologist Leon Festinger’s theory is an accepted truth.  Humans have honed the art of rationalization.  Some offer seemingly reasonable interpretations better than most others.   Mister Obama spoke of his skill to allegorize, to offer an analysis that is coherent, and cogent.  Indeed, as he wrote in his most recent tome, The Audacity of Hope,  President Obama offered that through conversation, he could conquer an adversary.

Readers of his book may recall the beloved tale that endeared the President to those who hoped Barack Obama might be a man of peace. The story led many, perhaps even the Nobel Peace Prize Committee 2009, to believe this Head of State is worthy of the honor he was awarded.

Like most of my values, I learned about empathy from my mother. She disdained any kind of cruelty or thoughtlessness or abuse of power, whether it expresses itself in the form of racial prejudice or bullying in the schoolyard or workers being underpaid. Whenever she saw even a hint of such behavior in me she would look me square in the eyes and ask, “How do you think that would make you feel?”

But it was in the relationship with my grandfather that I think I first internalized the full meaning of empathy. Because my mother’s work took her overseas, I often lived with my grandparents during my high school years, and without a father present in the house, my grandfather bore the brunt of most of my adolescent rebellion. He himself was not always easy to get along with; he was at once warmhearted and quick to anger, and in part his career had not been particularly successful, his feelings could also be easily bruised. By the time I was sixteen we were arguing all of the time, usually about me failing to abide by what I considered to be an endless series of petty and arbitrary rules–filling up the gas tank whenever I borrowed his car, say, or making sure that I rinsed out the milk carton before I put it in the garbage.

With a certain talent for rhetoric, as well as an absolute certainty about the merits of my own views, I found that I could generally win these arguments, in the narrow sense of leaving my grandfather flustered, angry, and sounding unreasonable. But at the same point, perhaps in my senior year, such victories started to feel less satisfying. I started thinking about the struggles and disappointments he had seen in his life. I started to appreciate his need to feel respected in his own home. I realized that abiding by his rules would cost me little, but to him it would mean a lot. I recognized that sometimes he really did have a point, and that in insisting on getting my own way all the time, without regard to his feelings or needs, I was in some way diminishing myself.

There’s nothing extraordinary about such an awakening, of course. In one form or another it is what we all must go through if we are to grow up. And yet I find myself returning again and again to my mother’s simple principle–“How would that make you feel?”–as a guidepost for my politics.

It’s not a question we ask ourselves enough, I think; as a country we seem to be suffering from an empathy deficit.

I believe a stronger sense of empathy would tilt the balance of our current politics in favor of those people who are struggling in this society. After all, if they are like us, then their struggles are our own. If we fail to help, we diminish ourselves.

~ Barack Obama excerpt from The Audacity of Hope

At the time he wrote those words, as Senator, and an author who aspired to inspire, Barack Obama reminded readers, No one is exempt from the call to find common ground.”  That is, unless, as he clarified with the Nobel Peace Prize in his grasp, “(A)s a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world.  Today, the man who occupies the White House would seem to no longer believe as his followers thought, or hoped he did,  

Perchance, a culture mired in its own cerebral discord did not acknowledge that Barack Obama has always been a mirror image of society.  He speaks of his love of peace.  He yearns for global harmony, yet President Obama believes war is a worthy endeavor. For the once candidate and also for the Commander-In-Chief who currently occupies the Oval Office, empathy is thought as  necessary as escalation. The Two disparate Faces of Obama are as they were, united.

Barack Obama has not changed.  Only people’s perception of him has been transformed, transitioned just as predicted, or has revealed itself to be as the President pledged.  The public saw the side of Mister Obama that he presented, and or, the one as individuals, each American might prefer.  He has always been one who embraces empathy as he asserts evil exists.

Little more than a year ago, when but a Presidential hopeful Obama offered his carefully crafted message while in Church, Christians rejoiced, as did those of many faiths.   On August 16, 2008, the world watched the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency.  Barack Obama presented his peaceful posture, not the face of the person who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for to us have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil, because a lot of evil’s been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil. . . .

In the name of good, and I think, you know, one thing that’s very important is having some humility in recognizing that just because we think that our intentions are good, doesn’t always mean that we’re going to be doing good.”

What a difference a day makes.  As a potential representative of the people, on the night of the Presidential Forum, Obama expressed as he had in his tome,  “Mutual understanding is not enough.  People must practice as they profess to believe.”  However, as he himself once chimed “Talk is cheap.” The philosophy Presidential candidate Obama bequeathed upon the American people, the thought that gave constituents hope has been shelved.  The sentiment is available only in archives far from the White House Situation Room.

When I was a community organizer back in the eighties, I would often challenge neighborhood leaders by asking them where they put their time, energy, and money. Those are the true tests of what we value, I’d tell them, regardless of what we like to tell ourselves.  If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values, if we aren’t willing to make some sacrifices in order to realize them, then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all.

The Nobel Committee might have read the passage, and as was stated, they wanted to support Mister Obama’s approach.  Accolades for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples” was thought to be sufficient to explain what those who were troubled by the March 2009 escalation could not understand.

Perchance, his mere election alone meant that “Obama has, as President, created a new climate in international politics.” After all, near a year before the Nobel announcement, Barack Obama had completed his original mission as articulated in 2004, “My job is to inspire people to take ownership of this country.”

Possibly, at the time of the official announcement, the Norwegian group was as mesmerized as the world was.  They too reveled in what Barack Obama acknowledged in his book; he has a “gift for rhetoric.”

That may explain why in an October Press Release the Nobel Institute stated that they thought Barack Obama embodied the essence of their belief “Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts.”  At the time, the Norwegian Stortingof might have recalled the eloquent and empathetic language of the world leader.  The Committee may have been so moved by the peaceful prose of the President they did not realize they had only caught sight of one of the Two Face of Obama.

While the Peace Prize is intended to go to whoever “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” on this occasion it did not.

A warrior, or one who sends tens of thousands of American sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and sibling off to slaughter and to be slaughtered received the honor. The combatant face of Obama who surrenders his more peacefully stated principles claimed the accolade.

In his Oslo lecture, the President did not acknowledge his cerebral discord.  Instead, he reasoned as researchers realized those who wrestle with cognitive dissonance do.  From the windows of the White House, President Obama, tells us, decisions look very different, (or did they, since Barack Obama actually did as he penned he would in his July 2008 plan)  Protected in the cocoon of a title, Commander-In-Chief, it is possible to order the massacre of a population comprised mostly of children, under the age of fourteen (14) and to do it “faster.”

Rationalization realized when cognitive dissonance dominates allows for avoidance and less authentic analysis.  Simply stated, President Obama professed to the Nobel audience, “There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”  This is the Obama escalation truth, regardless of a reality shared by his National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, on Cable News Network’s “State of the Union” only days before the Peace Prize Committee announced that President Obama would win the award.

“Obviously, the good news is that Americans should feel at least good about in Afghanistan is that the al Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country. No bases. No ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.

Now the problem is the next step in this is the sanctuaries across the border. But I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in danger — imminent danger of falling.

The intelligence General Jim Jones imparted was ignored just as the guidance from U.S. Afghan envoy, retired General, Karl Eikenberry was.    General Eikenberry advised against escalation.  However, the empathetic President, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient exclaimed to his Cabinet and Commanders, “What I’m looking for is a surge.”

Barack Obama favors, the fight.  An Afghanistan Apocalypse. seems reasonable when rationalized through the eyes of one comfortable with cerebral discord.  From the Executive Office, empathy equates to a troops escalation.

Perhaps, one day, anathemas such as war will advance authentic prospects for global harmony. Intellectual cacophonies, two faces shared by a man, (a nation, or the world) will merge into one.  Then, and only then, will change emerge, and peace be truly prized.

Surge reduced violence; but distracts us from long-term goal.

~ Barack Obama. CBS News interview with Katie Couric, July 28, 2008

End the war, and end the mindset that got us into war.

~ Barack Obama. 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles, California, January 31, 2008

Never fudge numbers or shade the truth about war.

~ Barack Obama. Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention July 29, 2004

References for a dual realty . . .

The Change; Hope

CdPnkHplss

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

It is said, as individuals, we can achieve all we conceive, if only we truly believe.  President Barack Obama once knew this.  He lived this veracity.  Indeed, candidate Obama’s audacity and accomplishments gave Americans hope.  When Barack Obama reached for the sky he realized what no one thought he could. The electorate was energized.  People came to expect the country was in for a change.   Now, it seems Mister Obama is bogged down by what Eisenhower understood, concerns of the Military Industrial Complex.  

The intricacy of the Armed Forces mission does not confine itself to forceful martial escalation.  Nothing escapes the wide reach of combative nation building.  Lives are lost.  Limbs crushed.  With bullets ablaze, brains are battered or blown to smithereens.  Hope suffers.  Hearts are hurt.  The economy is also affected.

Education policies are altered.  There are few pennies left to provide for adequate instruction.  Health care coverage fiscal calculations related to medical treatments and delivery of services are transformed.  The  billions of dollars spent on defense surpasses any other consideration.  This fiscal truth is obviously not lost on a Commander-In-Chief burdened with the need to appease his many Advisors, most of whom, from the beginning, were intent on war.  

President Obama could not ignore or forget his own earlier rhetoric.  After all, his words “Afghanistan is a war of necessity,” helped him win over the hearts and minds of Conservatives and Independents during the recent election.  As one who believes and works to builds consensus, some say President Obama chose to take the middle path.

With his decision to send more troops, into Afghanistan, the President  has shattered the dreams of many.  Another surge will mean countless communities will wait for more dollars to spend at home.   A patient nation, for a while longer, will remain proud and stay the course.

For now, only eight percent, the progressive fringe, feel a deepening sense of hopelessness.   Millions of Independents have also lost faith.  When only 36 percent of these think President Obama has done a fine job that could prove to be a problem.  

If, over time, personal pains become more profound, the exorbitant budgetary imbalance will not be ignored.  Misery amongst the masses will likely bring more voices of dissent.

In this moment, those on the far Left feel they must vocalize the sentiment heard in society at-large. However, without reason to believe, with signs that change has not come to those most in need, the public will turn nasty. Timidity, as history reveals, is transitory.  

Just as we witnessed in the 1960s, again in 2008, a war weary population becomes disheartened, and loud.  Americans who struggle to survive, and who realize billions, no trillions of dollars are spent on the fight, will ultimately, speak out vociferously

This week, President Obama quoted his predecessor, General Eisenhower,, “Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.”  Then, contrary to Ike’s caution, he bowed to the Military Industrial Complex, Should Mister Obama continue down this path people of all walks of life are likely to rise up and say; The change we once believed in, our hope, has become our sense of hopelessness.

References for the reality of hope and hopelessness . . .

War and profit: Deciphering what it means to be in the U.S. military



March Forward! Against War and Racism

© copyright 2009 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

From the newsletter of March Forward!

We join the military for many different reasons. Some of us want to have access to a college education. Some of us want job training and a steady paycheck. Some of us join to get U.S. citizenship. Some of us need to get out of debt or need to get off a destructive path. Some of us join out of pride, patriotism and a genuine desire to be a part of some greater, collective good. Many of us made the decision early-while still in high school, enticed by recruiters’ promises of cash bonuses, adventure and opportunity-while some of us joined after years as a worker, drawn by the military’s full health care and housing benefits.

Whatever the reason, we all found ourselves wearing the uniform of the U.S. military. What did we actually join? What is the role of the U.S. military in the world? What does it mean to be a soldier following the dictates of U.S. foreign policy? When we sign ourselves away to the military, what are we being used to do?

In recent years, many of us ended up in Iraq or Afghanistan. We are told that as a soldier in the U.S. military we are defending the interests of the United States. This does have an ounce of truth-but only an ounce. We are defending the interests of a particular class in the United States. It is only a wealthy minority whose interests are being defended in Iraq, Afghanistan and the more than 130 countries where U.S. troops are stationed.

In whose interests do we serve?

I was sent to Iraq believing we would be helping the Iraqi people. Once the illusions of pride and patriotism crumbled, I realized I was never sent to help anyone. I kicked down their doors and dragged them from their homes. I robbed them of their humanity in interrogation cells. I watched the life ripped out of them. I saw children torn to shreds. I witnessed my friends disabled by physical and/or psychological trauma. All this suffering and destruction for “Iraqi Freedom,” which really means the freedom of a new U.S.-installed government to hand over control of its natural resources to U.S. corporations.

It wasn’t much different for those soldiers sent to Korea, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama or other countries that have been targets of U.S. intervention over the past half-century and more.

We are taught the United States stands for freedom and democracy, and that military force is used to defend or further those ideals. This is echoed constantly throughout our lives, in school and in the media. It is woven into the fabric of our national identity, making it possible for people to accept the deaths of U.S. soldiers in foreign lands, as long as they are assured they died in the interests of democracy.

History of U.S. conflicts

However, reviewing the history of conflicts in which the U.S. military has been involved tells a completely different story. The U.S. government does not have a history of supporting democratic movements, but rather a history of overthrowing them. Among those countries whose popularly elected governments have been crushed by the U.S. military and replaced by authoritarian and non-elected dictators are the Congo, Grenada, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Chile, Indonesia, Iran, Haiti-and the list goes on. Quite simply, this government – whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House-has no problem installing and backing oppressive dictatorships.

Understanding U.S. foreign policy becomes much easier if we stop looking at it in terms of “defending democracy,” and start looking at it in terms of economic interests. It is not the form of a foreign government that determines whether it ends up in the crosshairs of the U.S. government, but whether or not that government will give U.S. businesses access to its markets, labor force and natural resources. This explains why the United States supports governments with some of the worst human rights records, like Colombia, or Saudi Arabia, which has never had an election in its history! U.S. corporations reap billions of dollars in profits from these countries.

U.S. foreign policy really boils down to ensuring the extraction of wealth from the developing world by U.S. corporations. In the words of two-time Medal of Honor winner Major General Smedley Butler: “I spent 33 years in the Marines. Most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.”

Claims that the Pentagon only works to defend the United States and spread democracy fall apart when you look at the current use of the military. It is now obvious that Saddam Hussein posed no threat to the United States, nor did the U.S. government care about the well-being of the Iraqi people. A quarter of Iraq’s population of 26 million people has been killed, wounded or displaced since the illegal U.S. invasion on March 19, 2003. Iraq sits atop a massive supply of petroleum, all of which was nationalized and closed to U.S. corporations’ control under Saddam Hussein.

The role of banks and big business

The banks and Wall Street exert dominating influence over U.S. foreign policy. Our “democracy” is reserved for those who have millions of dollars to run for office, and who are funded by (and ultimately beholden to) corporate interests. Our “free press” is owned by only five mega-corporations who directly profit from the military-industrial complex and distort reality to shape public opinion accordingly.

The ruling class of Wall Street CEOs, bankers and their loyal politicians has the power to annihilate an entire country for profit-but they never fight in these wars themselves. So they have to find a way to convince the average worker that these wars are worth fighting. They must find a way to convince working-class people that we should kill and die to make the rich ruling class even richer.

Our enemy is not on the other side of the world; that enemy is in the corporate boardrooms and the Pentagon Brass. Defeating that enemy means refusing to take part in their imperialist plans and organizing together to demand real justice.

Rethinking Afghanistan; The Terror Tax



Rethink Afghanistan (Part 3): Cost of War

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Tax time is reason enough to reflect on our budgets, personal and national.  How realistic are our expenditures?  Do we spend more than we earn?  Does our income allow for a few irrational indulgences?  Do discretionary dollars exist?  Might we consider our ample debt.  Does this represent a temporary deficit, easily resolved, or an obligation that cannot be paid promptly.  We may wish to rethink our reality.  At home, families have taken scissors to credit cards.  More than the minimum payment is made.  The intention is to lessen liabilities and increase savings.  In the month of April, after we pay Uncle Sam, most of us concluded, it is time to clean our own fiscal house.  Next, we move to the nation’s ledger.  

Expenses

The largest share of our moneys go to military operations.  The terror tax has become a tremendous burden of American household and communities.  Yet, few wish to rethink this “duty.”

Much to the chagrin of those who do not favor debt, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were paid for on credit.  Taxes were not increased to pay for the two wars.  Indeed, President Bush cut tariff obligations for the American people while he increased the number of dollars devoted to military operations.  

The cash spent on what most would agree were and are protracted conflicts was not placed on the official ledger.  Nor did it exist in American coffers.  What were classified as “emergency supplemental” expenses were made available on loan.  Other countries, rich in resources, furnished the dollars the United States desired.  The currency would need to be re-paid, with interest!  That concept alone could be considered a tax on terror, or an attack on Americans who disfavor debt.

The current Commander-In-Chief promised he would not engage in such tactics.  The Obama Administration would be transparent.  What would be spent on war would be visible in formal, administrative, concrete calculations.  To that end, in February 2009, perhaps before most Americans filed a return, President Obama submitted his budget.  Headlines screamed, Obama’s budget is the end of an era.

Cash and Change On Hand

Change had come.  Obama re-thought Bush policies.  More money would be officially allocated to military operations.  The Pentagon Does Well with Obama Budget. The financial planned commitment to the Pentagon is an abundant $533.7 billion.   This amount represents a 4 percent increase over the previous 2009 allocation. This total excludes money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The budget includes an additional $75 billion in 2009 for “overseas contingency operations,” a reference to the battles still ablaze in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locales.  Come 2010, $130 billion more will be available for combat.

Insufficient Funds

Cautions presented six months ago, on October 15, 2008, by the Congressional Research Service apparently were not heeded by the new Administration.  Citizens also did not realize, cash for these conflicts is not countless.  It never was.  Calculations were offered.  However, then, as now, the numbers were ignored.  Perhaps, all aspects of the ostensibly perpetual wars were not rethought.

Economic Cost of War in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan has cost U.S. Tax payers $172 billion to date, with a request for roughly $13.4 billion to fund the war through the remainder of Fiscal year 2009 expected in March or April.  This brings the total cost through FY 2009 to $185.1 billion.

This figures reflect the budgetary cost alone.  Projected costs over the long term are likely to total more than half a trillion dollars when future occupation and veteran’s benefits are taken into account.  Interest payments could add another $200 billion to that figure. (1) All told, this is more than the size of the recent bailout of Wall Street, and rivals the historic economic stimulus bill just passed by Congress.

Countries outside the United States have spent additional billions on the War in Afghanistan, with the UK contributing roughly £4.5billion (2) and the cost to Canada totaling $7.7 billion to $10.5 billion in Canadian dollars through 2008. (3).

Thus far, you and I, the American taxpayer, borrowed one hundred and eighty five billion dollars, or more,  to fight a war thought futile in Afghanistan.  In Iraq the dollars devoted to deploy each troop, one individual, was $500,000.  That is five hundred thousand dollars!  The money spent on a single soldier sent to Afghanistan is expected to be eight-hundred thousand greenbacks.

Financial Future in Doubt

Many Progressives may wish to wail, “George W. Bush is to blame.”  However, people from the political Party that takes pride in the actions of this President might rethink that truth.  

Days before American tax payments were due, Mister Obama asked Congress for an additional eighty three and four tenths billion dollars ($83.4) to fund the war just through the end of the year!  After Mister Obama assured Americans supplemental expenditures to pay for wars would not be requested, the President rescinded the pledge.  Excuses were made.  Explanations given.  Citizens were told the additional allotment would be the first and the last made by President Obama.

It seems circumstances caused the Chief Executive to rethink his stance on spending and Afghanistan.  Perhaps, citizens will also rethink their position.  In truth, only the people have the power to insist, it is time to cut the funds for war.

Rethinking Afghanistan Realities . . .

Footnote References . . .

1.  The $3 Trillion War. By Linda Bilmes  and Joseph Stiglitz.  Vanity Fair. April 2008

2.  Cost of war in Afghanistan soars to £2.5bn, By Richard Norton-Taylor.  The Guardian. Friday 13, 2009

3.  Economic Cost of War in Afghanistan.

References  and Resources . . .