Friday, March 13, 2009

Obama and endless war

In America, stupid America, leaders come and leaders go--but our wars go on.

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of time driving across Maine's frost heave-ridden back roads. While attempted to keep my Taurus from going airborne between Augusta and Rumford on Route 17, I was listened to Thomas Ricks, speaking from the Commonwealth Club of California, about the war in Iraq. Ricks, longtime Pentagon correspondent for the Washington Post, and author of The Gamble: General Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008, warned that the war in Iraq will continue for much longer than most Americans realize.

Ricks calls Iraq, "the biggest mistake in the history of American foreign policy," adding that "we don't yet understand how big a mistake this is." No, Americans understand very little--ask 10 Americans about the economy and you'll get 10 different answers. Ask them about Iraq, and its likely you'll get a look like, "Iraq? Are we still in Iraq?" If its not on the nightly news, it no longer matters.

John Ross has a related article at Counterpunch about the war, echoing a similar sentiment to Ricks' about the longevity of the war, touching on President Obama's embrace of a war program, despite trying to sell Americans on a false drawdown.

In a nod to Orwell, Ross writes, In Obama's mad rush to channel FDR's first hundred days, he has advanced many such initiatives designed to bamboozle the citizens of a nation that elected him largely out of revulsion for the odious Bush. As always, the devil is in the details. Guantanamo will be closed but Bagham will be expanded - remember the Oscar-winning "Taxi To The Dark Side"? Even as the blueprint for closing down the Cuban torture camp is being cogitated, the torture of so-called "enemy combatants" continues daily at both facilities, according to the prisoners' lawyers. Meanwhile CIA "renditions" remain in vogue and the level of torture practiced by U.S. interrogators will conform to the Army code of physical abuse - except in those cases the Commander-in-Chief deems it necessary to waterboard.

So much for hope and change.

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