"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Afghanistan: Everything's Coming Up Poppies


If you heard President Obama's speech yesterday, you may have had to ingest a massive quantity of antidepressants (as I might have had they been available).  I cannot even begin, nor would I bother, to address the endless rhetoric of that speech.  At any rate, I woke up this morning and realized that nothing had changed overnight, or over the past 8, or should I say nearly 48 years (since Eisenhower's farewell speech warning us of the dangers of the military-industrial complex.  In the struggle between militarism and peace, militarism has bulldozed any hopes for a peacful solution to the intractable situation the U.S. has created in Afghanistan.
It would seem that the massive war machine has, like the creatures in some zombie movie, taken over the President's mind, and destroyed any ability to understand the folly of his actions.  Aljazeera sums it up for us: 

Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, a former prime minister of Afghanistan, expressed disappointment with Obama's speech and his strategy.  "Sending more troops is not the solution to the Afghan crisis," he said.  "I was expecting Obama to announce the withdrawal of 30,000 troops within two months but unfortunately, he did the opposite which will increase killings of both Americans and Afghans."  And reacting to Obama's announcement by email, a Taliban spokesman told Al Jazeera that they were pleased with the decision to send more US soldiers.  "More troops just means a larger target for us to hit ... by increasing its forces in Afghanistan, Obama is just giving more power to the Mujahideen to recruit and receive the support of the civilian population." (Afghans react to Obama troop plan, Aljazeera, December 2, 2009)

But hey, the President has it all figured out, so don't worry.  In honor of his speech, let's take a brief intermission and listen to his new theme song, Everything's Coming Up Roses (perhaps it can be re-written: Everything's Coming Up Poppies) by the legendary Rosemary Clooney.

O.K. - Now we can get back to business, and the business of the day is putting a stop to this madness called escalation.  It isn't over yet; Congress still has to approve the President's request.  Of course many in Congress are ready to shout "AYE!!!" when it comes to a vote, but we the people still have a say in the matter (even if we don't have huge funding behind us like the defense industry lobby), and I hope we will all shout "NAY!!!" at the top of our collective lungs.  Let's push this to the top of Congress' agenda and pressure them to debate the issue and put it to a vote.

CLICK HERE to learn more and email your representative at Just Foreign Policy.  And then ask your family, friends and people on the street to do the same. 

Just one tiny comment on the President's speech.  Here is what he said towards the end: "But as we end the war in Iraq and transition to Afghan responsibility, we must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry. And it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last."  As the underpinnings of the U.S. economy continue to unravel, prosperity becomes a pipe dream.  Even as over 50% of our tax dollars are spent on the military, that does not come close to the actual costs, and we drive ourselves (and future generations) deeper into debt.  One of the experts on Public Radio this morning was asked about funding the escalation, and as he spoke of how we will just have to find the money, he also said that we will "have to cut some luxuries."  I didn't know there were any luxuries left.  Perhaps he was referring to "luxuries" like education, health care, diplomacy and the environment.

We will NEVER "rebuild our [economic or moral] strength here at home" until the day that we spend more on true diplomacy and foreign assistance (as well as programs of social uplift here in the U.S.) than we spend on the military.



Readings for Perspective:

Afghans react to Obama troop plan, Aljazeera, December 2, 2009

Face down the militarists and get out of Afghanistan. No strings attached, Guardian.co.uk, November 17, 2009 (opinion piece from a British point of view)

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