An Appeal to Barack Obama - Page 2

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But you carefully decline to say whether you would support bombing Iran when and if the time comes.

This caution has a history:

- you were against the war in 2002 because it was a "dumb war",
but you had to point out that you were not against all wars, without
exactly saying what wars you favored;

- then you visited Iraq for 36 hours and "could only marvel at
the ability of our government to essentially erect entire cities
within hostile territory";

- then as the quagmire deepened, you cloaked yourself in the
bipartisan mantle of the Baker-Hamilton Study Group, which advocated
leaving thousands of American troops in Iraq to fight terrorism, train
the Iraqis until they "stand up", and sundry other tasks of
occupation;

Perhaps your national security advisers are getting to you when it should be the other way around. Their expertise is not in the politics of primaries. If anything, they reject the of populist peace pressure influencing elite national security decisions. The result is a frustration towards all the Democratic candidates for what the Center for American Progress has recently called "strategic drift." The political result is the danger of returning to John Kerry's muffled message in 2004. The policy result may be a total security disaster for our country, draining our young soldiers' blood and everyone's taxes on the continuing degradation of our national honor in a war which cannot be won.

Just for the record, let me tell you my position on Iraq. I think the only alternative is to begin a global diplomatic peace offensive starting with a commitment to withdraw all our troops as rapidly as possible. That is the only way to engage the world, including the Iraqi factions, in doing something about containing the crises of refugees, reconciliation and reconstruction. It means negotiating with Iran rather than escautf8g to a broader war. If you want to "turn a new page", it should not be about leaving the Sixties behind. It will be about leaving behind the superpower fantasies of both the neo-conservatives and your humanitarian hawks. And yes, it is to be "suspicious", as Eisenhower and John Kennedy came to be suspicious, of the advice of any Wise Men or security experts who advocated the military occupation of Iraq. Is that position as extreme as your rhetoric assumes?

Your problem, if I may say so out loud, and with all respect, is that the deepest rationale for your running for president is the one that you dare not mention very much, which is that you are an African-American with the possibility of becoming president. The quiet implication of your centrism is that all races can live beyond the present divisions, in the higher reality above the dualities. You may be right. You see the problems Hillary Clinton encounters every time she implies that she wants to shatter all those glass ceilings and empower a woman, a product of the feminist movement, to be president? Same problem. So here's my question: how can you say let's "turn the page" and leave all those Sixties' quarrels behind us if we dare not talk freely in public places about a black man or a woman being president? Doesn't that reveal that on some very deep level that we are not yet ready to "turn the page"?

When you think about it, these should be wonderful choices, not forbidden topics. John Edwards can't be left out either, for his dramatic and, once again, unstated role as yet another reformed white male southerner seeking America's acceptance, like Carter, Clinton and Gore before him. Or Bill Richardson trying to surface the long-neglected national issues of Latinos.

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