Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Message to Obama: No, we shouldn't

If all goes as pre-reported, President Obama will announce tonight that he is recommending an increase of US troops in Afghanistan, a "surge" that supposedly will put an end to Al Qaida and the Taliban in that country. In what can only be described as a surfeit of symbolism, the announcement will be made at the US Military Academy at West Point.

If this happens, Obama will become, in effect, an accomplice after the fact in the war crimes and crimes against humanity initiated by the Cheney/Bush regime before him. And in doing so, he will have made the wrong choice in what might have been the transformational moment of his presidency. He could have turned the US away from its historical path of military interventionism and American exceptionalism. Instead, he will join the ranks of US presidents who, all else being equal, should have been tried at The Hague–that is, pretty much all of them beginning with Truman.

Some will argue that he has to do this to clean up the mess left by Cheney, Bush, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, and the rest; that to stop a forest fire, you sometimes have to light some fires. The analogy is not compelling for me. I still think that our response to 9/11 was, and continues to be, immoral as well as illegal, and I maintain that the best response would have been, should have been, one made through the courts, not by treating it as a "war" to be engaged in by armies.

Maybe Obama will surprise us, or maybe he can make us feel better about this action. But I don't think so.

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