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A U.S. President and a Nation Standing at the Crossroads of History

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crossroads by cbsartcollections.com

You may have seen those warnings about the world coming to an end in December, 2012, based on supposed ancient Mayan predictions. I'd say that we won't see that happen but I strongly believe that the year 2012 will be a pivotal time in this nation's history; quite possibly our last chance to turn America in a radically different direction before we fall into an irreversible downward spiral. 

For President Obama this will also be the pivotal point in his presidency. 

Given the tenuous state of this nation and the fragile, eroding economy, the decisions he makes this year with regard to the continuation of America's wars and occupations of foreign nations as opposed to addressing this nation's critical domestic needs, can be considered to be among the most important in our history. 

How many times has a U.S. president been given such a brilliant opportunity to change the course of this nation's history? When Osama Bin Laden was "taken out," it opened the door for this president to alter the course of America's destiny. The military operation that ended with the death of Osama, whether one agrees with the specific methods used or not, has reaffirmed that effective intelligence and surgical strikes made against suspected terrorists by special forces is the most effective way to deal with terrorism in the future; that the deployment of more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, with the monumental costs involved, is now a faulted strategy and without merit. 

How many times must someone be told that they are heading in the wrong direction? How many times will this government and our presidents keep doing the same things, over and over again and expecting different results? Pursuing the same needless wars year after year -- that's one of the definitions of insanity. 

As this president and this nation stand at this crossroads they are, of course, looking down two distinctly separate paths, going in completely opposite directions. Which direction will be taken? We can continue on the current road that is fraught with great danger; or we can take a new road that will take us down a new, positive direction. 

Let's think about what we will find on each road, starting with the one that calls for troop withdrawals. 

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Afghanistan Scheduled Troop Withdrawal

To go down this new road, the president must stand by his previous decisions and begin a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning on July 31, 2011 and then continue it until all of them have been brought home. It is imperative that he does this and that he rejects the intense pressures of the military to extend the presence of American troops. We do not want to hear of a token withdrawal of some 5,000 troops, such as that which is already being rumored.

Iraq Scheduled Troop Withdrawal

He must honor and follow through on the December 31, 2011 deadline to remove all troops from Iraq in line with the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFI. He must bring these troops home and turn his attention to making the restoration of America's domestic foundations this nation's greatest priority. But, as this date approaches, the militants within the government are already pressuring the Iraqi government to extend the stay of the U.S. troops. Mr. Obama must honor the SOFI and stifle the hawks of war. 

Now let's analyze the other choice that will keep America on the same misguided road and direction we have been taking:

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If President Obama dares to take this new direction, he will be challenged by the Pentagon and the generals who will put immense, unrelenting pressure on him to try to force him to back off of these scheduled withdrawals. He must resist all these attempts to deter him from the actions that are in the best interests of the American people. The agents of war embedded in the Pentagon, the military and the defense industry feed on these wars; it is what they do, and they will not give up without a massive fight. 

But this second negative scenario can be entirely averted. Now is the time for President Obama to walk away from war and stabilize the foundations of America. We now know for certain that our special forces can deal with the terrorist threats in effective ways that do not call for huge invasions and occupations. We also know that the foundations of America are crumbling and they must be restored to make our nation once again strong and competitive in the world. He can solve two problems with one decision. 

Let's put it this way. Could there be a better time for America to disengage itself from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan than under the present conditions? This president should take this opportunity to come before the American people to tell them that, with the death of Bin Laden, it is time to bring the troops home, that we will still maintain strategic bases in key regions of the world and that there will be no lessening of the safety and security of the American people. 

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)
 

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