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Barack Obama, the shooting star, flames out

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Less than a year into his presidency, President Barack Obama has, for all practical purposes, ended it. He arrived on the American political scene just like a meteor streaking across the night sky. And now, after numerous policy reversals and failures to deliver on his promises, and with his latest disastrous decision on Afghanistan, he has, just as all shooting stars do, flamed out.

In a previous article I posed the question, "President Barack Obama: a shooting star on the verge of flaming out?" And, now in what future historians will refer to as one of the biggest blunders in American history -- his ill-advised decision to add 30,000 to 35,000 more troops in Afghanistan -- we have our answer.

A shooting star is also referred to as a fallen star, and that could not be a better description of Mr. Obama's current standing in America. The Republicans, from day one, have followed an aggressive agenda to bring down his presidency. Now he is in the process of losing the support of many, many liberals, progressives and independents, who are bitterly disappointed and disillusioned. Those who tirelessly worked to get him elected now feel totally betrayed, as they should.

His main support comes from the Pentagon and the powerful military-industrial complex. The military leaders who tried mightily to force their will on President John F. Kennedy found out very quickly exactly who was in charge. But, we need to make clear that Barack Obama "is no John Kennedy", to paraphrase a famous remark made by Senator Lloyd Bentsen during the 1988 vice-presidential debates. The president is allowing our military leaders to dictate the agenda on war policy in Afghanistan.

He has now guaranteed that America will be the latest invading nation to fall into the "graveyard of empires." Many more troops will die from roadside bombs, many more innocent men, women and children will die as a result of "collateral damage." Many thousands more people will be displaced from their homes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He talks about keeping America and the world safe but his decision to add more troops has the potential to recruit tens of thousands more insurgents to the fight against America.

Those who have studied the history of warfare in Afghanistan and understand the complexity of carrying out military actions in that barren, hugely mountainous nation, against domestic insurgents who have never been defeated by an invader, knows that military victory is not achievable. The best conclusion to this misguided escalation is that, at some point when reality begins to set in, some sort of deal can be negotiated with the Taliban to finally bring the fighting to an end.

A special word about the use of Predator and Raptor drones in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. These immoral instruments of war, designed to find and destroy apparent insurgents without risking the lives of our troops, and that indiscriminately rain death upon innocent civilians, are a scar on our national identity. You know what we Americans should do? We should put ourselves in the place of an innocent Afghan family that has every right to life, just as we do, but then becomes a collateral victim of a drone attack.

The end result of this disastrous decision will adversely affect America for decades to come. Our president had a great opportunity to take this nation in a new direction, away from extremely costly wars, to shift hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into restoring our manufacturing base, repairing our damaged infrastructure, improving our education system and creating jobs, jobs, jobs. Instead he has made the fateful decision to use those billions on more bombs and bullets that fuel more death and destruction.

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To illustrate how President Obama is now being dominated by the military, remember how in his speech he made a point to talk about withdrawal from Afghanistan in mid 2011? Later, his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, when asked about that timeframe, indicated that Mr. Obama had said that withdrawal was definite, that "it's etched in stone." But that statement was quickly countermanded by Secretary Gates, National Security Adviser Jones and General Patraeus when they indicated that any withdrawal will depend upon conditions on the ground. That should make it crystal clear as to who is calling the shots involving military matters.

He gave health care reform no more than lip service and caved in to special interests and lobbyists. In the past he indicated strong support for the public option but then, as the power of the health care industry was brought down on the Congress and the White House, it became evident that he was caving in to their unrelenting influence. His leadership performance with Congress in pursuing this legislation has been so weak and uninspiring as to be non-existent.

The people of America are being devastated by unemployment, underemployment, foreclosures, and ever growing health care costs. Poverty and the use of food stamps are becoming more and more common across America. And as the nation is bleeding, our president's top economic advisers are allowing the grand masters of Wall Street to fatten their bank accounts at the expense of taxpayers; even as they continue their unscrupulous practices.

Mr. Obama doesn't seem to understand that by his actions and inactions, and by his reversals of most of his campaign promises, he is destroying his political base. One very striking example of how he is becoming alienated from his base is the growing degree of anger emanating from progressive radio and TV cable hosts. I'm starting to hear some very strong comments coming from this important media group that indicate that they are becoming very disillusioned. And when he proves to them that he has joined the Washington establishment they will turn on him.

But, then, we must understand that no one is perfect and Mr. Obama is no exception. He is an eloquent speaker with a very charismatic personality. His soaring rhetoric can inspire millions upon millions in America as well as in the world. He exudes confidence, enthusiasm and great optimism in his speeches. But, unfortunately, that's as far as it goes. Mr. Obama talks about jobs, he talks about healthcare reform, he talks about "success" in Afghanistan, he talks about closing Guantanamo, he talks about a lot of things but progress in these areas is minimal at best.

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When he goes into retirement in 2012, he would be wise not to seek employment as the CEO of a large, diversified, company driven by creativity and innovation. Positions of that nature call for in-depth management skills; the ability to organize a strong management team, to set meaningful objectives, to monitor progress and demand results. With that in mind, considering his particular set of skills, I would say that he could be a very successful VP of public relations.

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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense (more...)

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Obama was chosen a long time ago for his role as p... by Bill Cain on Thursday, Dec 10, 2009 at 9:50:34 PM