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Message John Pagoda
Nearly three weeks ago, I realized that I couldn't listen to President Obama's speech at West Point when he was scheduled to announce his Afghanistan strategy, because I was already experiencing a serious episode of profound disappointment with a government that claimed a moral high ground which did not exist. Besides, during the campaign of change Sen. Obama did say it was "the right war," thereby implying his continued support of this occupation.

I risked total synapse collapse if I tempted to tune in to a foregone conclusion. Anything short of President Obama claiming that he was pulling all our forces out of Afghanistan, out of Iraq ,and out of most of the other hundred or more countries where U.S. forces are stationed, would have pushed me over the edge and into the abyss.

Upon further reflection ,and given the observation of Socrates that an unexamined life isn't worth living,I suppose I just didn't have what it takes to experience the hypocrisy spoken by the voice of change that I remembered from just last year claiming to challenge and end the "politics as usual in Washington," but that same voice is that of just another politician whose "politics as usual" rhetoric reveals an attachment to that which is ignorant of the fact that violence begets violence. The disappointment would have been devastating. Violence never produces peace; it results only in more violence.

Ten days later President Obama would provide the absurdity missing from my state of disappointment by accepting the Nobel Prize for peace while claiming a justification for his Afghanistan policy. There is indeed something interesting about the relationship between the winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace accepting the award by speaking about "a just war" and using our military presence, i.e. our military "occupation" in Afghanistan, as an example of that "just war."

My understanding is that the concept of "a just war" is influenced by Roman philosophy and the Catholic Church. According to the cruelty of Roman Rule toward those who weren't Roman and the Church that tortured those who didn't believe as determined by the Inquisition, have the following criteria meet their definition of "a just war?"

1 - the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

2 - all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

3 - there must be serious prospects of success; and

4 - the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

While we can certainly rationalize the existence of meeting the first two criteria, we seem to dismiss the other two and seem content to talk about "a just war" as defined by these barbaric and ignorant institutions taking place in Afghanistan while conveniently ignoring the fact that these very same criteria were not met when we invaded Iraq.

I prefer Murray Rothbard's explanation that "a just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them."

Afghanistan is not "a just war." Indeed by Rothbard's definition it seems like we're perpetuating another "unjust war." An extension of Bush's "unjust war" in Iraq based on outright lies and deceit. At least he had a self serving pretext already written in the Project for a New American Century to invade Afghanistan.

At the end of the day I just couldn't listen to a shameful speech of betrayal by the person I thought represented change, telling the world about "a just war" without acknowledging that we were accepting our responsibility for conducting an "unjust war" by holding those accountable for committing that "unjust war" in Iraq.

Indeed, in this Alice in Wonderland country we have war criminals and their progeny going on public television chastising President Obama for projecting weakness as if daring this President to let the Justice Dept pursue the crimes of a five time draft dodger.

That wasn't the "change" I thought Obama represented. I could no longer endure the disappointment that President Obama generated by practicing the "politics as usual" when responding to violence with more violence and expecting peace to occur. As Kafka once observed "there is hope but not for us" certainly not when we ignore the history of past foreign invasions and attempted occupations of Afghanistan by claiming ours is "a just war".
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