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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/7/12

How Do You Ask a Thing to Be the Last Mistake in a John Kerry Speech?

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"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" The answer is, of course: heartlessly, callously, sociopathically, from a state of denial and chosen blindness. The answer is fundamentally the same as what would allow John Kerry to give the speech he gave at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Kerry is, of course, the same loser who eight years ago wanted to be elected on the strength of not being George W. Bush but who said he would have voted for the war on Iraq even if he had mustered up the few brain cells necessary to realize there were no weapons of mass destruction there. Kerry just would have fought the war "effectively," he said.

Now Kerry says this:

"In this campaign, we have a fundamental choice. Will we protect our country and our allies, advance our interests and ideals, do battle where we must and make peace where we can? Or will we entrust our place in the world to someone who just hasn't learned the lessons of the last decade?"

Oh, but can't we do both?

"We've all learned Mitt Romney doesn't know much about foreign policy. But he has all these 'neocon advisors' who know all the wrong things about foreign policy. He would rely on them--after all, he's the great outsourcer. But I say to you: This is not the time to outsource the job of commander in chief."

Ah, but Congress has outsourced war decisions to the president. Kerry was going to end the war on Iraq in 2005 as president, but as senator took no serious steps to do so. Now he's ready to leave war making to another president, he just hopes it's a Democrat. The RNC, after all, is unlikely to invite Kerry to give speeches on teevee.

"Our opponents like to talk about 'American exceptionalism,' but all they do is talk. They forget that we are exceptional not because we say we are, but because we do exceptional things. We break out of the Great Depression, win two world wars, save lives fighting AIDS, pull people out of poverty, defend freedom, go to the moon -- and produce exceptional people who even give their lives for civil rights and human rights."

That's exceptional? The other 95% of humanity doesn't produce people who give their lives for civil rights and human rights? Tunisians and Egyptians and Bahrainis don't take major nonviolent steps while the best we can manage is a few close losses in elections in Wisconsin? The many nations with lower poverty rates than our nation, despite our greater wealth, haven't pulled anyone out of poverty? The many nations giving to humanitarian causes at higher rates than our own have not saved lives or fought AIDS? The Soviets didn't win World War II? We didn't create as well as survive the Great Depression? Don't your "opponents," Senator Kerry, similarly dismiss 95% of humanity? What, pray tell, is the difference?

"Despite what you heard in Tampa, an exceptional country does care about the rise of the oceans and the future of the planet. That is a responsibility from the Scriptures--and that too is a responsibility of the leader of the free world. The only thing exceptional about today's Republicans is that--almost without exception--they oppose everything that has made America exceptional in the first place. An exceptional nation demands the leadership of an exceptional president. And, my fellow Americans, that president is Barack Obama."

So the country that has been blocking global agreements on climate change is exceptional because it cares about these crimes? And it cares because, as a secular democracy with freedom of thought and separation of church and state, an ancient holy book tells it to? The same humanityforsaken holy book that the other team claims says the opposite? Are you really going to try to outdo Republicans in both religiousity and arrogant nationalism? To coin a phrase, America deserves better.

"Just measure the disarray and disaster he inherited. A war of choice in Iraq had become a war without end, and a war of necessity in Afghanistan had become a war of neglect. Our alliances were shredded. Our moral authority was in tatters. America was isolated in the world. Our military was stretched to the breaking point. Iran was marching unchecked towards a nuclear weapon. And Osama bin Laden was still plotting."

It was necessary to bomb and occupy Afghanistan? The world didn't think so. The United Nations didn't think so. The Kellogg Briand Pact, UN Charter, and US Constitution forbid it. The bin Laden excuse doesn't hold enough water to torture a child. The Taliban was willing to hand him over to a third country to be tried. You know what a third country is, right? Part of that 95% of unexceptional riffraff on earth. You understand now why it matters whether you dismiss them or not? Iran was marching toward a nuclear weapon? Based on what? A bad dream you had about John Edwards' millworking father? Did you know his daddy worked in a mill? Do you want a new war with Iran? Is it necessary? Your party's platform says that if Iran does not stop violating the NPT (which it is not violating, although we are and Israel's not even a party to it) we'll attack Iran. Do you know about that? Did you write it?

"It took President Obama to make America lead like America again. It took President Obama to restore our moral authority -- and to ban torture. This president understands that our values do not limit our power -- they magnify it. He showed that global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, not a favor we do for other countries."

Our laws, made by our legislature, banned torture before Bush Jr. moved to the White House. Obama instructed the Attorney General not to enforce those laws. Obama's top officials told the Congress and the media that he maintained the right to torture as needed. He has continued to torture, and to hold people without trial, and to murder people. This is moral authority?

"And President Obama kept his promises. He promised to end the war in Iraq -- and he ha -- and our heroes have come home. He promised to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly -- and he is -- and our heroes there are coming home. He promised to focus like a laser on al-Qaeda -- and he has -- our forces have eliminated more of its leadership in the last three years than in all the eight years that came before. And after more than ten years without justice for thousands of Americans murdered on 9/11, after Mitt Romney said it would be 'naïve' to go into Pakistan to pursue the terrorists, it took President Obama, against the advice of many, to give that order to finally rid this earth of Osama bin Laden. Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago."

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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