We progressives had the opportunity to stop the treachery. We decided the means to do this were signs with snazzy slogans paraded on the sidewalk, and turgid rhetoric imbedded in letters that were rejected by the corporate press, or in articles accepted by organs that we alone read,such amounting to preaching to the choir.
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Among the choices for citizen opposition to endless war and a pregnantly repressive government, the notion of massive passive and stubborn presence upon the steps of power was rejected as inconvenient, uncomfortable, risky,too much to expect. More slogans, signs and letters were the answer; after all, be reasonable!
So we hedged our risk and picketed without serious confrontation. Well, yes, there was something in Seattle a while back, but that was quickly put down by police action and largely forgotten by any who did not actually have his head bashed in on site. And there was the police action, actually hired outside uniformed thugs, who attacked the kids in Pittsburgh, but that also was put behind us immediately the plans for the next week's signage on the public square were upon us.
Of course, yes, some have not forgotten Seattle, Pittsburgh and the like, but so what? Their impact on change was zero, or actually counter-productive since the outcomes simply served to reinforce our masters' persuasion that the people and their notions could be beat down by police action, and the "authorities"were thus actually encouraged that they had found the key to citizen repression.
And it seems they indeed have! And lest we forget, there is now an army combat team returned from Iraq, now stationed in Pennsylvania, with the novel commission to deal with "civil unrest" in the "Homeland." (Deja vu -- The Soviet Union of the 1920's, and Germany of the 1930's.)
We thought we had a constitutional remedy in 2006, and we voted for the "opposition" to the incumbent enemies of peace and trashers of our Bill of Rights, giving the Democrats majorities in both houses of Congress. Nothing changed; the war in the Middle East and the erosion of our civilliberties marched on. We thought we had another constitutional remedy in 2008, and voted in an "opposition" president, a Democrat who campaigned under the mantra of "Change!" But again nothing changes; the war rages on, is in fact expanded into Pakistan, and the unconstitutional presidential powers have been renewed.
Now the generals openly demand -- or perhaps more often disguise theirpassions by means of strategic "leaks" or off-the-cuff remarks that appear in newspaper headlines across the land -- an immediate need for more troops (40,000 to 80,000 additional) in Afghanistan, and that the lack of such would surely result in losing the "war on terror." This does in fact have the desired effect on a large part of the electorate who still do not grasp that much of what was America has already been lost, not to foreign powers, not to Muslim extremists, not to "terrorists," but by ourselves in actions by our own government. Pogo would be perhaps depressed but deserves to be proud of his prescience.
Where does this now leave us, beset as we are by a command decision that only one person must make? That person being the only ONE person that ALL adult American citizens can vote for, that ONE and ONLY person who can command that the war continue, that ONE and ONLYperson who can command that the war stop today!
Apparently that one person (shades of Hamlet) now walks the nighthalls of the White House (Elsinore Castle) fraught by "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them."
Be advised, Mr. President, Mr. Commander-in-Chief: your generals, your citizens, humanity and history await your decision. It is time for you to earn your pay, the votes you were accorded,and your place in history or in the annuls of infamy. The citizens having refused the massive passive initiative for peace and decent governance, and with the military-industrial complex pressing for endless war and domestic repression, you are alone in this. Everyone else has dodged the discomforts, risks and responsibility. It is now your time, the time for you to do the right thing.
The current media leak is that President Obama will try to buy off his generals with half a loaf, that is a "modest" increase of 30,000 to 40,000 troops to Afghanistan rather than the higher recommendation of 80,000. Surely a person smart enough to gain the presidency knows that the half loaf will inevitably be succeeded by another request under similar circumstances, then another, and another, as in the sad
precedent of the Vietnam misadventure. But the alternative to his refusal? Some say there would be a mass resignation of the officer corps. Others indeed suggest perhaps a military coup.
Such ill-disguised threats should pose no barrier -- the Bush treachery notwithstanding -- to the one person the voters chose to lead them with integrity, courage, intelligence and goodwill. Perceptive and decent citizens will expect nothing short of a decision on the track to peace and the recovery of constitutionality, that is a decision to do the right thing.
Can you live up to that expectation, President Obama, Mr. Commander-in-Chief?
Or have events already trespassed upon your capacity to do so?
Is it later than we think?