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President Barack Obama: A shooting star on the verge of flaming out?

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Like a meteor streaking through the night sky in a sudden and temporary brilliance and then vaporizing into the atmosphere, our new President Obama has streaked across the American scene; and in the span of just over four months, he may be on the verge of flaming out.

 

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Why am I, a strong supporter of Obama during his campaign, so pessimistic after slightly more than four months into his presidency? It’s simply this. Within this relatively short span of time he has seemingly been transformed from an exciting visionary into a pragmatic executor of many of the very DC practices and policies that he disdained and vowed to change.

My candidate Barack Obama sold me and millions of Americans with a seemingly sincere vow that he would bring real change to America and refuse to accept the stagnant thinking that has plagued Washington D.C. for decades. Sure, some of his agenda is happening, but on the most critical issues, he appears to be capitulating to those who have called the shots in the past – Wall St., the Pentagon, Congress and the healthcare giants.

You want to challenge my premise? Well here are some major areas in which many liberal and progressive writers, as well as I, feel that he has refused to follow through on his promises for meaningful change and reform and has, instead, embraced either the establishment’s positions or slightly altered them. You can judge for yourself.

Withdrawal from Iraq – this was one of the cornerstones of his candidacy, a seeming sincere promise to right a wrong; many millions of Americans believed in his promise. What now do we hear? Do we hear any progress report from our president or any one of his representatives as to how we are preparing to remove all military troops from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009? We are told nothing.

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But the Iraqi government, on two occasions, has issued statements to the effect that they are not receptive to extending that June 30 timeline and that our troops must leave on schedule. If they are refusing to extend the timeline that clearly means that someone –our ambassador and our military - is putting pressure on them? Sure, because I believe that this was the intention all along. Our military, now spread all over the world, wants to make Iraq just one more piece of this ever-expanding empire.

Need further evidence of these intentions? How about this? The Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey, just recently announced that U.S. troops may have to stay in Iraq and, yes, Afghanistan for the next ten years. That announcement is stunning, troubling and alarming. And yet, on this critical issue that Obama was so clear in his message of what he would do, what does he say, what do we hear from him? We hear nothing, he is completely silent and that is also very troubling and extremely alarming to say the least. Just exactly who is the commander-in-chief?

Afghanistan – Where is the mission plan and exit strategy? There isn’t any. Obama inherited this senseless war but, if you think that he is going to announce a real, substantive plan on how we will proceed and at what point we will exit Afghanistan, forget it because it is not going to happen. This is going to be another “stay the course” exercise as made famous under the Bush administration. Yet another war with no end in sight.

Obama willingly entered this latest military quagmire and now has adopted it as his own. When one thinks about the mathematical probability that the U.S. military will somehow be able to claim some sort of victory out of this cesspool, the chances of that happening are somewhere between slim and none. All the signs point to another massive disaster, much the same as when our government and our military stubbornly refused to see the distinct signs of defeat in Vietnam, continued to escalate it, and paid a terrible price for its mistake.

What about the unconscionable use of Predator and Raptor drones to rain death upon innocent civilians as we try to find those Al-Qaeda bogeymen in the mountains? The use of these drones is inhuman and unconscionable because innocent people who have never done any kind to harm any American are dying needlessly simply because they got in the way of our so-called highly-intelligent bombs that missed their mark. As a loyal American, I totally reject and divorce myself from these military actions that I find completely offensive to mankind. Why is Obama not troubled about this moral issue?

What he could easily do is to put into effect a moratorium on the use of drones and have this entire issue studied in detail to determine if and how they should be used. While I know that the military just loves this latest creation designed to save the lives of troops it is becoming one more symbol of the indiscriminate use of the American military power that greatly increases the recruitment of insurgency forces. But Mr. Obama apparently has no time or inclination for a moratorium. 

How can Obama and his economic dream team not clearly understand that continuing to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into the cesspools of Iraq and Afghanistan year after year is bringing America to the brink of national solvency? How can they not understand that their actions and policies relating to unending wars is destroying the nation’s financial foundation, as well as whatever moral foundation is now left in American society?

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And now to the huge moral issue of torture. President Obama knows it wrong and has said our nation will not use it. That’s all well and good, but then he conveniently puts this issue into a box and tries to store it in some White House closet, out of sight, out of mind, the worst thing he could possibly do.

I do not see how this issue can just go away for it is so critical to America’s ability to clearly understand the difference between right and wrong. Mr. Obama cannot simply announce that he must concentrate on looking forward and not waste time on things that happened in the past. This is an issue that is not going to go away and he will have to face it one way or another. The longer that it stays in limbo the more it will fester and silently eat away at our nation’s moral foundation. If he, as the leader of this nation fails to act in this matter, he will find that it will someday come back to haunt him for what he could have done and did not have the moral courage to do.

The answer to this apparent predicament is not the least bit complicated. Our president does not need to throw himself into the middle of the fray, orchestrate some kind of investigation, and expose the Bush administration for what it actually did (allegedly). All he need do is to make it known to his Attorney General, Eric Holder, and selected Democratic leaders in Congress that this is a matter of great importance to our standing in the world and, as such, some type of bipartisan commission needs to be formed. No more, no less and then he can go on with addressing the many problems the U.S. faces while others conduct a proper investigation. Why won’t he even do that?

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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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