Those of us who marched against the Iraq war and the tyrannies of the Rove/Cheney/Bush administration hoped we saw the dawning of the Age of Aquarius in the election of a non-wasp community organizer. In President Obama's speech last night to unveil his plan to re-invade Afghanistan, many of those same folks will believe that the sun has already set on that golden dawn.
Are they right?
Thinking of the young patriots who will be asked to redeploy for the second, third or fourth time causes me great pain. And the thousands of Afghani and Pakistani people who will be displaced, maimed or killed will leave a deep mark on the soul of America. I abhor war, but as a veteran I recognize the value and even the dark beauty of a populace willing to place their lives on the line in what they believe is an effort to protect their loved ones and their country. Also as a veteran, I deplore the fact that this nation's people are not deeply enough involved in its workings to support a draft that could not only lift the burden of redeployments from our now mercenary army, but could also stand up and say no to such horrifically wrong deployments as that in Iraq. But while working to change the way things are, we must also work with the situation that exists, and that situation includes the botched mess we face in Afghanistan.
On balance, I think Mr. Obama's assessment of the situation may be correct, and that the infusion of a sufficient force to lead the Afghanistan and Pakistan forces in locating and destroying the central operations of Al Qaida and those Taliban who choose to seek power through force may be an effective means of temporarily quieting those dangerous elements.
The great hope among the war protestors who voted for Obama was that he would call a halt to America's warrior mentality and imperialistic approach to international relations. We recognize that the reason America is disliked around the world is our history of deposing national leaders whose economic ideals were antithetical to ours and the use of our military to guard and grow our economic interests. We've seen it from the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 to our failure to support Honduran President Zelaya this year.
Still, the only thing that did not ring true for me in Mr. Obama's speech last night was his denunciation of the world's belief that America seeks power over global resources. He was right in declaring that we do not seek to colonize. We gave that up soon after we shook off the shackles of being a colony ourselves, but he is dead wrong if he truly believes that America is not imperialistic. Our brand of imperialism is much more subtle and insidious than expansion through acquisition by means of war, but the world recognizes our history as economic imperialism enhanced by military might.