Saturday, March 28, 2009

Obama Announces Stepped-up War in Afghanistan

So many issues are raised by this week's announcement by Obama. One is whether he is falling into the same trap which imprisoned George W. Bush and made Bush unable to envision any sort of response to 9/11 other than another "war". MSNBC last night showed Bush and Obama side-by-side making statements, and they were eerily similar. Statements like we will settle for nothing less than "victory" over Al Qaeda.

It is unclear just what is meant by "victory" in this context. Surely any true victory means winning over the hearts and minds of the people, as this is the only thing which will alleviate the terrorism threat. But just as surely, this does not come through military means, but rather through being a good friend and neighbor.

Ths is what makes Dick Cheney's recent statement that Obama is making us less safe so despicable. Surely Bush made us less safe by demonizing the Muslim world and thereby creating more hatred and potential terrorists. Surely the torture and other atrocities (Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib) created more terroristic threats than they alleviated.

Obama understands that we must build bridges of friendship to other people, and only in this way will we be able to make this a safer world. By attempting to do this, Obama is making us safer, while Bush's policies did the opposite. Cheney, go away and leave us alone! You have done enough damage during your 8-year debacle of a reign.

And surely it is time to put away for good this business of using "war" as a metaphor for every endeavor we are engaged in. To me this started when LBJ announced his so-called "war on poverty" in the '60's. Then we had the "war on drugs". Now we have the "war on terrorism", sometimes doubly misnomered as the "war on terror". These things are not wars, and we should stop using this metaphor for them. They are policy initiatives designed to make this a better world. The sooner we look at it in this more mature way, the sooner we will be able to think more clearly about things like poverty, drugs, terrorism, and any other problems which might come along.

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