Meet the Press highlights from President-elect Obama's appearance on Sunday ranged from "Obama won't smoke in the White House" to "Obama warns economy will get even worse" to my favorite, Obama says there will be science lectures in the White House. That would be fantastic and a real change from the science-phobic President Bush. In fact, some of my personal hopes for Obama involve his approach to climate change and science. I don't have a lot of hope that he will be unbiased about Palestine or Afghanistan because his own words show his agenda supports fighting a so-called "War on Terror" as defined by the "West" -- which somehow includes Israel. Unfortunately, the "War on Terror" is a mythological beast. It's like a war on bad dreams.
The most disturbing statements that Obama made during the Meet the Press Interview (transcript here) are about continuing the war in the "region" of Afghanistan. It seems as though he is trying to make us believe that al Qaeda is in Afghanistan, and therefore, we still have to keep fighting in Afghanistan. That sounds good to people who aren't paying attention, in large part because this is what Obama has been saying his whole campaign. The following is what he said during Meet the Press.
"The second thing is that we need a strategic partnership with all the parties in the region--Pakistan and India and the Afghan government--to stamp out the kind of militant, violent, terrorist extremists that have set up base camps and that are operating in ways that threaten the security of everybody in the international community. And, as I've said before, we can't continue to look at Afghanistan in isolation. We have to see it as a part of a regional problem that includes Pakistan, includes India, includes Kashmir, includes Iran. And part of the kind of foreign policy I want to shape is one in which we have tough, direct diplomacy combined with more effective military operations, focused on what is the number one threat against U.S. interests and U.S. lives. And that's al-Qaeda and, and, and their various affiliates, and we are going to go after them fiercely in the years to come."
There are a few disturbing things in that paragraph. The first is the leading us to believe that al Qaeda is all over Afghanistan. According to Professor Juan Cole of the Informed Comment website, there is no Al Qaeda in Afganistan. There is the Taliban, but the Taliban didn't attack us. Depending on who you ask, the Taliban may be, or may not be, a terrorist group. At one point they reportedly joined forces with Al Qaeda, but it appears those days are long over. Would we Americans be a terrorist group if we tried to fight invaders to get them to leave our country? Would it be similar, if not the same? Regardless, the Taliban did not attack the U.S. and we seem to be fighting them in order to impose "freedom" on the civilians there, including the ones we are still bombing.
The Taliban members are called "insurgents" only because we are fighting them, and we are only fighting them because they want us, the occupiers, out of their country. Like I've said before, I still don't understand what we're doing in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai wants us out. We have no business imposing our form of government on anyone, especially since it's based on an economic system that is causing terrible financial problems in the entire world right now. "Freedom" to the Bush administration equals unregulated capitalism. It has, and had, nothing to do with civil rights or the Constitutuion, or actual "freedom", all of which Bush and his cohorts have frequently and happily crapped on.
Juan Cole wrote:
"Obama, who is retaining Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, said he would give him a new mission, of getting out of Iraq and combatting the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. (I don't think there is any al-Qaeda in Afghanistan; at least, no captures there have been announced to my knowledge since 2002)."
So . . . . . if there are no al Qaeda in Afganistan, and we are only fighting the locals now, it stands to reason that will change when Obama actually becomes president, because as a policy, that makes no sense. Can we presume a new policy means we will be fighting al Qaeda where they actually are -- in the mountains on the north edge of Pakistan? In Pakistan? In India? Keep in mind, he mentioned all these countries, and in the two where al Qaeda probably lurks, there are also quite a few nuclear weapons. This is not a good mix.
Obama also said, "We are going to go after them fiercely in the years to come." Years to come. It is unacceptable to me and many other peace-loving people that we will be at war in that "region" for years to come. These wars have to end and they have to end soon.
I don't know if this will make any difference, but it's worth a try: There is a website besides change.gov where you can weigh in on what you want Obama to do on "Day One". You can vote on the ideas that have been proposed already, many of which are very hard to choose between because they are nearly the same. President Obama may or may not see these answers but it's fun to pretend we have a say in things anyway. Vote here on: On/Day/1.
It is a "Contest of Ideas" I wish I'd known about a month ago, because I would have certainly submitted different ideas than I see there, but some of them are close enough.
Hopefully I'm misinterpreting everything Obama is saying about the "War on Terror". Obama also said we need to fight militarily in the region, and do it more strongly, so I doubt we are misinterpreting anything. The rest of the world's leaders are not too eager to stop these wars either. After all, we are having an economic crisis, and there is nothing for an economic crisis (so goes the conventional wisdom) like a long war. Except in this case, these wars will bankrupt us instead of helping the economy. The time to pressure the new administration to listen to the peace movement is now.
Cross-posted at Civilianism