I’ve been away from the news for a few days. Feels unnatural. I’m catching up now. I’m learning of Pres. Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. I wish President Obama was a different kind of president. I really do.
I am angry that I’m being reminded of why I didn’t want Obama to run for office in the first place, in my pre-Iowa days. I didn’t want him to be the kind of person who actually desired to preside over this mess….not this. By default, such a desire meant that Barack Obama was one of them.
I am who Obama often talks about. He would call me a cynic. I disagree. I am simply analytical and my lens is different. For example, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind when I contemplate the Office of the Presidency for these United States (and the foreign policy that comes from that lineage) is that that office is drenched in blood. Entire countries all over the world have been economically under-developed in the name “spreading democracy.” A few flips through Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” will substantiate that. Yet in after-dinner addresses to American audiences, presidents often attempt to persuade people that wars are fought in order to spread democracy, secure the safety of our children, and to make the world a better place for generations to come. Presidents talk about global friendships, mutual interests, and opening markets so that the world can prosper together. Last night, President Obama talked about all this and more. And the more he talked, the more he affirmed his commitment to imperialism.
Obama’s imperialism is way smooth, though. A student of history, a master of language, with charm to boot, our president propped up the opposing arguments and attempted to cut off the peace-makers’ charge at the gate. He said, quite emphatically “We have no interest in occupying your [the Afghans’] country…And we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect…[and we will] forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron.”
Very excellent speech writing, though not believable. The United States prides itself on being the center of the world and everybody’s “Big Poppa.” That’s not going to reverse itself simply.
And the President refuses to believe, he said, that we can not get re-united around Afghanistan. It is where Osama Bin Laden planned the attacks against us in 2001. Now is the time for us to remember that, he charged. But in listening to the troop surge speech, I am reminded of how non-essential Osama Bin Laden actually seems in this entire equation. Despite his statements, even my elementary study of history says that the war in Afghanistan is more about nation-building and 21st century chest thumping than anything else.
In eleven months, President Obama can not revolutionize the Office of the Presidency. I’m not convinced – no matter how powerful my emotions are around having the first Black president, a superwoman as the First Lady, their adorable children, and the pitch-Black dog named Bo – that the 44th president is, all of a sudden, not beholden to the insatiable imperialist forces that uniquely define American foreign policy.
What we have gained in the historic election of President Obama is a never-been-seen-before change in the guard, not a dismantling of the foundation. And I say this with great sensitivity to the fact that the gig is still new. I got it and I respect that greatly. Doesn’t mean he couldn’t opt out of Afghanistan, though. I believe our president when he said he didn’t come to this decision lightly. I just think that Afghanistan is the impossible victory all over again.