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December 2, 2009, Volume 17 Nr. 3, Issue 255
    
Obama's Afghanistan's Speech
Statement in Response

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

The time for debate on the merits of the war in Afghanistan is past.  The war has been debated for the last seven years and has been shown to be without merit from the standpoint of American security and national interest.

By the time of the 2008 election, only 11 months ago, Mr. Obama seemed to have accepted the war's futility even though he assured us that mission completion is "at hand".  The president himself told the American public and the world in a national broadcast on December 1, 2009: Let me tell you this on Afghanistan -- when I tell you that I am completely confident that we are going to complete the mission, you can bank on it.  On election eve, November 3, 2008, candidate Obama assured the American people, that despite remaining "details": I can say to you with complete confidence tonight that we will with additional troops soon complete the mission and bring this long and difficult war to an end.  Once again Mr. Obama has betrayed the promise of peace, just as he betrayed it after his election in November 2008.

Owing to the secretiveness of the Administration, we do not know exactly what went wrong between candidate Obama and his campaign and Obama the president.  But by available evidence the President, after the election, shed his progressive faux persona, and acted upon exactly what he said he would do though those who embraced "Change we can count on" refused to see it.  Further supporting the corrupt Karzai government would require Obama to abandon the indigenous Afghani people.  That indeed is what the war is all about.  That and the pipeline.  

In order to compel the enemy in Afghanistan to acquiesce, Mr. Obama has launched a troop surge of many tens of thousands of U.S. forces.  In so doing, he will take the lives hundreds, more likely thousands, of Afghani civilians, and create many new American prisoners-of-war, while our men and women lose their limbs and their sanity at a prodigal rate.  Obama has urged the Congress to remain silent, uncomplaining and has urged the support of the American people.

The time for debate -- and for delay -- is past.  The administration promised an end to the war and is failing to produce it.  It is the responsibility of Congress to end the war to take immediate action by cutting off funds for its prosecution.  It is Congress's responsibility to deliver on the electoral promise which Mr. Obama seems now, to be betraying.  That, indeed is the consensus of the majority of the people in the United States.  If that does not happen by the State of the Union 2010, it will then become the people's duty to employ Constitutional means processes to bring the war to an immediate end.

Congress has the authority and the responsibility to bring the war to an end.  At the same time that the American people gave the President a decisive mandate for ending the war in Afghanistan along the lines that he promised it, they also gave a decisive vote of confidence to the Democratic Party in Congress and in the state houses.  The Democratic majority has been increased in the Senate, indicating the people's intent and expectation that Congress will exercise its constitutional authority with energy and independence.  

The matter in any case is not partisan.  The opposition to the war was initiated eight years ago by an appallingly too few Democratic Congressmen and Senators against a Republican Administration.  Unfortunately, many Republicans have actively accepted their own Administration's policy of continuing the war.  Now, more than ever, it is the responsibility of members of both parties in Congress to use the legislature's power to cut off funds and end the war in Afghanistan.

I believe that Congress can and should act decisively and immediately.  Congress should proceed on an urgent basis to consider legislation to regulate the practice of so-called "executive privilege".  Congress and the American people not only have the right, but the responsibility to call their leaders to explain -- if they can -- justify in public these extraordinary "privileges". 

But beyond the regulation of "executive privilege," and most urgent and important of all, Congress can and should proceed, through its appropriations power, to bring the war to an immediate end.  Should it fail to do so, we may have to wait for the election of 2012 before the war can be ended.  By that time, Mr. Obama's terror bombing could well have destroyed any semblance of sympathy for the United States while also inflicting incalculable injury upon our own society and institutions.

Mr. Obama has shown himself to be psychologically incapable for the task of restoring peace.  An agreement with the Karzai government is barely given a reasonable chance for survival.  But a "reasonable chance" is apparently not enough for President Karzai -- or for President Obama.  They now insist upon a guarantee of the Kabul regime's predominance -- a predominance they have not been able to establish even with the help of an army of tens of thousands of Americans, or with the pulverizing power of Mr. Obama's fleet of bombers and drones.

We are all products of our experience and Mr. Obama is no exception.  After over two-hundred years of fighting wars and enemies, real and imaginary, at home and abroad, Mr. Obama has shown himself at the critical moment unwilling to settle for a :"reasonable chance" of ending the war now.  He still wants the victory and the submission of the enemy that have eluded two presidents for eight years.  His prejudices, and perhaps the background in which these were framed, seem to have incapacitated the President for withdrawing the troops and ending the war.

The President's incapacity has now thrust the responsibility upon the shoulders of a Congress which has long struggled to escape it.  But the responsibility is now inescapable.  It is up to Congress to bring about a peace where the Afghani people can determine their own future without, once again, the intervention of the Cops of the World.  

Power and responsibility go together.  If Congress legislates an end to the war leaving Mr. Karzai no more than a "reasonable chance" for survival, Congress, and not the President, will be accountable for the consequences of such a settlement.  If Afghanistan then went rogue, it would not be Mr. Obama's fault; it would not be his "defeat and humiliation."  But if, as I believe, America should find itself freer, stronger and happier in peace than it has been in a decade, regardless of the final result in Afghanistan, that too would go on Congress' account and not on the account of the incapacitated President.

For many many decades American Presidents have made wars as they saw fit because Congress seemed incapable of asserting its constitutional war power.  Now, in an iconic twist of events, the President seems incapable of ending the war immediately and it is up to Congress to fill the void. And if that fails, it is up to the American people to do so.  It is a considerable responsibility, but it cannot be avoided. If Congress does not now accept responsibility for ending the war, then it must share in full measure with Mr. Obama the responsibility for perpetuating it.   If the American people do not now accept the responsibility for forcing Congress to end the war, then they must share in full measure with Mr. Obama and Congress the responsibility for perpetuating it.

[The above is a parody of a statement by U.S. Senate by Senator J.W. Fulbright made on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Thursday, January 4, 1973 regarding the then surging Vietnam War.  The names of the war, the principal players and the circumstances have been changed to reflect the times.  It's Obama's war now.]

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

  -- George Santayana

2009 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski is co-editor and co-publisher of Metaphoria along with his life partner and wife, JeanneE. He is 30-year veteran retired teacher and a member of Veterans For Peace. His writings have appeared in Metaphoria, Dissident Voice, After Downing Street, Buzzflash, Counterpunch, Thomas Paine's Corner, Omni Center, Rutland Herald, Times Argus, and others. 

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