2, 2009, Volume 17 Nr. 3, Issue 255
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.