Editor’s note: The following guest column is in response to President Barack Obama’s Dec. 1 address to the nation with regard to “the way forward” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama pledged to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan in the first part of 2010.
By Dan Kenney
Tonight should go down in history as the night when America truly turned the final corner down the path to its own destruction. What had been Bush’s war is now Obama’s war; what had been Bush’s lies have now become Obama’s lies. There is no longer any doubt that the president does not speak for the majority of Americans even when he has been elected by the majority. Tonight, President Obama took the few shreds of remaining hopes that may have still existed in the hearts of those who worked for his election, and dashed them once and for all against the rocky sides of Afghanistan’s mountains.
For me, tomorrow will dawn on a national day of mourning. Clocks will stand still, no birds will sing, clouds will hang heavy and low over all the land. Once again, we have been told lies as if they were truths. One more time, thousands will have their lives put on the road of death for the wrong reasons. Will we ever stand up and say enough is enough?; no longer will we sacrifice so many for the benefit of so few.
President Obama is trying to veil his troop increase under the declaration of the end to the war in 2011. Can we as a people really be deceived by such double-speak again?
After eight long years of war, there are more than 140 armed insurgent groups of Afghans that exist as a response to our invasion and to our presence in their country. They have fought for decades over many generations to defend their valleys against foreign invaders. It is impossible to defeat this type of “valleyism.” An ABC poll conducted this year found that the majority of Afghans blame the U.S. more than the Taliban for the strife in their country. The majority of analysts have stated that al-Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistan. Those who have studied al-Qaeda have warned many times against the use of military force to combat the threat of this worldwide network. Escalation of soldiers is not the way to create security when combating so many loosely-connected fractions on a worldwide scale. This then leads one to ask what the real reason for our increase of troops is.
When Bush left Washington, we did not really have an exchange of power; we had a change of personalities. Lay tonight’s speech next to the text of Bush’s speech given Jan. 10, 2007 before the surge of troops in Iraq; the similarities are disturbing. Much of the rhetoric of the two speeches is interchangeable. It becomes clear that Obama’s America is about power and domination in the region for the interests of a few, not the protection of the majority.
Before tonight’s announcement of 30,000 more troops, Obama had already doubled the number of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Today, there are more combined U.S. troops occupying Iraq and Afghanistan than at any time during Bush’s tenure. Combining official military forces, private mercenaries, and other contractors, by the middle of 2010, there will be nearly a half-million U.S. personnel in the two countries.
At the same time, we are still deep in an economic crisis at home. Tens of millions are out of work and losing their homes; the cost of the two wars is already running at $225 billion per year. That is equal to $1.2 billion every two days. We will now also see a surge in war cost instead of more stimulus money here at home to create jobs and save homes.
“I want the Afghan people to understand—America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country,” Obama said tonight while sending more than 60,000 (30,000 U.S. soldiers and 30,000 contractors) more into their country to escalate the war, the suffering, the deaths of innocent men, women, and children. He does so in the name of security, peace and freedom just as Bush did, just as all previous presidents have said while they were doing the opposite. Once again, we are told “right makes might.” Once again, we are expected to believe that war creates peace, that violence creates safety, or that domination leads to freedom.
Yes, Mr. President, we can go forward but not with “confidence that right makes might,” because what is right for the people of Afghanistan, what is right for the people of Iraq, and what is right for the majority of Americans does not match what is right for those few who profit from war. And like you, Mr. President, I, too, believe “with every fiber of my being that we—as Americans—can still come together behind a common cause.” But unlike you, I do not believe that common cause is more war, more terror for the innocent civilians who live and struggle to survive in a war zone. The common cause that we can believe in is the cause for right, the cause for peace through non-violence, the path to true lasting security by way of human uplift, not by bombs and destruction.
No, President Obama, I will not unite behind your surge in Afghanistan tomorrow. I will join those who will be mourning the lives that will be lost because of the course you have set for our country tonight. I will unite with those in the streets tomorrow, and the next day, and the next; until we turn back from our destructive path onto a road of true security, peace and freedom that comes with building up, not tearing down.
Dan Kenney is a school teacher who lives in DeKalb.
From the Dec. 9-15, 2009 issue