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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 06:57 AM
Original message
Barack Obama and Afghanistan


Part 1: In 2002, I did the last of a four-part interview with Chief Paul Waterman. Paul sat on the Onondaga Council of Chiefs, and on the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy) Grand Council of Chiefs. Among traditional Native American people, he was recognized as what translates in English as a "Wisdom Keeper."

Over the years, Paul and other Haudenosaunee leaders have met with not only Indigenous Peoples leaders around the globe, but also with those at the UN, the former Soviet Union, and Washington, DC. US Presidents, including President Bush1 and President Clinton, have invited Haudenosaunee leaders to meetings, and were interested in listening to industrial/ high-tech societies older siblings.

The current President Bush is incapable of listening to them. Even if his aides set up such a meeting, he would be unable to understand their words. The very idea that they might know something of value would make him uncomfortable, and he would only be able to see them as "the enemy" from an old John Wayne movie.

Below are two questions and answers from that last interview, which have to do with US policy after the 9-11 attacks. I think that most DUers will not only understand what Chief Waterman was saying, but will appreciate the message:


Q: The American people are divided on how to respond to terrorism. How would the Great Law of Peace apply to this situation?

CPW: Democracy and freedom were born at Onondaga. That is in the Hiawatha Belt. There should be peace for everyone. Peace requires democracy and freedom.

But listen: when you say people are divided, think about this. Your military is dropping bombs and food on Afghanistan. Thats a divided approach, isnt it? What might have happened if they brought food in before? Why isnt it just as important to fight starvation and suffering, as it is to fight for oil and money?


Q: President Bush has referred to the "evil doers." What do you think about this?

CPW: Well, hes the same way. Those people in Afghanistan are so poor and miserable. They suffer when bombs kill their parents, and they hurt when bullets kill their children. So, even if Bush believes that what he is doing is right, he has to commit evil acts to achieve his goal.

But he cant stop. The other guy wont. And when they do kill bin Laden, someone else will take his place.

I feel bad for the soldiers, too. Most of them are young men. They are patriotic. Like those men who fought in Desert Storm, for your national interest. But I cant remember the price of gas dropping much since then. So whos interest was it in?


Part 2: In 2008, as we approach the November presidential elections, it s clear that the Bush- Cheney administration has created an international crisis that will confront the next administration. This is not to say that there were not serious problems involving the US policy as it relates to nations including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan before 2001. But this administration has made things far worse, and no president will be able to resolve all of the damage done in a single term in office.

The progressive and liberal democratic community on DU clearly recognizes that an Obama administration offers a far greater potential to begin the changes in policy that are needed, than a McCain presidency, which would offer this country and the world a third Bush term. Yet many of us have some concerns about what course President Obama will take. Recent comments on American policy in Afghanistan are a case in point.

Last week, on a couple of threads, one DUer said that "democrats who support Obama" are faced with a stark choice: if they are unwilling to join the military to participate in the war in Afghanistan, they have to organize protests against Obama. Another DUer told me that my refusal to pick one of those two choices provided evidence that I was "uncomfortable" with this issue, which s/he identified as "a turnaround which is fair play."

In fact, I am quite comfortable talking about the issues involving US policy with Afghanistan. It is an important topic, and one that I believe is very important for DUers to discuss and take a strong position on. But I refuse to allow anyone to try to place mental handcuffs on "democrats who support Obama."

It is important that we not think in limited terms. There are always more than two choices. I remember years ago, when a human being named Ed began attending some of our meetings. He had some curious ways. For example, he advocated disrupting the Columbus Day Parade in a local city, to show that we were opposed to the events from 1492. He said that if we werent willing to break the law during his planned protest, then it meant we supported the exploitation of Native Americans. I said no, this was not our way. (Any older DUers who were active in the 1960s and 70s will recognize Eds "ways.")

Barack Obama and, indeed, his campaign staff have shown a willingness to listen to his supporters. We have options for communication that extend beyond joining the military to fight in Afghanistan, or engaging in protests in an attempt to disrupt the Obama campaign.

I am "lobbying" with the Obama campaign, and saying that the focus of American policy in Afghanistan (and other nations around the world) should include what Chief Waterman said: bring food and clothes and blankets, not bombs and bullets and blankets poisoned with small pox.

In his effort to convince himself and the world that he was as tough as any fictional character in a John Wayne movie, George Bush said there were only two choices: "Either you are with us, or against us." Barack Obama has no desire to be a fictional tough guy, nor does he limit his thinking to foolish black-and-white choices.

I urge DUers to take time to think about the best options for the country in dealing with the problems relating to Afghanistan. Then communicate your thoughts to the Obama campaign. While I recognize that I alone do not have all the answers, I will share what I am doing: I am calling the Obama campaign; writing to the Obama campaign; and posting this essay, because I am confident that some members of the campaign read some of the messages on this forum. If you have thoughts that you wish to add, I would appreciate it .because this is among the communications I will send to the Obama campaign.

Thank you.
H2O Man
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Marrah_G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:20 AM
Response to Original message
1. I'm going to take your advice and write that letter.
Rather then being a black or white issue, this is one of various shades of gray. It does not have to be either bombs or pull out. I would rather see a more coordinated effort to control the Taliban, especially by taking away the financial edge that they have over the government. I would like to see a real government be allowed to grow and move the country into this century after decades of war and oppression. I would like to see women, if not given full equality, at least be given the right to be free human beings, allowed to speak, allowed to make choice, allowed to stand on a balcony in the morning sun.

Diplomacy, economic aid and help with security will go a long way to rebuild that torn country. The bullying must stop, from the top down, corruption must be stopped, again from the top down. The problem is not the US being there, the problem is the ~way~ we have been there.

It is my hope that a President Obama was change the tone there and help pave the way for some real healing and perhaps the next generation there will be able to know a life without fear.

Thank you for your thoughtful post H20, I am off to write to him now.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 08:22 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Thank you.


Our actions (or inactions) today will help to determine what type of country the girls in the above photo inherit from us. The mother of the girl on the left is a psychiatric social worker who has taught in the NYS university system; the mother of the itty-bitty girl on the right is an attorney.
I want these two to have the opportunity to develop to their full potential as human beings.

The responsibility falls on all of us to create the society where that can happen, not only for these two second cousins, but for every child in this country. More, we need to lobby with the Obama campaign (and eventually, the Obama administration), to make those same opportunities available for our extended human family -- including in Afghanistan.
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Marrah_G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:56 AM
Response to Original message
2. K&R
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 08:39 AM
Response to Original message
4. you should blog on barackobama.com
i keep trying to find the time to go over there and hang around, but there is always one more interesting post to read and respond to here. i know you post things elsewhere. you should add them to your list.
when you do, i will be happy to go over and give you kicks, then we will both be there! (i'm sure there is a name for that sort of thinking.)

he will need us when he is elected. and i know that if we lead in the right direction, he will follow. someone dug up his comments from a few days after 9/11, and i was very comforted that he made very similar comments. he pointed to hunger and despair as the real root of war. about time someone figured that out. let's get him elected, eh?


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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 08:49 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Good idea.
It's funny: I was thinking the same thing this morning.

Gandhi said that poverty is the worst form of violence. That is as true as anything he ever said.
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. there is actually a lot of science to back up barack's comments.
as we have learned more and more about the development of the human brain, we now know that the brains of fetuses whose mothers are always stressed develop far differently than those of mothers who have peaceful lives and good support. happy mom's make smarter babies. stressed out moms have babies more adapted to lives of fear and violence. just a plain old fact. (ok, it's kind of a new fact, but still....)


ps- gmta?

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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 09:39 AM
Response to Original message
6. Interesting Thread
Sadly, this nation has been programmed to be a nation of cowboys and anyone who now wants to be president has to pass the rope and lasso test. I think Obama has done that sufficiently, as he must, especially with him making the point that as president that he wouldnt be subordinate to the generals. I do have concerns about some things and it more of what he might not do as president. For me accountability for the last 8 years is an important issue. The DU thread linked below talks about how he taught Constitution for 7 years. He knows they were wrong, he knows things need to be set right. I hope that guy who said we should ignore the */Cheney criminal activity is not a part of his admin. I also think we should work to get him elected and once he is, campaign for him to do right by the Constitution and the laws of this country.

From another DU thread:

But other Chicago conservatives seem content with the fact that Obama tried to understand their point of view, even if he didn't wind up adopting it. "What I know from my dealings with him at the law school is that he does really attempt to understand the points of view of other people who look at the world or a particular issue differently than he does," says Fischel. "He's much more intellectual, much more thoughtful, much more interested in discussion, debate, and dialogue than the typical politician. And that gives me some confidence about him, even though from my perspective he's much too liberal. I've never voted for a Democrat in my entire life. He's the first one I might vote for."

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 04:27 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. This relates to a topic
that we have discussed on DU a few times over the years. I know that you are aware of this, but I'll say a few words to remind others.

In both Senator Robert Byrd's book, "Losing America," and James Bamford's "A Pretext for War," the authors document that the White House instituted a "shadow government" on 9/11. This was a plan that started under Ike in the late '50s, and was built upon during the Reagan years by VP Bush and Col. Ollie North.

The plan had to do primarily with how the federal government would run in the event of a crisis, specifically a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Circumstances in the Clinton years resulted in the plan being canned. However, the Bush-Cheney administration had revived the plan upon taking office -- curious -- and it was instituted hours after the 9/11 attacks.

The shadow government includes only one branch of the federal government: the executive. The federal courts and Congress were not included in the plans, informed of them before 9/11, and only found out months later.

The shadow government was set up to include people from the administration, and from the corporate community. According to Senator Byrd, the order to institute the shadow government continues.

The implications should be obvious, though I do not see many people on DU applying them to certain situations which involve Congress. One might consider the connection between this, and the failure of the Congress to take any meaningful action in terms of the oversight of foreign affairs. Instead, they have bowed to each and every "request" (demand) that Bush-Cheney have made. More, when we discuss an issue like impeachment, it may be worth keeping this issue in mind.

Congress currently has been acting like a junior high school student council. Actually, that is on their best days. As a US Senator with a strong background in Constitutional law, I think that Barack Obama understands what the deal is. This is why he recently sent out a flier, requesting that democrats not only work to support him, but also to elect more democrats to the House and especially the Senate.

By the way: does anyone wonder what business leaders Cheney selected to help run the shadow government, replacing Congress? Is it a stretch to think that Cheney's "energy" meetings from pre-9/11 are related to the administration's foreign policy?
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:54 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. The Wind Is Shifting
Seems that the people will lead where Congress failed to go.

Willie Nelson, speaking on the Alex Jones show, has just announced that he would be a driving factor in a new Farm Aid-type event that will focus on supporting Dennis Kucinich's efforts to impeach george bush. It will also be an anti-war event. This plan is literally coming together as I type. Willie has just committed to it.

Mr. Nelson also believes that the event could be used as a platform for those who do not believe the government's official story of 9/11 to speak out and let their feelings be known.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 09:36 PM
Response to Reply #6
13. That conservative at the University of Chicago's view
on Obama says a lot because I think of him the same way from what I've learned about him over the months.
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 12:26 PM
Response to Original message
8. K & R
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northamericancitizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 08:43 PM
Response to Original message
11. Very interesting thread. Thanks H20 Man. eom
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Coexist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-25-08 09:13 PM
Response to Original message
12. .
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