August 31st, 2009 18:24 EST
Barack Obama hasn`t been telling us...
Barack Obama hasn`t been telling us, as his predecessor did, that he`s just giving our generals in the field what they tell him they need. But that`s the way it`s turning out anyway, and it raises a fundamental question about who our society belongs to.
If it belongs to the people, they have made it clear in polls that they want us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. But if it belongs to the business sector that profits from war making, then it doesn`t really matter what the people think, does it?
As matters stand, we are posting generals and admirals in the midst of foreign wars and then using them as political footballs. They say they need more troops "what part of this is not predictable? "and the politicians, putting the onus on the military, send more troops and equipment not because it`s in our security interests but because war is profitable.
If anybody questions the politicians` motives they paint him as unpatriotic, soft on communism, soft on Islamic terrorists, whatever handy scapegoating epithet they can think of. They act as if the flag belongs to hawks and the hawks serve the flag and not profiteers. And in this way they accelerate the already wicked polarization of America.
Our military command in Afghanistan has just told the President it needs more troops to win a seven-year war we haven`t been winning. Sound familiar? That`s what we heard from our military command in Vietnam and Iraq, and it`s what we`ll always hear from our military commands wherever they are, not because they`re wrongheaded but because their job is to win, not make policy. The trouble is politicians are trying to turn them into policy makers so that the politicians don`t have to take the heat for being paid stooges of big business.
American big business needs to find other ways to make money, ways that don`t get our children killed. And we, the people, need to challenge the way American business does business. We need to ask such hard questions as whether it isn`t more profitable for business to treat cancer with expensive drugs and surgeries and radiation than to cure it.
It`s not the job of our political leadership to give the generals what they want whenever they want it. It`s the job of our political leaders to decide where our army should be and then give it what it needs to win. There is a difference. But that difference has been getting fuzzier and fuzzier since the Korean War. There were times during the Bush presidency when you would have thought that the commander in chief was a mere logistics officer for generals in the field. Is President Obama really doing much better?
We`re now witnessing the same kind of squalid spectacle that ended the war in Vietnam "spending our precious resources, our children`s lives, on a corrupt government that fixes elections and despises us. Is this sane policy by any standard? We can hardly afford to treat our sick or educate our people thanks to one war after another, wars of choice. Is this really the only way to combat terrorism? And if it is, why is it our job alone and not Spain`s or Germany`s or Russia`s or China`s? Is it because we are more hated than they are? If so, why?
These are the questions the nightly news` talking heads should be asking instead of day after day reciting symptoms until they become thoroughly divorced from cause.
The right wing in our country thinks it owns the military and seeks to paint everyone who disagrees with its views as traitors who would put the military in harm`s way without enough guns and men to prevail.
We need to dump this canard if we are not to bankrupt the nation by again and again trying to win unwinnable wars for uncertain reasons. Did all of Southeast Asia fall under Communism`s dominion when Saigon fell? Will we be any safer if thousands more Americans die in Iraq or Afghanistan? Will the press have the moral fortitude to keep raising these questions, as it did not in Iraq and only belatedly did in Vietnam?
Our policies are being run as if the conductor refuses to let passengers off the train and the engineer doesn`t bother to stop at all the stations. We are being held captive to runaway policies.
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
The pioneering Online Originals (U.K.), the only online publisher to receive a Booker nomination, published his novella, Alice Miller`s Room, in 1999. Recent fiction appeared in Prima Materia (Woodstock, NY), vols. I and IV, and Breakfast All Day (London, U.K.).In his younger days his poetry was published in literary journals including Solstice (England) and Beyond Baroque and Phantasm (California). Recent poems appear in Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review (www.arabesquespress.org), Perpetua Mobile (Baltimore), and Attic (Baltimore). He is the English language editor of Arabesques Literary and Cultural Journal (www.arabesquespress.org). He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.