It’s Somebody Else’s War


Official portrait of United States Secretary o...
Official portrait of United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Español: Retrato oficial de Secretario de Defensa de los Estados Unidos Robert Gates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Official photographic portrait of US President...
Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I rarely agree with anything Secretary of Defense Gates says so today will be a breakthrough. I think of this in response to a statement that someone made about how President Obama was spending all kinds of money on frivolous programs. First Republican Eric Cantor said that President Obama was adding more to the national debt than ever. When that statement was proven false, a republican on Facebook twisted the argument to try to claim that somehow the rate of spending was still somehow unprecedented. I wondered whether anyone had told this person that America is fighting two wars and that believe it or not, wars cost money.

And then I thought back to something Secretary Gates said about how disconnected most Americans were from the wars. Because we switched to an all volunteer military the government must spend more money to retain troops. We keep deploying  and re-deploying the same troops and preventing them from leaving due to “stop-loss” orders. During the Vietnam War, I was quite aware that the US was at war and that I was at risk of being drafted and sent to fight. So I made it my business to learn about the war and decided I didn’t like the war.

People like me in the peace movement raised our voices when W. Bush was yammering for war. In fact we had tried to get President Clinton before him to realize that the sanctions against Iraq were cruel and unusual. But our cries for justice were left unanswered.  When W. got his first opportunity for war, he took it. It was popular, exciting, shock and awe and better yet no one had to pay for it. W. gave away the budget surplus that he inherited from Clinton in the form of tax breaks that he said would stimulate the economy. In fact, the economy tanked, banks were on the edge of disaster and the auto industry was shrinking.

No wonder W.’s approval rating was microscopic when he left office. No wonder so many of us voted for Obama and other Democrats in 2008. But that hasn’t prevented the Permanent Presidential Campaign of disinformation from creating an entirely new myth about those years. The myth under the name of the so-called Tea Party is that the economy was fine, in 2009 until Obama used government to provide stimulus. Money was even provided to directly subsidize private businesses so that they could hire workers. Obama lowered taxes for most Americans while imposing a modest tax increase on the wealthy to help end the scandal of people dying from preventable causes because they lacked health insurance. He allocated money to help states pay for teachers, police and other vital workers. He extended unemployment to help cushion workers from the brunt of the recession.

The Republicans said these programs were wasteful and made it easy to avoid getting a job. And President Obama looked at the tangled web of war that W. had woven in Iraq and Afghanistan and attempted to unravel it. Some of us fear that Obama may have been ensnared in the web, too. These are President Obama’s wars but they belong to everyone. Our taxes have made it possible to continue the bloodshed. We pay for the corrupt politicians. We own the drones.  It’s not somebody else’s war, it’s ours.

Now, deal with it as an adult, America, not like sniveling children crying for another tax break for the wealthy. At some point, America, you’ve got to realize that you can’t always be fighting all these countries. You don’t have the troops. At some point, you’re going to have to turn off those radio clowns at Fox News in the Permanent Presidential Campaign and re-join the 21st century.

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