Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Change I Want To Believe In (Part 1)

For nearly 2 years, I waited in anticipation for the inauguration of President Obama. When he announced his campaign in Springfield, I was excited beyond belief to hear about the change he would bring to Washington, D.C. For eight years, we had a president in office who for a lack of a better phrase, couldn’t care less about the average American, giving kick backs to his Dad’s old buddies, while making our nation less safe through his foreign policy.

A change in the way we did business with other countries was the thing I looked forward to most with President Obama. With a name which strikes chord’s in Africa and the Middle East, I knew he would be looked at differently than the “Good ol’ Boy” from Texas we had before. Now while his use of vernacular has helped our nations view abroad, his actions in my opinion, have not yet stood up to the change we have hoped for as a nation.

Let me begin by stating where we have gone right. The announcement of the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba was a great moment for America. The largest propaganda piece which was created for extremists would be closed in a year. Next was the draw down of American troops from Iraq, which would eventually lead to a complete end to combat activities in that Middle Eastern nation. And finally and most recently, a changing of tone in the way we approach the current war. The War on Terror as well as many other Bush administration coined terms would no longer be used. This had moved from a cosmic war of good versus evil, to a war of the United States against Al’Qaeda.

Now, while these things seem great, have they really been the change we voted for and many volunteered for? Lets look deeper into these matters. First, I shall look at Guantanamo Bay. President Obama stated that while many would either be set free or tried by the legal system, President Obama kept the door open on two issues. First is the use of military tribunal even though some who have been in Gitmo for years are US citizens, or were arrested in the US and have had no direct ties to military action against the United States. Second and by far the most damning of this problem is the indefinite detention of inmates who are deemed to valuable to be sent to trial or be set free. Indefinite detention without legal cause is a crime against humanity and we as Americans should not stand for it. Now we have heard it will take longer than expected to close the prison. Now we don’t have a date of closure to look forward to. When now will this place be a part of our past as we look forward to the future? So now I ask the question, was this the change we were looking for in regards to Guantanamo Bay? Personally, I think not.

Next is the war in Iraq. The troop draw down as President Obama’s way of ending the war in Iraq is a joke. He’s basically changing the focus of the two wars back to Afghanistan while making Iraq the secondary war. There will be around 60,000 troops still in Iraq at the end of the drawback. As the only candidate who was opposed to the war from the start, while in the Illinois State Senate, Obama at the time made it clear that this was a “dumb war” which was against the nation security interests of the United States. So now I ask again, was this the end of the Iraq War we were looking for? Once again, I think not.

Lastly I want to discuss something which has not really been discussed in the news. The School of the Americas, or now so nicely renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. For those of you who do not know what this is, it is a training school located at Fort Benning in Georgia where we train political dissidents from Latin America how to wage guerilla warfare. That is a blunt assessment of what they do but it is what they do. This is basically the Bay of Pigs invasion replayed time and time again, and once again sponsored at the behalf of American tax dollars. Last month, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a coup recognized by every other “developed” western nation but not the United States.

So what does this have to do with President Obama and the School of the Americas? Two of the main leaders of this coup were trained at the School of the Americas and for some reason we in the United States refuse to recognize this as a coup. When you teach someone to kill, and they do kill, you cannot pretend you have had nothing to do with that act. The US is doing the same exact thing right now and even though President Obama was not around when they were trained at the SOA/WHISC, he now needs to recognize that this facility serves no purpose here in the United States or anywhere in the world. This is by far one of the most un-democratic aspects of America, yet it still exists. The School of the Americas needs to be closed down, much of the same way Gitmo is going to be (hopefully) closed down quite soon.

Now I write this entry as a supporter of President Obama. But I strongly feel that, as I have stated before, just because I worked to get someone elected does not mean I should trust everything they do. In fact I feel one should be more critical due to the time, effort, and money personally vested into political campaigns. I am critical because I know when someone I have respect for does not do right by me, I have to make it known or I am not doing that person or myself any favors. Things are getting better, but they could be so much greater if we focused on the real issues present instead of looking to appease both sides of the aisle. Not all people, Democrats or Republicans, have the right answers, but sometimes you need to just do what is in the best interests of the country regardless of party lines in order to ensure this nation lives up to its ideals.

Coming soon part 2 on domestic issues.


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