Posts tagged ‘Afghanistan’

A Dream Deferred?

Maybe an official of some Asian consulate has read Harold Meyerson’s column on the President’ s untapped army. “A paper tiger,” the bored functionary sighs.

What is... and what should be

What is... and what should be

That reader might be more perceptive than anyone at present realizes.  An e-mail  list is not an army. A year ago millions of people like myself were indeed “fired up and ready to go” knocking on doors,  and telephones,  and credit cards. Electronic networking was a terrific tool for turning ferment  into  political mobilization.  But I believe that Obama’s first six months in office has demobilized —  or at least immobilized — a significant part of his army:

Health care — If a “government option” is the extreme left of the debate (possibly even to be sacrificed through negotiation, and subject to mixed messages from the administration) the battle is already largely lost. Sure I favor single payer, but if it’s not even in the discussion, then the “progressive” side is at the mercy of insurance companies and related forces.

The Economy — The effort and money devoted to saving capitalism from itself dwarfs everything done for everyone else.  ’nuff said on the subject, except that…

War and Peace issues are  proceeding as promised, with a shrinking mess in Iraq and a growing one in Afghanistan/Pakistan. The economics of this “smarter”  superpower warfighting will cripple  progressive domestic initiatives, i.e.,  those that get past the snarls of Republicans, blue dogs, and the lobbyists they pay attention to.

Hope, by its nature, never entirely dies. Obama tapped into and became the symbol of a pwerful impulse. In office, he has blunted it.  Meanwhile the raving Right has increasing become the respectable opposition. This foretells failure at the top and dangerous mass polarization below. I do not want this to happen. But it seems that at this point Obama’s vaunted confidence  has led him into dangerous waters, and perhaps blinded him to necessary corrections of course. Read more…

Dead Afghan Kids (Collateral Damage)

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The Washington Post, Oct. 9, 2008: Military Justifies Raid That Killed  Afghan Civilians.

Yes, I know it’s a cruel world. I also know that the “warrior ethic” lets you think and even weep, as long as that does not distract you from the Mission. The mission of the USA since 9-11 has been wrong, wrong, wrong. In the name of anti-terrorism we have conducted an orgy of military revenge and armored geopolitics. Bush was wrong, Cheney/Rumsfeld worse than wrong. McCain was and is wrong.

They are OUR children

They are OUR children

And Obama is wrong on this. He is campaigning for a bigger and more effective fighting force in Afghanistan, so we can do more than just kill civilians in air raids. He talks about killing Osama Bin Laden as if that  were one of the worst failures of the Bush administration. Yes, we must protect Americans, and help nations rebuild. But through the Defense budget?

The “truth” of this is small, but in appealing to our fear and unreflective, belligerent patriotism, Obama’s words have enormous consequence: How can we “change” the post 9-11 disaster of America’s role in the world when 1) we continue to deny that we do damage and increase emnity and 2) we appeal to the emotions that reinforce this denial ?

American imperial swagger (and coups and warfighting) did not of course begin in response to 9-11, or even in the Cold War. But hope lies in acknowledging that and working to establish America as a superpower for good — exactly what both McCain and Obama asserted in their last debate that we already are.

Radicals conclude from this that there’s not enough difference between the parties to make enough difference for the country or the world. I do not. Obama in ’08 — yes, but don’t expect to stop working for “change”.

“But I, being poor, have only my dreams” (click ‘Bienvenidos’ at right for the Yeats poem and more). My “dream” is that Presidents et al. would  know in their hearts FOR ALL CHILDREN the same love and pain that their mothers feel. . Never happen, you say?  Not literally, I say, but in a different sense, one of the few worlds worth working for. If you can take poetry in this context, you will understand why I am publishing here one of the poems I wrote in the months after 9-11:

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In the Beauty of the Lilies

. Thou shalt love thy Afghani neighbor’s children as thyself

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Already seen it.
From Glory to Hallelujah
from Fier Kashes to Four Agreements,
from ragas and Bach and Bob Dylan
to the coming of the joyous queers,
and their sad going.

My country calla su boca
sweet land of la vida loca,
sing life, sing death, read all
about it: collateral damage.
Deposit it on deep bunkers,
riverbanks and loan banks –
as if old men dreamed in darkness
and their dreams became spectacular cinema
and cinema became the fate of nations.
Now we brave gringos saw it
in the coming of the Boeings.

As when a baby, dreaming of the earthquake she has never known,
wakes to crawl unharmed from thunderous rubble,
so a tiny mercy is scratched with blasted girders
into our sunlight now
. bleached sunlight of common mourning
. plainlight of gathering,
. patchlight of human work.

And this precious child, her mouth filled with dust, has no one to meet her
but the astonished stranger who now must be her mother, father, sister, brother.

. David Almaleck Wolinsky

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