During the Presidential Campaign of 2008, candidate Barack Obama repeatedly stated that in the Executive Office and as Commander in Chief, he would search in the mountains and caves of Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden and kill him.  Those words, which I heard numerous times, not only sent chills up and down my spine, but also elicited anger.  They still make me cringe!  I did not see the point: after all, he had been criticized for saying he would converse with so-called enemies of the United States; however, I guess killing the enemy of all our enemies was alright.

When it was announced that President Obama would be the 2009 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, my horror and ire returned.  Initially I felt it must be some weird or cruel joke, for how could a person who advocated violent retaliation against another be considered a paragon of peace?  As a matter of fact, he was not only advocating murder, but also escalating warfare that had clearly failed heretofore and lost its erstwhile, ostensible purpose.  Obama had spent much of the second term of President George W. Bush condemning the latter’s foreign policy and diplomacy.  Now, here he was proverbially talking out of both sides of his mouth by extending and intensifying the war through a surge of military combatants.

I am not certain when a current U.S. president ought to stop blaming present circumstances on the past administration and take ownership of what is happening in the nation and the world under his own term.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were, indeed, inherited by Obama—bequeathed to him by Bush and his entourage.  But now we are two years past that abomination, if you will, and the continued 50,000 troops in Iraq and the nearly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan clearly belong to Obama.  He has lowered the number in Iraq, although some U.S. soldiers are still fighting there; and he has acceded to the necessity of a surge in Afghanistan that continued the debacle of the Bush administration.  This concessionary behavior emphasizes the fact Obama has purchased certain policies and made them his own.

Although I hold to a pacifist faith, I do not expect or require that posture of my political leaders.  However, the greatest advocates and articulators of international law promulgated some dimension of the just war theory.  Warfare is something that should never be engaged in lightly; and it should always be the last resort.  It is not even arguable that our entrance into Iraq was either justifiable or the final straw, so to speak.  Weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein, and Islamic feuding had absolutely nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  Pres. Obama seemed fully aware of this duping of the American people from the outset.  Our foray into Afghanistan within a month after the horrible attacks seemed, on the surface, to be in hot pursuit of the alleged orchestrator of 9/11—this despite the fact that the base of operation for the terrorist themselves was our ally namely Saudi Arabia!

The U.S. military had been in Afghanistan before.  Apparently, the Commander-in-Chief and the Joint Chiefs of Staff should have known the nearly insurmountable challenge of ferreting out terrorists in the cavernous, mountainous terrain would not achieve the goal of breaking up Al-quaeda and gaining the corporation of the Taliban.  By perpetuating this folly, Obama must now own whatever course of action is taken under his watch.  If withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan actually takes place in July without a concomitant redirection of foreign policy, then Obama is only engaging in cosmetic surgery without having made a precise diagnosis.

This October will mark the tenth anniversary of war against terror in Afghanistan. Better yet, it reveals some level of ineptitude over trying to find a culprit without a hint of warmness, if you will, for an entire decade!  When should such a feckless pursuit end?  I believe Obama’s wars—may, our wars—should come to an abrupt end!

About mdbwell

Pres., Project for the Beloved Community, Inc.; B.A.--Wesleyan University; M.Div.--Yale University; Ph.D.--Boston University; Summer Study--Harvard University; Social ethicist; Ordained minister; Advocate for the poor
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