Sunday, January 24, 2010


Obama's Fallen in Among Thieves: How He Can Extricate Himself

Let's face it. Obama's fallen in with the Wrong Crowd.

I wasn't surprised when he began to address the unfinished business in Afghanistan that was so rudely interrupted by Dubya's rush to war in Iraq. He had said as much during the campaign, and as the father of daughters, I had hoped that much of his motivation sprang from a desire to advocate for girls whose very futures, safety, and sense of selves remain vulnerable to the resuscitation of the Taliban.

Unfortunately, Obama's answer is a military solution in the wake of the first term of a corrupt Karzai
administration, now extended by an even more farcical election. All this American military power, like the drone attacks in Pakistan, do nothing more than to show that American hasn't any ideas that don't involve the use of force. Worse, that America will prop up a sleaze like Karzai. To villagers in the path of bombs, might can't possibly make right. We are simply the true terrorists with bigger budgets.

I can understand the President consulting with military advisors. It would be foolish, even dangerous to do otherwise. But military advisors exist to provide military solutions. The exclusive use of them for approaching the problems of Afghanistan created a truly cringe-worthy Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, not to mention a ghastly, premature assignment of the prize to the new head of state. The prize committee was clearly star-struck, and to no one's advantage, not even Obama's.

The Prez needs to widen his circle. It's taken him no time at all to set up shop in the bubble that he castigated during the campaign. Like many CEOs who don't understand economics --and I'm sure that he doesn't, despite his good-boy embrace of the free market in The Audacity of Hope, he's come to rely on the very authors of the economy's destruction. Similarly, in Afghanistan, Obama seeks to employ a single tool.

When your only tool is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

Once he gets his head out of his ass on the economic mess, Obama should spend a weekend at Camp David with Greg Mortenson. If you haven't stumbled upon him before, he's the man who has been setting up schools in Afghanistan, one at a time. He's the Pennies for Peace guy. Two books have been written about his untiring campaign for peace through the people's philanthropy: Three Cups of Tea and more recently, Stones Into Schools. To defend the schools he's set up, Mortenson has learned a lot about working with the local warlords. Once he's gotten them to send their daughters to his schools, they become vigilant about defending them from attacks by the Taliban--and they have the tools and personnel to do that job.

After decrying the Same Old Politics in the campaign, Obama relied on the Same Old Politicians and to help him get the job done, albeit the ones across the aisle. They greeted his overtures with all the graciousness of a piranha.

Obama possesses incredible tools for teaching, and still he manages to avoid their use. He needs some new inspiration. If he fears using populist anger to any great degree, he is at his best in an motivational mode. Let him avail himself of the opportunity for that refreshment
of the spirit.

Let him tap into the inspirational qualities of those who do that work, and communicate the lessons learned to the American people. Let him show the Good Offense of people like Mortenson which trumps the lousy, missile-based Defense of crumb-bums like Karzai.

And let him remind us why we elected him in the first place: that activism for the perpetuation of the projects that could save us and the principles that uplift us are the raw materials of hope.

Oh my! I am starting to see a trend of promises broken.. the very first executive order was to shut down Gitmo no later than Jan 22, 2010.
I know Obama has been busy-- but he could have found more time to actually DO the things he promised-- get us out of Iraq ASAP, and then shut down Gitmo.
We are spread too thin, and you are right that Obama is surrounded by all of Bush's old advisors. I have heard several experts in the Middle East say Obama needs to clean house.
The way to "win" Afghanistan is to discover the unique need of different regions & let the locals determine their priorities.
Mortenson is a real ray of hope.
The Audacity of Hype.

Good post, Lulu.
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