This probably sounds like a candidate for wingnut headline of the day. A story about how the President plans to do everyone in because he is the ultimate subverter of our traditions and way of life.
But my purpose is to suggest that the current Afpak business does not really pit the President against the world’s terrorists as much as it pits him against our sorry past. I am talking about the past that was decreed the minute we institutionalized our WW2-justified impunity and morphed it into the clandestine reality of the Cold War.
I believe it is time to demythologize this venture and call it what it was — an exaggerated sense of global danger that traded an uneasy security for a vicious and demeaning military-industrial venture into global violence and the prodigal sacrifice of American lives and resources.
When I was a child, the violence of media tended to have a humorous distance built in. As in the adventures of Superman and such. Now the cultural expressions of violence are so pervasive that they are an exercise in special effects that reflect our own passivity in the face of shock and awe.
The President cannot act in Afghanistan without engaging in a real war with the hold that Cold War mythology continues to exert. The myth persists. Even though it was never as stated, save in the way both sides played necessary parts and wasted time and treasure creating the mutually assured destruction that gave it its substance.
I am not saying that realpolitik is not real. I am saying that when it shades into a world where impunity, the power that corrupts absolutely, is permitted, then we have this world, the world of a culture filled with everything needed to defeat reasonable action and measured response. There is tangible power behind institutions which are the instruments of the jaws of hell. It is the power and fascination with unbridled improvements on the weapons of destruction, the means of murder, the modes of reification and the mentality of permanent war.
I firmly believe that the President was given his opportunity precisely because there is an ever so slight chance that the balance can tip toward reason. But it cannot do so without a willingness to work through a battle plan for lifting from the vision of the United States the blinders put there by the Dulles Brothers and others who gave birth to the present era.
Obama is appointed, I believe, to show how true toughness lies in respecting ourselves enough to have the courage to deny impunity to all who would seize it. I know that in the human rights world impunity is a term so widely used that it begins to lack meaning.
Very simply impunity is whatever enables a person possessing power to exert his/her will physically’spiritually over another. Whether in a household, a town, a nation. Wherever. Impunity compromises the right of every human being to have his or her No respected and honored. Impunity makes power the measure of all things. Because it is always unbridled, it is the absolute corruption.
The President has intelligently bought some time in Afghanistan. But the time will be ill-used if he does not work with Joe Biden and others to confront the real fault, the fault not in our stars but in ourselves. When this is done. whatever we do in Afghanistan will have a purpose that would never be served if this underlying battle went begging to be understood.