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Oct-04-2009 00:03printcomments

America's Vital Crossroad

America is at a crossroad, and the decision of which to follow is critical to its future. It must outgrow the belligerent adolescence of the past and demonstrate to the world at large that it is capable of adult and rational judgment and conduct.

An American soldier on patrol in Afghanistan, passes a brightly colored mosque behind a partially destroyed wall. photo by Tim King

(PASO ROBLES, Calif.) - The United States needs to get out of Afghanistan; after eight years fighting, and with the recent history of Russia’s experience and withdraw, there are more reasons to go than to stay. The fact is, the war cannot be won any more than was the Iraq War won, and for all the same reasons.

European allies are reluctant to continue their role under the NATO command which, to the extent that the U.S. assumes an ever larger role in what was supposed to be a cooperative effort, NATO leadership declines; shades of Iraq and the Coalition of the Willing which evaporated leaving just Great Britain in support of the U. S. in Basra until they wisely decided to withdraw.

Today the United States has 130,000 troops in Iraq and intends to keep 50,000 there after 2011 when supposedly all [we were promised] would be withdrawn leaving Iraq fully in control of its own destiny.

The intention seems to be that the U.S. will remain in Iraq for decades to come; the real meaning of “winning,” in the parlance of Republican hawks.

The same appears to be the United States’ intention in Afghanistan. If the president complies with the request for more troops, he will be playing into the hands not only of the military, but also of Republican Holy See whose Evangelists could ask for nothing more.

Report from Iraq one year ago

Their purpose, after all, is to regain control of the government by doing what it can to see Barack Obama fail. I can think of no better scheme for doing so than by preventing Obama from fulfilling his campaign promises.

President George W. Bush spent the U.S. into virtual bankruptcy when he determined - with the advice and encouragement of the Religious Right - to spend what he referred to as “my political capital.” There is only so much wealth to go around; something has to give, and to those of us who believe in the righteousness of President Obama, domestic issues ought to take precedence over external military considerations when the war against terrorism can be fought as effectively by Homeland Security at home.

It is misnomer to speak of defeat or “losing the war,” when the reason for our being in the Middle East, when the terms honestly admitted, refer more to the struggle for political advantage on the Home Front.

The chance that America can reverse the trend of the past depends on the determination of our president to break from the Military-Industrial [Political] Complex of his predecessors. Enhancing Home Land Security would amount to a pittance of the cost of continuing the policies of the last Administration.

See the Pesh Valley of Afghanistan

This is not a love-fest in which, as the song suggests, “you can’t have one without the other.” The fact is, the U.S. may lose far more than it might gain if it tries. At best, the cost of removing our military from the Middle East; e.g. Iraq and Afghanistan entirely, will not immediately reduce costs as a result of those incursions, but it will surely be a step in the right direction and be counterpoint to the claim of Republicans that Healthcare Reform is a program his Administration cannot afford - and here’s the rub - because it ought to pay the cost in dollars and lives lost by enlarging the Afghanistan struggle at the expense of Healthcare for all citizens.

The longer the United States persists in pursuing its misguided struggle to defeat and destroy al Qaeda abroad, the greater will be it its ultimate loss.

We cannot afford to make the Middle East dependent upon us to control what for centuries has been their way of life. I suspect the Republican Holy See would disagree, but for selfish reasons rather than for the good of our United States.

For the truth is, the greatest danger to our democracy is not from without, but from within, and our greatest chance for success will come not from succumbing to the desire to bend nations to our will, but by being an example worthy of emulation, just as we ought to follow the Healthcare example of nations that have already successfully adopted it.

America is at a crossroad, and the decision of which to follow is critical to its future. It must outgrow the belligerent adolescence of the past and demonstrate to the world at large that it is capable of adult and rational judgment and conduct. President Barack Obama has properly pointed the way: it remains to be seen if his convictions can reverse the course set by Republican and Evangelical adversaries, in the interest of all Americans.

Kenneth G. Ramey was a 79-year old "writer without a Website" who is generating excellent, provocative articles on the subject of religion and world affairs. We are pleased that Ken's "lone wolf" presence as a writer in the world has been replaced by a spot on our team of writers at Raised in Minnesota and California during the dark years of the Great American Depression, Ken is well suited to talk about the powerful forces in the world that give all of us hope and tragedy and everything in between. You can write to Ken at:

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S.LaMarche; October 6, 2009 5:50 am (Pacific time)

Henry!.,we missed ya!

Henry Ruark October 5, 2009 10:23 am (Pacific time)

Ken, Dan and ALL Others : Agree completely with Ken's insightful, accurate, fully documentable statement here. D.J.'s comment is right on the money, too, especially on the driving obsession of those who wish to see Obama's steady sensible, sensitive and successful approaches smashed and blocked, for their own internally-distorted and grievously mistaken personal purposes --whether recognized and realized by those so suffering or not. Psychological denial is by definition unknown to its own victims; it is the only ethical and charitable escape left for any person taking any rational, reasonable approach to fully documentable facts covering every aspect of the issues, problems and demanded application in this, now the 21st Century. WHEN will we EVER LEARN, from 250 solid years of strong accumulated experience, in thus building the strongest, wealthiest, once-wisest and most promising of all possible governance development since 1776 ???

Daniel Johnson October 4, 2009 11:19 am (Pacific time)

Ken, you got it!

I\'m also thinking that if Obama\'s presidency fails (for whatever reason) how many decades before the American people would \"trust\" another black person with that high an office? Just wondering.

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