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Decision Points — Bush 43 Would Do Afghanistan Again

November 9, 2010

President Bush, the one who completed two terms in the White House in 2008, has just published his memoirs, Decision Points.  In an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, he said that invading Afghanistan after 9-11 was the right decision, and, even after 9 years of war there, he only regrets not having captured or killed Osama bin Laden.

Despite the mounting evidence that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan has actually made things worse, has helped extremists to recruit more suicide bombers and other fighters, has destabilized South Asia, and has cost the U.S. taxpayer a the high price by running up hundreds of billions in federal deficit spending — $5.7 billion average per month; $188 million average per day on the U.S. war in Afghanistan — Bush 41 and President Obama remain committed to the U.S. war in Afghanistan.  Many in the U.S. peace movement see this willful blindness to reality and fall into despair.

“Is there any hope?” and “Can you give me some hope?” are questions that I hear as I travel around our country.  Many people are feeling hopeless and in despair.  My answer to them is basically, “Is there any hope? Nope!”  Why would I tell people that?

Hope, I believe, is not a noun.  Hope is not something that you have and hold. It is not something you can lose.  I think hope is a verb; it is something you do, a practice.  I can’t give you hope.  Hope cannot be handed over and kept.  It is not a thing to be possessed.

Hope comes into our world of human events through what we practice.  The more we practice hope out in the world of human events the more hope becomes evident in our world.   Hope comes into our world through a process of human cooperation.

Tom Brokaw, the retired NBC Evening News anchor, is well known for his book, The Greatest Generation.  He writes about how the WWII generation is the greatest generation, because they won the war against fascism.  Those who wish to celebrate WWII veterans can point to courage, valor, service, and self-sacrifice.  When I look at the destruction, the deaths, the wasted national treasure, the tragic loss of talent, I’m not in a mood to celebrate war.  War offers little in the way or hope, and I find it difficult to see how warriors engage in the practice of hope.  Maybe they do.  I just don’t see it.

I’d like to point you to another book, though not well known book, The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boomer Legacy by American University professor Leonard Steinhorn.  He writes of the accomplishments of the children of Brokaw’s Greatest Generation:  voting rights, desegregation of schools, women’s liberation, accessibility for the disabled, human rights norms, etc.  He describes a generation that also exercised courage, valor, service, and self-sacrifice but didn’t use fire bombing of cities and atomic bombs to do it.  Hope is not practiced through the barrel of a gun (nor, in these times, by suicide bombing or drone attacks); the means for practicing hope are nonviolent and rely on the power of love and the force of truth.

You Can Practice Hope Now in the Lame Duck Session of Congress:

I invite you to practice hope during the lameduck session of the 111th Congress.  We at FCNL see several opportunities to practice hope in the few remaining legislative days of the 111th Congress, after November 15th, and I will mention only one here:   the repeal of the September 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

Please help Congresswoman Barbara Lee, of California, to run up the number of cosponsors for her bill to repeal the September 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was our government’s response to the attacks of 9-11.

That congressional authorization of the use of military force in September 2001 led to two wars of choice:  the U.S. military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and the U.S. military invasion and occupation of Iraq.  The authorization also created conditions for:

  • What Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney called “the endless war;”
  • a vast and costly build up of U.S. secret intelligence agencies, look at the Washington Post three part series, “Top Secret America,” by Dana Priest and William Arkin; including spying on all of our phone conversations;
  • U.S. sponsored torture symbolized by Abu Ghraib;
  • indefinite detention of so-called “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo and other sites;
  • an inhumane crack down on immigrants and foreign students in the U.S;
  • windfall profits for the military industrial complex and huge federal deficits; and
  • overloading of the U.S. military with missions which have taken a toll on military personnel and their families.

National Intelligence Estimates indicate that this U.S. response has helped al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups to recruit members and build their movements.  In short, the AUMF has made things worse, rather than better.

Ask your representative to cosponsor H.R. 6282, a bill introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (CA) to repeal the September 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force. We need to run up the number of cosponsors during the lameduck session of the 111th Congress so that it has strong momentum when it is introduced in the 112th Congress.

Your practice of hope now could save lives, build peace, enhance security, and reduce the federal deficit.  So contact your representative today to ask her or him to join Barbara Lee in her effort to repeal the AUMF.  Even if Bush would do Afghanistan again, he would be wrong again.  So, take away that authorization for his big mistake.  Maybe you can save Obama from making the same mistake again. — JV

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