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Wed Sep 24, 2014, 11:46 AM

The War Machine

In reading discussions on DU:GD in the past few days, it is evident that -- as in the rest of the country -- there is a divide between those who support President Obama’s actions versus Isis, and those who are opposed to the “newest” war. Although I am generally opposed to the current march to war, I recognize that many of the Obama supporters make valid, important points. One area where I disagree is where a friend noted his belief that it is incorrect to compare the current conflict to the Bush-Cheney attack on Iraq, and/or the Vietnam War.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes, from the Persian Sufi poet Jalal-ad-din Rumi: “This world and yonder world are incessantly giving birth: every cause is a mother, its effect the child. When the effect is born, it too becomes a cause and gives birth to wonderous effects. These causes are generation on generation, but it needs a very well lighted eye to see the links in their chain.”

President Obama is without question a highly intelligent human being. The combination of his intellect, and his promise to effect change within our system of government, created great excitement in 2008. In particular, I believed his stance on the Bush-Cheney policy of military aggression was essential for getting the United States on a positive track.

Now, however, as he pursues a path that was perhaps forced upon him, in the sense that the dynamics in the Middle East include problems that are a direct result of Bush-Cheney, it seems fair to ask if, rather than him changing the system, has the system changed him?

The United States is neither the source of all good, or all bad, in the world today. Our role truly has been a mixed bag of very good and very bad. I believe that it is fair to say that more of that good has resulted from the actions of the Democratic Party, and more bad from the republicans. Yet, in a very real sense, those at the top of both parties have acted as advocates for corporate interests. It would be impossible, for example, to have a firm grasp of American policy in the Middle East, without recognizing and taking into account the influence of oil.

Likewise, there are benefits to understanding “systems.” When a person is placed within a system, either willingly or unwillingly, where he/she finds many things that are highly offensive, unless that person can simply drop out, they tend to follow a general path. First, they observe the system; then they begin to evaluate it for its strengths and weaknesses. They attempt to identify those regions within the system that are comfortable to them. They look for areas to stand their ground, and also areas where they are willing to compromise. In time, they become acclimated to the system, and begin to accept the limitations on their ability to change it. In time, they come to accept the system, including both its positive and negative features. Eventually, they become comfortable enough to accept the system for what it is, and become part of it.

It would be foolish to think that Obama could serve two terms as president, and not become part of the very system that, as a candidate, he promised to change. Yet, it would be equally foolish to believe that, because he is president, that our system’s approach in the current conflict will be significantly different than that of Bush-Cheney. The chances of this “new” war policy, as it unfolds over the coming years, having a different outcome seem rather small. Indeed, even the promise that there will be no American boots on the ground is a lie: special forces are there already, in the role of “advisors” -- exactly as we had “advisors” in Vietnam during the Eisenhower and Kennedy years.

Judging by the polls I’ve seen reported on the news, the majority of Americans support the President’s decision to bomb Isis in Iraq and Syria -- even though they do not think the outcome will be successful. Perhaps this is the result of the system’s conditioning, for few in the House and Senate are challenging the administration. Indeed, even the media is portraying the new war as our nation’s only viable option.

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Arrow 35 replies Author Time Post
Reply The War Machine (Original post)
H2O Man Sep 2014 OP
n2doc Sep 2014 #1
H2O Man Sep 2014 #7
Scuba Sep 2014 #2
H2O Man Sep 2014 #8
sabrina 1 Sep 2014 #21
RobertEarl Sep 2014 #22
sabrina 1 Sep 2014 #23
H2O Man Sep 2014 #26
KoKo Sep 2014 #3
H2O Man Sep 2014 #9
malaise Sep 2014 #14
KoKo Sep 2014 #16
malaise Sep 2014 #18
Zorra Sep 2014 #4
H2O Man Sep 2014 #10
malaise Sep 2014 #15
blm Sep 2014 #5
H2O Man Sep 2014 #11
blm Sep 2014 #24
Initech Sep 2014 #6
H2O Man Sep 2014 #12
RobertEarl Sep 2014 #13
KoKo Sep 2014 #17
RobertEarl Sep 2014 #20
panader0 Sep 2014 #19
H2O Man Sep 2014 #30
G_j Sep 2014 #25
H2O Man Sep 2014 #31
G_j Sep 2014 #32
H2O Man Sep 2014 #34
kentuck Sep 2014 #27
H2O Man Sep 2014 #33
cali Sep 2014 #28
kentuck Sep 2014 #29
H2O Man Sep 2014 #35

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 11:50 AM

1. Very thoughtful post

Thank you.

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Response to n2doc (Reply #1)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 07:17 PM

7. Thanks!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 12:03 PM

2. Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~Albert Einstein

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #2)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 07:20 PM

8. It surprises me that

President Obama is reacting this way. I will give him some credit -- the machine (including many democrats) are applying a great deal of pressure on him. I think it's fair to say that involves several in high places in his administration.

I suspect that the most likely "different result" will be a more entrenched opposition, which may well look to carry the fight outside of the Middle East.

Thanks!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #8)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 01:21 AM

21. You said this: it seems fair to ask if, rather than him changing the system, has the system changed

him? Good question.

I have another question now that I might not have asked a few years ago:

Considering the system, is it even possible for anyone who appears to be the type who would actually work to change the system, who could not be changed by the system, to even get close to the WH? Iow, is it now necessary for those who want to be President, to signal to those who decide these things, that they are the kind of person who can see the necessity of being changed rather than changing?

It's a hard question to even have to ask, because if it is true, then something has gone very wrong with this democracy.'

I oppose the president's decision btw. I always seem to be in the minority on these things. But that's okay with me. So have most of those who have turned out to be right throughout history.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #21)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 01:59 AM

22. Like I say below: Obama gave up

 

I think he had good intentions in the beginning. Sure, he told the biz people they would make money with him, but as far as war? He had a better idea.

But after a while, when he saw the blood-lust all around him, and in the public, he had no choice but to get the war on.

And anybody seen or heard from Cheney since the war began?

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #22)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 02:18 AM

23. Cheney has been very vocal about ISIS. Same way he was vocal about Al Queda.

He is baiting Obama to use force against ISIS. Looks like the bait was taken.

Cheney has been meeting behind closed doors with Republicans in Congress, urging them to vote for military intervention.

So yes, Cheney has been VERY vocal and involved in all of this.

As for what Obama wanted or didn't want, I agree, he probably did want to end the Iraq War, however my question is, do candidates have to assure those who actually run this country, that regardless of their own wishes, they are willing to continue our decades long military interventions in foreign nations.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #22)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 09:24 AM

26. Good point.

I think that as a candidate for president in 2007-08, Senator Obama recognized that a majority of the American public was looking for change. His campaign proved effective in harnessing that energy, allowing him to upset the heavily favored Senator Clinton for the democratic nomination. Then he faced McCain, who represents the past. McCain's attempt to represent change by picking Palin for VP backfired on him.

In a post below, a friend uses the word "transitional" to describe the current Obama plan to defeat Isis. I think it's important to consider how candidate Obama transitioned into President Obama. The team he selected for his administration included several people from the Clinton administration. That may have been considered necessary, since there was an entrenched opposition -- the republicans were intent upon stifling anything the new President would attempt.

I think that President Obama expected that the energy of the grass roots movement that helped to elect him would continue to be a force during his term in the White House. Yet, this would be an area where his administration failed him. In one of the books that came out around 2010, it was noted that President Obama was frustrated, because no one was tasked to organize those grass roots activists who demanded change. Instead, his administration took a "business as usual" approach.

Instead, that grass roots energy became a vacuum. The administration owns much of the responsibility for that. But the grass roots does, too. There was a common belief that electing Obama was the fight. That the president, as the most powerful person on earth, would then be able to effect the promised change. That allowed the negative force -- the corporations and their republican puppets -- to fill the void. And that was the real transition.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 12:26 PM

3. Don't know if you've seen this part of his Address to the UN....

It's a bit concerning.....lacks nuance. I think the system has indeed changed him. It seems that the same sources of intelligence that were working with Bush/Cheney have captured him. He seems not to be able to acknowledge what our Western Forces (and Military Contractors)have done in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Rape, Murder, Drone Attacks, Public humiliation of leaders of countries we in the West have toppled...dislocation of hundreds of thousands who lost their businesses and their families in our bombing campaigns. It's concerning to many of us.

-----------

"Obama: No God Condones the Terror of Islamic State"

Published on Sep 24, 2014

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama discusses the Islamic State and the need for force to combat their terrorist acts. He speaks before the U.N. General Assembly.



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Response to KoKo (Reply #3)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 07:23 PM

9. Very important.

Thank you.

I can't help but think of how much better the world would be, if all the nations had been invested in making the UN work at its full potential.

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Response to KoKo (Reply #3)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 08:00 PM

14. That's what disturbs me most

The official narrative does not address Western atrocities and the reasons for the backlash.
Obama is not naive - this resistance was predicted.
I understand H2OMan's take on the system but I need an explanation for Obama reneging on his own approach to this mess.

I do believe he was trapped by the neo-cons and I want to know how and why.
My view is this entire mess has come about because Obama and the Democratic Congress did not remove every one of the war criminals and their goons and serve up the appropriate punishment.

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Response to malaise (Reply #14)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 08:41 PM

16. Same questions many of us have...

but, fewer and fewer voice their opinions, here, anymore. Given up...or just moved on...

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Response to KoKo (Reply #16)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 09:31 PM

18. That's the really sad part of all of this

The 1% and their war machine are literally getting away with murder

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 12:39 PM

4. Well done!

"Indeed, even the media is portraying the new war as our nation’s only viable option."




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Response to Zorra (Reply #4)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 07:29 PM

10. Thanks!

From what I've seen, the media is carrying more interviews with members of the House and Senate who pretend that President Obama is not doing enough ...."before they come here and kill millions, or kill all of us" -- rather than with individuals advocating that we at least consider an alternative to war.

We've gone from a limited, humanitarian effort, to a war that will last several years (at least) mighty quickly. While I find the beheading of journalists highly offensive, I do not think it warrents going to war.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #10)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 08:03 PM

15. The corporate media are enemies of both democracy and

the 99%. I am beginning to question the beheadings. They are way too convenient - and have facilitated new allies with tasteless haste.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 12:50 PM

5. It's a transition action - and it is disheartening that so few are comprehending the enormity

of it and what it took to bring it together.

US was STUCK with the responsibility of a broken region, because decades of US action helped to BREAK it. The world knows it - it cannot be shirked because we prefer the responsibility to end immediately.

Obama and Kerry's effort to bring in Sunni nations to confront THEIR problem with extremists goes unnoticed and unappreciated by those who don't WANT to believe that any good can come from it. Bringing Muslim countries to do their duty for their own people and for their own culture hasn't been a priority for other US leaders.

If anyone can come up with a better transition effort I would be interested in hearing the logistics of it.

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Response to blm (Reply #5)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 07:43 PM

11. Interesting.

While I do not agree -- not fully, at least -- I appreciate that you have provided a thoughtful, rational response to the OP. Thank you for this.

I agree that the US broke Iraq. However, the policies that President Obama has had since 2009 are worth questioning. Not in the rabid manner of the republicans, of course. But he did provide support for a government that denied rights and representation to a significant population. And that government bears some responsibility for breaking Iraq, too.

The idea of a transitional effort sounds good. In fact, I can see both how and why sincere people would support that idea,with that goal. But it has become blurred, at the very least, because the people of central Iraq are intent upon re-establishing what they believe is their nation. I doubt that any military effort will prove successful in postponing that from happening for very long.

VP Biden had advocating the separation of three distinct areas within Iraq. It may have been possible, even as late as 2010, to have done this in a manner that allowed for a coalition government. But I suspect that it is too late to attempt to influence the population there today.

More, I do not think that it is likely that the other Islamic states will limit their activities to supporting President Obama's actions for long. Rather, we face a very real possibility of having a regional war within a year's time.

I admit that I do not know what the "solution" is today. And that it is easy to view things with that old 20/20 hindsight. But I do not believe that we are going to bring about a positive transition.

Again, thank you for your post. It is much appreciated.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #11)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 09:05 AM

24. Kerry helped orchestrate Maliki's exit. No progress COULD be made with Maliki there

Last edited Thu Sep 25, 2014, 10:40 AM - Edit history (1)

and the steps that have long needed to be taken were taken and are STILL being taken. Bringing Arab nations to face their own problems in the way Kerry has comes from decades of knowing exactly how they have operated. (his leverage....he KNOWS a lot....BCCI)

There is rarely appreciation shown to those who take on the most difficult tasks.

No one pretends any transition is easy....especially one like this.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 01:23 PM

6. This thread needs some music.





Seriously though fuck the war machine.

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Response to Initech (Reply #6)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 07:43 PM

12. Thanks.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 07:59 PM

13. Obama begged

 

He begged the people to change.

They didn't, therefore he could not change the system because he had no backing.

The people are bloodthirsty, still. Look at them approving the new bombing!

We deserve the karma coming our way.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #13)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 08:46 PM

17. Which People are Bloodthirsty... Americans (?) from some Poll that we don't

even know the exact phrasing or the sample...but, was taken after two Beheadings when "action" is always first choice in the heat of the moment flamed by MSM whipping people up into frenzy that they will be beheading your children if they aren't stopped?

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Response to KoKo (Reply #17)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 01:11 AM

20. Eh?

 

Yeah, Americans that keep the defense budget as big as it is.

We were 10 percenters here on DU after 9/11. The 10% who were not in favor of invading.

Fact is the American people are not, as a whole, a peaceful bunch, and we have knee-jerk, violent reactions.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 09:40 PM

19. I love the quote.

It will now become one of my favorites too. Recommended.
Great post as well.

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Response to panader0 (Reply #19)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 11:19 AM

30. Thanks.

I keep a book of quotes that stand out to me ..... I've kept it for over 30 years now, in a 3-ring notebook that has gotten to the point where there are five sections. The quote in the OP is one of the best.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 09:11 AM

25. Vietnam,

I definately see similarities. And there is no doubt about the quagmire aspect of this.

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Response to G_j (Reply #25)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 11:22 AM

31. The quagmire aspect

is far more significant than differences such as the jungle vs the desert. Another important factor is that nationalism comes into play: people prefer to run their own country, rather than having a distant empire making decisions for them.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #31)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 01:52 PM

32. and whenever I hear about "advisors" on the ground...

Vietnam comes first to mind.

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Response to G_j (Reply #32)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 01:56 PM

34. Exactly right.

Key point. Thank you.

Only a fool would believe that our "on the ground" role will be limited to advising. The special forces that are already in Iraq are not advisers. Again, the same pattern as in Vietnam.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 10:58 AM

27. One person cannot change this system.

It's going to take a team of leaders.

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Response to kentuck (Reply #27)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 01:53 PM

33. Right.

I'd include grass roots leaders. Real change rarely starts at the top. It really only comes from the actions of the average, everyday citizens who demand that change.

I think that the #1 need today is for organizers at the local level. That includes people creating linkages with other like-minded groups and individuals, who face a common "enemy." (And that enemy isn't always an individual, as toxic as a George W. Bush may be. That enemy can be high unemployment, etc. In other words, it is almost always a system, as any system that does damage -- intentionally or by neglect -- to one group of people, will generally do damage to others.)

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 11:04 AM

28. excellent post

 

You touch upon something that I believe is a significant factor: Institutional behavior, wherein individuals follow the dictates of the institution.

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Response to cali (Reply #28)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 11:07 AM

29. I think that is exactly what has happened.

The system has changed the person.

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Response to cali (Reply #28)

Thu Sep 25, 2014, 02:06 PM

35. Thanks.

I like to use the model of a mobile, hanging over a baby's crib, to illustrate systems. In order for one piece to move, all of the others must shift their positions. And in any system as large as the federal government, people become deeply entrenched. Non-elected officials, for example, hold significant power. The example that comes to mind is J. Edgar Hoover: he knew that presidents came and went, while he was firmly entrenched in his position. So when RFK became Attorney General, and attempted to get Hoover to change, he met with great resistance.

Carter believed he could effect change by bringing in his own people. But almost all of his plans were stunted, by the other, entrenched sources of power in the system. I believe that this is why Obama made so many ex-Clinton folks into his administration. He thought that they had the know-how and experience to get things accomplished. However, most of them were systems people, and not inclined to making significant changes.

The result of all of this, in my opinion, is that President Obama has changed. He has become another part of the very system that needs to change, if we are to avoid the never-ending violence in the Middle East and Africa.

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