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Wed Sep 6, 2017, 12:26 PM

A Gadfly in the Ointment

“There is no present or future – only the past, happening over and over again -- now.”
Eugene O'Neill; A Moon for the Misbegotten


There are a number of important issues being discussed by members of the Democratic Party as we begin to prepare for the most important mid-term elections of our lifetimes in 2018. The hurricanes, climate change, and the government's response to national emergencies; the cruel DACA move by the administration; the Trump-Russian scandal; and North Korea. I thought it might be interesting to take a few minutes to discuss the general topics involving North Korea today.

Within the DU community, there are some members who remember the WW2 era, more who lived during the Korean war, many from the Vietnam era, and everyone has been alive during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were, of course, other military actions in between these; likewise, the military is also participating in other, unlisted countries today.

I would speculate that most people recognize that there are differences between, say, WW2 and the military invasion of Grenada under Reagan. People can – and do – have different ideas about what position the Democratic Party should take on each war. And that's a good thing. It has been an important factor within our lifetimes.

Any rational person who lived through (or has studied) the Cuban Missile Crisis knows it is a good thing that John F. Kennedy was president. In 1964, before the experience of aging mellowed Barry Goldwater, it was better that LBJ won. The Vietnam war hurt our Party in 1968's primaries, though VP Humphrey likely would defeated Nixon if he had parted with President Johnson on the war, even a week earlier than he eventually did.

Things are not always as they seem. LBJ would almost certainly rank high among the great presidents, had it not been for Vietnam. George McGovern was a WW2 hero, and an honorable Senator, yet he lost by a wide margin to a crook named Nixon. The Vietnam war had a huge impact upon our society, including – obviously – domestic politics.

In the 1980s, as terrible as Reagan-Bush were, there was a strong anti-war movement, protesting the US participation in the wars in Central America. This was connected with Democrats, including numerous church groups, fighting the administration's attempts to deport “illegal” immigrants, many from those war-torn lands of Central American countries the US military was systematically devastating.

In the Bush-Cheney era, many good Democrats did not fall for the lies about WMD in Iraq, and opposed the US invasion and occupation there. The longer the war continued, the clearer it became that the administration had intentionally lied our nation into that war. In 2008, Senator Barack Obama won the Democratic Party's nomination largely because of his early opposition to the war in Iraq. More, he won the presidency, partly because the American people believed he would do his best to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I believe that President Obama did attempt to end US participation in both of those wars. I think that he learned that there were limits to presidential powers beyond those he was aware of as a candidate. Perhaps he could have done more if the public was demanding an end to the insanity of those wars. But the issues relating to those wars seemed to fade from the public discussions, and somehow the US would extend its participation in military operations that never saw public debate.

In 2016, a gadfly in the ointment of the republican primaries promised to end the US military role in Afghanistan, and to re-invest in American infrastructure. While his chronic lying makes it impossible to determine if he ever intended this salve, it is apparent that he is now surrounded by generals who favor the continuation of the failed military occupation. This is the flip side of having advocates of the military industrial complex providing stability within what is otherwise a dangerously unstable administration.

Serious discussions about ending these wars should not be “the dog that didn't bark” during the upcoming congressional campaigns. They have not made America safer. Quite the opposite: the world has become a much more dangerous place since 2001.

I'm curious what other forum members think about this?

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply A Gadfly in the Ointment (Original post)
H2O Man Sep 2017 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Sep 2017 #1
H2O Man Sep 2017 #3
eleny Sep 2017 #5
H2O Man Sep 2017 #7
Kali Sep 2017 #2
H2O Man Sep 2017 #4
oxbow Sep 2017 #6
H2O Man Sep 2017 #8

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 12:32 PM

1. Indeed, there is truth in what you've said, my dear H20 Man.

Your truth can be summarized in this sentence:

Quite the opposite: the world has become a much more dangerous place since 2001.

Thank you for your wisdom!

K&R

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #1)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 01:45 PM

3. Thanks, Peggy!

Every so often, out of nowhere, my younger son will look at me and say, "Hey, old man -- I thought your generation was going to fix everything. What are you waiting for?" I suspect that a lot of your and my generation really tried, with the sincere belief would could improve society. And we did! So I usually respond, "You have no idea how bad it would be now, if we hadn't struggled so hard then. But now it's your turn."

Still, I do question if anything could be worse than Trump.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #3)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 02:19 PM

5. I agree that we've been trying

But intense greed has been a powerful counter force. When I think about the right wing titans of business sometimes I get comic book style villain images in my head. They're just that bizarre.

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Response to eleny (Reply #5)

Thu Sep 7, 2017, 05:26 PM

7. It can be

difficult to not get caught up as part of the system. I used to think that I could remain on the outside throughout life. And it's a great position to be in as a student or young adult. But getting married and having my first child made working on farms and cutting fire wood and earning enough impossible. I worked in a factory, which paid well, but didn't fit me very well. Hence, human services for employment, soon the president of the PTO, and eventually, a school board member.

So I agree 100% with the points you raise, and add that I suspect it's natural to have even the most dedicated members of our generation adjusting the manner in which they fight for social justice -- against those greedy vultures you describe. Sometimes I look at my kids, and wish I were young again, as I miss the activities they engage in. But it's better that I'm able to serve as a sounding board for them, because even though they are more intelligent than me, I've got lots of experiences that they learn from.

One is that any system, from a jail to a school to a workplace, is a system. When you start inside it, you tend to watch to see how it runs, before you really open up and participate in it. But you've become part of that system. There may be things that you can change as an individual, and problems you can solve as a group. But you are still part of that system.

Hence, when I read some DUers who are certain that if one politician did this, or another did that, I both understand their frustrations .....and appreciate why every politician doesn't do exactly what I think he/ she should do. And saying that, I also know that the time between now and November, 2020 provides us with unique opportunities, as individuals and as a group.

Anyhow. I blabbing now, likely due to having just taken my dog on a long and tiring walk. I appreciate your response!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 12:33 PM

2. I am reminded of that saying "politics makes strange bedfellows"

the insanity of being hopeful that military presence being the "calming" force for a nut job executive

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Response to Kali (Reply #2)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 01:53 PM

4. Right.

I respect those three generals, and believe they are sincere, capable men serving the country the best way that they know how. At the same time, I am fully aware of the absolute wisdom of having the civilian government over the military, rather than the military over the civilian government.

It's curious to hear some people I know ask if a military coup, intent upon restoring democracy, might be a good thing. I'm not sure if that isn't already taking place, at some levels. But either way, the most absolutely vital thing now is for the public to become more educated about what is happening in DC today, how government is supposed to work (and can work), and to become active participants between now and 2020. For that is the best bet for restoring and repairing our constitutional democracy.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Wed Sep 6, 2017, 03:29 PM

6. The global war on terror has been an unmitigated disaster

Al-qaeda was a small group of fanatics before 9/11. Bush Jr.'s handling of the whole mess turned the world against us and led to the new normal of just living with terrorism that we are experiencing today.

I remember John Kerry was one of the few public figures advocating the use of law enforcement and tactical teams instead of a gwot. The road not taken would have led to a much weaker and less inflamed radical Islamic network. This is the direction we need to head back towards if we want to de-escalate the war on terror. The whole reason al-qaeda was formed was in response to the US troops in Saudi Arabia, a holy site. Less troops in the Mideast WILL yield better results, if they are used wisely.

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Response to oxbow (Reply #6)

Thu Sep 7, 2017, 05:31 PM

8. Exactly.

One could reasonably question if perpetual war is some folk's goal.

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