In the second year of his second term, President Barack Obama announced this month the draw down of troops in Afghanistan.
Twelve years after the invasion, nearly all the troops are shipping out. Twelve long years, and Obama's record on war is more like Nixon's than Ghandi's.
A blood bath, too, will happen, like Nixon's Saigon in 1975, only this one won't be broadcast by television news. Walter Cronkite won't go there and return to counsel America.
It's a deep disappointment, or a deep misunderstanding.
Obama continued the Bush era policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the latter the longest U.S. engagement in history.
Two wars, likely unlawfully launched by Bush, by Chaney. But as the cleanup batter voters elected in 2008, Obama struck out. Disappointment is an understatement, even if he was trapped by circumstance.
But what's a president to do; indict his predecessor and the prior VP? The war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan. The war on terror. Manufactured war. Enduring war. Contracted war.
To war is human; it's the DNA.
Former President George W. Bush's own top anti-terror expert, Richard Clarke, believes war crimes were committed.
“We have established procedures now with the international court in the Hague where people who take actions as serving presidents or prime ministers of countries have been indicted and have been tried,” said Clarke, who served as Bush's coordinator for security and counter-terrorism.
Clarke resigned after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
“So the precedent is there to do that sort of thing and I think we need to ask ourselves whether or not it would be useful to do that in the case of members of the Bush administration," Clarke told journalist Amy Goodman, with the news program Democracy Now.
“It's clear, in my mind, at least its clear, that some of the things they did were war crimes.”
Is Clarke right? Was Obama supposed to force an indictment? Is Obama compelled by circumstances to launch an investigation? Of Chaney? Of Bush? If not Obama, who would order one? A partisan Congress?
Is the American presidency untouchable?
And the wars.
Is it over then? In Iraq? In Afghanistan? What was accomplished? What was lost? Do our returning veterans get the care they deserve, the care they need, the gratitude of a nation, or are they left waiting, and dying?
And what's next? Syria? Ukraine?
If Obama is to be credited, we aren't there yet. The big gun remains holstered among so many bad choices and the politicization of wars, the special interests lobbying for wars.
The lesson of Vietnam, the lesson of Nixon, started getting lost in the star wars precision of the first Gulf War, executed by 41's father, former President George H. Bush. The privatization of war began then, too, and accelerated in the two short decades since.
Changing the human war DNA isn't a priority, and if it is happening its pace is evolutionary, not revolutionary. It's slow-going.
The U.S. Defense budget is untouchable, the Sacred Cow few if any politician or elected representative dare questions or even discusses. But small percentage cuts in defense spending amounts to billions that could be spent to provide public education, facilities, healthcare services and used in other different ways to change the world.
The evolution cannot be televised.
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