Sunday, August 31, 2008

Is Afghanistan the Sign That the Democratic Party Is Self-Destructively Chasing Moby Dick?

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By Gregory Wonderwheel
August 31, 2008

In the best tradition of propaganda sloganeering, the Democrats labeled each day of their recent convention with a titled slogan intended to tell the party faithful what the sermon was to be about. The final day of the convention culminating in Barack Obama’s acceptance speech was titled with the religiously tinted slogan, “Change You Can Believe In.” Let the buyer beware. As Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote in January 1849, “The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing” (“plus çça change, plus c'est la mêê me chose," commonly rendered as "the more things change, the more they stay the same"). With a triumph of staging, Barack Obama is selling the elixir of change in the political market places as well as preaching it from the political pulpits, still one must ask in all honesty and daring to speak truth to the power of Democratic propaganda: Where is the “change” when it is more of the same thing?

The 2008 Democratic convention is now history, yet like the lingering sour taste of the 2004 Democratic convention, the unsettling queasy sensations of altitude headiness now roll down the mountain like echos from Mile High Stadium. In 2004, the hope for change in the face of 18 months of war, was dashed in the hearts and minds of progressives who watched the micro-managing by the Kerry campaign turn what should have been a calling to the nation of a clearly enunciated antiwar message. Instead, we witnessed the nominee “report for duty” and promise that if he were elected he would win the war the right way.

Now, in 2008, we have just witnessed this election season’s central hope for change -- a world without lies and deception leading us to war – be dashed once again in the Democratic Party’s search for the great white whale, the White House. Obama staked his claim on the party’s nomination by asserting the evidence of his good judgement against the war in Iraq, and as his reward, in the convoluted primary process of caucuses and open or closed party voting, the majority of voters agreed. However, the progressive anti-war sentiments that are hung on the hook of hope espoused in the mantra of change by Obama continue to fall on the deaf ears of this captain of the Democratic Party as surely as First Mate Starbuck’s pleas to turn back were unheard by Captain Ahab. Progressives say to Obamam as did Starbuck to Ahab, "Thou hast outraged, not insulted me, sir; but for that I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man." Just so to you Obama, in your voyage to war in Afghanistan, Obama beware of Obama; beware of thyself.

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is quite instructive for those seeing insight into he ways of the Democratic Party. We progressives among the Democrats are too as the native islander and harpooner Queequeg was: pagans among the Christians. The protagonist storyteller Ismael relates how he learned of the cannibal Queequeg’s desire to see the world among the Christians:

For at bottom- so he told me- he was actuated by a profound desire to learn among the Christians, the arts whereby to make his people still happier than they were; and more than that, still better than they were. But, alas! the practices of whalemen soon convinced him that even Christians could be both miserable and wicked; infinitely more so, than all his father's heathens. Arrived at last in old Sag Harbor; and seeing what the sailors did there; and then going on to Nantucket, and seeing how they spent their wages in that place also, poor Queequeg gave it up for lost. Thought he, it's a wicked world in all meridians; I'll die a pagan.

Among those of us who belong to the progressive persuasion, there are those who convert to the self-delusions of the Democratic Party like pagans converting to Christianity, yet others of us remain unconvinced. We observe the practices of the Democrats and are soon convinced that even liberal Democrats can be both miserable and deceptive, and arriving at the conclusion that it is a deceptive world in all political meridians, we choose to remain and die progressives. Many progressives rather than return to their native lands live among the Democrats and look to Democrats themselves to be better, and like Queequeg say, "It's a mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians. We cannibals must help these Christians."

In such spirits, progressives like Katerina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation writes in her essay titled “Don’t Make Afghanistan the Democrats’ War”:

Barack Obama not only had the good judgment to oppose the war in Iraq, he argued for the need "to end the mindset that took us into" that war. So it is troubling that a man of such good judgment is now ramping up his rhetoric about how we need to end the war in Iraq to focus on what he calls the "central front in the war on terror"--Afghanistan.

However, one didn’t need to be schooled in Melville to see in their Convention the persistence of the same old mindset by the Democrats in their clear call to arms to Afghanistan. Now that the people, who were bamboozled by a lying president into believing that a war with Iraq was both legitimate and moral, have mostly woken up from that hypnotic delusion, they seem all too willing to be entranced into a similar slumber regarding Afghanistan. Here are some examples of the mesmerising mantra delivered on the day of “Change You Can Believe In”:

Barack Obama said:

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression.

Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration (Ret), a self-confessed recent Republican said,
When I consider who should be commander-in-chief, I ask four questions.

First, who has the judgment to make the right decisions about when to use force? In his words of caution before the invasion of Iraq, and in his consistent calls for more force against al-Qaida and the Taliban, Barack Obama has shown the judgment to lead.

And on the previous day labeled with the slogan, “Securing America's Future” Vice presidential candidate Joe Biden chanted:
For the last seven years, this administration has failed to face the biggest forces shaping this century: the emergence of Russia, China and India as great powers; the spread of lethal weapons; the shortage of secure supplies of energy, food and water; the challenge of climate change; and the resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the real central front against terrorism.
and
Should we trust John McCain’’s judgment when he said only three years ago, ““Afghanistan——we don’’t read about it anymore because it’’s succeeded””? Or should we trust Barack Obama, who more than a year ago called for sending two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan?

and
The fact is, al-Qaida and the Taliban——the people who actually attacked us on 9/11——have regrouped in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff echoed Barack’’s call for more troops.

These calls for the continued war in Afghanistan are nothing more than a Democrats version of the Republican lies that got us into Iraq. Contrary to what the so-called foreign policy “expert” Biden claims, the fact is that the Taliban had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. There is as much evidence that the Taliban were the “the people who actually attacked us on 9/11" as there was that Saddam Hussein was buying yellow cake uranium and aluminum tubes for development of weapons of mass destruction, that is, none.

Now the question the American people must dare to ask themselves if they are ever to see the wizards behind the curtain of power in Washington DC is this: Was Biden’s false allegation that the Taliban attacked us on 9/11 just a campaign gaff or a part of the concerted plan by the military industrial complex to re-mesmerize the populace into continuing with the same war profiteering mindset that brought us Iraq?

I think the answer is abundantly clear by this thread woven through the convention advocating the need to move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan and stated explicitly also by Obama. The military contractors and war profiteers have seen the writing on the wall: that the war in Iraq is no longer popular. So what have they done? They have convinced the leadership of the Democratic Party, who are always afraid of being labeled "pacifists" or "wimps" unwilling to go to war, including Barack Obama, that reducing the war in Iraq is allowable as long as they can recoup some of their profits by increasing the war in Afghanistan with the hope of spreading it to Pakistan and Iran. And Obama has fully embraced this twisted vision of the new “just” war and appears dead set on making Afghanistan the Democrat’s war in yet another reprise on the theme of Viet Nam. This is nothing less than the Democratic leadership's purposeful collusion with the Republicans to transformation the American Dream into the Orwellian dream of perpetual war.

An honest person must ask, is this change we can believe in? Where is the change when all we are offered is the continued mindset of war with only a change in venue from Iraq to Afghanistan and with continued saber rattling threats of war with Iran? Where is the change when the lies of Hussein’s involvement in 9/11 are simply changed into lies about the Taliban being the perpetrators of 9/11?

While I detest the Taliban's politics and religious dictatorship, including their destruction of sacred Buddhist sites which is nothing less than the self-destruction of their own national heritage and potential sources of tourist income, the reality is that the Taliban never once threatened the United States and even now are only acting as nationalist insurgents seeking to throw out the current US-NATO invaders and occupiers, like they threw out the previous Soviet invaders.

There is absolutely no evidence of participation by the Taliban in 9/11 and when the USA wanted Bin Laden turned over, the Taliban did only what any sovereign government does in like circumstances, it exercised its sovereign right to hold an extradition hearing. This was, for example, what the government of the United Kingdom did when the Spanish authorities asked that Augusto Pinochet be handed over. The English did not hand him over without an extradition hearing in the courts with the right of appeal.

Would the USA turn over someone to Russia or China just because they demanded it be done without an extradition hearing? When the Taliban said they would hold an extradition hearing to determine whether Bin Laden should be turned over to the USA as soon as the evidence to do so was presented by the USA to the Afghanistan government, it was the USA that refused to participate by refusing to provide any evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11. Instead the USA and the Bush administration used the Taliban's adherence to and exercise of international law as an excuse to put into motion their pre- 9/11 plans to invade and occupy Afghanistan. Now Obama perpetuates the false legitimacy of those plans.

By failing to let the Taliban government hold Bin Laden under house arrest while an extradition hearing was conducted in tandem with continuing diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban, the Bush administration was directly responsible for Bin Laden being able to escape under the cover of the fog of war.

In order to show they can be just as militaristic as Republicans, as if, after Presidents Wilson, FDR, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton, anyone ever had any real doubts that Democrats can bomb and invade with the best of them, the Democrats are now urging a surge in the war in Afghanistan. The Democrats are using Afghanistan and 9/11 as their talisman for victory in their search for the White House just like Captain Ahab used his rage for his past injuries and peg leg in his search for the white whale. Yet Ahab at least was raging against the beast who was responsible for his injuries, while there no evidence at all that the Taliban government or the people of Afghanistan ever threatened the USA, either by 9/11 or at any other time. So we continue to invade and occupy Afghanistan unnecessarily killing innocent civilians and protecting the poppy growing and heroin trade, all based on lies that are just as pernicious and monomaniacally wrong as Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

There are some who fervently hope that Obama is just posturing and playing the war card for political gain, that once elected, Obama will remove it from the table. However, this seems like a false hope not even remotely connected to the hope that Obama is offering.

Continuing the war of occupation in Afghanistan will only further alienate the people of Afghanistan as the inevitable civilian casualties continue to add up. There is no military solution to an occupation opposed by nationalist insurgents.

In 1851 when Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick the world was not that different of a place from today. Ishmael, the narrator and sole survivor left to tell the tale of the demise of Captain Ahab, in a state of reverie considering his own fateful excursion into these well charted waters as a pawn in the greater story of world events recounts:

Finally, I always go to sea as a sailor, because of the wholesome exercise and pure air of the fore-castle deck. For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the Commodore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at second hand from the sailors on the forecastle. He thinks he breathes it first; but not so. In much the same way do the commonalty lead their leaders in many other things, at the same time that the leaders little suspect it. But wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the sea as a merchant sailor, I should now take it into my head to go on a whaling voyage; this the invisible police officer of the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and secretly dogs me, and influences me in some unaccountable way- he can better answer than any one else. And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage, formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago. It came in as a sort of brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances. I take it that this part of the bill must have run something like this:

"Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States.
"WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL."
"BLOODY BATTLE IN AFGHANISTAN."

What “change to believe in” is this that Obama, now in 2008, over one hundred and fifty years after Melville wrote those words, can only offer us another “bloody battle in Afghanistan.”? What change is there when the bill of the grand program of the Democratic Party has the whaling voyage of the campaign placed in the fated interval between a “Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States” and a further battle in Afghanistan?

In the entire four days of their Convention, the only true progressive voice within the Democratic Party came on day two from candidate Dennis Kucinich who was relegated to five minutes of sub-prime time. Kucinich, in his speech censored by the Obama campaign that prevented him from calling for the incarceration of he Republicans for their crimes, was the only speaker to draw the direct connection between Iraq and Afghanistan and the looming threat of war with Pakistan when he said, “Borrowed money to bomb bridges in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. No money to rebuild bridges in America.” Only Kucinich dared to speak truth to the actual power of the energy companies and weapons merchants who share control of he Democratic Party just as much they have control of the Republican Party:

Wake up, America. We went into Iraq for oil. The oil companies want more. War against Iran will mean $10-a-gallon gasoline. The oil administration wants to drill more, into your wallet. Wake up, America. Weapons contractors want more. An Iran war will cost 5 to 10 trillion dollars.

The ongoing dilemma of progressives in relation to the Democratic Party is whether to ship on board the doomed Pequod of the Party as it sails in a voyage that offers once again to use militarism and war as the instrument of its foreign policy and as the rallying cry of a fake patriotism. I have total sympathy for progressives who refuse to climb on board this damned ship and chose instead to sail the seas aboard the more modest vessels like the Green Party, searching for lost progressives like the ship Rachel searched for its lost children thrown overboard from whale boats capsized by Moby Dick. But I also have complete sympathy for those progressives who sail with the Democratic Party in its compulsive quest and who say, paraphrasing Queequeg’s words, "It's a mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians. We progressives must help these Democrats."

Still, it does no good for progressives to attempt to help the Democrats by silence. Progressives who wish to help the Democrats must raise their voices without embarrassment to warn against the Ahab-like obsession with war in the Democratic Party's quest for the White House.

1 comment:

John Maszka said...

An Escalation of the War in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a Very Bad Policy.

Conservatives and liberals can argue the merits of the surge in Iraq, or the need to deal with terrorism now rather than later. I want to focus on something else: the impact of the perspective of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. I’m not implying that it is somehow homogeneous, just relevant; more relevant than my opinion at least.

Taking the war on terror back to Afghanistan (and most likely Pakistan) is bad for a number of reasons: the perspective of the international Muslim community; the fact that a military solution has not worked thus far, so why keep kicking a dead horse (especially when it has the potential to trample you); the delicate balance of power in the immediate theatre and in the broader region; the likely negative reaction of other states; and last but not least, its potential impact on the price and availability of oil.

Pakistan’s reaction to the Bush Doctrine has been somewhat mixed. Musharraf was caught in the middle between pleasing the U.S. to ensure continued military and economic support, and the preferences of his constituents who resent the U.S. presence there. The region is already very unstable because of this tension between the US applying pressure from the outside and the internal desire of the populace to rid themselves of the unwanted American presence.

We can say the exact same thing about Afghanistan, Karzai is in a very similar position as Musharraf was. In 2006, Karzai had to start rearming the warlords to maintain order. Similarly, in September 2006, Pakistan was forced to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan - a loose group of Waziristani chieftains, closely associated with the Taliban, who now serve as the de facto security force in charge of North and South Waziristan.

If Senator Obama becomes president, and refocuses the war on terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the best we can hope for is another five to six years of what we’ve seen in Iraq. But this best-case scenario is very unlikely.

In addition to a multiple-front war, we would be dealing, not with a fallen state as with Iraq, but with two established states. This could possibly work in our favor as long as they continue to remain on our side. But as already mentioned, the tension is high, and there is a very delicate balance keeping Karzai in power. What if Karzai falls to a coup or assassination? And now with Musharraf stepping down, what happens if Musharraf’s successor plays to the popular demands of the people? We could find ourselves fighting the armies of the sovereign states of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in addition to insurgent forces there. If we consider the history of this region, we realize that this is not as far-fetched as it might sound on the face of it.

As we all know, the Taliban was comprised of Sunni Islamists and Pashtun nationalists (mostly from southern Afghanistan and western Pakistan). The Taliban initially enjoyed support from the U.S., Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates in the early 1980s to fight the Soviets. By 1996, the Taliban had gained control of most of Afghanistan, but its relationship with the U.S. and most of the rest of the world became strained. Most of the international community supported the Taliban’s rival, the Afghan Northern Alliance.

Still, even after the U.S. began to distance itself from the Taliban in late 1997, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates continued to officially recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Even after 9/11 when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates officially stopped recognizing the Taliban, Pakistan continued to support it. The Taliban in turn, had tremendous influence in Pakistani politics, especially among lobby groups- as it virtually controlled areas such as the Pashtun Belt (Southeast Afghanistan, and Northwest Pakistan) and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Going back to the perception of the international Muslim community … When the U.S. demanded that the Taliban turn Bin Laden over, it initially offered to turn Bin Laden over to Pakistan to be tried by an international tribunal operating according to Sharia law. But Pakistan was urged by the U.S. to refuse. Again, prior to the beginning of U.S. air strikes against Afghanistan, the Taliban offered to try Bin Laden according to Islamic law, but the U.S. refused. After the U.S. began air strikes, the Taliban offered to hand Bin Laden over to a neutral state to be tried under Islamic law, but the U.S. again refused. This is important because in the eyes of the greater international community, the war in Afghanistan was justified (at least initially). But in the eyes of the international Muslim community, especially given the Taliban’s offer to turn over Bin Laden, it was an unnecessary war. This, combined with the preemptive war in Iraq, has led many Muslims to equate the war on terror with a war on Islam. Senator Obama’s plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan will only serve to reinforce that impression.

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an Islamic political party in Pakistan, won elections in two out of four provinces in 2003, and became the third largest political party in the Pakistani parliament – with substantial support from urban areas (not just border regions). This speaks to the tremendous influence Islamic groups enjoy in Pakistan.

This strong influence is fueled by the fact that the Pashtun tribal group is over 40 million strong. The Taliban continues to receive many of its members from this group today. In fact, the Pakistani army suffered humiliating defeat at the hand of these so-called “insurgents.” Finally, in September 2006, Pakistan was forced to officially recognize the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan. Many saw the Pakistani government’s acknowledgment of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan as not only a military necessity, but also a political one as well – a concession in response to the growing internal pressure on the Musharraf administration from the people of Pakistan who resent the U.S. presence and involvement in the region.

Just consider the many, many public protests against the Pakistani government’s compliance with the United States. For instance, on January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area.

On October 30, 2006, the Pakistani military, under pressure from the U.S., attacked a madrasah in the Northwest Frontier province in Pakistan. Immediately following the attack, local residents, convinced the U.S. military was behind the attack, burned American flags and effigies of President Bush, and shouted “Death to America!” Outraged over an attack on school children, the local residents viewed the attack as an assault against Islam. On November 7, 2006, a suicide bomber retaliated. Further outrage ensued when President Bush extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the suicide attack, and President Musharraf did the same, without ever offering their condolences to the families of the slaughtered children.

Last year troubles escalated surrounding the Pakistani government’s siege of the Red Mosque where more than 100 people were killed. Even before Musharraf’s soldiers took the Lal Masjid the retaliations began. Suicide attacks originating from both Afghan Taliban and Pakistani tribal militants targeted military convoys and a police recruiting center.

There are countless more examples; too many to mention in detail. Likewise in Afghanistan; April 30, 2007 for example, when hundreds of Afghans protested US soldiers killing Afghan civilians. Why can’t the powers that be recognize that we’ve been in Afghanistan for nearly seven years, and in Iraq for over five; a military approach is not working. If we must focus the war on terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, let’s focus on winning the hearts and minds of the beautiful people of these countries, rather than filling their hearts with bitterness and hatred toward us. With their support, we can offer them the financial and technical assistance that they need to rebuild their infrastructure, their agriculture and their economy. With their support, we can offer them the needed resources to rebuild their human capital and start attracting foreign direct investment. But without their support, we cannot possibly have any positive influence in this region at all; our only influence will be that of brute force, bribery of corrupt officials, and outright coercion. It will be a long, hard, costly and bloody endeavor, and the people of these countries will continue to suffer.

Let’s not forget that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Let’s not also forget that this is a highly Muslim-concentrated area, the Islamic concept of duty to come to the aid of fellow Muslims would no doubt ensure a huge influx of jihadists in this type of a scenario. Why on earth would we want to intentionally provoke a situation that would not only radicalize existing moderates in the region, but could also potentially cause the influx of a concentration of radical jihadists from elsewhere into an already unstable region (that has nuclear weapons no less)? We would be begging for a nuclear proliferation problem.

We like to assume that we would have the upper hand in such a scenario. But we have been in Afghanistan since October of 2001. And we have yet to assume the upper hand. The fight in Afghanistan has the potential to become much more difficult than it already is. Nor would it be unheard of to expect other major powers to back these radical jihadists with economic and military assistance in much the same way that the US backed the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Beyond the fact that roughly 1/5 of the world’s population is Muslim (approximately 1.5 billion people- 85% Sunni, 15% Shia, Ibadiyyas, Ahmadis and Druze), we have to remember that Muslims are the majority in 57 states (out of 195). Most of these have Sunni majorities, which gives them added political power.

China has traditionally backed Pakistan. What would China do if the US were to find itself at war with Pakistan?

India has tremendous economic and security interests in the region. Let’s not forget that while India has been in nearly continual conflict with Pakistan, primarily over the Kashmir issue, it has the second largest Muslim population in the world next to Indonesia. What happens if India were to side with the U.S. in a potential conflict with Pakistan? It will have a very difficult task justifying that position with its very large Muslim population. A U.S.-Indian alliance could also spark more terrorist attacks in the Kashmir region; it could also create added tension to the already tenuous relationship between India and Iran, which has a long history of support for Pakistan. Or, if radicals gained control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, a nuclear attack against India could spark a nuclear altercation between the two nuclear powers. Or, what if radicals then gained control of India’s nuclear arsenal?

On the other hand, what happens if India for some reason (either via a coup or due to Muslims gaining the upper hand in the long-running Hindu-Muslim conflict) were to side with Pakistan against the United States? It seems unlikely now, but not completely unrealistic considering the on-again, off-again relationship between the U.S. and every country in that region. We constantly flip-flop in our foreign policy. An attack on Pakistani soil would be a perfect example of this type of wishy-washy foreign policy, as the Bush administration guaranteed Musharraf that the U.S. would never do such a thing (as much as Karzai wants us to). Speaking of Karzai, what if he is ousted and we find ourselves at war with Afghanistan. What would India do then, given its friendship with Afghanistan?

Also consider the U.S. position on Kashmir, which has a predominantly Muslim population. Pakistan wants a plebiscite, as called for in a 1949 UN resolution, to essentially allow the people to decide which state the region should belong to. India refuses a plebiscite, claiming Kashmir and Jammu as an integral part of India. The U.S. is arming both sides through billions in aid to Pakistan and selective proliferation to India, but insists Pakistan stem terrorist activities flowing from inside its borders, and at the same time discourages India from attacking Pakistan. Yet an escalation of war in the area could backfire badly.

Beyond all that we still have to consider a slew of other states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia – not to mention the central Asian states - all of which have economic and/or political and security interests in the region. How will they react to an escalation of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Finally, what would such a scenario do to oil prices and availability? I’m 100% in favor of America developing alternative energy sources, but again that’s my opinion, and the oil conglomerates have not been listening to me. Unfortunately, the facts are that the oil lobby is a very powerful entity. Even more to the point, our country could not ween itself off of oil overnight, even if it wanted to. We have to consider what such an escalation would do to oil prices, and the overall availability of oil.

The oil embargo of 1974 (in support of Egypt and Syria in the Yom Kippur war against Israel), in retaliation against the U.S. for its support of Israel had devastating economic and political consequences on the U.S. and much of Europe. Also, the more recent boycott of Danish products across the Muslim world, in retaliation for the 2005 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, demonstrates the ability of the international Muslim community to act collectively.

Escalating the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan would also demonstrate the fickle and hypocritical nature of America’s foreign policy. We supported the Taliban when it served our interests (to oppose the Soviets in Afghanistan) in spite of clear human rights abuses. But now we condemn the Taliban (and much of the Muslim world) over the very same human rights abuses (against women … etc.), while we also continue to ignore similar or same human rights abuses in China, Saudi Arabia, Israel … etc., when it’s convenient for us to do so. We did the same thing with Saddam Hussein; arming him in spite of clear and egregious human rights abuses when he was our ally, and condemning the same actions when he wasn’t.

The U.S. practices selective proliferation with India, and selective sovereignty with those it chooses (today Pakistan, tomorrow someone other than Pakistan), while at the same time violating the sovereignty of other states- depending on its whim at the time.

The United States government insisted that the Taliban turn over Bin Laden, but the United States itself has refused on several occasions to return foreign nationals (being held on death row in America) to their state of domicile because the U.S. wanted them to face execution, and the home state did not uphold the death penalty. We also continue to refuse to acknowledge the ICC because we don’t want American military personnel tried in an international court. How is that so different from the Taliban wanting Bin Laden tried in an Islamic court?

Rather than blindly accepting that America holds some God-given moral superiority over the rest of the planet, we need to realize that everywhere, humanity has a God-given right to live, love and prosper. Our children have the right to grow up in an environment free of air strikes and constant assault from an external enemy. They have the right to attend schools without fear of being maimed and killed inside of them. And they have the right to be children, instead of orphans. No state has the right to take that away from your children, or from mine. Imagine now that Senator Obama is planning to escalate the war on terror where you live.