Thursday, August 02, 2007

The America I know is the last, best hope for that child looking up at a helicopter


Like Trent Thomas, Cpl. Marshall Magincalda has been convicted of conspiracy to murder Awad the Lame, but not of the actual murder and kidnapping or of making a false statement, although unlike Thomas he was found guilty of housebreaking and petty larceny. Both juries (all members of which served in Iraq) seem to have come to agreements to ignore some of the elements of the crime so that they can justify handing down ridiculously light sentences.

Venezuela’s RCTV has finally begun operating as a cable station, only to find that Chavez is going after its license there too, demanding that it register as a “national content provider,” with the obligation to break into its programming to broadcast every one of Hugo Chavez’s four-hour-long speeches.

Barack Obama gave a foreign policy speech today intended to dispel Hillary’s attacks on him as a foreign-policy light-weight (which he is, as is she). I have only read it rather than seen it, but on the page, at least, it is an effective speech, with lots of really good lines. Totally misguided, but you gotta respect the quality of the rhetoric. For example, after 9/11, “Instead, we got a color-coded politics of fear. Patriotism as the possession of one political party. The diplomacy of refusing to talk to other countries. A rigid 20th century ideology that insisted that the 21st century’s stateless terrorism could be defeated through the invasion and occupation of a state.”

Obama effectively rebuts Hillary Clinton, as he’s been doing since the last debate, by linking her approach to that of George Bush: “The lesson of the Bush years is that not talking does not work. Go down the list of countries we’ve ignored and see how successful that strategy has been.” The funny thing about this is that Hillary went into that debate planning to call him “naive and irresponsible” about something, the way Reagan had that “There you go again” line prepared, and this just happened to be the opening he gave her.

As good as the speech is, I’m not sure how big a market there is for it. Are there a lot of people out there who like The War Against Terror (TWAT) but just dislike the way Bush has waged it, who want to pull out of Iraq in order to invade Pakistan? Or, as he calls it, “the right battlefield.”

Some of the rhetoric doesn’t stray far from the Bushian/Cheneyesque. Four times he spoke of the need to “take out” the terrorists. “We are in the early stages of a long struggle.” “Bin Laden and his allies know they cannot defeat us on the field of battle or in a genuine battle of ideas.” They may (questionably) know the former, but they certainly do not believe the latter. “[W]e will not repeat the mistake of the past, when we turned our back on Afghanistan following Soviet withdrawal”. I’m sure I’ve heard Bush say that, and I’ve never been clear exactly what we were supposed to have done.

“In ending the war, we must act with more wisdom than we started it.” Wow, talk about setting the bar low for yourself.

He has some specific proposals, like a world-wide network of secret police to “to take down terrorist networks from the remote islands of Indonesia, to the sprawling cities of Africa.” And a “$2 billion Global Education Fund to counter the radical madrasas”. Oh good, the Christian nation will fund anti-Islamic propaganda, and give education programs a bad name in the Muslim world.

And he will go to Korea. Sorry, does everyone remember that Eisenhower campaigned on a promise that he would “go to Korea,” without quite saying what it is he would do when he got there, play a few rounds of golf for all anyone knew? Anyway, Obama says, “In the first 100 days of my Administration, I will travel to a major Islamic forum and deliver an address to redefine our struggle.” “I will make clear that we are not at war with Islam”. Bush also says that, so I don’t know how impressed the Muslims will be.

His image of non-Americans, which he repeated no fewer than six times, is of a child looking up at a helicopter. We’re in the helicopter. Or we are the helicopter, I don’t know. Foreigners, though, are definitely children in this scenario. “That child looking up at the helicopter must see America and feel hope.” “I will speak directly to that child who looks up at that helicopter, and my message will be clear: ‘You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now.’” “The America I know is the last, best hope for that child looking up at a helicopter.”

Pakistan, shit, I’m still only in Pakistan.


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