Saturday, September 20, 2008

Trying To Have Hope

I want to have hope for my country. And I'm doing my best to help elect the most viable progressive candidate president by volunteering for the Obama campaign. While I'm fully aware of his flaws I regard Obama as intelligent and believe his decision making process on high stakes issues will mostly be judicious and thoughtful. Hell, compared to John McCain, Barack Obama is Plato.

Nevertheless, when contemplating the socio-economic and geopolitical place we find ourselves in it's hard to feel anything but despair. We're engaged in two failed military occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan is imploding and al quaeda is rebuilding. As for Iraq, with all due respect to the "surge," a military occupation that requires billions of America's treasure as well our blood, not to mention the blood of Iraqis that have been shed to maintain a semblance of stability is not a success.

And now we're forced to spend trillions to bail out Wall Street thanks to the medacity of the Bush Administration and their cabal of chuckle heads, cronies and plutocrats. Much of this is of course being financed by creditors overseas.

I mean, what the hell will a new president be able to do upon taking office? How can can any president deliver on campaign promises of tax cuts or spending programs for infrastructure, education and health care when you combine the cost of two military occupations with the bail out of Wall Street? I know Obama wants to get out of Iraq but ending that occupation in a prudent manner can't be done quickly. We're going to spend billions more money in Iraq even if Obama wins. Also, there is the moral requirements to help finance Iraq's reconstruction considering we invaded their country without legitimate provocation, tortured their citizens at Abu Ghraib and killed a whole lot of their people to make money for Halliburton, Bechtel and Blackwater USA.

And we can't just pull out of Afghanistan. After financing our proxy war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in the 80s we turned our back on those people. And we know the tragic legacy of that mistake. Yet our presence isn't helping and a "surge" in Afghanistan will not bring any more political reconciliation to that country than it has in Iraq. If anything the internal dynamics of Afghanistan and their culture of war lords is even more cumbersome. Yet many Democrats, including Obama have talked about increasing our troop levels in Afghanistan. And that will cost billions too.

At least when FDR became president it was merely a matter of political will to implement the New Deal and establish institutions that helped build an enduring middle class for the twentieth century. Also, when FDR became president America wasn't consumed by two military occupations as the next president will be . Hence, when the gathering storm clouds of the Axis Powers engulfed the world in war, FDR was able to mobilize America's industrial prowess for the effort. Suppose the liquidity crisis on Wall Street today empowers another Hitler overseas who exploits global economic depression and seizes power? What then if America is overextended with our occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Political will by itself won't be enough for the next president. Global liquidity is in rapidly short supply and the world is running out of oil. Global warming is a ticking time bomb and many regions in the world, including the American southwest our contending with a water shortage crisis. Addressing these challenges requires capital and lots of it. Capital that we don't have. Hence, somehow the next president is going to have to pull a rabbit out of their hat and create a new twenty-first century socio-economic paradigm on the cheap. And he'll have to do it fast.

I believe Obama at least grasps the challenges ahead. Sadly, John McCain appears to be out of his depth with a limited grasp of the modern world.

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