As with most new presidents, the honeymoon with America is
underway. And that will continue for a time as President Obama utilizes his
large political capital and his oratorical skills in promoting his goal of
transforming America. But, there are serious moral and ethical issues that he
will soon have to confront, and how he deals with them will have a huge impact
on the success of his administration and the future of our nation.
What will President Obama do about torture and renditions?
While he has stated that no one is above the law, his mindset is clearly on
looking forward rather than backward. To many, that would seem to indicate that
he does not intend to promote the investigation and potential prosecution of
anyone and everyone in the Bush administration with regard to war crimes.
Constitutional scholars contend that Obama cannot look the
other way because, by his oath of office, he is bound to adhere to the part of
the Constitution that states, This Constitution, and the Laws of the United
States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or
which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the
supreme Law of the Land;� That means he must enforce the Constitution and
the law of the land.
Bush and Cheney have made statements in both print and on
video apparently admitting that they not only knew about, but approved, new
�innovative forms of interrogation,� including methods of torture such as water
boarding, that are in violation of the Geneva Convention, the United Nations
Convention Against Torture and other international law.
Now, wonder of wonders, various Democratic congressional
leaders, including Pelosi and Reid, are speaking out on this issue and
indicating that they are in favor of some type of investigation by Congress, a
special prosecutor or a commission. That is certainly a massive change of
direction as opposed to their previous deadly silence on these matters in the
last several years. And by speaking out in this way, these leaders are now
making this issue one that seemingly must be addressed.
Their stand may pose a dilemma for Obama but there just
might be some behind the scenes strategy going on here. Could it be possible
that Obama, shrewd politician that he seems to be, is setting up a process
where he will abide by the Constitution by staying above the fray and letting
his surrogates in Congress take the responsible actions that this issue
Who knows, but I would venture to say that Obama knows full
well that this hot issue is not going to go away soon and that he cannot risk
the consequences of a potential backlash from many Americans and the entire
world community of nations if he fails to address such a huge moral issue.
Now let�s focus on the Middle East and the fact that after
60 years, ever since the state of Israel was created in 1948, this now heavily
nuclear-armed nation has not been able to find any way to deal with its
neighboring countries other than by encroachment and use of military force. I
am not saying that all other Middle East nations have Israel�s best interests
and safety in mind, it�s just that Israel, obviously an extremely paranoid
nation, has continuously resisted honest efforts to bring true peace to that
area for decades.
How President Obama goes about �bringing change� and doing
away with �business as usual� is critical to the future of the Middle East. He
must use every means at his disposal, utilizing Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton and new envoy George Mitchell, to come up with new visions and
strategies to bring some kind of mutual cooperation and understanding between
all the regional nations. Yes, between all nations, because only with a
concentrated mutual effort and diplomatic pressure will anything of substance
happen. The old way of simply pushing Israel and Palestine to find common
ground is now outdated and obsolete.
If he allows himself to fall into the same old negotiating
strategies of the past, he will fail. If he allows himself to come under the
compelling spell of Israel�s leaders and the powerful Israeli lobby in
Washington, he will completely fail and the Middle East may have seen its last
chance at reconciliation disappear forever.
The last issue that will determine the substance and
integrity of the Obama administration is that of his stated intention of
withdrawal from Iraq and escalation of our military involvement in Afghanistan.
Let�s examine the planned exit from Iraq first. The first
great danger to carrying out Obama�s stated objectives is already coming from
his secretary of defense, Robert Gates, and the military establishment. The
very politically ambitious General Petraeus, together with certain other key
Obama advisers, seems to be bent on delaying the process or watering it down.
This ominous development could spell very serious problems for Obama. The
military, in my estimation, has definite plans to maintain a substantial troop
presence in Iraq, as they have been mentally conditioned by the Bush
administration to protect America�s special strategic interests in that region --
To think that America is going to take all its military
presence out of Iraq and bring all our troops home is not realistic. The big
question is just how many troops will Obama and the military leave in Iraq to
prevent chaos and civil war between the Shiites, Sunnis and other factions. If
Obama caves in and lets the withdrawal experience delay after delay, or if he
allows tens of thousands of troops to stay in outlying bases, then he will fail
and the monumental drain on our financial resources will be devastating.
There is talk that Petraeus may be making a power move to
take control of this situation, since a group of senior military officers is
reported to be preparing to support him by mobilizing public opinion against
Obama�s intended withdrawal plan. We may just be looking at a replay of the
scenario when, in April 1951, President Harry S. Truman removed General Douglas
MacArthur from his command of the United Nations forces in Korea, when that
famous World War II general tried to use the press to pressure Truman to agree
to bomb Communist Chinese bases north of the Yalu River. Truman wasted no time
and fired McArthur, the war hero. Petraeus, hardly of the public stature of
McArthur, should read up on this historical incident and decide if he wants to
take a risky chance that might make him the modern-day McArthur.
It seems that the best scenario that we can hope for is that
Obama is strong and resolute in his objective and does not back down from his
timetable, and leaves only minimal troops in Iraq to guard the embassy and to
provide training. In such a scenario, it will be very likely that US troops
would still maintain a formidable presence in Kuwait, Qatar and other
surrounding nations. Whether we like it or not, America is not going to give up
its special, strategic interests in the Middle East.
Right now, it is evident that Obama and the military are on
the same page when it comes to transferring up to 30,000 combat troops to
escalate our military involvement in Afghanistan. They are all in agreement
that this will be done and that may well be a fatal mistake for America. Every
invading nation since 330 b.c.,
including the Soviet Union in 1989, has been expelled from that nation. And
there is every reason to think that America will experience the same fate.
But not learning from history and the ill-conceived wars of
Vietnam and Iraq, our government is on the verge of making yet one more
misguided, terribly expensive use of military force.
How will the Obama administration and America be severely
damaged if this current direction is taken? Another deep quagmire will probably
lead to a tremendous, possibly fatal, monetary drain at the same time we are
trying to solve our massive economic problems. Obama will be labeled as a war
president just as Nixon and Johnson were with the disastrous Vietnam War. And
the chance for America to break with its past mistakes and go into a great new
direction will be dealt a deadly blow.
is going to have to tackle each of these moral and ethical issues head on. This
will be a critical test of his courage, resolve and sense of justice. How he
addresses them will determine if real change comes to America.