I asked the boss for a reaction to the Afghan speech. He said he would have framed a few things differently, but his basic response was:"All hail Obama!"
At a recent gathering at the Netroots Nation, the participants were asked"do you, personally, spend the most time advancing currently?" The winner was health care reform, with 23 percent, and second place was"working to elect progressive candidates in the 2010 elections," with 16 percent. In 11th place -- at the very bottom of the list -- was"working to end our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan." Just one percent of Netroots Nations attendees listed that as their most important personal priority.
Here is my post at the blog of Historians Against the War:
Or are we now just Historians Against the Republicans?
Since it took power, the new administration has ordered bombings that killed twenty-four Afghan civilians (including several children), promised that an attack on Iran remains “on the table," vowed to double U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan, and proposed an increase of forty-billion dollars in the already bloated Pentagon budget.
Meanwhile, Richard Holbrooke, the new special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan has predicted that the Afghan war will last longer than the fourteen years of the Vietnam War, Vice President Biden has matter-of-factly promised an"uptick" in American casualties, and the American commander of NATO forces announced that all Afghan drug dealers, regardless of any connection to the insurgency, will be killed on sight.
Even the good news is less hopeful than it seemed on first appearance. Though President Obama has begun plans to close Gitmo and end torture, he also issued executive orders to continue the policy of "rendition."
All of these developments should be of grave concern to all advocates of peace. Despite this, the official face of HAW on the front page of the website highlights a cartoon of Michael Steele, a person who has nothing to do with setting U.S. foreign policy. It is not the first cartoon of this type to appear. If this continues, readers will naturally start to wonder if HAW still takes a firm stand against the pro-war policies of the United States.
Robert Scheer: I don't think the idea of nationalizing, as it's now being called--which means bailing out these banks, setting them straight, then letting them go private again, which is the model that everybody is using, and the people who get screwed are the people whose retirement funds had common or preferred shares and they get wiped out, and these bankers come out richer than ever at the other end--that's not a leftist idea and it's not socialism. This is what we used to, in Comparative Economic Systems, call fascism. It's putting government at the service of the big financial interests. That's what happened in Italy, that's what happened in Germany, that's what happened in Japan. . . .
Tony Blankley: What I don't understand is how my colleagues on this show, who I believe were for Obama, are now saying he's leading a fascist regime. Did he mislead them a few weeks ago when he was still running? . . .
Robert Scheer: To answer your question, I am disappointed in Barack Obama and I'm not quite sure what he's doing.
It would be a disastrous strategic mistake for HAW to adopt the proposed new statement. The statement’s assertions on domestic policies will only weaken the anti-war movement by driving away anti-imperialist libertarians and conservatives who have been among the most committed opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Whereas the original statement wisely avoided making domestic policy prescriptions, the proposed new statement calls for “a drastic reduction of national resources away from military spending and towards urgently needed domestic programs.” This is an attack on the politics of libertarians and conservatives who have campaigned tirelessly against the wars but who object to spending on both the warfare and the welfare state.
Similarly, the claim that “the current, rapidly escalating crisis of global capitalism, which is creating suffering worldwide, will lead to escalating wars abroad and intensifying repression at home,” is rejected by many anti-war libertarians and conservatives who believe that the source of the current crisis is too little, not too much, reliance on free-market “capitalism.” Several scholars sympathetic to HAW’s original statement, such as distinguished economic historian Robert Higgs, author of Crisis and Leviathan, attribute the current global economic crisis to governmental actions such as deficit spending, bailouts, Federal Reserve inflationary credit expansion, various stimulus plans, and vast military spending.
Three years ago, there was another attempt to make similar changes to HAW’s statement of purpose. David Montgomery, a founder and leading member of the organization, eloquently gave cheer to those of us who favor the strategy of uniting all anti-war historians when he wrote the following: “I remain cautious, however, about taking organizational stands on some of the other issues mentioned as possible targets of HAW activity, especially the socio-economic impact of imperialism. From the outset HAW has encompassed historians with divergent political views, among them quite a number of conservative libertarians. We must try not only to keep our ranks diverse but united. We should welcome open discussion of such issues, but limit the extent to which we take organizational stands. There are, after all, other organizations that quite properly represent their particular analyses and viewpoints. HAW's aim should always be to involve as many historians as possible and to make them feel at home, without in any way prescribing or stifling particular analyses of US power or interpretations of what is now called 'globalization.'"
Montgomery’s words apply equally today. Let’s not weaken the antiwar cause by adopting positions on domestic and economic issues that will only alienate us from potential allies.
In solidarity against the empire,
David T. Beito
Department of History
University of Alabama
Well....was Harry Truman a war criminal? In my view, it is not even a close call. He was. If just war theory means anything it is that the intentional mass slaughter of civilians can not be justified. Had Hitler dropped an atomic bomb on London in 1941, judges at a subsequent war crimes trial would have dismissed out of hand any defense (even if it was partially true) that one goal was to"shorten the war and save lives from an invasion." They would have called it mass murder, pure and simple.
As Mark Brady points out, the entire basis of Whittle's argument falls apart once we abandon the premise of unconditional surrender (as first proclaimed by FDR). Truman rebuffed all proposals to let the Japanese keep the emperor in exchange for a surrender. A side benefit, of course, of such a conditional surrender would have been to avoid a bloody American invasion. Ironically, once Truman had dropped the bomb, he shifted course and agreed to this condition anyway. One of the best discussions of this issue is Thomas Fleming's magisterial, The New Dealers War.
One of the reasons I like Ron Paul is that he keeps bringing the debate back to foreign policy.
This is a film clip of Howard from December 1955 in which he decribes his strategy to fight the credit squeeze by the racist Mississippi white Citizens Councils against civil rights activists.
Howard is the subject of my book, Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power. He was a mentor to Medgar Evers, chief surgeon of a fraternal hospital, one of the wealthiest blacks in Mississippi, Republican candidate for Congress, and champion of self-help and mutual aid. Howard also played a key role in finding witnesses and evidence in the Emmett Till murder case.
For audios of Howard's speeches, including his eulogy at Medgar Evers' funeral, see here.