There are few guideposts along the road Obama has provided to our Nation. Few things we can say are really meaningful. Few ways in which we can imagine a man like Obama in the political realities of today's world. But "war" and "detention" speak volumes about who this president is and why he is Bush III.
Obama inherited two prominent symbols of George W. Bush's presidency. Two "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan which were part of the big, worldwide "war." And the ability to trash the US Constitution because of the big "war."
You would think that in the middle of the "worst economic times since the Great Depression" we would have been less aggressive in our approach to our world war. Less costly in our "wartime" expenditures. Especially given Obama's need to prove a leader. To prove he can properly deal with the world with an eye on our budget. That he would not take old people, poor people without education or hope, and the really poor in the countries we occupy as the way out for the economic disaster he is now responsible for.
But that is not who we elected. In fact, as has been evident for quite some time, we elected Bush III.
After his election, Obama set sail on a course that included even more military and even more civilian bloodshed. With Libya, he has again confirmed Bush II's policies on attacking countries in order to protect the concept of "democracy." He has continued his war on terrorism by increasing the troops and efforts in Afghanistan and now in Pakistan. And he is behind both keeping Guantanamo open indefinitely and keeping people in confinement indefinitely, for what his Administration admits could be the rest of their lives.
This is America? The Land of the Free? The shining example of who we are and what we do to maintain our integrity and place as moral leader of the world?
What this is can be seen in recent, daily reports on US troops in Afghanistan involved in our practically solo "war on terror" reaching their breaking point. After ten years in a meaningless morass of a war in Afghanistan, we see civilian deaths increasing. While we blame the Taliban, you cannot tell the nine children killed by US troops this week. These children were attacked, according to President Karzai, in a merciless manner by US troops. Despite the apologies of General Petraeus, it is clear that what Karzai called the "daily killings of innocent civilians" by "foreign forces" will not stop as long as we are involved in this "war on terror." This is just peripheral damage according to the jargon of this generation of warriors. Damage caused not by the US troops, but by the Taliban who we are told are influenced by outside forces.
We lead now by the use of "war" as the way to save populaces. "War" to push our views of the world on non-compliant nations. "War" to condemn leaders who are really "dictators" worthy only of scorn and ultimate death.
In years past, we reportedly sent our small groups and individuals into countries to kill leaders and rebels alike, choosing sides silently, at times in illegal ways against even laws passed by Congress. Ronald Reagan did so without repercussions. Reagan, the man who believed that the succession in the US Constitution was not good enough if he should die, reportedly telling Cheney and Rumsfeld they should take the country over. And we now cherish this man, naming our national airport after him with Obama himself referring to him fondly and reverently. Bush III following in the footsteps of Bush II.
So it went on and on. And so it goes on today.
We no longer bother with the cover of silence and secret assassination attempts. We publicly cry for freedom, calling for yet another military action in yet another country in the world.
This time Libya is the source of our displeasure. We find the germ of what we call "democracy" in the rebels who fight to retain towns in a foreign country. And we see the end of Gadhafi as a great lesson to the world of the triumph of democracy over dictatorship.
There is no end to this "war" on "terrorism." We no longer make any effort to require even lip service to the US Constitution. We see action in Libya as just more of the endless, senseless "war on terror" that was authorized a decade ago. With this marvelous single act, Congress allegedly permitted "war" anywhere, "detention" of anyone for life, and whatever the president wants or says should happen.
The Libyan moves are identical to those of Bush II before he invaded Iraq.
Obama says he needs UN support. And so he shall get it, one assumes. And there has been an effort to claim that Gadhafi has chemical weapons and may be making strides with nuclear weapons too.
Unlike in Iraq, there is an active, civilian uprising in several locations and a firm response by Libyan forces by "forces loyal to Gadhafi." It is ironic that we hear of "forces loyal to Gadhafi" as if this man is not the current leader of Libya. Yet, despite this difference, the entire media is inflamed by the same Bush II approach to the prelude to war.
Will this ever end? Perhaps not in all of our lifetimes. A war without end. With detention without end. In the Land of the Free. A shining example for the rest of the world.