By Ruth Conniff
Thirteen years after 9/11 we have come full circle.
What a comedown to reach this final phase of Obama’s Presidency, and his announcement last night of an escalated U.S. war on terrorists in the Middle East, after the heady Inauguration Day in 2009 when the new President declared, “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals . . . our power alone cannot protect us.”
When George W. Bush and Dick Cheney took off over Washington in Marine One, and the crowd roared, their departure seemed to mark the end of a dark era: our disastrous military adventure in Iraq, waterboarding, domestic spying, mounting hatred of the United States abroad, and an endless, amorphous war on terror.
Now the neocons’ nightmare has returned in a new form, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Horrifying You Tube videos of the beheadings of American journalists provoke fear and anger—the enemies of rational thought, and enlightened policy.
Dick Cheney is back, along with John McCain and Paul Ryan, grinding their own political axes, and blaming Obama for ISIS—because he drew down U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and because he failed to bomb more, send more weapons, keep more U.S. soldiers in the region—as if there were any public support left for that.
Now Obama has been persuaded to react, and to double down on the long and fruitless military campaign or country has been waging on different fronts without a break for thirteen years.
Obama was right when he said in a speech last year that the United States “should not be the world’s policeman.”
Our country, which has lost so much credibility after years of drone strikes, spying, torture, and fruitless militarism, needs to take a back seat.
In his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in 2009, Obama said: “So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity.”
Until the United States makes good on that vision—not the Axis of Evil vision of George W. Bush, or Obama’s continuation of our ceaseless war on terror—we will remain stuck in this recurring nightmare, using all our power, only to make things worse, unable to wake up with both our safety and our ideals intact.
--Ruth Conniff is the editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine