(Originally appeared 05/06/11, Portland IndyMedia)
As a proud liberal, my conservative friends and family consider me left of Lenin, I want everyone to realize and understand that a very important milestone has just occurred. The assassination of Osama bin Laden as ordered and directed by President Barack Hussein Obama has ended the war in the Middle East. The war on Jihadis – yes, Victory over Jihadis. The war on Terror. The war on al-Qaeda. Call it what you will. I’m talking specifically about the conflict that broke out on 9/11. For all intents and purposes, it. is. finally. over.
Yes, I know it is not really over. Not by a long shot. But for the majority of the American people, the great mass of ordinary citizens and residents, the killing of bin Laden by Obama was the honest-to-god bookend to 9/11. Perception becomes reality. End of story.
I mean, just think about what happened the night of the announcement by the President. My God, all those young people and students, even on a Sunday night mind you, taking to the streets of New York City, Washington D.C., and other locales embodied the 2011 version of WWII’s VE and VJ Day celebrations in Times Square and nationwide. These latter-day celebrants as the vanguard, such as it is, of US society instinctively reacted to the biggest news of the last ten years: We got him. We finally got the bastard, the man that inspired, took credit for, and may as well have been flying the planes that hit the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and rural Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
So don’t worry about and over analyze what those unplanned, unrehearsed, and instinctive celebrations say about America. Those young people – folks who have lived the majority of their lives immersed in a conflict that will forever color their outlook and interactions with each other and the wider world – simply realized the obvious. The war was over and they wanted to par-tay!
Most Americans are probably too cynical, perhaps too inately reserved to celebrate in public like they once did back on May 8 and September 2, 1945. But those particular oppressive character traits don’t yet have an iron grip on emotional and optimistic young adults who haven’t quite learned to immediately second guess themselves. Let ’em party. Party hard, I say.
Because, what this all means is President Obama has the genuine opportunity now to not only be a good president, but indeed a great one. The biggest issues of the 2008 campaign were ending the war, universalizing health care, and rebuilding the economy. If Obama uses this brand new political capital wisely, he will significantly and quickly wind down the hot wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, bringing home the boys & girls and redirect the trillions of dollars in current military expenditures back home into critically needed infrastructure support and job creation measures. These kinds of bold actions will power drive the economy, and gain him the chance to purposefully refine and strengthen the promising start of Obamacare into the real universal health coverage worthy of our contemporary and occasionally responsible nation.
The peace community needs to keep the pressure on the administration, and the President needs to stay humble, maintain his perspective, and mostly just work with what the defense gives him (if I may use a rough sports analogy).
And yes, take the periodic big risks when the times and circumstance allow. Like gambling your presidency on serious health care reform. Like gambling your presidency on the military’s ability to terminate Osama bin Laden in a daring make-or-break nighttime raid. Like gambling your presidency on reining in tax dodging corporations and rich individuals. Like gambling your presidency on improving the standards of living for the working poor and lower middle class.
If you think I’m being wistful and overly melodramatic, just remember one thing. In my 50-plus years on this earth, I can count only two times that Americans have spontaneously burst out in joyous group renditions of the national anthem. Twice. And they’ve both happened only in the last 2.5 years. The first time was the night of November 4, 2008 as the media called the presidential election for Barack Hussein Obama. I had never, ever seen US crowds so wild with relief and amazement that ordinary folks took it upon themselves to loudly and proudly plow through those rather difficult lyrics and melodies. Really amazing stuff.
Minus the off-key tunefulness, it was something like real-life en masse incarnations of the crowd at Rick’s Cafe’ defiantly belting out the La Marseillaise. Okay, a little melodramatic. Anyway, the second time was last Sunday night, May Day 2011. And both of these instances, the only two times in most of our living memories, were the direct result of the efforts by one man, the now 44th President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama.
Those kids knew it, and we know it: this guy is on a roll.
My blog post written the day after 9/11:
September 12, 2001
I think that it’s very important to view what happened yesterday with clarity of thought and a vision to the future. In all probability, the people behind the attack had many reasons for hating the U.S. But at its core, the major point to their grievances most probably is America’s continued support of Israeli injustice toward the Palestinians.
I believe that the events of September 11 are a direct result of a blind American pro-Israeli policy, specifically and particularly the policy of the Bush Administration. W’s program of providing a free hand to Ariel Sharon’s extremist government while it has hammered Palestine left its most extreme elements and supporters with no justification at restraint. At least President Clinton devoted much of his time and efforts at trying to craft some kind of agreement. With Bush, Palestinian supporters see absolutely no hope for any kind of even-handed treatment.
At this time, I am reminded of Malcolm X’s statements in the aftermath of Kennedy’s assassination when he said that America’s “chickens had come home to roost.” I’m afraid that this all too clear assessment of America’s unrestrained support of injustice domestically and abroad also applies here. America has been wholely suckered into the wrong side of a horrible conflict, as evidenced by the almost immediate response of our corps of conservative pundits who have chimed in with their “see, I told you so” columns which are almost gleeful in their anticipation of draining our diplomatic and military resources lock-stock-and-barrel into this unending maelstrom.
Of course, we must punish the people who have attacked America. Just as importantly, it’s equally vital to fairly deal with the underlying causes to the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Otherwise, our involvement in this bloody mess will never end.
Lawrence J. Maushard