November 5, 2008

The Days Ahead

From a Toronto Star report by Royson James (Nov 5) on election night in Selma, Alabama:

" 'I just feel overjoyed that God let me live to see this day--after the long struggle we had,' says Alice WEst, who alone registered 300 voters here at a time when that could get you killed.
'I just wish my husband (Lonzy) were here. He'd be so proud. He was in jail for the movement almost as many times as we slept together.' "

I'm quietly optimistic. I do hope the Messianic expectations being attached to Obama blow over quickly, because 1) a Messiah is a bad enough leader in an autocratic society--it's just about the worst leadership model possible in a democracy; 2) hopes keyed well above the possible might dangerously fester on contact with the inevitably plodding pace of change.

Some changes, particularly in domestic policy, might happen very quickly with a Democratic majority in the house and senate as well as the White House, but I don't know how long it'll take the most dedicated administration to wean the U.S. from its most dangerous foreign policy delusion. Obama may not even more than half agree with me on what that delusion is, but I expect he'll talk a great deal less than George Bush did about the War on Terror, and if he keeps his word will end the most disastrous phase of that war, the occupation of Iraq. He won't come right out and say, even if he believes, that the War on Terror has been a bountiful gift these past seven years to militarists, weaponeers and terrorists the wide world over, and far from containing the threat of terror has dramatically increased it. (Bin Laden if you'll remember endorsed John McCain. Or whoever that was presenting himself as Bin Laden--has there been serious voice analysis recently I wonder?) What he will do I hope is gradually help America's citizenry withdraw from their highly hyped Fear Fix.

Look at what's happened since 9-11--what has actually worked, not in some cases, not in most cases, but in all cases to prevent terrorist acts, contain terrorist cells and save actual lives? Dedicated police work backed by solid intelligence. The intelligence was available to head off 9-11 if infighting among the intelligence services hadn't prevented it being taken seriously. Has the war in Iraq prevented a single act of terror? No, it's provided a fertile breeding ground for terrorist action and training ground for tomorrow's terrorists. And reconstructors.

What we can rationally expect from the beginning is a President who realizes other nations exist, and doesn't use preemptive strikes the way he once used whiskey and cocaine--that's enough to be going on with for starters, and after that we'll see.

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