I just can’t get excited about either President Barack Obama getting another four years or challenger Mitt Romney winning the presidency. And since I wrote that first paragraph the other day, I read that a new poll finds that one quarter of the potential voters are undecided and many are turned off by the obvious pandering candidates do to get votes.
I could get excited, though, about a candidate who would act like he (or she) could do something to move in the direction of paying off the national debt and end deficit spending and even more importantly, make the United States a great engine of production rather than just consumption. The latter would go a long ways toward solving the unemployment and debt problems. And also a top priority should be to back off the militarist approach this nation has taken since the days of George W. Bush.
Certainly we need to defend our nation, but I don’t think our adventure in Iraq and the continuing Afghanistan quagmire have much to do with defending the United States, except in the most roundabout ways or via twisted logic. And this continuing trouble in Syria: as bad as it is for those poor people over there, it is their problem. There is seemingly little we can do (except sanctions and condemnation). And if we were to simply say enough is enough, that is enough of a brutal regime gunning down its own people, and go in there, we would end up like the cops trying to break up a family disturbance, with both sides fighting us (maybe a Libya-type operation with other nations helping, but I have heard that is not thought feasible, and besides, these multinational military operations bother me. What if they turned on us?).
Sometimes I think the old isolationist attitude of “Fortress America” had its merits. There may be times, though, when something has to be done, such as — my pet worry on the international front — Iran getting the bomb. But I am somehow led to believe by reading the news we have thus far managed to thwart that by clandestine operations. And that is how they should stay, clandestine (there‘s been too much talk of them already). This drone business, however, is worrisome. It seems almost Orwellian. And with reports that local police agencies all over the U.S. want to get in on the act, using drones for their own purposes, it is really Orwellian.
Hey this is an off- the-cuff blog, so pardon the lack of segue here: While I have never thought and still don’t that service in the military should be a requirement for the White House, it is disturbing that we get presidents who have never have made the ultimate commitment (I mean serving in the military, not dying) to their nation dispatching troops hither and yawn. Let’s see, is my history right? Gen. Dwight Eisenhower served two terms as president and did not get us into war (and there were plenty of chances). He helped lift us out of the Korean War. And he does have some culpability for the Vietnam policy that led eventually to our greatest military blunder, and he did set in motion the Bay of Pigs, which wound up to be John Kennedy’s early-on embarrassment. Richard Nixon had military service and did prolong the Vietnam War after promising to end it, but he did not start it. Lyndon Johnson, before Nixon, did start it, and he had military service too.
But then you get guys such as draft dodger Bill Clinton and he starts wearing military type uniforms (you know flight jackets when visiting the troops or on an Aircraft carriers, and he dispatches the military to Bosnia (albeit an air war). And the top chicken hawk of them all is George W. who liked to wear that flight suit and start major conflicts after reportedly not doing his full duty in the Air National Guard, which he obviously joined to skip out of Vietnam (not that I blame anyone for doing so, but then to go be a war monger yourself, sending others — well).
Obama is the first president in the more modern times not to have been subject to being called up to war as a young man. And he did not choose to serve. He has been in the ticklish position of wanting to extricate us from war but knowing that if he moves too fast he will be called a traitor, even among an ambivalent to war, at best, public. He has gone the other way, ironically, and actually expanded efforts in Afghanistan (but I think he had identified that in his presidential campaign as a necessary war). Neither war has helped us. Both have served to lead us into near bankruptcy and have brought on great misery and much death. And we still did not get the oil, or at least not exclusive rights to it.
The United States is in a position of having to field a major defense force, but it should be used sparingly. I realize that real wars make better training conditions, but I don’t think war is the correct answer to our problems. I for one would be quite comfortable to let the rest of the world fight it out while we remain strong and productive. The rest of the world might then see that peace is the answer and if not, well that is their problem.
I failed to mention Jimmy Carter, who had served in the Navy. But he didn’t start any wars either.