|Will the U.S. Unclench Its Own Fist?|
Kristen French, Ph.D.
President Obama has been on a mission since his inauguration. By all accounts, he is in a hurry to make change-the kind of change that can help people find jobs, avoid losing their jobs, obtain healthcare, stabilize the economy, stop torture, and clean up a good bit of the Bush Administration's flagrant abuse of the Justice Department and the EPA. These are ideals that I and many others support, but there is an area where Obama's actions cause me great concern.
Why is Obama bombing Pakistan? Why is Obama moving to escalate the war in Afghanistan? Is he suffering from the fact that he has chosen to surround himself with leftover advisors and officials from the Bush Administration? Or does he really buy into the idea of the War on Terror? What happened to his commitment to diplomacy?
We cannot afford to wage a war on an idea (Terror, Poverty, Drugs, you name it). Wars of that sort can never be won, and those ideas will never go away. We cannot change poverty until we all agree to work together on it. We cannot make people stop taking drugs by shooting them or throwing them in jail-we must get our hands dirty and work with people and love them. And we cannot eliminate the use of Terror by political groups by bombing, fighting, or destroying. Terror cannot be undone with Terror. We must, as Obama declared during his campaign, use diplomacy!
Diplomacy involves listening to the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, however unstable they are, and it involves talking with and listening to the nation defined by the borders of the F.A.T.A. (over 40 million people live in this region, all speaking a common language). We cannot make progress if we assume that we know who the bad guys are and pretend to make surgical strikes. Bombing always causes collateral damage; therefore bombing always terrorizes the populations near the targets.
I personally call on President Obama to halt all bombing in Pakistan and Afghanistan and engage the peoples of that region in diplomacy. It will not be easy; it will not be without risk. But if we are to regain any respect in the Muslim world, we must take these risks. If we are to regain the humanity of our nation (which admittedly is difficult to believe in sometimes) we must reach out to our friends and our ‘enemies.' Remember the words of your inaugural address, President Obama, "we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." Remember to unclench your own fist as well.
Please check out these links to learn more about what is going on in Pakistan and what people in the U.S. are doing to organize against more warmongering:
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