[HCCN] Amy Goodman: The Obscenity of War

Judith Robbins judy at robbinsandrobbins.com
Wed Mar 31 19:35:11 EDT 2010

Published on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 by TruthDig.com
The Obscenity of War

by Amy Goodman
President Barack Obama has just returned from his first trip as  
commander in chief to Afghanistan. The U.S.-led invasion and  
occupation of that country are now in their ninth year, amid  
increasing comparisons to Vietnam.

Daniel Ellsberg, whom Henry Kissinger once called "the most dangerous  
man in America," leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg, who  
was a top Pentagon analyst, photocopied this secret, 7,000-page  
history of the U.S. role in Vietnam and released it to the press,  
helping to end the Vietnam War.

"President Obama is taking every symbolic step he can to nominate  
this as Obama's war," Ellsberg told me recently. He cites the  
"Eikenberry memos," written by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl  
Eikenberry, which were leaked, then printed last January by The New  
York Times.

Ellsberg said: "Eikenberry's cables read like a summary of the  
Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan. ... Just change the place names from  
‘Saigon' to ‘Kabul' ... and they read almost exactly the same."

The Eikenberry memos recommend policies opposite those of Gens. David  
Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, who advocated for the surge and a  
counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan. Eikenberry wrote that  
President Hamid Karzai is "not an adequate strategic partner," and  
that "sending additional forces will delay the day when Afghans will  
take over, and make it difficult, if not impossible, to bring our  
people home on a reasonable timetable." Petraeus and McChrystal  
prevailed. The military will launch a major campaign in June in  
Afghanistan's second-largest city, Kandahar. Meanwhile, with shocking  
candor, McChrystal said in a video conference this week, regarding  
the number of civilians killed by the U.S. military, "We have shot an  
amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven  
to be a threat." U.S. troop fatalities, meanwhile, are occurring now  
at twice the rate of one year ago.

Tavis Smiley has a PBS special this week on one of the most powerful,  
and overlooked, speeches given by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The  
address was made on April 4, 1967, exactly one year to the day before  
King was assassinated. The civil rights leader titled his speech  
"Beyond Vietnam," and controversially called the U.S. government "the  
greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

The press vilified King. Time magazine called the speech "demagogic  
slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." Smiley told me:  
"Most Americans, I think, know the ‘I Have a Dream' speech. Some  
Americans know the ‘Mountaintop' speech given the night before he  
was assassinated in Memphis. But most Americans do not know this  
‘Beyond Vietnam' speech." Smiley added, "If you replace the words  
Iraq for Vietnam, Afghanistan for Vietnam, Pakistan for Vietnam, this  
speech is so relevant today."

Like King, Obama is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. In his  
acceptance speech, Obama mentioned King six times, yet defended his  
war in Afghanistan. Princeton University professor Cornel West,  
interviewed by Smiley, said of Obama's Nobel speech, "It upset me  
when I heard my dear brother Barack Obama criticize Martin on the  
global stage, saying that Martin Luther King Jr.‘s insights were not  
useful for a commander in chief, because evil exists, as if Martin  
Luther King Jr. didn't know about evil."

In early March, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, offered a resolution to  
end the war in Afghanistan, saying: "We now have about 1,000 U.S.  
troops who have perished in the conflict. We have many innocent  
civilians who have lost their lives. We have a corrupt central  
government in Afghanistan that is basically stealing U.S. tax  
dollars." The resolution was defeated by a vote of 356-65. A  
Washington Post poll of 1,000 people released this week found that  
President Obama enjoys a 53 percent approval rating on his handling  
of the war in Afghanistan.

The public is unlikely to oppose something that gets less and less  
coverage. While the press is focused on the salacious details of  
Republican National Committee spending on lavish trips, especially  
one outing to a Los Angeles strip club, the cost to the U.S. taxpayer  
for the war in Afghanistan is estimated now to be more than $260  
billion. The cost in lives lost, in people maimed, is incalculable.  
The real obscenity is war. Ellsberg hopes that the Eikenberry memos  
will be just the first of many leaks, and that a new wave of Pentagon  
Papers will educate the public about the urgent need to end Obama's war.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

© 2010 Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now! ," a daily international  
TV/radio news hour airing on 800 stations in North America. She was  
awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative  
Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in  

Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/31
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