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article imageOp-Ed: President-elect Obama and the 9/11 Equation

By Sadiq Green     Nov 9, 2008 in Politics
The rise of Barack Obama to the American Presidency can not only be attributed to his indelible, charismatic star power. It can be traced to his message of uniting and overcoming an archaic theory of governing that is far outdated in the new global world.
In 2001, after the Clinton administrations reluctance, and in the midst of the Bush administrations pre-occupation with a possible resurgent Russia and missle defense, our nation experienced a painful, hideous terrorist attack. The foreign policy blunders of the New World came to bear as two jumbo jets exploded into the World Trade Center, one crashed into the Pentagon and one fell into a field in Pennsylvania. Americans then realized that we would have to confront a loosely organized but world spread terrorist threat. The theological battle between peaceful Muslim nations and their internal radical elements, would have to play itself out on the soil of several nations across the globe.
I watched the coverage live on NBC that Tuesday, sitting in front of the television in severe disbelief with an individual who had just left a job at the World Trade Center the previous Friday. As a fairly educated, 31 year old man at the time, I realized I was poorly equipped to understand the consequences of misguided foreign policy. “It has to be the terrorists,” I concluded, demonstrating little comprehension of the word or why it equated to unthinkable violence. The TV commentators uttered many familiar names from recent terror incidents; Abu Nidal, Ramzi Yousef, Timothy McVeigh and others. Then the name Osama bin Laden became part of our national vocabulary when news outlets tied the plane hijackers to the Islamic fundamentalists known as Al Qaeda.
In some way, those men had lived an aspect of the American Dream. They trained in domestic flight schools, found sympathetic underground cohorts to support their mission, and eventually carried out the most effective strike on the United States since Pearl Harbor. The events that followed in many ways are responsible for Barack Obama’s meteoric ascent. The generation of dissatisfied, apprehensive voters witnessed government secrecy unseen in our lifetime, but certainly commonplace in American intelligence circles since the McCarthy era of the 1950's and the COINTELPRO era of the late 1960's and early 1970's.
Shortly thereafter, the executive branch expanded its power to perpetrate an international witch hunt with the Patriot Act. The Central Intelligence Agency stood at odds with the FBI due to the information crunch applied by President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and their resident hawk, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Colin Powell and Condi Rice stood beside President Bush as he recklessly marched into Baghdad with a bogus international coalition of allies, and tepid support from the congress. The Department of Homeland Security seized responsibility from all other defense institutions.
The term 'weapons of mass destruction' became part of the daily vernacular from major media who lost objectivity due to blind patriotism, as it became the basis of our pinpointed invasion of Iraq. If a ragtag bunch of terrorists could make their stamp on history with planes, imagine what a nation empowered with devastating weapons and an erratic leader could do? Nearly forty years before, the U.S. had seen the Soviet Union, with the help of Fidel Casto's Cuba, wave the nuclear bone at the big dog. Apparently W., then a student at the prestigious Phillips Prep Academy, had not learned from the lessons of pre-emption. No, he and his cohorts' chest-beating bravado dominated our diplomacy and gradually, America conceded its real power by chasing the wrong villains in the wrong countries.
Enter Barack Obama. Only a lowly Illinois State Senator at the time he openly, and as it turned out, prophetically spoke out against the administrations bravado, stressing that our only chance to conquer the terrorist threat was to engage in a multi-faceted, truly multinational mission. Concentrating our mission in Iraq ran the risk of handcuffing the world’s most powerful military indefinitely, he concluded. The United Nations and NATO protocol behooves our vigilance even when the difficult possibility of covert terrorists stand to challenge the global accord. But as a local politician, Obama’s voice was limited to the echo chamber of the so-called disloyal anti-patriots, as labeled by the war mongers who owned the days back then.
Several events soon justified his even rationale. The 9/11 Commission findings were one. The resignation of Colin Powell, due to his feeling that he was betrayed by Bush & Co. into providing false information to the world about Iraq, sealing the deal on an invasion under false pretenses. The dismissal of Donald Rumsfeld, verified the brash nature of pursuing unfounded tips, conducting flawed military strategy and putting US soldiers in a position to become war criminals. U.S. casualties in Iraq rose continuously in a country where Americans were supposed to be greeted as liberators. Instead the military was soon engaged in a civil war between Iraqis fighting for control of their country and an outside terror threat, that did not exist before the invasion and occupation of that sovereign country.
Perhaps most significantly though, the American electorate began to view Bush/Cheney’s actions as evidence of a corrosive, single-minded effort to bully the rest of the world in order to win at all costs, regardless of no clear strategic explanation of what victory would be. As support for the effort plummeted and stranded Guantanamo “terror suspects” found legal grounds to push against their totalitarian, draconian imprisonment, young Barack Obama’s theories became less like the cries of hasty dissent, than the reasoned expressions of a thoughtful alternative.
Moreover, when the thin premises of the Iraq invasion began to unravel in the public forum, another chapter of history began writing itself. Many Americans, especially the youth, who witnessed the events of 9/11 and the Iraq invasion, now had no reason to believe in their government. Many had seen Bill Clinton nearly removed from office by personal scandal. Many watched the free press and the Supreme court get duped by a plotting cabal of insiders driven by party affiliation during the 2000 election and subsequent legal challenges. The Twin Towers collapsed while many explored the dark world of conspiracy for answers. In the wake of national tragedy, many had no reassurance that America's leaders were working for more than vindication and a stake in the resource markets overseas.
President George W. Bush’s classic non-expression as his adviser floated a whisper of the 9/11 attacks into his ear in front of a class of elementary school students is a lasting memory. With no plan in place, he proceeded from there, hidden in a shroud of secrecy, to an Air Base in Nebraska. Curiously, many fortune 500 company heads who were spared because they were not in the Trade Towers that day, but at the same Air Force base that President Bush was taken to. Sissela Bok once wrote, “Secrecy is as indispensable to human beings as fire, and as greatly feared.” The character of our government changed from repressed transparency to all-out deception.
President-elect Obama has protected his share of valuable information, no doubt, and has even sided with some of the more controversial aspects of the Bush administrations domestic policies. He voted yes on the extension of the Patriot Act, and he supported the telecom immunity provisions included in the updated FISA legislation. There are times when it is necessary for our political leaders to block the public from panic, even if that conflicts with serving the peoples needs. However, since he owes his election to the “failed policies of the last eight years”, the President-elect must reaffirm the basic trust that extends from populace to leader. He has earned the banner of correction through consensus and as President, Barack Obama must solidify his voice through policy edicts, honesty and clarity.
These should be the tenets that bind him to the generation that has bought into his cult of personality. The charisma factor will likely vanish on January 20, 2009 and America wait cautiously to see how he deals with the standing threats of blistering domestic and worldwide ideologies.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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