Sunday, July 5, 2009

As If I Needed Another Reason

It's been said, "If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, and if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain." Clearly, this statement is referring to modern liberalism, not classic liberalism. And it's referring to conservatism in the United States, not conservatism in... say, Iran. 

I would guess that most people, between their college years and their thirties or forties, have rethought their views to a certain extent. I have met people who were "conservative" in their college years and describe themselves as becoming "enlightened" since then, progressing them to their more liberal view of things today. And I have met people who were "liberals" in their college years and describe themselves as "coming to their senses" and being far more conservative today. I, personally, was raised in a conservative household - complete Reagan fans, my parents were - and in my early twenties I questioned all I had been taught. I went through a phase of wandering, then eventually ended up close to where I started, with a few tweaks here and there.

Today's edition of the NYT has a prominently featured story on Barak Obama (no surprise, that) titled "Obama's Youthful Ideals Shaped the Long Arc of His Nuclear-Free Vision." It's a must-read... As usual, an article which is supposed to be delivering the world news gives us insight both into Barack Obama AND the author of the article.

Back when Obama was a senior in college, he wrote of his vision of a "nuclear free world." His article, titled "Breaking the War Mentality," is indicative of his vision yet today. He writes,

"The more sensitive among us struggle to extrapolate experiences of war from our everyday experience, discussing the latest mortality statistics from Guatemala, sensitizing ourselves to our parents' wartime memories, or incorporating into our framework of reality as depicted by a Mailer or a Coppola... We know that wars have occurred, will occur, are occurring, but bringing such experience down into our hearts, and taking continual, tangible steps to prevent war, becomes a difficult task.

"Two groups on campus, Arms Race Alternatives (ARA) and Students Against Militarism (SAM), work within these mental limits to foster awareness and practical action necessary to counter the growing threat of war."

He goes on to talk about the two groups and how they approach the subject. The ARA leader is quoted as saying "People don't like having their intelligence insulted, so we try to disseminate information and allow the individual to make his or her own decision." A gentleman (Mark Bigelow) who worked closely with the leader of ARA is quoted in the article as saying, "We do focus primarily on catastrophic weapons. Look, we say, here's the worst part, let's work on that. You're not going to get rid of the military in the near future, so let's at least work on this."

One of the students involved in SAM said, "At the heart of our organization is an anti-war focus. From there, a lot of issues shoot forth - nukes, racism, the draft and South Africa." Apparently, the main focus of the group SAM at the time had to do with registration for the draft. There was a new law that required from male students proof of registration in order to receive government aid for schooling. This upset the students who wanted to be educated with public dollars while having no desire to protect and defend the public.

Barack Obama then went on to say,

"Perhaps the essential goodness of humanity is an arguable proposition, but by observing the SAM meeting last Thursday night, with its solid turnout and enthusiasm, one might be persuaded that the manifestations of our better instincts can at least match the bad ones."

And this,

"The Reagan administration's stalling at the Geneva talks on nuclear weapons has thus already caused severe tension and could ultimately bring about a dangerous rift between the United States and Western Europe. By being intransigent, Reagan is playing directly into the Russians' hands."

And this, 

"In 1933 the German establishment thought it could use Hitler to restore a modicum of order to the confused and confusing Weimar Republic. In fact, Hitler did strengthen the German establishment, but not exactly in the way the bankers and businessmen had wanted; and now, fifty years later, it is clear who was using whom. 

"Nevertheless, the Western World did not complain in 1933 because Hitler, though a fascist and a totalitarian, was seen, like countless American puppet dictators today, as someone who leaves the established order in place."

"If a group [Green Party] of young, anti-establishment pacifists with unusual ideas and uncomfortable answers to hard questions terrifies us more today than Hitler, Himmler, Goering and Goebbels did back in 1933, our terror says more about us than it does about the Greens or the Germans. It indicates that we have failed to comprehend the meaning of Nazism and blind obedience to authority in their full horror, and that we, unlike the Greens, have yet ourselves to learn the democratic lesson that we have taught the Germans so well....

"... It is at once a warning to us that the old solutions of more weapons and again more weapons will no longer be accepted in a Europe that is already a powderkeg waiting to go off; and it is an invitation to work towards a peace that is genuine, lasting and non-nuclear."

Bravo, really... for a good piece of writing by a college student. Although infused with personal opinions and not exactly a news piece, he wrote rather well. I'll give him some major kudos for that. Unfortunately, hindsight being 20/20, we can't exactly give him kudos for content. Reagan's ideas paid off, the cold war was won without any nuclear fallout, and it can be reasonably stated that Obama was wrong in his statement about Reagan playing into the Russians' hands. It's also fair to say Obama was a wee bit off in saying Reagan was an "American puppet dictator." 

These writings - of a college student - and the views they represent could easily be overlooked and forgiven were the writer to grow up and renounce them, saying that history has proven him wrong. However, the college student grew up to be elected president of the United States and has not renounced his views. Twenty six years later, the college student is "pushing for new global rules, treaties and alliances that he insists can establish a nuclear-free world." In Prague, Obama said "I'm not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly - perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence." Note to self: if someone feels they need to tell you they're not naive, they just might be naive. 

Obama has laid out a step by step plan to reduce the arsenals of the world's nuclear superpowers to 1,500 warheads each, as a beginning. He is reducing arsenals in order to "remake the nuclear world" with a goal of "halting weapons programs in North Korea and Iran." But he's not naive - don't worry. Perhaps his next step will be to halt criminal activity within the borders of the United States by disarming the police officers and the FBI. 

What's to learn from all this? What I've learned about our current sitting president:

1. He's a man who appears to have not changed his views between college and today.
2. He despises the military, perhaps even more than Bill Clinton did.
3. He's a man who seems to be incapable of learning even from the history which transpired during his own lifetime.
4. He is determined to weaken the United States through both our economy and our military.
5. His views and actions make no sense to me whatsoever.

As if I needed more reasons not to like him.

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