Freedom to be stupid is not always wise

The coolness a few weeks ago was a good change in weather. Pity it didn’t last and now we are seeing record high temperatures here in SoFla. Is that good or bad? I guess it depends on one’s perspective. The heat might actually help to revive the region’s tourism especially since north of us is getting really cold and messy. On the other hand, it might be an indicator of global warming and its consequences if we don’t pay attention. But by the time earth erupts in a molten mass, I will have long ceased to exist. Selfish of me, right?
Well, that’s exactly what too much freedom can do… give us the feeling that we can do/say anything we want irrespective of whether or not it affects others. Just because we can do it doesn’t mean we should. Just because we have freedom of speech doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think carefully before opening our yappers.
But here in America there definitely is an excess of stupid thoughts and verbalisation and I think that’s because people abuse their so-called freedoms. When you have to be accountable for what you say, you think first. When you think you are free to do or say anything, then you act or talk first.
A few weeks ago my daughter and I went to an assemblage of people who wanted democrat senator Bill Nelson to know where they stand on heath care reform. Obviously the repugnants …oops, republicans are monitoring moveon.org for a counter-demonstration showed up, armed with placards and all.
With them was the usual scary Obama thing, linking health care reform to all sorts of things like ‘free abortion’ to ‘death panels for old people’. Of course there were those who didn’t think that government could effectively run health care, as if the present private system is anything better than a farce for most people without money.
Keen for dialogue, I picked out a woman whom I sensed wasn’t quite right (you’ll see in a moment what I mean). She was against health care reform but couldn’t afford health insurance. She was more than slightly obese, perhaps just ‘a hamburger and fries’ away from the emergency room.
One of her points was that health care reform would cost her the taxpayer (most likely a marginal taxpayer) too much money. I tried to explain that when the uninsured fell ill, it was the government and thus taxpayers who had to pick up the tab… and that actually cost the government/taxpayers more than what the public option would cost.
Thus her next visit to McDonalds could make her a taxpayer liability while insuring her would cost less.
I tried to figure out exactly why a mid-50s woman, obese, most likely unemployed, uninsured, would be objecting to health care reform. To me, being a republican toeing the party-line wasn’t reason enough.
Thennnnn she said she felt the ‘need to hold government accountable’. So I asked her how long has she had this ‘need’. Bingo! Out came the truth. She proudly exclaimed, “One year ago”.
Her face told me exactly at what point she recognized her error. Why? One year ago a black man was elected to be the presidency of the United States.
***
President Obama is taking his time deciding whether or not to ramp up his troops in Afghanistan by another 40,000. He is urged by the right-wing warmongers to hurry and send more troops while others express caution. Even his own vice is not supporting a troop increase.
If he wants my voice, then I would say “Get out now and get out fast!”. Of course he isn’t listening to me, so perhaps he should listen to history. What is happening now is a reprise of the French vs Haiti’s Toussaint, America in Vietnam and most notably because it is the same place and the same enemy, the Russians in Afghanistan.
The Russian knew they lost Afghanistan from the beginning but ego kept them there longer. So they were humiliated over a longer period and lost more men and resources. Some people feel that this is what led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
America is simply walking the soviet’s footprints. Obama should break the pattern now. Forget about saving face. Take losing like a man and cut the losses. With the economy this bruised, the money wasted in Afghanistan can be put to better use.
America cannot win there. I have been saying this for years. Right now they outnumber the taliban 12-1 (100,000 coalition troops, 200,000 Afghan military and police vs an estimated 25,000 armed taliban ) and it is making no difference. It’s not the same war as WWII. Overwhelming force and technology no longer count as advantages. The insurgents are not massing in large numbers, easy to pinpoint and bomb to destruction.
They melt in and out like ghosts and when you think you kill one you actually kill an innocent and that causes new recruits for the taliban. America is only guessing at the numbers of taliban soldiers they kill. Get out, NOW!
You can’t identify a taliban just so, while it’s easy to identify a foreigner. The taliban can take a day-off, the coalition can’t. They have to continue being wary and vigilant day-in, day-out and this takes a toll on morale, resources and funds.
Furthermore, the Afghanis are fighting for a reason. The coalition no longer believe in a reason and the government they support is widely seen as corrupt. Just LEAVE.
Worse still, if they stay in Afghanistan, they will lose Pakistan also. Pakistan’s instability is a direct result of the war in Afghanistan. The longer one continues the greater the instability in Pakistan. This point was made to Hilary Clinton in Pakistan when she was told bluntly that the Pakistanis are fighting (and no doubt suffering for) America’s war.
And as is usual, too many policy-making Americans have almost complete disdain for the intelligence of anyone from other countries, particularly the peoples of so-called developing nations. Yet when faced with Pakistani journalists it was Clinton who looked stupid… firstly by accusing Pakistani officials of knowing where al qaeda and Taliban forces are in Pakistan.
That might very well be true, but considering that with all its technological might, its satellite coverage, its drones, its fly-overs with heat sensor and cameras, the United States should be in a better position to know where al qaeda is operating. This is not an accusation to make publicly when you are a guest in the country, for it is both ill-mannered and also speaks to the impotency of American intelligence.
Another question that Clinton didn’t answer very well, was when she was asked if she considered drone killings (when American drones drop bombs that kill innocents) to be terrorism. Clinton flatly said no. That could not have gone over well.
It is a fact that many mistakes have been made with the use of these weapons and that many innocents in both Pakistan and Afghanistan have died as a result. To unfeelingly just say no, is disrespecting the deaths of those people, their families and their countrymen.
To consider these people merely as incidental carnage and of little worth is playing into the recruiting programme of the taliban and al qaeda.
No matter how sweet a face Barack Obama is, his alone cannot bleach-out the wide stain that American military operations is spreading in these countries and elsewhere.
America is in a no-win situation. GET OUT, NOW!

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