COLUMN OF THE AMERICAS
JAN. 1. 2009
AMERICA'S SOUL SICKNESS & PERMANENT WAR: OBAMA'S RUDE AWAKENING
BY ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ
Obama's first challenge will not be the unresolved Middle East crisis.
Nor will it be Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo or the economy. His
primary challenge will come in coming face to face with the
Bush/Cheney doctrine of permanent worldwide war. Unless Obama
renounces it on inauguration day, this doctrine will continue to be
Beyond that, an even larger challenge – one which he may not ever be
able to meet – is healing a nation that for too long has been sickened
by what American Indian historian, Jack Forbes terms in Columbus and
other Cannibals: soul-sickness. It is a disease that historically has
allowed a majority of EuroAmericans to believe that God has chosen
them lead the rest of the world into the light, permitting the United
States to employ massive military might in achieving that so-called
Over the past eight years, it is the Bush-Cheney doctrine that has
drawn the particular ire of the entire world – because it permits the
United States to unilaterally attack any nation with massive force or
to attack any target within any nation, regardless of civilian
casualties. This doctrine has also permitted this outgoing
administration to assert and amass extraordinary powers that have
virtually rendered the U.S. Constitution meaningless. This doctrine
includes the assertion that the executive branch and its extraordinary
powers can not be questioned or hindered by Congress or the courts
during times of war, thus the assertion of permanent war (the war on
Yet, even if Obama were to reject this Bush-Cheney doctrine, the soul
sickness would remain.
That notwithstanding, the president's first order of business has to
be the rejection of the Bush-Cheney doctrine. Failure to do so
immediately, will cause the promise of change [to the United States,
the world and the future] to fall on deaf ears.
It will not be enough to wind down the Iraq War if it means that the
president will simply shift resources to broaden the war in
Afghanistan and to also continue the Bush-Cheney endless worldwide war
against undefined enemies into the foreseeable future.
Eradicating that soul-sickness is probably not possible; it is what
sustains the myths of this nation. It is what defines this nation. The
secular equivalent of believing that God has chosen the United States
for a special mission is the belief that being a superpower is an
elected position and that with that title, the United States and its
allies are entitled to invade, topple or occupy any nation they see
fit. And it is not something that began with Bush and Cheney.
It can be no irony that those that initiated the invasion and
occupation of Iraq – in defiance of the UN – were the United States,
Britain & Spain… on Portuguese territory. In the past 500 years,
these are the world's leading imperialists and colonialist nations.
Essentially, they have been the world's architects of the policies of
dehumanization – feeling entitled by God and blinded by greed to
trample over the lands, bodies and rights of peoples [of color]
Despite this imperial club, there's a reason the U.S. government is
particularly despised by most of the world. It isn't just the
Bush-Cheney regime, though they have certainly put a face to the "ugly
American." It's that smug soul-sickness that permits Americans to
believe that they indeed know what's best for the rest of the world.
When Obama was elected president, it was the hope of the world –
evidenced by massive celebrations worldwide – that he would indeed
reverse the arrogance of the Bush/Cheney doctrine. Though for those
expecting president-elect Obama to bring about radical change to the
world, all signs indicate that we are all in for a very rude
But it's a sleep or dream that many Americans don't want to wake from.
To be sure, being elected U.S. president is not the same thing as
being elected high commissioner for human rights or prince of peace.
Since WWII, the United States has become the most powerful military
empire in the history of the planet. In the path of this machine,
millions of casualties are strewn about in Asia, Africa and Central
America. Some have been the result of secret, proxy, unnecessary,
foolish and illegal wars – such as Iraq – but truly, which war or
military action by the United States since WWII has been necessary and
legal and not foolish?
This is what Obama is inheriting; not just a permanent war and a soul
sickness, but also the reins to a voracious military-industrial
complex that needs to be constantly fed. There's little indication
that he will starve this machine. But there is always hope.
(c) Column of the Americas 2009
Rodriguez can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com
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