As a Brit living in the heartlands of the U.S.A for over five years, I consider myself an observer of life and politics in this country post-9/11/2001.
I came here exactly twelve months after the 9/11 atrocities to find a nation in shock, still reeling from the first real attack on the homeland since the British tried to regain control of the wayward colonies back in the 18th century.
Ever since the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Americans have held firm to the ideal of a land impervious to foreign invaders. The aerial attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in 1942 had been the closest America ever came to an assault on the homeland, but even that held not the significance of those twin towers crashing earthwards after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Even the incident of American Airlines Flight 77 crashing into the Pentagon, on that fateful day, lacked the full horror of the WTC towers crumbling to dust, forever vanquished from the lower Manhattan skyline.
The Phoenix that finally arose from the ashes of 9/11 was one of fear. America felt awesomely vulnerable. How could such a catastrophic event be prevented from ever happening again?
By taking advantage of this nationwide aura of fear, George W Bush and his administration was able to invade Iraq, a nation far removed from the events of 9/11, and plunge America into the stalemate situation it finds itself in today.
The invasion of Iraq had nothing whatever to do with the events of 9/11.
Today, that statement is recorded fact, denied by no-one, except perhaps the discredited Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
Nevertheless, at a time when the US populace turned to their leaders for support and direction, a majority of those leaders – the United States Congress – voted in favor of a premeditated invasion of a foreign country.
Let us make no mistake on this fact. George W Bush did not go to war against Iraq on his own authority. The United States Congress took the decision to instigate that war against a known innocent country.
Remember the ‘smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud’?
That phrase was deliberately repeated over and over by members of the administration and Congress, to persuade Americans of a danger posed by Saddam Hussein’s government.
The omission, supported by Congress, was the knowledge that any possibility of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction had been nullified by the actions of America and her allies – notably the British – by sanctions and blanket bombings throughout the previous decade.
Barack Obama was not the only Congressional member notable for a stance against the war in Iraq, but he is the only one seeking the presidency in 2009.
Both Hillary Clinton and John McCain threw their Congressional weight behind Bush and his minions over the Iraq issue.
McCain, stubbornly, still insists it was the right decision. The American people are not so stupid as to believe him.
Hillary Clinton no longer supports the war in Iraq, and says ‘if she knew then what she knows now’ she would have voted against it.
Do the American people truly want a president who is only right with hindsight?
Hillary Clinton, along with many of her political colleagues, chose the path of popular support. Americans, in the aftermath of 9/11, needed a scapegoat. Saddam Hussein was the whipping boy. Clinton and McCain were happy to oblige, seeking the popularity of the moment.
Obama, on the other hand, saw the injustice of the time and called for restraint. He argued against the war, but in favor of his conscience.
There are some who would contend that George W Bush similarly acted according to his conscience, yet there is a basic difference between Obama and Bush. The present incumbent arrogantly believed he was carrying out the will of his deity. Even the most religious must now entertain the possibility of that being a falsehood. Events are hardly unfolding in a manner conducive to the belief that American divine intervention in Iraq has produced a society lauding the ‘liberators’.
Barack Obama has, so far as we are aware, no reliance on divinity for his abilities, and instead trusts his own conscience in matters of both foreign and domestic affairs.
In conclusion, my observations of the three front runners lead me to the opinion that a vote for McCain is no more than another vote for George W Bush; allegiance to Clinton is either a desire for a female president at all costs, or a willingness to accept a president who panders to the hysteria of the moment.
Senator Barack Obama may, or may not, be the next John F Kennedy, but so far as much of America – and all the rest of the world – is concerned, he is the best hope for a future that, at best, is bleak if either McCain or Clinton gains control of the reins of power in 2009.
Filed under: An observer’s choice