Water Man Spouts

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

By Any Means Necessary

(Note: This essay originally appeared on the political discussion forum, "The Democratic Underground.")

"In the eyes of history, our greatest presidents have proved their qualities of greatness when confronted by great challenges -- war, depression, and moral issues from slavery to civil rights. The discovery that the Soviet Union had secretly rushed nuclear missiles into Cuba tested JFK's wisdom, courage, and leadership as no president since Lincoln and FDR had been tested. No other test so sharply put at stake, depending on the president's choices, the survival of our country. It was for that moment that he had been elected; and it was for that moment that he will most be remembered."-- Ted Sorensen; Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History; 2008; pages 308-309.

One of the very best books of the year is Ted Sorensen's history of his service to President John F. Kennedy. Chapter 23 covers the Cuban Missile Crisis (pages 285-309). Since his experience in 1962, Sorensen has had the opportunity to find that had JFK followed the advice of those who advocated military strikes against Cuban targets -- including the recommendations of his top military advisers -- the outcome would have involved unexpected consequences. The results would have likely included missiles already in Cuba being fired at the USA, and if President Kennedy had responded in kind, it is possible that the conflict would have spiraled further out of control.

It is a good thing that Kennedy was President. Had any of the four other presidents surrounding JFK been in office (Truman, Ike, LBJ, or Nixon), it is unlikely that their judgement would have allowed for the peaceful resolution that President Kennedy reached. Sorensen notes that this episode led to JFK's most important speech, the June 1963 address at American University.

Ted Sorensen was among the first people to endorse Senator Barack Obama. He has said repeatedly that his confidence in Obama is based upon his impression that he is the first candidate who has the same sense of judgement as JFK had. This is important when we consider the choice that Americans will make in November, between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Two of the most important issues at hand involve the US war of occupation in Iraq, and the closely-related issue of Iran. There is a group within the Bush administration that is advocating the US military conduct air strikes on targets within Iran. This group, which is centered in the Office of the Vice President, was involved in the neocon/AIPAC espionage scandal, where highly classified military intelligence concerning Iran was passed on to intelligence officers from another country in the Middle East. Some of the leaders from that country are advocating the US conduct the air strikes on targets in Iran, and some have suggested they are weighing their options for such strikes.

John McCain has shown himself willing to cooperate with those in the OVP who advocate aggression against Iran. Some neoconservatives have spoken publicly about the likelihood of a conflict between the US and Iran. This is, I believe, the primary reason that General Wesley Clark has sounded the alarm, and reminded the public that we must evaluate each candidate's judgement on military matters.

The war of occupation in Iraq -- from the lies that led to the invasion, to today -- show that the republican party's current leadership has poor judgement on these matters. The consequences of this war are not even close to what their "experts" predicted. The possible strikes on Iran would also lead to consequences this merry band of fools does not anticipate.There are numerous important issues to be discussed and debated in the weeks and months ahead. But none are more important than the issue of judgement in military matters.

Our choice in November will impact every other issue that we recognize as being important in our attempts to rebuild the foundation of our Constitutional democracy.

It's time for all sincere DUers to focus on what is important. Please ignore the apparently coordinated "concern" campaign, and keep your eyes on the prize. Work to elect Barack Obama and other democratic candidates at every level -- by any means necessary.


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