In the weeks since the previous blog entry, my fears about the USA or Israel, or most likely, first Israel then the USA, undertaking military action against Iran have only been confirmed by the course of events. President Obama seems to be trying to moderate and minimize the rush to war, but he does not seem willing or able to clearly speak out against it. Politically, this is understandable, as he does not want to appear "weak on defense," which these days seems to essentially mean "weak on attacking Muslim nations." It is however another indication of the man's cowardice and calculation. Obama is no moral beacon for our time, but just another politician willing to allow the slaughter of innocents for the sake of political advantage.
Don't get me wrong, I will vote for the man considering that the alternative is even more frightening, but I do find his presidency quite disappointing, in this and other ways. I am even willing to concede that Obama may be the best that liberals and progressives can hope for at this time, considering the power of the oligarchic and militaristic forces arrayed against us, but that doesn't mean I have to like it or pretend that it is something more or better than it is. I am still proud that his election broke the race barrier in our country at the highest level, but the huge backlash against him that began almost IMMEDIATELY after he was elected, and has never let up ever since, has also sadly exposed how deeply racist America remains. However, even taking into account all of this, I believe that we who believe in liberal and progressive ideals like economic justice and environmental protection have to continue to speak up and demand MORE. That, after all, is how politics works: put on the pressure to advance your cause. God knows the other side is doing it x100.
I recently became aware of an initiative that in my view represents the most clear, principled, and elegant response to America's current syndrome of endless military engagement. This is a House Resolution authored by Keith Ellison, Congressman from Minnesota, that calls for a Global Marshall Plan. The intent is that we turn away from seeking to achieve our security by military domination of the troubled areas of the world to striving to provide a much higher level of aid than we have to this point to poor peoples and countries around the world, to help them develop in ways that meet their actual human needs, rather than going down the path of militarism and violence, as such groups as Al-Qaeda have done in the past. The reference to "Marshall Plan" refers back to the time in the late 1940s and early 1950s when the USA provided huge amounts of financial assistance to war-ravaged countries in Europe to enable them to rebuild, an effort almost universally hailed as a brilliant success that enabled modern western Europe to become generally peaceful and stable. The idea is to attempt the same with other regions and hope for the same kind of positive results. America does give aid to many countries, but the amount is puny compared to what we spend on our military. Ellison and others propose that we flip this equation: put less emphasis on military power and invest more in peaceful development projects. Some would say it is terribly idealistic, but I see little evidence that our current strategy is making the world a better place. Maybe it is time to try a little idealism and back down from trying to be the world's hegemonic bully.
I would note that when the USA provided aid to Muslim peoples in Indonesia and elsewhere in the wake of the December 2004 tsunami, opinion polls of the time showed our favorability rating among Muslims populations in the region of the disaster ticking upwards for the first time in years. Imagine that: helping and befriending Muslims rather than invading and attacking them. It can be done. Or, we can just stick with our current policy of invasion-occupation-threat-domination, attack and counterattack, for the next 50 years. That is possible too.
In Tikkun magazine and on the web site of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, this initiative is explained in simple terms as a contrast between a foreign policy of "domination" versus one of "generosity." I think this frames the issues in a clear and compelling manner, and is worth thinking about further. I know I will be doing that, and encourage my readers to do the same.
In Pagan terms, perhaps we could explain this as turning away from the war god to focus more on the gods of peace and plenty and fertility. We need them now, desperately.