I grew up in the 50's and 60's. Thay makes me a part of the "folkie" segment of the baby boomers. The ones who were to old to be overtaken by Rock and Roll, even though we like some of it. We were the Freedom Riders, the Washington and Selma marchers. We discovered social activism before some Americans discovered their A-1 or "student deferment" had a real chance of getting them a trip to Viet Nam. Do not get me wrong, I think we were as much a part of the anti-war movement as those a bit younger who discovered social activism after they discovered the draft. But I think the motives were a bit different.
I know in the cynical age of what the late Senator Kennedy called, "the politics of personal destruction," this is hard to imagine, but we really were idealists. I for one, had a nice safe 4F draft code. That was the one assigned to people with a history of debilitating illness that disqualifies a person from military service. I knew the Army was not interested in sending me to the rice paddies. That was still a peace symbol on my parka, and I was still involved in anti-war marches and the like.
I have been thinking about all this as I survey the incredible landscape our American policy involving Syria. I thought the end of the Vietnam War, and the passage of the war powers act had established a few things. I thought I knew that America was not about to enter any war that did not fit a just war concept. I thought I knew that our government did not intentionally lie to us. I even thought I could be as were Rockefeller, Eisenhower, and Dirksen, a progressive Republican.
Somewhere along the way, the utterly silly ideas of Ayn Rand, spread by her depressing inept prose, have taken root. Somewhere along that road, Americans came to accept the wrong-headed concept of the ideologically pure political party. Somewhere, in Geneva Switzerland of all places, the merger of evangelical Christanity and right wing politics as affected. For some reason the churches involved have never figured out that they gave away a lot and gained at best, little. (Read the works of Frank Schaeffer to deeply personal background.) And the politics of personal destruction became the norm.
So here we sit at the edge of yet another, "action" which we cannot call a war, because of the pesky language of the Constitution. This will be an, "intervention to enforce international law;" or some similar circumlocution. We have slid more and more towards the semantic disaster portrayed in 1984. When a "coup" begums an "over through" because our laws limit relations with governments formed by coups, when we send our daughters and sons into combat but never say the "W" word; we are in a very, very bad place.
I, like many of my handful of readers, have taken advantage of the White House's email system to send a message to Mr. Obama imploring, him to step back from the armed intervention, the smart bombs, and the like and consider something else, anything else. I do not know what the world would look like if the USA said, we won't intervene. So many governments think they know what we will do, that it might take a bit of time for the adjustments to flow through. But it can only be a better place. Young Americans will not experience PSSD, and a number of all our children, Syrian and American will live. And many Israelis who are the target of opportunity when some tin plated general cannot reach New York, will live. Even some Palestinians who won't be caught in the cross fire will live.
You can do this Mr. Obama. In the process you can convince me that when it became utterly clear that progressives are no longer welcome in the GOP that we knew, and that instead of the Grand Old Party, it is now, the Government To People, that becoming a Democrat vote was a good choice.