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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Howard Zinn: Changing Obama's Military Mindset

What is the mindset that got us into Iraq?

It’s the mindset that says force will do the trick. Violence, war, bombers—that they will bring democracy and liberty to the people.

It’s the mindset that says America has some God-given right to invade other countries for their own benefit. We will bring civilization to the Mexicans in 1846. We will bring freedom to the Cubans in 1898. We will bring democracy to the Filipinos in 1900. You know how successful we’ve been at bringing democracy all over the world.

Obama has not gotten out of this militaristic missionary mindset. He talks about sending tens of thousands of more troops to Afghanistan.

Obama is a very smart guy, and surely he must know some of the history. You don’t have to know a lot to know the history of Afghanistan has been decades and decades and decades and decades of Western powers trying to impose their will on Afghanistan by force: the English, the Russians, and now the Americans. What has been the result? The result has been a ruined country.

This is the mindset that sends 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and that says, as Obama has, that we’ve got to have a bigger military. My heart sank when Obama said that. Why do we need a bigger military? We have an enormous military budget. Has Obama talked about cutting the military budget in half or some fraction? No.

We have military bases in more than a hundred countries. We have fourteen military bases on Okinawa alone. Who wants us there? The governments. They get benefits. But the people don’t really want us there. There have been huge demonstrations in Italy against the establishment of a U.S. military base. There have been big demonstrations in South Korea and on Okinawa.


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