Monday, May 18, 2009

Changing Obama's Military Mindset

By Howard Zinn 

From the beginning, I liked Obama. But the first time it suddenly struck me that he was a politician was early on, when Joe Lieberman was running for the Democratic nomination for his Senate seat in 2006.

Liebermanwho, as you know, was and is a war loverwas running for the Democratic nomination, and his opponent was a man named Ned Lamont, who was the peace candidate. And Obama went to Connecticut to support Lieberman against Lamont.

It took me aback. I say that to indicate that, yes, Obama was and is a politician. So we must not be swept away into an unthinking and unquestioning acceptance of what Obama does.

I had a teacher at Columbia University named Richard Hofstadter, who wrote a book called The American Political Tradition, and in it, he examined presidents from the Founding Fathers down through Franklin Roosevelt. There were liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats. And there were differences between them. But he found that the so-called liberals were not as liberal as people thought—and that the difference between the liberals and the conservatives, and between Republicans and Democrats, was not a polar difference. There was a common thread that ran through all American history, and all of the presidents—Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative—followed this thread.

The thread consisted of two elements: one, nationalism; and two, capitalism. And Obama is not yet free of that powerful double heritage.

We can see it in the policies that have been enunciated so far, even though he's been in office only a short time.

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