- Peace Garden: When will I be happy?

When will I be happy?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Just thinking about it on the surface, I should be jumping up and down because John and Sarah are not our leaders. We don't have to worry about John taking a dive and the rifle-packing hockey mom ready to take the nation to God. (Not that I am so comfortable with Joe taking over for Obama).


I should be happy that Obama talks about change, diplomacy, "ending the war"... So why am I so cynical?


Maybe it is because of his actions in the first few weeks...


Obama Gathering a Flock of Hawks to Oversee U.S. Foreign Policy

For a man who was elected in part on the promise to not just end the war in Iraq but to "end the mindset that got us into war in the first place," it's profoundly disappointing that a majority of his key appointments -- Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, Dennis Blair, Janet Napolitano, Richard Holbrooke and Jim Jones, among others -- have been among those who represent that very mindset.

As president, Obama is ultimately the one in charge, so judgment should not be based upon his appointments alone. Indeed, some of his early decisions regarding foreign policy and national security – such as ordering the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, initiating the necessary steps for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, and ending the "global gag rule" on funding for international family-planning programs – have been quite positive.

But it's still significant that the majority of people appointed to key foreign policy positions, like those in comparable positions in the Bush administration, appear to be more committed to U.S. hegemony than the right of self-determination, human rights and international law.

Is there hope - a chance to be happy?
Indeed, with a few conscientious exceptions, Democratic officials have rarely led in terms of a more progressive foreign policy. They have generally abandoned hawkish policies only after being forced to do so by popular mobilizations. From Vietnam to Central America to the nuclear arms race to South Africa to Iraq, Democratic leaders initially allied with the Republicans until they recognized their political futures were at stake unless they listened to the rank-and-file Democrats for whom they were dependent for their re-election. Then, and only then, were they willing to change course.

As a result, what may be most important will not be the people that Obama appoints, but the choices we give them.

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