Thursday, September 30, 2010

Man, For He Is the Devil's Pawn

Over the evolutionary history of mankind, humans have purportedly evolved from barbaric primitives to the civilized beings of today. A random scan of the daily headlines on any given day would paint a different picture. Our ancestors are perceived as creatures of lower intellect whose thought processes went no further than animalistic, survival instinct. For all their stone tools and cave art, they were primitives plain and simple. 

Yet, modern man is more savage than any other existent human species, and for one simple reason:  ostensibly more intellectually aware than our forebears, we still consciously commit acts one would attribute more to our primitive heritage than an industrialized society. Acts perpetuated for centuries, even though by now one would think we would know better. That is why I, like many others, hold humanity in contempt - there's no humanity in it, except perhaps in the distant past.

©2010 Steve Sagarra

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Perpetuating Intolerance, Post-9/11

I don't know who scares me more - Islamist extremists or Christian extremists. Frankly, I am not a fan of any fanatical extremism that has no room for alternative views. Especially those who spew hatred in attacking the very hatred they condemn in the other. Yes, the United States was attacked by such extremists on September 11, 2001, but by those submitting to a corrupt interpretation of Islam not shared by the majority who follow the religion. Does that condemn forever all devotees because of the few fanatics among them?

The Founding Fathers, indisputably influenced by Judeo-Christian beliefs, saw to it not to institute a state-mandated religion when establishing our founding principles. Thanks to that wisdom, today the nation is, in theory at least, a beacon of religious tolerance that allows all citizens to worship in their own way without fear of persecution. Even if that means following no religion. 

So, as small-minded Pastor Nutjob in Florida advocates literally torching that principle - the Nazis burned books too, including the Bible - and further inflame, perhaps irreversibly, already-tenuous relations with the Muslim world, let us revisit the wisdom of my personal prophet...

©2010 Steve Sagarra

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

President Obama’s Leadership Moment

On August 31, President Barack Obama addressed the nation concerning the drawdown plans of U.S. combat forces in Iraq. If history does not repeat, certainly it, as Mark Twain observed, does indeed rhyme. On several occasions in the history of the United States, a sitting president, as commander-in-chief, has had the dubious responsibility to conclude military operations initiated under their predecessor:  Harry Truman and the Second World War in 1945, following the death of Franklin Roosevelt; Dwight Eisenhower and the Korean War in 1953, having defeated Truman’s designate successor Adlai Stevenson; and Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War in 1973, after Lyndon Johnson’s deferment in seeking a second term. Now, President Obama faces the end of the campaign in Iraq, while remaining focused on the mission yet to be concluded there and in Afghanistan, begun under former President George W. Bush.

No consensus exists, and probably never will, concerning the Iraq War. On the right, it was a justified prerequisite to the overall goals of the global “War on Terror.” Perhaps ill-conceived, but essential nonetheless. On the left, it was needless, unwarranted and costly, particularly in the toll in human lives. Obama, sounding astutely presidential, acknowledged this divide that has existed throughout the country since 2003. Yet, with a clear admission acknowledging his predecessor’s intentions and the immediate outcome in spite of unforeseen challenges and setbacks, history is already turning in favor of former President Bush’s legacy over the Iraq War. Obama, much like Nixon in his “Vietnamization” speech at the height of that war’s divisiveness, outlined exactly what needed to be stated:  the United States, having fulfilled combat objectives that must now fall to the Iraqi people, will nonetheless continue an involved commitment to the long-term establishment of self-rule principles sowed by the Bush administration, and for which a new generation of brave men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice.

In South Korea, A Model For Iraq,” by Paul Wolfowitz

A Dicey Moment,” by Michael O’Hanlon

Obama Wrecked Iraq,” by John Bolton

Certainly, there are lessons for President Obama from past administrations that dealt with similar situations. Truman, as newly de facto leader of the free world, helped lay the groundwork in reconciliation toward former enemies Germany and Japan, establishing valuable ties in ensuing decades that still exist today. Eisenhower, despite criticizing the failures and quagmire that had become the Korean War, maintained allegiance to and support for South Korea in its struggle against the North, which continues to this day. On the other hand, Nixon, while adhering to campaign promises to end the Vietnam conflict, abandoned South Vietnam without the same commitment, and North Vietnam quickly overran the South only two years later. All one has to do is substitute North Korea and North Vietnam with Iran – no doubt itching to overrun Iraq, and the Middle East in general, if the U.S. commitment falters in the region.
©2010 Steve Sagarra