Current administration merely continues the age-old practice of imperialism

Patricksaunders and Patricksaunders

We live in a time in which those of us who still have a historical memory are seeing the repetition of mistakes on top of mistakes.

President Obama, who received the Nobel Peace Prize last fall, took a red eye flight to Afghanistan this past weekend to give a speech that was reminiscent of other speeches from the past offering rationale for war. While wearing his Air Force One leather bomber jacket, he promoted the war and then cheered up the troops by telling them he was increasing funds for health care for veterans returning from the current wars of the American Empire with serious physical and mental injuries.

Obama talked about our mission to bring peace and prosperity to the Afghan people and remain until the threat of terror is gone. After conferring with the Afghan Leader, Hamid Karzai, he got back on Air Force One and flew back to the United States. Many writers have pointed out the similarity to Lyndon Johnson’s decision to “visit” the troops in Vietnam to proclaim our intention to remain until the boys brought home “a coonskin to nail to the barn door.”

We hear about victory in Afghanistan, but no one has defined exactly what victory in that conflict entails. The president talks about bringing peace and prosperity to the Afghan people, when the Afghan people would rather have peace and just be able to put food on their table. In reality, prosperity is unlikely to ever materialize for them.

The easiest way to bring peace is for us to leave that part of the world, for our presence is the fuel causing the war there to flame out of control. We are paying in treasure we do not have and in the blood of those who serve because of a poverty draft here at home.

The Afghan people are paying the highest price in the deaths of thousands of innocents, killed at roadblocks, by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flights and from disease and malnutrition caused by dislocation because of war. We as a nation are directly involved in these deaths of innocent people. How will we be able to walk away from the slaughter (and we will walk away eventually) we have caused when the time comes without blood on our collective conscience?

This Sunday, April 4, is Easter. It is also the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis, Tenn., who was there helping sanitation workers who were on strike against the city achieve justice. The symbolism of a shared day of remembrance of the Man from Galilee who died for our sins and the murder of the man who led the movement for human and economic rights for those marginalized in our nation is not lost.

King, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of the marginalized, lived a life committed to human and economic rights for all people. While the mainstream media annually focuses on the M.L.K. who gave the speech in Washington, D.C., they give no reference to King’s critical speech on the Vietnam War on April 4, 1967, or to his speech in early March of 1968 that was critical of the capitalist system, likening it to being sinful.

Our President, when he received the Nobel Peace Prize, gave a speech that questioned whether King understood what violence was and King’s use of nonviolent tactics to achieve victory over oppressors. Could the reason why the president criticized King in his remarks be that we are the oppressors in this struggle for empire in the 21st century?

Tonight on PBS, a special will be televised about King’s speech at Riverside Church in New York City against the war in Vietnam and the impact of that speech on the power structure in the nation that attacked him vociferously. Please take time to watch this Tavis Smiley-produced special.

Then think about the following: from the way our leaders fund education to the way they squander our nation’s treasure and the blood of our loved ones in conflicts that do not benefit the average person here at home, can we see parallels to the present in those who dare to speak out and question?

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