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Buy President Obama a History Book

Pat LaMarche

"My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements -- it has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world is a better place because we have borne them."

Of the thousands of words the president said in last night's televised speech to the nation on Syria, these 75 words are the most important. No man with such a fundamental misunderstanding of modern American history should be deciding the fate of a new group of civilians.

In this one paragraph the president rolled the clock back to 1943, claiming in that particular lifetime of U.S. actions on global security, our killings have been more righteous and had better outcomes than the anticipated actions of others. And with this distorted view of the consequences, President Obama hopes once again to use bombs to set things right.

Even if we shave two years off his timetable and move him past the long debated use of nuclear weapons -- on not one but two civilian targets in Japan -- the United States cannot claim to have made the world a better place.

Our paranoia alone, over the spread of communism, allowed us to rack up uncounted millions of civilian casualties. It was, many believe, the picture of a young girl running down the road and on fire that helped bring about the end of the war in Vietnam. That girl was a victim of American chemical warfare. She was a flaming symbol courtesy of the "anchor of global security."

One of our most recent examples of a world most definitely not "a better place" is on the ground in Iraq. As our depleted uranium weapons decay, as stories accumulate of atrocities committed by contracted soldiers, as our young men and women take their own lives in record numbers following their repeated tours of duty, we can claim no moral superiority in the world and certainly not in the middle east.

And as economic impact of our military blunders continues to reek havoc at home, the effects of the sequester mean that the world is certainly not "a better place" in the classrooms, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and every day living rooms here in the United States.

Additionally, between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War there were dozens more misuses of American firepower. Cuba, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Libya, Angola, Iran: this list is but a sample of our military intervention that did not make the world "a better place." And because we've too often acted as thought "the burdens of leadership are great," you name it we spear headed it. In those 70 years we've run the gambit from the Bay of Pigs and the School of the America's to Wounded Knee.

And let us not forget the innocent lives lost in collateral damage drone strikes caused because the global security anchor-in-chief's kill list was not as easily targeted as otherwise intended: or as we were led to believe.

It is heartbreaking to realize that a presidential career forged by the anti-war movement has antithetically rendered President Obama incapable of critical thought and the ability to adequately assess the legacy of our past globally enforced agreements: Agreements with the likes of Augusto Pinochet and yes, Saddam Hussein.

In the United States, the blood of millions of innocents is on our collective hands. We don't -- necessarily -- have to beat our breast on a daily basis over the wrong we have done over time. But no president should ever claim our violent, unethical treatment of others was in their best interest and has made the world a better place. A leader who rewrites history, can not appropriately decide the future.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is an author, activist and advocate. She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States" (Updated, 2020). Her novel, "The Magic Diary" (2019) is now available.

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