Pendulum in American Politics
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 15 Nov 2010
Pendulum is derived from the Latin word pendulus, which refers to a hanging object that swings freely from left to right and vice versa. As witnessed in American political elections, people tend to act as a pendulum in choosing their next government. They do not seem to have much control over this matter. However, this seems to be the only way to prove that the ultimate power in the United States lies with the people, in the sense that they can fully retain their government for another term or just have it replaced.
American People Sensitivity
Needless to say, Americans do not change their government just for fun. They have a good reason. Like many other people in the world, the American people do have many problems. They try to select those political candidates who sound to be most honest and sincere, who furnish evidence of understanding clearly their individual and collective problems. For a very long time, Americans in general have observed that their politicians tend to say one thing and do another. The promises made before election tend to be disregarded afterwards.
There are many reasons for this phenomenon. Deep inside American politicians are torn asunder between two real and vital elements. On one hand, they need the people to elect them. On the other hand, they need money and big business to remain in power. This explains why the majority of US politicians hardly ever vote against the interests of big business, even if this were to lead to much suffering among the American people. What seems to hurt Americans mostly is when they see they have been deliberately mislead or deceived.
The American people on the whole are literally tired and fed up of the US involvement in so many wars around the world. Under President George W. Bush, Republicans controlled the entire US government. Americans insisted then that all US troops should be brought out of Iraq without further delay. Instead of following the wish of the people that elected him to the US presidency, President Bush sent another 30,000 US soldiers to Iraq, which he called the surge.
The American people got angry and in the elections that took place later, they ousted from the Senate and the House of Representatives the Republicans who were replaced by Democrats. Then two years later, the American people elected the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, who vouched to give the people what they wanted, that is, to have all US troops pulled out of Iraq. He also vouched to solve problems not through wars but through healthy dialogues and sound diplomacy. This enabled him to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Wrong Handling of Foreign Policy
President Obama did move to start pulling out the US troops from Iraq as he promised. In fact, to date he moved out about one hundred thousand. However, shortly afterwards he followed the footsteps of President George W. Bush by sending some 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, which was also referred to as the surge. Thousands of Americans were killed needlessly in Iraq, a war that could have been avoided. Now Americans are experiencing the replica of Iraq in Afghanistan, where many Americans are equally dying needlessly.
To turn insult into injury, the US politicians continue to explain to the American people that the US government involvement in these two wars has been to bring freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. What a way of bringing democracy and freedom to other nations which never made such a request from the outset! Proven statistics tell us that US troops have killed and maimed tens of thousands of innocent people, including women, children, the elderly and the sick exceeding one million in totality.
As though this was not enough, US troops have forced two million Iraqis into becoming refugees and they destroyed brutally the infrastructure of a number of cities while creating more than three quarters of a million orphans! All this was done under the leadership of a Republican President and a Republican Congress. As stated earlier, this forced the American people to oust all Republicans from the government and to replace them by Democrats. Here we have the pendulum in American politics visibly at work.
However, President Obama’s determination to conduct the US war in Afghanistan same way as Bush conducted the war in Iraq has angered the American people. Their frustration was demonstrated in the recent elections when they ousted enough democrats from the House of Representative as to bring the Republicans back to power. This was not because the American people showed trust in Republicans. Far from it! They just wanted to punish the Democrats in power who were held responsible now and accountable for the continuation of war in Afghanistan.
Of course, the comeback of Republicans will not last forever. Republicans, more than Democrats, have always put top priority of the national gross budget on the manufacture and sales of weapons and the promotion of wars. Former CIA agents and top US military leaders have condemned in the open, on more than one occasion, US initiatives in developing guerilla types of warfare around the world. CIA stands for Central Intelligence Agency. Americans were directly responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of innocent people in countries of Central America and other nations especially in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Nation of Plutocracy at Work
Like former US Attorney General Ramsey Clarke said very often, the United States is not a nation of democracy and freedom. It is rather a nation of plutocracy where everything is controlled by the rich who own all the major news media. This way they can control fully the American people. Tens of thousands of innocent people mostly women, children, the elderly and the sick, suffered tremendously for decades of unjust US sanctions. We may begin to understand why so many millions of people developed anger and hatred against the United States.
To illustrate this by a couple of examples, the sanctions against Iraq and the embargo against Cuba caused the death of tens of thousands of innocent people who proved to be all good and harmless. It is quite ironic that the United States, viewed as predominantly Christian nation, ceased to recognize that all people of all nations are dear children of God for whom His beloved Son Jesus died on the cross to save them. While Jesus did His best to save them, the United States, ironically, did not hesitate to destroy them with no remorse whatsoever.
Those who want to learn more about the tragic US foreign policies may read and see videotapes that are now available. Among these we find, The Secret Government by Bill Moyers, CIA Covert Operations by John Stockton, Deception in the Iran-Contra Affair by several news reporters, School of Assassins narrated by Susan Sarandon, Arms for the Poor narrated by Richard Kiley, Genocide by Sanctions with Iraq taken as example, and The Panama Deception, showing thousands of civilians killed by US military.
In addition, we find American Foreign Policies, consisting of speeches by Ramsey Clark. Besides, The Center for Defense Information in Washington, DC, composed mostly of retired military officials, has made over one hundred informative videotapes. They demonstrate how the weapons industry has become the permanent deadly enemy of peace. This Center shows how people are manipulated as not to see the real intent of those responsible with the manufacture and sales of weapons and the continued promotion of wars.
One of the most vocal peace-promoters in the USA is Frank Dorrel who wrote an illustrated book entitled: Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can’t Kick Militarism, where he shows clearly why the United States is constantly being engaged into so many wars. As a result, he also brought out a videotape entitled: What I’ve learned about the U.S. Foreign Policy, where he puts most of the topics mentioned above also. What is amazing and hopeful, at the same time, lies in the fact that the American people as a whole do not want wars by all means.
Two Leading Political Parties
In the United States there are virtually only two leading political parties with supposedly different agendas. They are known as Republicans and Democrats. Although the Republicans are viewed as the party of the rich and the Democrats are considered as the party of the middle class and the poor, yet when it comes to the military they both want to prove their machismo. This explains why, either way, the American people have always conflicts with their government. This forces them to have no other choice except to become a pendulum that makes them shift from one party to the other so often.
In view of what has been stated, there is no need for Americans, in particular, and the world at large to wait until the year 2012 to see what policies Republicans, who now control the House of Representatives, would be coming up with. We may state it now with good precision. Republicans will continue to speak about the need for balancing the budget by cutting billions of dollars from money that would have been allotted to the health care, education, and adequate home facilities for the homeless and the poor.
What Republicans do not tell us is the fact that such money is not then used to really cut down the huge debt of the USA. Such money will be used for the further manufacture and sales of more weapons of mass destruction and the promotion of more struggles and wars. Once the American people begin to see this with clarity, then in 2012 they will, once more, throw out of Congress the Republicans and have them replaced by Democrats. This means Americans, in the sphere of politics, have become a pendulum not by chance but by necessity.
The question that may be raised here is this. If, constitutionally speaking, the US government is one of the people, by the people, and for the people, why is it that the US government officials do not follow the wish of their masters, the people? We do not need to dig deeply into the matter to realize that weapons and wars have become a very lucrative business and that a number of US government officials do reveal great interest in putting money into their pocket through such war ventures around the world.
Since the people are the only instrument in the United States that have to elect government officials at all levels, then, if Democrats want really to capture the entire realm of government in 2012, they need right now to give the people what they made it clear they do want. They still want all US troops out of Iraq and all US troops out of Afghanistan without further delay. Besides, they do not want to continue to see their US government meddling in the internal affairs of other nations around the world. Over the next two years, President Obama will have a great say in the political outcome of 2012.
Drastic Cuts in Military Budget
If President Obama brings all US troops out of Iraq the sooner the better, if this same US President brings the war in Afghanistan to an end, and if he does not allow the United States to become involved in another war, especially against Iran, then the chances for the Democrats to capture again the realm of the US government in 2012 becomes a virtual certainty. Although, in theory, what has been stated may sound both realistic and logical, in practice, things may prove to be different, since the weapons industry swore never to go out of business.
When the Master Teacher of Nazareth described the human being as homo hominis lupus — man is his own worst enemy, he apparently knew well what He was talking about. Judged by its disastrous foreign policies, the United States is proving to be its own worst enemy. The tragedy lies in the fact that the American people, as a whole, cannot see this into proper perspective because the American news media, which is virtually owned by big business, does not mention anything about such a tangible reality.
The US military budget that is allotted every year is much bigger than all the military budgets of all nations combined! This American nation has some 746 military bases around the world some of which is costing the US government billions of dollars every month. The oceans of the world are becoming increasingly polluted with American warships ready to intervene and interfere in any global area that has a special appeal to American big corporations. Through the military big powers always got what they wanted fast and smooth.
The reason for this is simple. The military has been the only established entity in history that makes its actions accountable to no one. In fact, the military is hardly ever prosecuted for breaking the divine positive law and the natural law. Soldiers are free to shoot and kill at will every individual they come across, including women, children, the elderly and the sick. Not only they are not prosecuted for such inhumane and atrocious actions, but once they return home they are received as heroes!
In spite of this, the remorse some soldiers feel for what they do causes them to commit suicide. The United States feels very proud of the fact that its military is all composed of volunteers. We have to admit that this is something appropriate to brag about. The idea of drafting individuals against their own free will to fight and kill the other children of God is very unsound and it should be avoided by all means. The majority of those who join the US military do so not because they feel they are heroes who want to risk their lives for their country, but because they are offered free college education and a series of other perks later on.
Holy Cow of America
In the USA, the military tends to be viewed as the holy cow, especially by many US government officials. In Indian culture, the cow is considered as holy and sacred. Cows there may roam in the streets as they wish and no one dares to say anything. They can break the rules of traffic and inconvenience people in one way or another while they are simply left alone. This explains why the US military in the USA is viewed as the holy cow. The US military follows no rules and regulations as conveyed by the divine positive law and the natural law.
As stated earlier, US soldiers can enter any country at will without previous warning and they may destroy the infrastructure of cities in very devastating way. They may kill tens of thousands of innocent and harmless people without any regret or remorse, while their government officials continue to refer to them as heroes who put their life at risk to save the democracy and freedom of the American people! The vast majority of the American people, at this stage of history, are not buying this statement from their government any longer.
Regardless of who happens to be in power – Republicans and Democrats alike – they all tend to support the military to the hilt, even at the cost of depriving the American people from such vital needs as health care, education and adequate housing facilities. Hence, each time the American people go to vote many feel they are torn asunder, in the sense that they have to choose not the better or the best but, quite often, the lesser of two evils. We may fully realize here why Americans were forced to create a pendulum in American politics.
The American people at heart do love and respect their neighbors. However, they happen to be living in a nation that is built on plutocracy where those with money and wealth control everything. But more people are becoming aware that weapons and wars have become a lucrative business. Until a way is found to stop the US from policing the world through its military, the American people have no choice but to keep on changing their government periodically. The pendulum in American politics is expected to continue for quite a while.
Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education,
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
Hon President & Professor, SBS Swiss Business School, Zurich
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 15 Nov 2010.
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