Barack Obama’s aides assert that the president wants to be the anti-Bush and that’s why, after the bomb-in-the-briefs incident, he said, “The buck stops with me.” This would be a departure from W whose eight years were marked by no apologies. Bush did, however, finally say he regretted standing in front of a “Mission Impossible” sign in 2003. Note his glaring parapraxia. The sign, in fact, was emblazoned “Mission Accomplished.”
It’s one thing though for Obama to express remorse and another to act on this compunction. Especially when one year after his swearing in, he has kept the campaign promise we in the peace movement hoped he’d denounce—continuing and escalating what he calls the “right war” in Afghanistan.
Seems there’s a statute of limitations on most pledges advanced on the campaign trail.
According to Wikipedia, passing the buck probably had its origin with the game of poker during frontier days. A knife with a buckhorn handle was used to indicate who dealt the cards. If a player didn’t want to deal, he could pass the knife to the next person.
Most of us know that President Harry Truman famously said, “The buck stops here.” A sign of the phrase, on his desk in the Oval Office, was a reminder that he would accept the consequences of his decisions. One wonders if he ever came to regret the choice resulting in his comment quoted in the August 7, 1945 edition of The New York Times: “We have spent two billion dollars on the greatest scientific gamble in history and won.”
Truman’s “scientific gamble” killed more than 200,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most died from flash burns, but in the following months, many people suffered agonizing deaths from radiation sickness. Years later, there were more deaths from leukemia and other cancers related to irradiation. In both cities, most of the casualties were civilians.
Try as he may to convince us that he’s the anti-Bush, Obama’s failing. And he’s succeeding in being pro-Truman. In less than a year, the president has carried out more than 50 Predator strikes against terrorists—clear violations of international law, because drone attacks almost always incinerate more civilians than the intended targets.
Obama is spending billions, while asking Congress for even more, on what has become his gamble, one that George Bush initiated, but that he, Obama, is expanding. Experts say The Project for the New American Century ended in 2006. Certainly, it has been resurrected under a new administration.
In June of 2009, the president spoke in Cairo:
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap and share common principles—principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
Yet, it is not justice and progress, tolerance and dignity that we’re extending but, instead, our violence that is overlapping explosively in five predominantly Muslim countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. And we send billions to Israel in support of the genocide of Palestinians.
“The buck stops with me.”
“The buck stops here.”
It’s not enough to merely say you accept the results of your decisions, to own that a “system failure” occurred on your watch. The very framework of the system must be examined, this imperialist/Zionist/racist foreign policy that breeds terrorists. Invasions and occupations, torture, and disregard for life are all choices, crimes against humanity.
If the buck truly stops with Obama, he’d be unable to sleep. The carnage his decisions are yielding would induce incapacitating insomnia. But that’s assuming war dealers have consciences.
Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com