Sunday, January 25, 2009

For ourselves and our posterity

President Obama has broken with the policies of the last administration that, I believe, eroded our national reputation and our liberties. He has tried very hard to accomplish this with bipartisanship and without rancor. Some will argue that he has not gone far enough.

But is any executive action by the current President enough?

Aesop said: "Affairs are easier of entrance than of exit; and it is but common prudence to see our way out before we venture in." I have lived to see our country enmeshed in two mistaken wars. I have seen mistakes repeated. I have heard more than one American President mislead the people. We have found ourselves sometimes in murky catacombs where the exits were all steep, slippery, and guarded by dangerous trolls. How can we ensure that the mistaken and/or illegal policies of past administrations do not stand as precedent for some future administration that finds itself in a dark place?

I believe:
• the last administration approved and used torture;
• they blatantly ignored law;
• they misled the nation and the world in their conduct leading to the war in Iraq.
• their actions, however noble or ignoble the motivation, did more harm to our nation than any foreign enemy could.
I also believe:
• the last administration believed it knew best what was good for our country and, in that certitude, arrogated to itself the power to ignore FISA, Geneva conventions, and the Constitution;
• prosecution of the former President, Vice President, or Secretary of Defense, however richly deserved, would further divide the country and possibly, God forbid, result in an acquittal which would make the precedent even stronger.
Some will consider it mean-spirited to point out the mistakes of the last administration now that it is gone. While I admit to anger at times with the conduct of those folks, I have no interest in "rubbing their noses in it". I have tried on the Limb, from the beginning -- with occasional missteps, I'm sure -- to deal realistically with the issues, to avoid name-calling and ad hominem attacks, to stay away from assigning motives in favor of evaluating words and actions. Sometimes I have rewritten posts three or four times to edit out the anger that I don't deny feeling. I certainly do not want our country further divided. At nearly 62 my time here grows short and I yearn for comfortable, friendly, easy relationships. I hate confrontation. I actively hate confrontation.

But our liberty is always only one generation removed from extinction. Our nation has certainly had more articulate and more effective champions but never a more sincere lover. I desperately want my generation to leave our children and grandchildren an America where it is crystal clear basic national principle that:
• the President must follow the law even in wartime;
• though We the People need our servant, the President, to control certain war powers, declaring a never-ending "War" on a tactic does not give the President unlimited or unending powers;
• Americans don't torture;
• Americans recognize self-evident, universal, Creator-endowed, unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;
• if we compromise our principles in response to terrorism, the terrorists have succeeded;
So I ask again: How can we, with the least upheaval and unpleasantness, insure that past mistakes are not repeated? How do We the People, in this generation, provide for the common defense, insure domestic tranquility, AND secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity?

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