Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guns and Butter: For How Long?

Stagnation in Iraq/Expansion in Afghanistan and a Decent/Progressive Domestic Policy: Can Both Survive?

by Phil E. Benjamin

The "guns v. butter" era has begun again. Ever wonder why this debate doesn't take place during Republican periods? Simple. During the Reagan/Bush and Bush periods there was only guns and more guns. There was no butter, translated that meant no social programs to fund; a double negative.

Now that the Democrats are back in power, all three branches, that debate, it was hoped would not take place. Voters in 2008 were hoping for a far less guns department and a far larger butter, creamery. The worldwide financial crisis has thrown a monkey wrench into that equation. In fact, the significant amount of money that the Democrats have put into the economy to save capitalism has masked that argument. But, that debate is coming.

In fact, the health care debate is moving more and more around the issue of financing health care options. The robustness of the Public Option Plan will be largely determined by ideological issues, but if the right wing, corporate interests loses that argument they will recede to the cost and lack of money.

There looks like a growing resentment in the anti-war, anti-imperialist movements; and, bewilderment in the general peace movement with each escalation of the war in Afghanistan, [nuclear armed] Pakistan and further stagnation in Iraq. The military budget moves up, albeit at a lower rate. While the Blackwater gang of mercenaries, thugs and criminals was dumped a reportedly equally repugnant mercenary company, Triple Canopy, has replaced it. There are other hot button items that are deeply worrying people about the direction of the new Administration.

It must be kept in mind that this movement switched from Clinton to Obama mostly over the issue of foreign policy. They are not a happy crew. They may not be organized into one group or one organization, but they do have a unity of thought. They share the basics of a foreign policy that promotes peace that they feel is not taking place to the extent they anticipated.

Clearly, some important domestic policy moves has bolstered public support for the Administration and blunted foreign policy disappointments. A revitalized Labor Department is on the way. Decent people being placed in energy, environmental and health areas. Pro woman Administration statements and actions have take place. Changes at the United Nations have brought an international optimism that has not been seen for decades. And, the reversal of the some of the egregious right wing, anti-people policies of the Reagan/Bush/Bush also has kept people firmly behind the Administration.

How long will this last? We shall see. The best solution would be a rapid de-escalation of the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Stay Tuned