We can hardly imagine what pressures are brought to bear on a young president to make sure he does not use the theoretical powers of the presidency to overturn any of the apple-carts of the military/industrial complex (or missile-carts or whatever they may be). But we know that they work.
We know because we heard President Barack Obama say this morning in Oslo, as he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009, "war is sometimes necessary." Not only now, but in the future, nations "will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified." This is "a recognition of history," he said, and recognition that "evil does exist in the world."
Does he know his history well enough to know that he echoed with eerie precision the words of President Lyndon Johnson, as his presidency was being destroyed by the Vietnam War, when he said we must fight on "while there is yet madness in the world?"
Does he know his history well enough to know that -- contrary to his assertion in the Oslo speech that "War...appeared with the first man" -- the archeological record shows that, for example, Native Americans occupied this continent for ten millennia before any evidence appeared of organized hostilities? They lived longer, were healthier and far more peaceful than is generally recognized.
The President quoted Martin Luther King to the effect that violence never solves any problems, nor does it ever lead to peace; and still insisted that war is necessary, and can be morally jutified.
What was the moral justification for our invasion of Iraq? Who has ever said what it was? And what kind of morality holds that once you have started killing people for no good reason, you must continue until you "win?"
The moral justification for our invasion of Afghanistan was that people who planned the attacks of 9/11 lived there. That was eight years ago -- twice the length of World War II, or of our Civil War -- and those people are long gone. We have replaced the religious zealots of the Taliban with the immeasurably corrupt Karzai administration, whose chief accomplishment to date has been to restore the country to its prominence as a global source of opium poppies for the heroin trade. And the necessity, the moral justification, for that was what, again?
It is saddening to see the audacity of hope that carried this intelligent, capable and ethical young man to the presidency and the world stage, unmatched by the audacity of leadership that the world needs to turn away from eternal war.