Saturday, March 19, 2011

George W. Obama

Thousands of people stay indoors in their battered houses, because it isn’t safe to go outside. They don’t have electricity, and they’re running out of food and water. Many of them are old and infirm. The fuel to heat their houses is exhausted. That’s the way it is in Yamagata and other towns in the earthquake zone.

Meanwhile, President Obama, doing his best impersonation of George W. Bush, is on television, threatening Colonel Qaddafi of Libya with “consequences” if he continues battling the rebels in his country. It all sounds eerily like what preceded the invasion of Iraq. First it was Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. Then, when the WMD proved to be a mirage, the story changed to “the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.' How long will it be before we hear how much better off we are without Muammar Qaddafi?

It’s easy to sound tough, and, when you’re the strongest military power on earth, it’s easy to drop bombs on people you don’t like. But it’s much, much harder to unscramble the eggs you have messed up. We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan ages ago, and we’re still there. Barack Obama was elected president as the anti-Bush candidate, but he has morphed into George W. Obama. The war rages in Afghanistan, the CIA still runs drones in Pakistan, we can’t seem to leave Iraq, and Guantanamo is still open for business.

And the starving and homeless in Japan? President Obama has pledged support, but little is visible in the coastal communities around the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Station. President Obama has other fish to fry in northern Africa. Today he is in Brazil. Next stop: Chile. Presidents like to globe-hop on Air Force One when Washington reporters might ask embarrassing questions.

The Japanese people are doing their best, helped by government agencies and private companies. They huddle together in their homes or in the crowded emergency shelters, waiting for assistance to come.

In my dreams I see hundreds of U.S. helicopters dropping thousands of cartons of food and bottles of water for those unfortunate people, but it’s just a dream, because our government’s attention is focused, not on Yamagata, but on Tripoli.