Saturday, March 28, 2009

Transparency, A New President, and Just War

Transparency in Government, a phrase we now hear and see, was absent without leave for 8 years. The present administration may not be as transparent as we would like but now we can read white papers on-line or in the papers; we can check the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on-line; we can examine the US Budget on the White House website; we can check the OMB website for another view of the Budget; we can communicate with the administration through the Office of the Public Liaison; we can check the finances and donations of our congress people; and on and on. Of course it all takes time and energy but transparency has really started to make a comeback.

We can even read articles on how this President and his advisers communicate. How his decisions are informed by others.

We have a President giving us a “virtual” town hall meeting. Did you participate? We have a President who can speak on many levels on many subjects. We have a President who understands the value of all venues for communicating with his constituents and uses those venues even though some, mainstream media maybe, don't like it.

If this President can keep this communication with the public going and leave behind a legacy of transparency, he has done great things already.

The latest white paper, easily found on-line, was an Inter-agency policy paper on Afghanistan and Pakistan. How great is that?

Yet, it is easy to please us for the very fact that we had no transparency at all for many years makes us easy. Still skepticism abounds-what are they not telling us...Are there or have there been secret energy task force meetings or secret government-within-the-government meetings to feed the President what he wants to hear in order to lead him down some path or the other?

The white paper on new Afghanistan and Pakistan policy suggestions led also to these thoughts on this war or any other war.

The President had such a different tone when he made his announcement on the new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Even when read the tone is more serious, and more somber than most of his speeches or talks. Not to say he is not often serious but this time there is a real difference, as should be.

Going over his speech, announcement, again leads to thoughts of "just war", if there is such a thing, he even used the word "just" at one point. “...a cause that could not be more just.” ( This statement makes you wonder if he grappled with his own conscience or is he just soothing ours. If you read the announcement in its entirety, you may find much with which to agree and can even see signs for hope that we, the US, won't be there forever or just leave a mess and quickly withdraw one day when people will take no more. But when is a war ever really, honestly now, just?

When is it just to ask a mother to give up her child to protect mine? When is it just to tell a mother the child she lost as a result of an error in intelligence or an error in a guidance system was a sacrifice for the greater good? When is it just to spend all that money on destruction instead of on building whether it is in the US or abroad?

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