Globe's Carroll Dreams Obama Can Match Gorbachev's 'Greatness'
Fretting about America's “refusal to dismantle its Cold War military economy,” Carroll yearned for “yes we can” responses: “Is it too much to expect Barack Obama to change history? Make peace? Transform an economic system? Rescue the Earth? Build a political program around the truth? Restore a great nation's decency?” Justifying his faith in Obama, Carroll recalled: “On the cusp of this decisive year, it will do Americans well to recall that just such a transformation took place once before, even if we declined to respond with transformation of our own.”
(Just below Carroll's column, in the newspaper owned by the New York Times, readers were treated to an op-ed piece that carried a Tripoli dateline and the byline of “the leader of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” -- yes, that would be Muammar Gaddafi -- titled “Provoking Russia” and which began: “Once again, the West's policy toward Russia and its addiction to interfering in the affairs of other countries is having dangerous effects on the rest of the world.”)
Carroll is no admirer of the U.S. The July 7, 2005 MRC CyberAlert item, “Boston Globe Columnist: U.S. Not Worthy of July 4th Celebrations,” recounted:
Happy birthday America, you suck. That seemed to be the sentiment of National Book Award winner James Carroll in a July 5 Boston Globe column. "After the fireworks, the music, the rhetoric of freedom -- what then? The party is over. Can we think about what, exactly, we were celebrating?" Carroll asked. "Today's date puts the question of how high-flown American ideals square with the quotidian reality of what the nation is becoming."
Carroll ended by wondering: "What kind of nation does our flag fly over now?" He answered: "Not a less innocent one, because American innocence was never the truth. Not one less reluctant to go to war without a good reason, because we have foolishly credited bad reasons in the past. But now the nation lacks even that. As our President demonstrated last week, we have become a people who wage unending war -- killing and maiming our young ones and theirs -- without being remotely able to say why." In between, he declared: "The American fighters of the Pacific War were not heroes."The American Empire Project's bio of Carroll.
From the end of Carroll's December 29 column quoting Gorbachev's December of 1988 speech to the UN:
....Only weeks after the Berlin Wall was peacefully breached by Gorbachev-licensed dancers instead of tanks, the new American president ordered tens of thousands of US troops to invade Panama -- Operation Just Cause. That wholly unjustified action amounted to America's answer to Gorbachev, a declaration that this nation was a long way from the "demilitarization of international relations." Other unnecessary American wars would follow, and so would Washington's refusal to dismantle its Cold War military economy.
The "decisive year" for which Gorbachev called two decades ago may now be here -- for our side. Americans stand today, as the last Soviet dictator put it then, "on the threshold of a year from which all of us expect so much. One would like to believe that our joint efforts to put an end to the era of wars, confrontation and regional conflicts, aggression against nature, the terror of hunger and poverty, as well as political terrorism, will be comparable with our hopes."
Is it too much to expect Barack Obama to change history? Make peace? Transform an economic system? Rescue the Earth? Build a political program around the truth? Restore a great nation's decency? Are we kidding ourselves to place such hopes in him?
On the cusp of this decisive year, it will do Americans well to recall that just such a transformation took place once before, even if we declined to respond with transformation of our own. By the grace of God, it is not too late to match the greatness with which Gorbachev acted 20 years ago, an overdue acceptance of his historic invitation. "This is our common goal," he concluded, "and it is only by acting together that we may attain it. Thank you."