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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, October 2, 2009, 9:00 AM ET

    Op-ed

    Race Strife and Spending for Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are in Conflict with Healthcare in U.S.
    By Boris Danik

    For those who may have underestimated the magnitude of structural mess into which the U.S. slid under the Bush/Cheney regime, the election of Barack Obama as president in itself should speak volumes.

    Perhaps it should have been expected that Mr. Obama would have a relatively easy time in the final round against Republicans. Objectively, Obama would be a formidable challenger against any quasi-incumbent, even if the contest were about party platform or race. But the 2008 election was about the eight years of waste and incompetence of Bush/Cheney governance.

    Still, race as an issue has not disappeared in the USA. In fact, it is the former President Jimmy Carter who recently observed that race is the number one stimulant for the hysterical mob scenes in opposition to healthcare insurance plan now moving through the Congress.

    Instigated to a large extent by extreme right-wing talk shows and backed financially by interested business affiliates, white assembled crowds have shown an ugly tone towards President Obama that is reminiscent of the sordid hate fever in the South directed at President John F. Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs invasion, wildly accusing him of treason and being a Communist agent.

    At a large demonstration in Washington, DC, crowds carried signs such as "Socialist Obama" and a more threatening "We came unarmed – this time."

    While the healthcare insurance reform is at the leading edge of President Obama's agenda, the war in Afghanistan has become an issue that is not far behind.

    The Pentagon is pressing the president for more American troops in Afghanistan – "by raising the prospect of a humiliating defeat by the Taliban," writes the Financial Times on September 21 (US military raises pressure on Obama).

    But more Americans are now saying that we have no business to be in Afghanistan. They revisit the question of why we were in Vietnam and are again being sucked into similar blunders. In the ongoing two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan), the pretext was 9/11, but the real temptation was the proximity of Central Asian oil and gas. The urge toward such military ventures is ultimately explained by the arrogance of power and money.

    The same arrogance also explains why we, as a nation, still don't have a universal, government-financed healthcare insurance, and why it is fought tooth-and-nail by the monied aristocracy, which invents various ploys to discredit in the eyes of the American public the excellent cost-effective universal healthcare in Western Europe and Canada.

    In a Bloomberg bulletin, September 19, Pat Wechsler (Canadian Health Care, Even With Queues, Bests U.S.) quotes Princeton's professor Uwe Reinhardt: "Private insurers, the pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession 'deployed certain think tanks to find horror stories around the world that can be used to persuade Americans that a public health plan in the USA would bring rationing.'"

    Opponents of healthcare reform in the U.S. point to Canada and paint a picture of inferior medical treatment and months-long queues as a result of government involvement.

    Such allegations are wrong, according to research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). While delays do occur for non-emergency procedures, data indicate that Canada's universal healthcare coverage provides care that is as good as in the U.S., at a cost of 47% less for each person. (See OECD stats.)

    This cost difference is due to profit-making and inherent inefficiencies of fragmented private insurance providers.

    The common denominator between healthcare in the U.S. and military spending is money. Those who profess concern about "breaking the bank" with healthcare spending (but never felt threatened by Bush-era deficits) apparently would rather have the military-industrial sales managers lead us into bankruptcy proceedings.

    Most of the commercial media's power elite, for their own unstated reasons – war is good for business, hostility between the U.S. and the Moslem world makes good fodder for news – are egging on the Obama White House to plunge deeper. As summarized in a Financial Times editorial, September 22: "The US and its allies need to persuade all sides that they are in for the long haul." (Also see the editorial in PDF format.)

    The better angels of President Obama probably point to getting us out of "the graveyard of empires" (the middle name of Afghanistan; see Yahoo! answers) as soon as possible. Whether or not this happens remains to be seen. But the mere speculation about an exit evokes concerns that are connected to the president's racial heritage among more than a few white Americans. This is, after all, a white man's war, and only 43% of white voters went for Obama (less than that in the Deep South – only 10% to 12%; see nola.com).

    Dr. Boris Danik
    North Caldwell, NJ
    September 27, 2009

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