On Being Mother Hubbarded

John Lennon

It was John Lennon who sang the line: “No short haired yellow bellied son of Tricky Dickys gonna Mother Hubbard softsoap me with just a pocketful of hope…”  One may recall that Senor Dicky was promising an end to the Viet Nam war while actually prolonging and widening the conflict with secret bombings in Cambodia and Laos.

Now once more I’m feeling “Mother Hubbarded” which is to say that the United States government is again infantilizing the public by misstating what its doing in foreign military engagements.

American troops remain in Iraq long after President Obama promised they’d be home–and remain with no true end game in sight. Simultaneously U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan are increasing almost daily. Obama has adopted the foreign policy position (late of the Bush administration) that fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan is a war of necessity.

Back in January The Nation published a clear and altogether appropriate editorial urging the new president not to send an additional 32,000 troops into Afghanistan. The Nation’s editors reasoned that escalating troop levels would merely lead to greater instability in the area, increased Afghan opposition to America and her policies, a likely rift with our allies, and would make no discernible dent in the strength of the Taliban. All of this has come to pass. And let us be clear that the death toll of Afghan civilians has further eroded Afghan support for our mission.

One may ask “what is the mission” but you will be Mother Hubbarded all over the place. According to Obama’s State Department we are strengthening democratic initiatives and yet last week’s fraudulent elections suggest that we are far from success. We are, in point of fact, smack dab in the middle of a never-ending tribal and civil dispute that will likely never end, particularly when foreigners are involved.

Now more than ever we should bring our troops home. And with the money saved we might imagine medical benefits for veterans at a level corresponding to their real needs.



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