May 31, 2014

The Problem of the Hammer and the Nail

“Just because you have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.” 

So said Barack Obama in his speech this week at Westpoint where he explained what pundits are calling the Obama Doctrine, also known as official US foreign policy.  

Obama has been forced by critics to explain his foreign policy because it appears to lack consistency.  The hammer metaphor applies to the fact that the USA has developed the world's most powerful Hammer, it's military, which has the most weapons (Hammers),  and is capable of a military response (Hammer Time) whenever perceived American interests are at stake.  
When we say American interests, please read Corporate interests; follow the oil, follow the money.

This is The Hammer.  

And the "Nail(s)" in this metaphor are the multitude of situations, problems, and political developments in the world beyond the US borders that may require US intervention, or "hammering".  Problems within the US border can also require Hammers, but we can call this Policing the populace.  

Let us explore this metaphor in greater depth.  A hammer is a tool in the tool kit that is best used for applying directed and significant pressure to a pointed object (the nail); this force of pressure hopeully helps to drive that point (Nail) home.  

Is a hammer,  like a gun, only dangerous when used by someone who doesn't know how to use it, doesn't use it often, or can no longer focus on what it is they are hammering?  Many purple thumbs have lived to tell the story.  

My older brother once told me of his Shop teacher friend, who said to one of the students "hand me that wrench".  To which the student replied, "Which wrench?"
Shop teacher, "It doesn't matter.  I am going to use it as a hammer anyway."

 A hammer like a gun can be potentially dangerous or powerful in the hands of anyone who has one in their possession.  Guns don't kill people, People kill people, so says the NRA. There is a simplistic truth to that statement.  The next logical question would be the affect of having so many guns available, that when you go reaching for the remote, and instead pick up the gun, well, the story plays out every few weeks in America.

Hammers do not hammer nails; people with hammers do.   

Militaries, in most cases, do not hammer villages, kill innocent children, send children to foreign countries; political leaders order the military to do so.  This is basic Chain of Command.  In the US, which is a police/military state, the executive leader is called the Commander-in-Chief.  Besides surviving the 2 year campaign for the highest office in the land, what qualifications are required of these leaders before handed them the Hammers?  Look at the difference between a real leader like Romeo D'Allaire or Eisenhower ( men who served in the military) and "leaders" like Obama, Bush, Harper etc.  These same leaders who urge us to Support the Troops, do not support the same troops when they come home.  Even D'Allaire some 20+ years later admits he suffer from PTSD.  

My dad used to love to go to the hardware store.  He loved gadgets, and shiny objects.  The newest hammer in the tool kit are drones.  Drones are hammers that can be directed from a distance, so that there is less risk for the Hammerer to be hammered themselves in retaliation.  Just as guns don't kill people, and hammers don't hammer nails, similarly, drones do not kill children; the Presidents who order the military to carry out these orders are the ones who must bear that responsibility.   

Another phrase with regard to Hammers and Nails that we might want to remember: “When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  Sort of drives the point home.

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