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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Obama: at war « Previous | |Next »
March 28, 2010

Tarig Ali in President of Cant in the New Left Review offers some hard hitting comments on President Obama's foreign policy in the context of the US's permanent state of war. He says:

There was no fundamental break in foreign policy, as opposed to diplomatic mood music, between the Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2 Administrations; there has been none between the Bush and Obama regimes. The strategic goals and imperatives of the US imperium remain the same, as do its principal theatres and means of operation. Since the collapse of the USSR, the Carter Doctrine—the construction of another democratic pillar of human rights—has defined the greater Middle East as the central battlefield for the imposition of American power around the world. It is enough to look at each of its sectors to see that Obama is the offspring of Bush, as Bush was of Clinton and Clinton of Bush the father...

If a textbook illustration were needed of the continuity of American foreign policy across administrations, and the futility of so many soft-headed attempts to treat the Bush–Cheney years as exceptional rather than essentially conventional, Obama’s conduct has provided it with his promising peace and delivering war.

Ali says that from Palestine through Iraq to Iran, Obama has acted as just another steward of the American empire, pursuing the same aims as his predecessors, with the same means but with a more emollient rhetoric.

In Afghanistan, where the US has been at war for 30 years, Ali says that Obama has gone further in counterinsurgency warfare, widening the front of imperial aggression with a major escalation of violence, both technological and territorial. What passes for government in Kabul is a Western implant that would disintegrate overnight without the NATO praetorians dispatched to protect it. Afghanistan is a disaster area. ye the US's military and civilian leaders are confident that, after nine years of occupying the world’s leading narco-state, nine years of reconstruction boondoggles and military failure, they suddenly have the key, the formula, to solve the Afghan mess.

With respect to Pakistan Ali says:

What is clear is that in forcing the Pakistani Army to turn its guns on its own tribes, with whom it used to be on fairly good terms, Obama is de-stabilizing yet another society in the interests of the American empire...Its [Pakistan's] subservience to the United States is structural, without ever being total. Dependent on massive infusions of American cash and equipment, it cannot afford to defy Washington openly, even when obliged to act against its own interests; covertly, it always seeks to retain a margin of autonomy, so long as confrontation with India persists. It will harry its own citizens at US behest, but not to the point of setting the tribal areas irretrievably on fire, or helping to extirpate all resistance across the border.

These are not the kind of comments that you you would read int he Australian mainstream press.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:03 AM | | Comments (4)


Gary you could make an analogy to the Korean conflict, where a series of blunders and the adoption of blindly ideological positions in the early 1950s created a fractured Korean nation which continues to cause problems for the USA and the region to this very day. Or to the mindless support given to Taiwan for decades, reminiscent of the contemporary subservience to Israel. You could profitably contrast these catastrophes to the outcome of US defeat in Vietnam, which has seen both Vietnam and the its neighbours prosper comparatively free of imperialist interference.

Yet hardly anyone in the USA suggests the Korean and Taiwan disasters were anything less than shining examples of US exceptionalism. The same process is already under way with respect to Iraq. I'm sure that if Pakistan's internal cohesion collapses, it will be hailed as proof of the wisdom of trying - sadly unsuccessfully, but what can you do with these people? - of trying to guide them along the glorious path to democracy with a fatherly mixture of coercion and bribes.

"He who rides the tiger can never dismount."

I suspect that President Obama has very few "realistic" options. Like it or not. He's part of the DC machine now... Any attempt to apply the brakes will be futile. Besides, the brakes were sabotaged decades ago. Best thing to do is keep the passengers distracted, disengaged and comfortable. Enjoy the ride.

What is stopping reconciliation between Pakistan and India? There is a temptation to attribute the animosity to long shadow cast by the legacy of Jinnah and the religious divide, until it is remembered India has the larger population of Muslims. I suspect it is not so much that Pakistan is structurally dependent on United States, but rather the power elite.

Then again the Pakistanis could follow the lead of the Likud Party in Israel and blithely bite the hand that feeds it, but then again Pakistan does not have the equivalent of the Israel Lobby.

Will post-health policy Obama be the same as pre-health policy Obama? When even General Petreus is openly saying that Israel is causing problems for the US in the ME, are we still looking at the same situation?