In “shifting to the center,” Barack Obama has now established himself as the other war candidate — pity those of us who maintained some glimmer of hope that this man’s touting of hope itself, and change, would have meant some conclusion to this latest round of imperial expansion. Pity those of us who thought that because Hillary Clinton made him look good, that he was good. While Obama can profess that the seas will stop rising because he, Obama, is the presumptive nominee (and this election for Obama is all about Obama), he cannot break with nearly 200 years of uninterrupted American war, nor will he be second to Gerald Ford in being the only other president in a century not to have ordered troops to war. Not even this man, god-like messiah of his own audacious subtext, can stop war…but he can stop seas from rising. I do not think this is the “audacity of hope,” nor even the “audacity of vanity;” it looks like just sheer audacity.
Barack Obama has asserted recently that the war in Afghanistan is one that “America” has to “win.” For determined opponents of U.S. power, this is a kind of “good news,” since this further steeping of a declining hegemon in a war-without-end will surely speed its geopolitical decline. And look at where Obama is choosing to concentrate: Afghanistan — the unconquerable Afghanistan. This Afghanistan, now at the center of the epic struggle of world imperialism, can look forward to chalking up another superpower to its name, yet again. Yet another superpower will be leaving its helmeted skull in Afghan sand, and one can almost hear Russian war veterans laughing in disbelief at the sight of history repeating itself as farce. And note how many “jihadists” from across Asia seem to have heard Obama’s message and have realigned and reoriented their energies in a shifting focus to Afghanistan, having had invaluable live-fire training in Iraq, and note how the violence always escalates in Afghanistan, even to the point where the U.S. has to abandon one of its forward camps, while the international media broadcast footage of an American solider being shot to pieces and rolling lifelessly down the hillside.
While Afghanistan serves as the black hole of imperialism, imagine being one of those American troops left in the last brigade to leave Iraq, as part of a “phased withdrawal,” outmanned, outgunned, hated, removing itself under the eyes of those who wish to inflict a final humiliation. In fact, there may not even be any such withdrawal if you listen to Obama, who has adopted some doublespeak of his own: he will withdraw “combat troops” from Iraq, he acknowledges that Iraqis do not want an open-ended U.S. presence … and in almost the same breath says U.S. troops will remain in Iraq to protect “diplomatic” and “humanitarian” missions (which in U.S. doublespeak can mean just about anything), to train Iraqi forces, and to conduct counter terrorism. Not “open ended,” he says. Suddenly, the other war candidate has become the two war candidate. The question Obama needs to answer is the one John Kerry failed to: if Americans want a war making right winger for a president, why would they not vote for the one person who is honestly just that?
[Update: This is what “withdrawal of the troops from Iraq” looks like in Obama’s world: a news story just released quotes his campaign advisers as saying that 50,000 troops would remain in Iraq. In George Orwell’s 1984, “2+2=5” at least seemed more plausible than 0 = 50,000. Also, keep in mind that the figure of 50,000 troops in Iraq, beyond 2009, was part of a plan first offered by the Bush administration.]
As if challenging the incredulous to climb to greater heights of disbelief, Obama threatens to widen the war into Pakistan as well, a nuclear power. This is the height of audacity, and maybe only in “America” could one make a promise like this:
“The greatest threat to that security lies in the tribal regions of Pakistan, where terrorists train and insurgents strike into Afghanistan. We cannot tolerate a terrorist sanctuary, and as president, I won’t. We need a stronger and sustained partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan and NATO to secure the border, to take out terrorist camps and to crack down on cross-border insurgents. We need more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones in the Afghan border region. And we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights.”–Barack Obama.
Dave Sirota, July 18, 2008
‘CENTRISTS’ ARE RUNNING THE ASYLUM
Washington’s pundits and politicians have waged an ongoing propaganda campaign to pass off crazy, fringe politics as reasonable and mainstream.
In the asylum that is American politics, beware a candidate like Barack Obama when he is lauded for moving to “the center” — because usually that means he is drifting away from it.
Over the last month, the Democratic presidential nominee has backed a measure to permit warrantless wiretapping and protect telecom companies when they violate customers’ privacy; sent conflicting signals about whether he will reform the NAFTA trade model; and threatened to revise his timetable for ending the war in Iraq. Universally, reporters have billed this dance as a move to the middle. As the Associated Press claimed in a typical description, Obama’s shifts are designed “to appeal to the center of the electorate.”
However, empirical data proves “the center of the electorate” is exactly the opposite …continue
Mike Whitney, July 21, 2008
THE DEMOCRATS ARE THE REAL PROBLEM
Obama’s candidacy is over; kaput. He’s already stated that he has no intention of stopping the war, so he has disqualified himself. That’s his prerogative; no one put a gun to his head. His op-ed in Monday’s New York Times just removes any lingering doubt about the matter. What Obama proposes is moving the central theater of operation from Iraq to Afghanistan. Big deal. Why is it more acceptable to kill a man who is fighting for his country in Afghanistan than in Iraq?
It’s not; which is why Obama must be defeated and the equivocating Democratic Party must be jettisoned altogether. The Democrats are a party of blood just like the Republicans, they’re just more discreet about it. That’s why people who are serious about ending the war have to support candidates outside the two-party charade. The Democrat/Republican duopoly will not deliver the goods; it’s as simple as that. The point is to stop the killing, not to provide blind support for smooth-talking politicos who try to mask their real intentions. Obama made his choice, now he can suffer the consequences. …continue
Ron Jacobs, July 20, 2008
The Adventures of the Parasite Army: WHY AFGHANISTAN IS NOT THE GOOD WAR
It’s the perennial thorn in the colonialist’s side. It’s the war that won’t go away. It’s a wasp sting that swells, slowly choking the life out of the sting’s recipient. It is the nearly seven-year old occupation of Afghanistan by the United States and various NATO allies. Nearly forgotten by most Americans, the situation in that country has taken headlines away from the occupation of Iraq because of the resurgence of the anti-occupation forces. …continue
Corey D.B. Walker, July 18, 2008
Getting Beyond the Either/Or Choice: A KINDER, GENTLER IMPERIALISM?
Both major party presidential candidates have been sparring over the focus, scope, and reach of the Bush Administration’s self-proclaimed “War on Terrorism.” Each, in their own way, look to tweak the grand designs of imperial power to properly and correctly align it with their particular ideological proclivities and vision of American global hegemony.
Whether it is Senator McCain’s continuation of the war in Iraq or Senator Obama’s intense focus on the theatre of conflict in Afghanistan (and extending into Pakistan), both candidates have chosen not to challenge the underlying foundational assumptions that have informed American foreign policy and national security policy since the events of 11 September 2001.
Both candidates agree with the deeply flawed language and logic that our nation is at “war.” As military historian Sir Michael Howard opined almost seven years ago, “[T]o use, or rather to misuse the term ‘war’ is not simply a matter of legality, or pedantic semantics. It has deeper and more dangerous consequences. To declare that one is ‘at war’ is immediately to create a war psychosis that may be totally counter-productive for the objective that we seek. It will arouse an immediate expectation, and demand, for spectacular military action against some easily identifiable adversary, preferably a hostile state; action leading to decisive results.” In this respect, Senator McCain will have us “win” in Iraq and Senator Obama will have us “win” in Afghanistan. …
In several significant ways, the foreign policy differences between the two candidates can best be understood as two competing visions for the enhancement and perpetuation of American imperialism. …continue