Tuesday, June 25, 2013
THE OBAMA DOCTRINE
A few months ago I heard a “progressive” talk radio host claim we were in “a historically peaceful time.” I wondered if he is one of those Democrats who think America is only at war if US boots are on the ground. He credited President Obama for taking most of the troops out of Iraq and promising to do the same in Afghanistan. We haven’t actually left either nation, of course. As long as US allies like Iraq’s Maliki and Afghanistan’s Karzai are in office, they are nominally in charge of running the countries we have devastated in wars we are told are to “fight terror.” If things start to fall apart, as they appear to be doing in Iraq, we can always reinforce the troops still there. That is the nice thing about having a military so powerful that no nation will attack you and few can defend against you. We can afford to be magnanimous. However, it would be nice if after nearly 12 years someone would define what “winning the war on terror” would mean. As the President said, we cannot stay on a war footing forever. Or can we?
In fairness, the commentator spoke before Obama authorized arms for largely foreign “rebels” in Syria, but it was after the Benghazi incident. The latter showed the price we pay for backing jihadists to deal with nations that do not submit to US foreign policy demands. Anyone who didn’t look beyond the foolish partisan argument over the comments made after the Embassy attack missed the real lesson: It was made by “rebels” who we were helping to take down a popular sovereign government. The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a designated Al Qaeda affiliate, was central in this proxy war for NATO. It could not have succeeded against loyalist resistance without brutal air attacks in which the US military, under Obama’s command, helped kill thousands of innocent civilians and left Libya a failed state.
Now that Americans have forgotten what little they thought they understood about what happened in Libya, the President is pushing for another “humanitarian” intervention in Syria. Once again, we are told we have a moral responsibility to ignore international law by attacking a sovereign nation. Just because American troops are not doing the killing does not mean we are not backing a war. Since 2011, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been waging a proxy war using jihadists who fought in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, at times against Americans and at others against its designated enemies du jour, with full American knowledge. Now Obama wants to supply arms to mercenaries who evidence and common sense suggest are responsible for most of the deaths of over 90,000 Syrians, media and government claims to the contrary. To add insult to our intelligence to the injury to our national reputation, he justifies this with the spurious claim that Assad killed 150 of these citizens with sarin, when the deaths occurred in areas of civilian resistance to rebels and a UN investigator concluded it was most likely used by FSA terrorists led by Al Qaeda- affiliated Al Nusra, an official member of the US terrorist watch list.
There is a pattern here. It’s not just making phony claims of WMDs to justify preemptively attacking sovereign nations. After all, “preemptive” war is not a new idea. While Bush got all the credit, it was Hitler who first tried to use this justification for violating centuries-old law in modern times. In using our erstwhile enemies to do what US citizens no longer have the stomach to send their military in to do, Obama has taken the so-called Bush Doctrine a step further. Let’s call it The Obama Doctrine, keeping in mind that the idea is no more his than was using 9/11 to launch a global war of corporate conquest under the guise of “fighting terror” the idea of an intellectual vacuum like Bush. The continuity in policies under the two administrations is ample evidence that US foreign policy was long ago hijacked by those who identify “US interests” as identical to those of the international corporations that profit so very handsomely from war. Those who dictate US foreign policy are of course among the global elite who have the kind of money to determine who Americans can choose from to represent them on the world stage. In other words, the partisan framework within which both establishment “liberals” and “conservatives” couch foreign policy debate masks the fact that neither side represents the traditional values of either conservatism or liberalism.
With this in mind, it should be clear that I am criticizing President Obama’s policies, not his character. He seems much less enthusiastic about getting wars than his predecessor, despite the tremendous pressure exerted by wealthy Party donors who profit richly from wars of choice. Despite jumping in on Libya without good justification, he has done an admirable job at delaying war with Iran, though the sanctions amount to an act of war. Until recently, he seemed to have sense enough to stay out of Syria despite the hype for intervention in the corporate media. However, if he continues to fund terrorist coups, it doesn’t matter whether he is just going along with a foreign policy that neither he nor Bush authored. He if the Decider now and will be judged responsible, along with all his supporters who stay silent in the face of naked aggression, unwilling to say “The Empire has no clothes.”