02 December 2009

The logic of empire: Obama does his Bush impression

"What's at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world." With that ludicrous statement, U.S. President Barack Obama became heir to the neo-con arrogance of empire that fueled the George W. Bush administration's foreign policy. And the speech in which he made this remark was worthy of George W. Bush: start off with the mandatory reference to 9/11, repeat the word "security" ad nauseam, instill lots of fear without providing evidence, wave the flag, and bow out.

In fact, the Americans' chosen enemy, the Taliban, are a threat to no one's security outside of Afghanistan.

As for the dreaded al Qaeda, Obama's own commander, General Stanley McChrystal, has stated they are few in number in Afghanistan and largely limited to non-combat support roles. In other words, even the parasites on the Taliban are no threat from Afghanistan, and even if the Taliban formed a government, it's doubtful in the extreme they would want bin Laden and his troublemakers around. And al Qaeda doesn't need Afghanistan. They've got sanctuaries in Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and god only knows where else. Or will the U.S. invade those countries, too? And maybe Iran for good measure?

In Afghanistan the Americans, with Canadians trotting along behind, are propping up a weak, corrupt, drug-addled government of marginal legitimacy that even they don't trust. In his speech, Obama warned Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, that “The days of providing a blank check are over.” And then he proceeded to sign a very large blank cheque.

God forbid, but I'm starting to wonder who to support in Afghanistan. True, the Taliban are a frightening bunch of religious thugs, but on the other hand they didn't leave 3 million dead behind them in Vietnam, nor did they leave a million dead behind them in Iraq, nor are they backstopping the oppression of the Palestinians. If the Taliban can humble the Americans and thereby encourage them to rely more on soft power in their international dealings rather than their $600-billion military budget and 600 military bases, maybe in the long run it would be for the best.

... What thoughts to harbour!! Yet when even a president like Obama cannot escape the logic of empire, one's thinking does wander.

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