Sunday, 30 January 2011

"Obama's Imperial War Presidency"

It is getting tedious having to read this or that criticism of President Obama for just not being the sort of president that progressives believed him to be, not least in foreign policy where he gained votes and support from being against the Iraq War ( though subsequently not removing all US troops from Iraq in 2009 ).

David Swanson writes today,
The president is expected to propose a larger military budget for the third year in a row next month. And he has thus far consistently used off-the-books supplemental bills to add more funding to his wars.

Progressive groups have made so much noise cheering for the elimination of this or that weapon, that the overall increase in the military budget each year has been missed, just as it will be missed by any casual viewer of this week's speech. But a group of hundreds of prominent activists, authors, and academics has recently released a statement outlining Obama's militarist record and committing to oppose his candidacy for the Democratic nomination next year unless he changes course.

Nearly two thirds of US citizens believe that our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should be ended and that overall military spending should be dramatically reduced. Since he became president, Obama has had three opportunities to work with Congress to reduce military spending, but instead, has championed increases in that spending each time, despite the fact that this spending represents a clear threat to the economic future of our country.

The amount of self righteous twaddle peddled on Afghanistan and Iraq from those both for and against the "imperial wars" downplays the centrality of controlling oil and gas and that resource wars are made necessary by the sheer scale of consumption in societies such as the USA and EU.

Like it or not, for large numbers of Americans , democratic freedom is bound up not in politics but the freedom afforded by the mobile society, The Great Car Economy around which The American Dream was constructed in the twentieth century. The war against Iraq was to provide the secure supplies to fuel that dream.

Vast numbers of those who are against the war in Iraq need to start dealing not with populist outrage or that Obama has been derailed from progressive politics by the legacy of Bush's forthright imperialism. For Iraq was a war to preserve the USA's democracy as based on consumerism and delusive hopes of infinite growth.

Swanson has a book entitled War is A Lie which does not have one chapter devoted to the desperate search for secure supplies of diminishing fossil fuels. Any book that extrudes devoting a large part to considering energy security is not going to add much to what is already know nor ask difficult questions.

These have to be confronted but progressives want to believe that they can earn cheap popular points from condemning war ( as if most people in placid consumer democracies are going to actually like war as opposed to the pleasures of shopping malls, McDonald's Drive-Thrus and so on ).

For what large numbers cannot see is that their lifestyles necessitate these resource wars to be fought. Even Afghanistan is part of a colossal geopolitical project to get Afghanistan integrated into Central Asia and act as an "energy bridge" taking gas through the TAPI pipeline.

The criticism of war has to make it plain that it is the consequence of the failure of energy policy and conserving energy supplies. Not in ideological thrusts that claims that the West is uniquely imperialist when there is a New Great Game on in Central Asia that could be destabilising.

The alternative to controlling oil supplies is to reduce the USA's level of car use, reduce its living standards and hand control of the global economy to China, which has already made inroads into controlling natural resources in Africa and Central Asia but without war and hypocritical human rights prating.

War is not a Lie: its a reality today bred by conflict over precisely those resources that make large numbers of even anti-war activists, materially comfortable. Tell citizens in the USA that war is created by their prodigious fossil fuel use and that will be difficult to accept. But it's the truth nevertheless. Tell them its due to ideology and bad people and that is easier.

On January 29 2011 Rick Rozoff ( Washington Intensifies Push Into Central Asia ) writes of the expansion of military presence in the region. And this is connected to the pursuit of energy security through diversity of outlets, a point made by Michael T Klare in his Blood and Oil.

Rozoff writes,
The U.S. and Britain, with the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, invaded Afghanistan and fanned out into Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in October of 2001, less than four months after Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan founded the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to foster expanding economic, security, transportation and energy cooperation and integration in and through Central Asia.

In 2005 India, Iran and Pakistan joined the SCO as observers and Afghan President Hamid Karzai has attended its last five annual heads of state summits. Now the U.S. and the NATO have over 150,000 troops planted directly south of three Central Asian nations.

The State Department's Blake delivered a speech at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston, Texas entitled "The Obama Administration's Priorities in South and Central Asia."

"Central Asia lies at a critical strategic crossroads, bordering Afghanistan, China, Russia and Iran, which is why the United States wants to continue to expand our engagement and our cooperation with this critical region."

In furtherance of U.S. designs in an area that not only abuts the four nations named, but if controlled by the U.S. would prevent regional cooperation between them except insofar as it is mediated by an outside power, Washington...
Blake's speech is given here.

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