Thursday, 3 December 2009

A Change We Can Deceive In…

So President Obama has committed 30,000 more troops to the unjustified and immoral war in Afghanistan, proving once and for all that it doesn’t matter who you vote for – the interests of power and business always rule the day.

Worse: this is just the 30,000 troops that he’s telling us about. 

Who knows what the true total will be once all the private military contractors like Blackwater (sorry: Xe, as they are called today) are added to the mix? 

It’s also only the 30,000 more American troops we are talking about here, exclusive of all the other additional surges the President has demanded from all other “allies” involved in the “Coalition of the Killing” currently fighting in Afghanistan (the UK, for example, will be sending at least 500 more too).

Of course, what we’re supposed to feel about this 30,000 number, is that it shows a tremendous restraint in comparison to the gung-ho, “kill ‘em all” approach of the previous administration.  Sure, Obama’s sending 30,000 new soldiers into a war we have no business being in, but the General McChrystal wanted him to send 40,000.  Even the media got it wrong when they spent the week predicting 34,000 – Obama has undercut the General’s demands by 10,000 soldiers, and the media consensus by 4,000 – what a guy!

He also spent a very long time coming to this decision.

We are supposed to feel – as has been repeated in every media report I have read, seen, or listened to since this decision was made – that this was a decision Obama didn’t want to have to make; that he struggled long and hard with his conscience over this one, but the facts, in the end, were just too convincing to ignore…

Perhaps that idea would hold a little more weight had Obama’s long and torturous soul-seeking not ended in the entirely predictable outcome of an Afghanistan decision that completely conforms to over sixty years worth of historically consistent US Foreign Policy?

I remember a girlfriend I had once.  I knew I needed to break-up with her, but when I told her about it she told me that maybe I just needed a little more time to think about things?  She gave me the night to re-assess our relationship and said she’d be back in the morning for my real, thought-out, answer.

I knew all along that my answer wouldn’t change – I wanted to break up with the girl and the relationship was done.  But I also knew that the appearance of deliberation was important to her.  So I stayed in my room – not really thinking things over at all; just playing on my Playstation whilst she waited in her room hoping I would come to my senses. 

When we met the next morning, the illusion of deliberation complete, my decision to end the relationship carried a lot more gravitas to the girl in question – this wasn’t just a knee-jerk decision I’d come to after one or two bad dates, I’d thought about it, damn it!  It had pained me to come to my conclusions…

The whole idea that Obama legitimately wrestled with this issue is an insult to anyone actually aware of US Foreign Policy since the end of the Second World War.  Obama has simply done what every President before him has done for nearly seven decades.  Namely, whatever is best for elite power and business interests; human rights, international law, and the domestic population be damned!

Of course the next argument meant to salve my outrage is that, at the same time Obama committed yet more troops to this ridiculous war, he unveiled a timetable for withdrawal by the end of 2011.

Well, first off, excuse me for not being tremendously overjoyed at the news that this murderous and unnecessary war is now guaranteed to continue at least one and a half more years.  We could pull every single soldier out of that country today and be no less safe than we currently are – if anything, an immediate withdrawal, along with a publically made apology for invading an innocent country in the first place and the prosecution of George W Bush as a war criminal, would make us far safer, because the massive al-Qaeda problem we allegedly have now in Afghanistan and Pakistan is entirely the result of our having invaded both there and Iraq since 2001, as consecutive National Intelligence Estimates have concluded – but by committing to an escalation of the war – even a limited one – instead of a withdrawal, Obama has committed himself to both the continued occupation and massacre of a previously innocent country, and the assured radicalization of the native population into the terrorists of tomorrow; a self-perpetuating war machine.

Secondly – how exactly does Obama know that we will be out in 2011?  Escalating the war at this stage is a completely unknown variable: will our escalation be met with escalation from the other side?  Will things get progressively worse – as they did in Vietnam – until yet more troops are needed, and more pseudo-justifications for continued occupation are explored?

Let us not forget what I said above – the problem we are facing in Afghanistan now, is entirely the result of the initial 2001 invasion.  That invasion was illegitimate.  At the time – and arguably still today – there was no evidence of Afghanistan’s involvement in 9/11 (only that its alleged mastermind, bin Laden, was “hiding” there).  The Afghanis agreed to hand bin Laden over as soon as they were given evidence to support the claim that he was culpable for the 9/11 attacks.  No evidence came, and instead the bombs started falling.

If we are already justifying our continued occupation of the country on the basis of a situation that we have created ourselves, what is to stop us from staying long past 2011 if the additional 30,000 troops in the region cause even more complications that we then have to deal with?

The answer is nothing.  As always: what elite power wants, elite power shall get.  I’m sure that, if troops do stay past 2011, Obama will explain that decision to us too, with all the gravity that accompanied this one.  He will dwell long and hard on it.  He will seek advisement from experts and Generals.  He will play his role perfectly, maintain the illusion of “change”, and then – with his fabulous skill at oratory – he shall spin us the latest eloquent version of the exact same line of bullshit the Whitehouse has been shovelling out since 1945.

And even if the troops do leave Afghanistan in 2011; where will he send them to next?

I said throughout the Obama campaign that my central worry about this President – despite the obvious fact that no President in history has truly brought with them the change that they have promised – was that he was being portrayed as a dove on Iraq whilst his tremendously hawkish position on Afghanistan was often ignored. 

Obama, wrongfully perceived as the candidate for “peace”, spoke a lot about getting the troops out of Iraq – but he did so only via the argument that Iraq was a “distraction” from the real problem at hand: Afghanistan.

Obama never once questioned the legitimacy of the war in that country, and often he spoke of his desire to see attentions turned more thoroughly to it.  Indeed, he was implicitly arguing for troop escalation all along: we need to get our soldiers out of the unnecessary war in Iraq, so that we can put them where they need to be: Afghanistan.  That, my friends, is escalation.  That is taking the troops out of Iraq not so that they can go home and see their families or return to civilian life, but so that they can be re-assigned to a different – less controversial –unjustified war.

So the troops may well leave Afghanistan in 2011…but will they be leaving Afghanistan because the war will finally be over?  Because it will be acknowledged – at long last – that they were only ever causing more harm than good by being there?


They will likely be leaving Afghanistan in 2011 because intelligence will tell us that al-Qaeda has now moved further into Pakistan, and the soldiers currently deployed in Afghanistan would be much better served relocating over the border.  The US is, after all, already funding private military contractors in the region to fight the war in Pakistan…by 2011 the country should be nicely softened up for a full-blown invasion.

And if Pakistan won’t do, there’s always Iran nearby…or North Korea…or we could always give good old Syria a go.  You see, until we have a President who actually stands up and acknowledges that this whole bogus war on terror is a crime, our troops will never be truly “coming home”, they will simply be re-fuelling and re-focusing for the next phase of this seemingly endless bloodbath.

30,000 more troops to Afghanistan may not seem like a lot compared to the numbers already there fighting – or compared to the much higher number demanded by General McChrystal – and getting troops out by the end of 2011 might even seem like real progress.  But what Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan really means, is that Obama is just another in a long line of confidence-tricksters who have manipulated their way to the Oval Office and pursued the consistent and unchanged policies of American imperialism whilst pretending to offer us change.  It means that he endorses this war, he endorses its duplicitous justificatory principles, and the fundamental wrongs of the war on terror will not be addressed during his Presidency, if they are ever addressed at all.

President Obama committed 30,000 more troops to the war in Afghanistan this week, and by doing so he showed us that the Bush years are far from over, and that democracy in the twenty-first century is as meaningless as slogans for change.

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