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Obama: President of war

Jamie Traska from Workers Power USA explains how Obama is starting more wars and being just as aggressive as Bush

Obama’s 2009 Nobel Peace Prize must be the most undeserved ever. He launched the war surge in Afghanistan, on top of a 10 year occupation resulting in tens of thousands of Afghan deaths. The deliberate killing of civilians, the torture of captured ‘enemies’, the trampling on of international law and agreements, and the installation of puppet regimes have continued under Obama, just as under Bush and Clinton. His recent trip to Europe was aimed at reaffirming the importance of the military alliance between US and European – specifically British – imperialism. Rebutting the claim that countries like China represent the future, that we are witnessing the decline of American and European power around the world he stated – “That argument is wrong. The time for our leadership is now.” He went on to claim “we remain the greatest catalysts for global action.”

At the same time Obama wrapped up this reassertion of US-European global dominance in the claim that the values of democracy and individual freedom worldwide were the motive for all the wars and bombings launched by the Western world.

When he announced the killing of Osama Bin Laden to the US, Obama was less coy about the motives for the exercise of US might: “… as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defence of our citizens and our friends and allies”.

When Obama sent the US Navy SEALs to assassinate bin Laden, he did not consult either the Pakistan government or military, and admitted the hit squad was authorised to fight Pakistani soldiers if they tried to intervene. When Pakistan asked the U.S. to reduce the use of armed drones in Pakistani airspace, which has enormously increased during Obama’s presidency, the US simply refused.

Obama’s appointment of the “political general” David Petraeus to head the CIA is part of the creation of a huge fused military-intelligence apparatus which, according to the Washington Post, includes some 1,271 government agencies and 1,931 private companies, with a budget last year of at least $80.1 billion. This enormous expenditure is not “in defence of (US) citizens” but to secure US economic, military and political interests across the globe.

In the summer of 2010, the Obama administration declared the “end” of combat operations in Iraq. But 50,000 “advisers” and private security contractors remain on Iraqi soil. Even though American armed forces will no longer be responsible for leading defensive operations, the Iraqi National Army and Police Forces are heavily controlled by US “advisers” in order to ensure a reliable and compliant government.

The framework agreement for “total withdrawal” by the end of 2011 is highly dubious. Not only will more than $2.4 billion have gone into a network of permanent base structures by that time, but also the withdrawal is also dependent on ‘conditions on the ground.’ The bases along the border with Iran – especially Combat Outpost Shocker – will play a prominent role when US imperialism ups the ante on Iran. It is clear that the US is in Iraq for the long haul and will keep its iron grip on the country.

The dilemma that is Afghanistan presents no better picture. The “Kill-Team” photos revealed a glimpse of the situation in occupied Afghanistan and the atrocities of imperialist wars in general. Several US soldiers posed as hunters, displaying their freshly killed “game” with the accused smiling and kneeling behind the slain corpse, holding up the bloodied head for the camera to see. Some soldiers even cut off fingers of some of the victims to save as macabre souvenirs. The troop surge has seen a significant increase in civilian and military casualties – 2010 saw the highest number of US fatalities since the war began.

Now the West and Karzai want to pressure the Taliban into a compromise deal. Karzai has already been trying to bring the Islamists to the table, to get them on board with the current coalition government. Winning support from sections of the Taliban is the latest strategy of the US after 10 years of failing to develop a stable regime in Afghanistan. At the same time, the military presence will continue to make itself felt, even after the supposed troop reductions scheduled for this summer. Just like in Iraq, the bases will remain either in Afghanistan or surrounding countries and we can expect US army advisers and private security contractors to operate in Afghanistan for an indefinite period, regardless of any official handover to Afghan forces.

The war in Afghanistan has long ago spilled over the border into Pakistan. Thousands of civilians have died from US drone attacks and the political situation in Pakistan is anything but stable. And the US is actively contributing to the destabilization by publicly blaming Pakistan for knowing about Bin Laden’s whereabouts. In doing so, the US is paving the way for more attacks and an increased aggression against Pakistan.
The US is in a desperate struggle to maintain a sympathetic regime in Yemen, a country that is a focal point of international trade. The Houthi rebels in the North are struggling for secession which would put US control of that region in danger.

Throughout 2010 the US continued its bombing campaign and recently also started to use armed drones in an attempt to kill senior Al-Qaeda leaders on the Arabian Peninsula. However, just like in Afghanistan, fighting against and killing radical Islamists is only part of a grander strategy of geo-political domination in the region. Controlling the Bab-el-Mandeb strait with its enormous freight traffic means controlling the chokepoint of international trade and surveying military troop deployment in the region.

Obama’s hypocrisy
It is for these reasons that Obama’s ‘Arab Spring’ speech on 19 May rings hollow. The speech, praising the mass movements of ‘the people’ in Tunisia and Egypt overthrew (US-supported) dictators, stated that the US is “committed” to the “long-standing partnership” with Bahrain, and that the regime has a “legitimate interest in the rule of law.”

Even Obama’s relatively harsh words for Israel in the context of usual diplomatic language towards the country had its purpose in calming the renewed aspiration of Palestinians for their own state. His plan outlined a two–state ‘solution’ with a demilitarised, disarmed Palestine sharing a border with an armed-to-the-teeth and hostile Israel.

The two faces of Barack Obama: the tough warlord for domestic consumption and abroad as the patron of the Arab revolutions and Palestinian freedom, reflect the dilemma facing the ageing superpower. It has to use its own military muscle to defend its assets, but at the same time is fearful of provoking the millions now rising up against their rulers.

Given the contrast between the American President’s fine words and his foul deeds and continued foul deeds of his Israeli allies – this deception is certain to fail in the end. In the words of the excellent American proverb – “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time”.

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