Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Duped President’s Wasted Foreign-Policy Year

A Duped President’s Wasted Foreign-Policy Year by William Pfaff

"Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address has passed with his administration’s record widely criticized by his own supporters as one of unexpected ineptitude and political incompetence, in astonishing contrast with the foresight, innovation, and ability displayed during his campaign for the presidency.


According to a common estimate, the United States now has 1.25 million service men and women on active duty, 700,000 civilians in service and supporting roles, and that it outsources guard and security duties, some combat, (and in the past, at least, some torturing of prisoners), to an unknown number of private and foreign mercenaries. The whole of this force is on 800 to 1,000 bases scattered about the world.

What, ultimately, is this for? Barack Obama would say that it is meant to assure the security of the United States. He has been duped."

He's been duped, but he's living high on the hog, and not a victim in any sense - we're the victims.

NATO's Role in the Afghanistan Escalation By Tom Hayden

"In Afghanistan, the Taliban are powerful among the 45 percent Pashtun population, and cannot be defeated by Karzai's dysfunctional government or the northern Hazara, Tajik or Uzbek minorities. The situation resembles an ethnic-based stalemate, which Secretary of Defense Robert Gates acknowledged this week , in saying the Taliban are woven into the "political fabric" of Afghanistan.

One reason for the dovish hints is that European and Canadian public opinion strongly oppose the escalation. In Germany 71 percent are opposed, and in the UK 56 percent . In France, 82 percent are against increased troop commitments. Canada is committed to withdrawing troops in 2011, and pressure is building for other NATO nations to follow.


The present quagmire is likely to result in bloodshed through 2011, reaching a crisis point when Obama is scheduled to begin the withdrawal of US troops. The Europeans and Canadians will be packed and ready to go by that point, and likely will linger no later. But the Pentagon, and the domestic hawks, could be predicting catastrophe if the United States departs, leaving Obama and the Democrats to choose between a deeper stalemate and the politics of strategic disengagement as the 2012 elections approach."

A Just Cause, Not a Just War by Howard Zinn

"This suggests actions that not only deal with the long-term problem of terrorism but are in themselves just.

Instead of using two planes a day to drop food on Afghanistan and 100 planes to drop bombs (which have been making it difficult for the trucks of the international agencies to bring in food), use 102 planes to bring food.

Take the money allocated for our huge military machine and use it to combat starvation and disease around the world. One-third of our military budget would annually provide clean water and sanitation facilities for the billion people in the world who have none.

Withdraw troops from Saudi Arabia, because their presence near the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina angers not just bin Laden (we need not care about angering him) but huge numbers of Arabs who are not terrorists.

Stop the cruel sanctions on Iraq, which are killing more than a thousand children every week without doing anything to weaken Saddam Hussein's tyrannical hold over the country.

Insist that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories, something that many Israelis also think is right, and which will make Israel more secure than it is now.

In short, let us pull back from being a military superpower, and become a humanitarian superpower.

Let us be a more modest nation. We will then be more secure. The modest nations of the world don't face the threat of terrorism.

Such a fundamental change in foreign policy is hardly to be expected. It would threaten too many interests: the power of political leaders, the ambitions of the military, the corporations that profit from the nation's enormous military commitments.

Change will come, as at other times in our history, only when American citizens-- becoming better informed, having second thoughts after the first instinctive support for official policy--demand it. That change in citizen opinion, especially if it coincides with a pragmatic decision by the government that its violence isn't working, could bring about a retreat from the military solution."


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