As the first year of President Obama’s term has worn on many people on the left including me have tried to answer this question: Will Obama continue and promote the militaristic endeavors and culture of the Bush era? I got my answer observing Obama’s reaction to the illegal attack/offensive against Gaza this past December. His “neutrality” on a “war” (more like low-intensity genocide imo) that killed over a thousand civilians and leveled one of the most densely populated and poorest regions of the world says a lot about his “anti-war” stance.
Others not seeing the hypocrisy in the Gaza War chose to wait for his stance on Iraq and Afghanistan. Many, especially on the left hoped that Obama would set a timetable for withdraw for Iraq and begin a withdraw (note: nobody cared about Afghanistan enough to ask for anything or wrongly considered it the “Good War”). If we look at his voting record on the wars and his team’s plans we may have not had to wait so long for the answer.
In the Senate, Obama voted “yes” every time a new funding bill for the war came out except for one (10 votes) in 2007. This one negative vote could arguably be said to be due to him preparing his anti-war stance for the presidential race. Couple this with his comment during the 2nd presidential debate in which Obama supported air strikes into Pakistan to kill insurgents with or without the approval of the Pakistani government we start to see something. That something is that Obama is not the radical anti-war, pro-peace president we all hoped he would be, but a run in the mill centrist who has no qualms about using force to push the American imperial strategy.
Specifically in terms of Afghanistan we see a disturbing picture developing. When Obama took office there were 32,000 troops in the country, now there’s 68,000 due mostly to the troop increases Obama approved early this year. His troop increases are being matched by European nations so the total number of new troop deployed is actually around 72,000 troops. Admiral Mike Mullen speaking to the Senate said that an increase of between 10,000 and 45,000 are needed to further stabilize the nation. It is my opinion that Afghanistan will only become worse due to the increased troop numbers which we’ve already seen in the past few months. Afghanistan may become Obama’s Vietnam, the war without end against an enemy that never dies.
Another lesser known facet of Obama’s militarism is his flippant use of UAV’s, or “drones” to attack targets inside Pakistan (thus fulfilling his promise made during the debates). These incidents/attacks show the level of disregard for human life and international norms the Obama White House holds. Here’s what a Pakistani article says about the air strikes:
“Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their real targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent.” Source- http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=21440
Six percent!? Now even for ruthless military planners this is bad. On top of this all those air strikes are done without permission of the Pakistani government, which is a blatant violation of their sovereignty and the right to life of the civilians who die in an undeclared war. Its my opinion and prediction that if the Al-Qaeda/Taliban movement in Pakistan keeps gaining steam (with these attacks on civilians why not?) we will see an “expanded role” for the US in Pakistan.
In ending we the people are paying for all of these little “excursions” Obama and his military planners are doing, in money and blood. We need to speak truth to power and reinvigorate an anti-war movement that in recent years has lost its way. Obama was not and never will be on the side of peace simply because the military- industrial- political machine that is America depends on perpetual war and aggression to survive. It always seeks new resources to acquire and enemies to scapegoat and attack giving credence to the bloated military budget that takes money away from programs needed to help the people.Like MLK said relating Vietnam War to the Great Society that LBJ was attempting to administer said the Vietnam War was “like some demonic destructive suction tube” using all the resources necessary to improve America’s poor and minorities.
We must fight for the lives of innocent civilians around the world, our own soldiers who die for profits and for ourselves who are hurt directly (9/11) and indirectly by the moral depraved and economically bankrupting imperialist wars that have been the bread and butter of our nation for much too long. Think on this
“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. . . Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem” – Howard Zinn