After eight years of U.S. occupation, the Afghan people live in terror, caused not only by bombs and bullets, but by no bid contracts, private mercenaries, theft of resources, and destruction of infrastructure. Barack Obama promises more of the same, as he struts his imperial stuff to demonstrate his fitness for the presidency. With his calls for big increases in U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan, Obama delivers the kiss of death for additional thousands in the region and proves again that he is no peace candidate.
Iraq is a political loser for John McCain, but the system demands constant feeding of the insatiable military industrial complex. Afghanistan fits the bill perfectly.
The argument among the political elite has changed from trying to defend a discredited occupation to scaling it down, talking of "time horizons," and moving it to a neighboring country.
While the invasion of Iraq was unpopular in many quarters, very few Americans actively opposed the military presence in Afghanistan. One week after the September 11 attacks, only one member of Congress, Black Caucus member Barbara Lee, was willing to vote against the Authorization to Use Military Force Against Terrorists. Liberals queasy about invading Iraq were not shy about crying for revenge against the Taliban. There was little outrage when the United States and other NATO nations bombed and shot hapless Afghan farmers and their families.
The kiss of death for Afghanistan was personally delivered by Obama. He knows that war against the Taliban is a political winner. His call to escalate the Afghanistan occupation would kill several birds with one stone. His loophole-filled plan to draw down troops in Iraq will please liberals who have no strength for a real fight and will also serve the corporate ruling class by insuring continued military spending.
Obama is shrewdly campaigning for president by acting as if he has the job already and he is using his pro-war credentials in Afghanistan and Iraq to do it. He is spanning the globe, planning visits with world leaders, and giving anxious white voters less reason for alarm by keeping them accustomed to seeing him in presidential photo opportunities in Germany, Afghanistan, and Iraq. It also never hurts to join soldiers for ham and eggs in the mess tent and make such remarks as, "To see young people like this who are doing such excellent work, with so much dedication…it makes you feel good about the country."
America has been in the process of destroying Afghanistan for nearly 30 years. Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter, had the brilliant idea of flooding Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan with guns and money, all in order to "counter" the Soviet presence. Brzezinski, like many of his discredited foreign policy colleagues, is now advising the Obama campaign.
Many of the so-called warlords in Afghanistan who are now resisting the U.S. presence were once on the CIA payroll themselves. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was a Carter and Reagan-era favorite who received arms and money and even visited the United States in 1985, but he is now calling for attacks on American troops.
The embarrassing existence of Hekmatyar and friends will do nothing to stop the war of terror inflicted on innocent human beings. Everything old is new again in foreign policy. No one is willing to point out that discredited strategies have risen from the dead. One of Obama’s advisors, Susan Rice, invokes the name of Ronald Reagan in a complimentary way. "[S]upport for the Afghan resistance to Soviet aggression was the right decision in the 1980s." Her boss has said on more than one occasion that he will have a foreign policy like Reagan’s, so his promise to repeat the corruption of the past should not come as a surprise.
The endless Iraq occupation and the escalated Afghanistan occupation will bring more harm to the region than Bush could have dreamed. One uninformed but optimistic Iraqi had this to say about Obama. "He is much better than others because he is black and black people were tyrannized in America. I think he will feel our suffering."
No, he will not. Anyone who feels suffering doesn’t want to be president of the United States. Spreading the suffering is the first item on the job description.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in Black Agenda Report.