Obama claims that he is going to fight terrorism by attacking Afghans instead of Iraqis, as well as maintain an “overwatch” presence of tens of thousands of troops in Iraq. Where will the troops come from?
Well, he has stated that he wants to expand the ground forces by 93,000 (both Army and Marines).
Lyndon Johnson started out like this, nickel-diming, and eventually found himself with 500,000 American troops occupying Vietnam. Several years later, the last US troops were literally driven out of Vietnam at gunpoint. Johnson didn’t run that war; the war ran him.
That’s where Obama is headed right now; and for the record, that does not mean there is no difference between him and McCain, or that I am encouraging electoral abstinence. Those are red herrings.
It means the war has in many respects escaped the calculable control of the American state no matter who the President is.
Obama will be the next chief executive of the American state – a state by, for, and of the business class. That’s the job description. That business class depends on the larger economy which is materially dependent on massive and unceasing throughputs of fossil hydrocarbons. That same economy has been overrun by rentier capitalists who have driven the global economy over a cliff.
Competitors are on the horizon, China, Russia, India, Brazil… but mostly Western Europe. The war is one central drama in a multiply-determined crisis that also includes immanent food shortages, water famines, radical climate shifts, and the general decay of inter-class stability.
Obama did not inherit Bush’s war, except in the details. He inherited a business class’s war that was inevitable (though not in its present form).
The United States was going to reposition its international military after the Cold War in any case; the old disposition for “containing” the Soviet Union was obsolete after all. And given the most obvious of considerations, the place to seek permanent and fully operational military bases abroad was in Southwest Asia. That’s where the hydrocarbons are; and when you have the hydrocarbons, you have the competition on a nose ring.
Following through with this is Obama’s job after…
I dredge this up because Afghanistan is in the news. At Asia Times today (a pub that is actually interested in the region enough to publish detailed articles about it), the top four pieces are related to the Af-Pak War: (1), (2), (3), and (4); and the fifth article is about Iraq.
It’s always risky — if you mind being shown to have been wrong — to pull up old prognostications, because reality has already started to fray them. But I’m cool with that. It’s how we learn, I think. The main prognostication that seems to be actualizing with alarming force, however, is the Af-Pak War, which the CIA has massively escalated with its secret attacks in Pakistan, a now more destabilized nuclear state. The match has already been introduced to the tinderbox.
The high-side — feeble as it is — is that public opinion is turning against both fronts in this war for strategic redisposition. News personalities are equivocally editorializing on the desirability of abandoning the region militarily. In reaction, there is a push by the war-supporters to dick-up the rhetoric, that is, challenge the masculinity of the leadership for not being rash enough.
Gender remains a powerful political force. If Obama withdraws, he will be feminized by the opposition as the one who wasn’t tough enough to win the war.