Obama, the Democratic “War President” (updated)



by Eric Margolis

We uploaded the following post by Eric Margolis in our July, 2008 issue.
We are putting up the same now on these pages once again. Why? so that our readers who missed it then, can view it now. But even those of you who read it already, will find the views expressed by the writer as valid today as they were a year before.
You may find it also for its relevancy in today’s turbulent conditions which prevail now in the northern parts of Pakistan, and the province of Balochistan where an insurgency is slowly taking up the form of almost a ‘liberation’ struggle.
After reading this article, go to the next one by Ahmad Quraishi where too, you may find something between the lines…
NOW THAT our democratically elected Prime Minister is on a visit to the United States, he has on his schedule a meeting with the US President, George Walker Bush. However much before his journey, voices started coming up from Washington for a strong action, a terminology which in US administration’s political jargon means a war. War against whom? Against US’s most allied ally in the world – Pakistan. Many political pundits & strategists in Pentagon put forward the thesis that Pakistan is not doing enough to curb the activities of Taliban in its federally administered tribal areas (FATA).
Many in this country believe that it’s only the Bush administration which is putting pressure on Pakistan to do more. Surprisingly a more serious voice has come from Democratic Party’s nominee Sen. Barack Obama who said once he is elected he might attack Pakistan in FATA to flush out Taliban in the region and thus secure a safe position for ISAF troops in Afghanistan.

It’s in this scenario that noted columnist and analyst Eric Margolis evaluates Obama’s statement and the effect it might have on the already explosive situation in the region. So says Eric Margolis…

Barack Obama Wants


to withdraw US troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan, which he calls the real front on the “war on terror.” He also has repeated threats to attack Pakistan “if necessary.

One understands

Obama’s need to sound macho. Rival John McCain has been beating his chest, proclaiming, “I know how to win wars.” Polls show Americans trust McCain three to one over Obama as a war leader. Unfortunately, recent US presidents seem to require small military conflicts to prove their political virility.

But Obama

has long called the US-led occupation of Afghanistan a “good war,” a view most Americans and Canadians share. They see Afghanistan – and now Pakistan – as hotbeds of al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists which must be eradicated.

It is distressing

to see Obama succumb to the blitz of war propaganda over Afghanistan and adopt George Bush’s faux terminology of terrorism. Before Obama urges widening America’s war there, he should consider:
• Al-Qaida never numbered more than 300 men. There are hardly any left in Afghanistan. Survivors scattered into Pakistan. Finding them is police and intelligence work, not a job for thousands more western troops.
• US policy towards Afghanistan is driven by energy geopolitics. Pacification of rebellious Pashtun tribesmen is necessary in order to build energy pipelines south from the Caspian Basin. That is the primary strategic mission of US and Canadian troops.
• Taliban fighters are not “terrorists.” Taliban was founded as a fundamentalist Muslim religious movement of Pashtun tribesmen to fight banditry, rape, drugs, and Afghan Communists. Taliban received millions in US aid until four months before 9/11. It had no part in 9/11 and knew nothing about them. The US overthrow of Taliban resulted in the Communists resuming control over half of Afghanistan. Under US occupation, Afghanistan has become a narco-state that supplies over 90% of the world’s heroin.
• Pashtun tribes comprise half of Afghanistan’s population, and 15% of neighboring Pakistan’s people. The western powers are involved in an old-fashioned, colonial-style pacification campaign against the Pashtun Taliban. Imperial Britain, the Soviets, and now the US and its allies all employed the same classical colonial strategy: using puppet rulers, local mercenary troops, and lavish bribes to enforce their will. Afghans who resist get bombed.
• Before urging expansion of the Afghan war, Obama should total up the bill for America’s military misadventures. As of last January, according to the Pentagon and data revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars cost 72,043 American battlefield casualties. Veteran’s Administration hospitals have treated 263,909 veterans from these wars and registered over 245,000 disability claims.
No one knows how many Iraqis and Afghans have been killed. The number could be over one million. Just last week over 50 Afghans in a wedding party were killed by a US air strike. But without the constant use of massive air power, including B-1 bombers, the US could not maintain its occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan.
• According to a Democratic Congressional committee report, the two wars will cost $1.6 trillion by the end of 2008, or $16,500 per US family of four – not counting the cost of borrowing money to pay for the wars.
Obama and McCain believe Afghan resistance can be crushed by more brute force. They are wrong. More western troops and more bombed villages will mean fiercer Afghan resistance.
The war is now seeping into Pakistan, a nation of 165 million. Obama’s threats to attack Pakistan and go after its nuclear arsenal are reckless and extremely dangerous. He appears headed over the same cliff as those would-be “war presidents, Bush and McCain. As the head of NATO recently admitted, political settlement, not bombs, is the only way to end the unnecessary Afghan war.
Is Obama beginning to fall under the influence of the same military-petroleum complex that guided Bush’s imperial-minded presidency? Could Pakistan become a disaster for the Democrats as Iraq was for Republicans?
Eric Margolis, contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World. Copyright © 2008 Eric Margolis


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