President of CANT – VI

The image above reads Afghanistan is Obama’s Vietnam. The author Tariq Ali, however, partially disagrees with this view and offers quite reasonable arguments to support his view point. Please read on to know what Ali says in this regard. 

by Tariq Ali




With this expansion, what are the prospects for Obama’s ‘just war’? Comparing the American with the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, two major differences stand out. The regime created by the US is far weaker than that protected by the USSR. The latter had a genuine local basis, however much it abused it: never just an alien graft, the PDPA generated an army and administration capable of surviving the departure of Soviet troops.

The Najibullah government was eventually overthrown only thanks to massive outside assistance from the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. But in that assistance lies the second decisive contrast. Unlike the fighters who entered Kabul in 1992, bankrolled and armed to the teeth by foreign powers, the Afghan resistance of today is all but completely isolated: anathema not only to Washington, but to Moscow, Beijing, Dushanbe, Tashkent, Tehran, able at most to count on a sporadic, furtive tolerance from Islamabad.

That is why comparisons with Vietnam, though they are telling in so many other respects—moral, political, ideological—in military terms are less so. At one level Obama’s arrogant escalation of the war in Afghanistan could be said to combine the hubris of Kennedy in 1961 with that of Johnson in 1965, even of Nixon in 1972, whose bombing of Cambodia bears more than one resemblance to current operations in Pakistan. But there is no draft to disaffect American youth; no Soviet or Chinese aid to sustain the guerrilla; no anti-imperialist solidarity to weaken the system in its homelands. On the contrary, as Obama likes to explain, no less than 42 countries are lending a hand to help his embarrassing marionette in Kabul dance a good show. [19]

No world-historical spectacle could be more welcome than the American proconsul fleeing once again by helicopter from the roof of the embassy, and the motley expeditionary forces and their assorted civilian lackeys kicked unceremoniously out of the country along with him. But a second Saigon is not in prospect. Monotonous talk of the end of American hegemony, the universal cliché of the period, is mostly a way of avoiding serious opposition to it.

If a textbook illustration were needed of the continuity of American foreign policy across administrations, and the futility of so many soft-headed attempts to treat the Bush–Cheney years as exceptional rather than essentially conventional, Obama’s conduct has provided it. From one end of the Middle East to the other, the only significant material change he has brought is a further escalation of the War on Terror—or ‘Evil’, as he prefers to call it—with Yemen now being sighted as the next target. [20] 

Beyond, the story is much the same. Renditions—torture by proxy—are upheld as a practice, while their perpetrators continue to lounge at their ease in Florida or elsewhere, ignoring extradition warrants under Obama’s protection. Domestic wire-taps continue. A coup in Central America is underwritten. New military bases are set up in Colombia.


Still, it would be a mistake to think that nothing has changed. No Administration is exactly like any other, and each President leaves a stamp on his own. Substantively, vanishingly little of American imperial dominion has altered under Obama. [21] But propagandistically, there has been a significant upgrade. It is no accident that a leading columnist—and one of the more intelligent—could, only half ironically, list the five most important events of 2009 as so many speeches by Obama. [22] In Cairo, at West Point, at Oslo, the world has been treated to one uplifting homily after another, each address larded with every egregious euphemism that White House speech-writers can muster to describe America’s glowing mission in the world, and modest avowal of awe and sense of responsibility in carrying it forward.

‘We must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts’ is the characteristic tone. ‘Our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents. We have spent our revenue to help others rebuild from rubble and develop their own economies. We have joined with others to develop an architecture of institutions—from the United Nations to NATO to the World Bank—that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings’. ‘The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan . . . Our effort will involve disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse enemies’. ‘Our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might’. In the Middle East, there are ‘tensions’ [the term recurs nine times in his address to Mubarak’s claque at al-Azhar], and a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Gaza. But ‘the Palestinians must renounce violence’, and ‘the Iraqi people are ultimately better off’ for American actions. In Oslo: ‘Make no mistake: evil does exist in the world’. ‘To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism—it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.’ In Cairo: ‘Resistance through violence and killing is wrong’. In short: if the US or Israel wage war, it is a regrettable moral duty. If Palestinians, Iraqis or Afghans resist them, it is an immoral dead-end. As Obama likes to say, ‘We are all God’s children’, and ‘This is God’s vision’. [23]

If sonorous banality and armour-plated hypocrisy are the hallmarks of this Presidential style, that does not make it less functional for the task of servicing and repairing the imperial institutions over which Obama and Clinton now preside. Nothing grated more on international opinion than the lack of requisite unction with which Bush and Cheney all too often went about their business, exposing allies and audiences otherwise well-disposed towards American leadership to inconvenient truths they would have preferred not to hear. Historically, the model for the current variant of imperial Presidency has been Woodrow Wilson, no less pious a Christian, whose every second word was peace, democracy or self-determination, while his armies invaded Mexico, occupied Haiti and attacked Russia, and his treaties handed one colony after another to his partners in war. Obama is a hand-me-down version of the same, without even Fourteen Points to betray. But cant still goes a long way to satisfy those who yearn for it, as the award to Obama of what García Márquez once called the Nobel Prize for War has graphically shown. After lying enough to voters—promising peace and delivering war—Wilson was re-elected to a second term, though it did not end well for him. In more combative times, Johnson was forced to step down in ignominy for his warmongering, without being able to gull the electors again. Twelve years later, a debacle in Tehran helped sink Carter. If the recent setbacks for Democrats in West Virginia and New Jersey—where Democratic voters stayed at home—become a pattern, Obama could be a third one-term President, abandoned by his supporters and mocked by those he tries so hard to conciliate.



Source: Joeblow Report
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.



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One reply to “President of CANT – VI

  1. It’s an article which provokes Obama and Americans not to reassess their resolve and be further firm .

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