It is interesting to note just how well this imperialism thing has worked for the American people. At the end of last year the U.S. was kicked out of Iraq after spending some trillions of dollars and producing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Americans. Al-Qaeda, which was not present in Iraq when the U.S. arrived, has lately been responsible for bomb attacks that have killed hundreds of Iraqis, mostly civilians. As a result of the ham-handed American intervention, Iraq’s closest friend now is not the U.S. It is Iran.
Appalled by the excesses of the U.S. military, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has followed suit, initially demanding that the U.S. restrict its soldiers to their bases, a move that would mean that the American presence in Afghanistan could well end in short order after the loss of another trillion dollars and the deaths of some tens of thousands of coalition soldiers and Afghan civilians. Even if Karzai accepts a continued U.S. presence that is more managed by his own “sovereign” government, the writing is on the wall, and all that is needed is a firm departure date. Oh, and the Taliban will definitely be coming back in one form or another.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Pakistan, the parliament is debating ending all cooperation with the United States because of the continuing drone campaign, which, true to pattern, kills mostly civilians. Pakistan is nuclear-armed and actually has real terrorists roaming its tribal regions. The departure of Pakistan from the game enables the manifest waste of the past 11 years to become completely clear, with Washington leaving Central Asia in far worse shape than it was when the U.S. Army and the CIA arrived.
How can a great nation with vast intelligence and diplomatic resources be so tone deaf and absolutely clueless? An article in last week’s Washington Post illustrates perfectly the utter futility of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. The article begins:
President Obama delivered his annual message to the Iranian people on Tuesday, using a far more confrontational tone than usual to say that he will seek ways to break through the electronic curtain that Tehran has thrown over the Internet and other forms of communication. “I want the Iranian people to know that America seeks a dialogue to hear your views and understand your aspirations,” Obama said in his message to mark Nowruz, the Persian new year. “The United States will continue to draw attention to the electronic curtain that is cutting the Iranian people off from the world” he said. “And we hope that others will join us in advancing a basic freedom for the Iranian people: the freedom to connect with one another and with their fellow human beings.” Since taking office, Obama has used his Nowruz message to speak directly to Iranians in an attempt to stake out common ground between the United States and the Islamic republic.
Unfortunately, the Iranian people do not control Iran’s foreign policy, their government does. President Obama’s concern for their aspirations is as phony as his claimed desire to deliver genuine statehood to the Palestinians. Does he understand what is going on inside Iran or is he really speaking to some domestic audience? And talking about freedom of the Internet is the utmost in hypocrisy, as there is no nation that meddles more in cyberspace than the United States of America. And a more accessible Internet does not necessarily impede the march toward a war, particularly at a time when both the Israelis and Congress seem to be intent on violent confrontation no matter what Iran does. Unwillingness to talk directly to the officials who actually can make a difference is what the White House is all about because Obama intends to get re-elected and he is not about to rock the boat with the Israel Lobby. It means that nothing will happen this year, unless Israel decides to drop the first bomb. No war, no peace is precisely what the administration desires.
Who but the gaggle of foreign policy experts surrounding the three leading Republican presidential candidates, all of whom are salivating for war, can deny that America is in steep decline? If generally reliable client states such as Iraq and Afghanistan can summon up the courage to pull the plug on Obama, anyone can. Indeed, everyone should, following the model of the Egyptians, who imprisoned the usual crowd of National Endowment for Democracy activists intent on bringing the American form of government to the rest of the world. Russian President Vladimir Putin would agree with the Egyptians, wondering why there are so many American and European NGOs running around in his country telling his people what kind of pastel revolution they need to vote him out of office. U.S. democracy is just what the world needs, apparently, judging from Attorney General Eric Holder’s rationalizations for killing citizens overseas and his explication of the niceties of drone warfare. And then there is the National Defense Authorization Act’s declaration that the entire world is a battlefield and anyone can become an enemy combatant. Or the recent executive order from the White House that will enable the government to take control of all national resources in a state of emergency. And who decides when there is an emergency? The White House, of course!
When everyone finally figures out that they don’t really need what former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright dubbed the “necessary nation” that “sees far,” they will be able to take steps to put their own houses in order. A Middle East without meddling from Washington would mean that the Israelis and their neighbors might actually have to talk to each other and establish a modus vivendi. Afghans and Pakistanis would have to work things out. Iran might even decide that no one is threatening it anymore and lose some of its paranoia. Likewise for the North Koreans. Americans could go back to doing what they used to be really good at: making things, being inventive and inclusive, and living decently without having to invade anyone or tell a government or two how to behave. It would be good-bye to all the things we don’t need and good night, America, finally in a good sense.