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The Forum > Article Comments > Barack Obama and the war presidency > Comments

Barack Obama and the war presidency : Comments

By Sukrit Sabhlok, published 29/12/2008

If Obama really wants to revamp American foreign policy he must be willing to confront the establishment.

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Several things:

- Hillary, like most US Senators, was coerced into voting for the Iraq invasion. The US Congress, like the US public and the Howard Government, believed the Bush propaganda that Iraq was a rogue state and a threat to the West. Hopefully Hillary has learnt from her mistakes.

- Gates is a is a highly educated, experienced and effective moderate compared to most US Defence Secretaries. Once he became DefSec the murderous mess that Rumsfeld created became less vicious. Killing went down in Iraq including deaths caused by the US Coalition and deaths caused by Muslim suicide bombers.

Peace has been slowly breaking out in Iraq. This peace may not last once the flow of US/Saudi bribe money to the factional leaders/chiefs dries up but, by the grace of Gates, it is a start.

- Despite America's sins (far less than China's sins since WWII) India is striving to draw closer to America. This is underlined by the US-India nuclear agreement. India's Prime Minister Singh risked his political career to push this pro India - pro US measure through his Congress Party and through the Indian Parliament.

This suggests that the US is not all bad otherwise Australia wouldn't be so attached to it and India would not be taking such strong measures to get closer to it.

Pete
http://gentleseas.blogspot.com/2008/07/australian-uranium-trade-with-india.html
Posted by plantagenet, Monday, 29 December 2008 3:01:45 PM
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What it the point of this piece?, What is it about?
America like every other country serves it's own interests. No matter what the flavour of the presidency America will continue to do so.
Posted by Kenny, Monday, 29 December 2008 4:02:17 PM
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Sukrit,

The author rightly points out that Obama’s new direction for America isn’t going to over joy the loony-left, who had hoped they had found a kindrid spirit. Especially on matters of foreign policy.

The removal of all combat brigades will leave Iraq largely responsible for its own security. The remaining troops, likely to be special forces, will have almost negligible footprint in the country and are merely a sensible bulwark against the return of al-Qaeda.

You say >> “Obama was widely perceived as the peace candidate, while McCain was seen as a warmonger”

Clearly both perceptions were LUDICROUSLY simplistic and anyone disappointed that neither turned out as such, needs their heads read.

You say >> ” Nor has Obama agreed to scale back the American empire. The US, which has hundreds of bases all over the world, is frequently the cause of tension in host countries ... "

The American Empire? What a joke? To what exactly are you referring? US bases have not only ensured the safety of many countries around the globe, but have also allowed these countries to shift their defence expenditures onto the American taxpayer. Much of Europe’s welfare state expenditure during the cold war was subsidized, in a sense, by the American taxpayer. The use of the word EMPIRE to describe Americas involvement globally, is an exercise in propaganda. The similarity between real Empires and Imperialists and the modern US is almost totally non existent.

You say >> “Ever since ... war with North Korea in 1950, there has been bipartisan support for using the military ... these interventions have resulted in dependent client-states, such as Japan;”

Firstly the US involvement with Japan was before the Korean War, 1941 if you don’t mind. Secondly, the reconstruction of Japan and Europe under the Marshall plan must go down as one of the most important and benevolent ( as well as mutually rewarding ) acts of the 20th century and the history of warfare. The suggestion that Japan is a client state requires the most loosely interpreted understanding of that phrase imaginable.
Posted by Paul.L, Tuesday, 30 December 2008 3:16:36 PM
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CONT,

You say >> “ ... America is enmeshed in areas of the world that have little to do with its national security interests”

You are arguing on the one hand that the US are imperialist bastards, and then you complain they are involved in conflicts which aren’t directly related to its national security interests. There’s so much wrong with this I don’t know where to start. Defeating or effectively containing Al Qaeda, I would tentatively venture, was rather obviously a national security priority.

You say >> “. Obama claimed ... to have opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. Yet ... he continued to vote in favour of bills funding military operations ...."

Thank goodness for small mercies. I personally feel absolute revulsion for those who would have allied troops operating in harms way, without the necessary tools to do their job. Those “peaceniks” who could live with Allied service people dying for lack of bullet proof vests, or air evacuation capabilities, are clearly morally reprehensible and are not overly concerned with preventing harm.
The service people in Iraq and Afghanistan are there at the legal request of their gov’ts. Theyt deserve our support, whether or not you support the war itself.

Pete,

You say >> “Once he [Gates]became DefSec the murderous mess that Rumsfeld created became less vicious.”

Murderous mess? Isn’t that just a tad propaganda-like. The surge coincided with the appointment of Gates as Sec Def and Bushs support for the surge was a critical way point on the road to a more peaceful democratic Iraq.

You say >> “ This peace may not last once the flow of US/Saudi bribe money to the factional leaders/chiefs dries up ...“

Frankly, if this is a criticism of American diplomacy it is a naďve one. ALL POLITICS is about bribery. Middle Class welfare is one example here in Australia, but there are many others. Voting with your hip pocket is a GLOBALLY recognized phenomenon. As you rightly acknowledge, the result has been positive and should allow more room for a more peaceful settlement of the conflict.
Posted by Paul.L, Tuesday, 30 December 2008 3:20:27 PM
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I've got to more or less agree with paul.l on this one.

I was very pleased to see Obama elected - I prefer governments which tack to the centre and after the last few terms of extreme-right policies, I feel we need a slight tack to the left.

However, I don't want extreme policies from either side of the political divide. Bush's government was disastrous not only because it was inept, but because it drifted too far to the right and became too quick to favour military intervention.
If it had been a moderately right wing government and followed a moderate course of military intervention, then it wouldn't have really been a big problem. If it had followed genuinely conservative spending policies, it also would have helped.
The actual shape of the government was an awful combination of big-spending, low taxing and aggressive foreign policy.
The numbers simply don't add up.

Obama by all accounts, appears to be a pragmatist. He's not the wild lefty that some seem to think, which I think is a good thing.
He does however, favour the left slightly more than the right. At this point in time, that's also a good thing.

For foreign policy, Obama is giving more than an inch, but this author wants take take a mile.
Frankly, I'm glad Obama is more pragmatically minded that the suggestions in this piece.
Posted by TurnRightThenLeft, Thursday, 1 January 2009 2:50:27 PM
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Obama will do as his is told like most of the US presidents.Luckily he's is black and that will make up for a multitude of future sins.The downside is that,to be above criticism,deepens the malaise,more than Bush could ever achieve.

I hope Obama has the courage of his rhetoric.
Posted by Arjay, Thursday, 1 January 2009 3:07:23 PM
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