If you thought that the American neoconservatives (aka “chicken hawks”) of the George W. Bush administration–persons who brought us the Iraqi invasion based on a mission to destroy the imaginary arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussain was hiding–you would be wrong. They are very much alive and are coming back through cyberspace and the airways trashing President Barack Obama’s handling of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. When they are reminded of the atrocious mess originally created in Afghanistan and Iraq by Bush and these very same neocons, they deny this linkage and then quickly proceed with their warmongering rhetoric. A factor to keep in mind about these neocons is that none has actually fought in a war. However, their palpable penchant for war–as long as someone else’s son or daughter is going to die in it–has rightly earned them the pejorative depiction “chicken hawks.” Their proclivities are very much alive; they are itching for another war.
As new idiosyncrasies of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan are becoming pronounced, one wonders how many of them are pushing it toward a potential disaster, which President Barack Obama is as determined to avoid as his three predecessors â€“ Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and George W. Bush â€“ did in Vietnam and Iraq, respectively.
Every new president’s approach to major unresolved issues is entirely different from those of his immediate predecessor, simply because the predecessor’s approach is regarded as inept or even wrong-headed. So, the successor proceeds to ‘reinvent the wheel’ on those issues by approaching it entirely differently. Since Barack Obama entered office criticizing Bush’s involvement in and his handling of the Iraq war, his own war â€“ the one in Afghanistan â€“ was going to have his ‘superior’ mark on it.
The United States has become well accustomed to imposing economic sanctions against any state that defies it. Such actions are taken without regard to how badly they affect the quality of life of the people in the sanctioned country. The cruel rationale in Washington is that, if people suffered the terrible consequences emanating from those sanctions, they would overthrow the existing government. When that did not happen, as in Iraq for instance, the administration of George W. Bush decided to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein through a military invasion.
As the Obama administration ponders America’s warfighting strategy for Afghanistan, there are muted comparisons between the current U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and its involvement in South Vietnam in the 1960s. Given that the United States was defeated in South Vietnam, such comparison serves as an added burden for the mandarins of America’s national security strategy, both in the White House and the Pentagon.
Continue reading “The Vietnam Syndrome is Dead–Long Liveâ€¦”
President Barack H. Obama spoke to the Muslim world from Cairo on June 4, 2009. Symbolically, that day will always be remembered every time someone raises the issue of the United States’ relations toward the world of Islam. The following statement he made that day will go down in history as a memorable one: The United States is “not and never will be, at war with Islam.” He made the same statement for the first time in Turkey two months prior.
The continuing public spat between Hezbollah and Arab states is a mixture of old and new styles of power play. The “old” part implicitly involves Iran–the chief supporter of Hezbollah–while the new aspect of this power play is between the antiquated monarchies and the nexus between Iran and Hezbollah. Iran is the “rising power” of the Middle East, while the Sunni Arab states belong to the category of “declining” powers. Hezbollah’s status will be determined most significantly after the impending elections in Lebanon. As an example of how the U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East is more of an expression of continuity than change (despite President Barack H. Obama’s rhetoric of “change’) Vice President Biden was dispatched to Lebanon to influence the outcome of the Lebanese elections, an action that is likely to backfire and, in the process, only enhance the political clout of Hezbollah.
OPEC AND GOD
OPEC is reducing its production by 2.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d). That is a desperate attempt of the oil cartel to firm up the declining oil prices, which stand at $41.99/bbl. Recall that only three or four months ago, the same barrel of oil was going for around $140/bbl.
If the United States is the declining hegemon, then who will replace it? Are we entering an era when another global hegemon will replace the U.S., or will we witness the emergence of power blocs? There are two schools of thought in the West on this issue. The first school of thought suggests that the alternative is the emerging alliance of autocracies–China, Russia, and the oil states–that will challenge the hegemony of the lone superpower. American neocons, who represent the second school of thought, suggest an alliance of democracies is evolving as a countervailing force to the aforementioned bloc. These debates are interesting and thought provoking. But how relevant are they in reflecting the emerging global realignment of power?