Monday, June 28, 2010

Colonialism, Obama-Style

Everyone is shocked – shocked! – that the indiscretions of Gen. Stanley McChrystal failed to provoke a general reevaluation of our course in Afghanistan, rather than merely a review of who’s in charge of it. I find this shocking.

After all, as I recall, Obama ran on ramping up the war on the Afghan front, and even threatened to invade Pakistan, two campaign promises he has kept. Furthermore, he is committed to prosecuting the war in Afghanistan and now Pakistan on a scale that even the nuttiest neocons never dared suggest, a “nation-building” project that is nothing less than the construction of a US colony, or satrapy, from scratch. McChrystal went into Afghanistan declaring he was ready to roll out a “government in a box,” i.e., a puppet regime such as the Japanese set up in Manchuko in 1931. This is the CNAS-Obama-ite “national security” doctrine in action: pretending to be the Viet Cong while reenacting every mistake the US ever made in Vietnam, starting with getting involved to begin with.

This idea that the Obama-ites are really peaceniks in disguise, who have to hide their “true” beliefs in order to pass electoral muster, is a myth woven by Fox News and the neocon Right: he and his Pentagon are no such thing. Indeed, they are even more serious – albeit not as visibly enthusiastic – about projecting American military power globally than their predecessors in the White House. If the Bushians left behind the doctrine of preemption as their geopolitical and military legacy, then the contribution of the current crew appears to be the “new” COIN (or counterinsurgency) doctrine developed by the Obama White House in tandem with the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) – the semi-official Obama-ite national security think-tank, whose cadre oversee the Pentagon policy shop.

The indiscretions of Big Mouth McChrystal are only the latest and the least of the “COIN-dinistas” problems. Their neo-Maoist “live and fight among the people” doctrine is failing big time in the field, and they are falling back on the “revolution betrayed” explanation for the inability of their new-fangled counterinsurgency strategy to turn the tide against the Taliban. Like their neoconservative predecessors in the Bush administration, this crew is retreating behind the alleged lack of support coming from Congress and the civilians in charge of the war effort. Just in time for the debate in Congress over re-funding the war.