May 18, 2009

"Cowboys" and Other Horrors of Empire, Version Obama 1.0

It is certain we will see many future iterations of Imperial Wars in the Age of Obama, together with additional locales -- but it always deserves emphasis that all those variations, under Obama or any of the presidents that preceded him, utilize the same general tactics, just as they pursue the same overall goal. That goal is the expansion, maintenance and consolidation of American global hegemony; I have documented the development and implementation of that policy in my "Dominion Over the World" series. (All of the installments in that series are listed at the conclusion of Part IX.)

I will be discussing various aspects of this policy and the means used to achieve the ruling class's goals in the continuation of the "Against Prosecution" series. I now want to draw your attention to some follow-ups concerning my article from a few days ago, "Barack Obama, Murderer and War Criminal-in-Chief." That post of mine described, among other things, how many "liberal" and "progressive" organizations have enthusiastically fallen in line to support the horrors of Empire, now that those depredations are directed by the political party with which they happen to identify. To say that such organizations and individuals who make those arguments are deeply unprincipled and utterly unserious about the positions they take is the kindest observation that can be made. My argument drew the predictable response from some partisan defenders of the bloody Glories of Obama, which Chris Floyd addresses here. Floyd also discusses the growing horrors in Afghanistan and Pakistan in this entry.

To those discussions, you may add this from Patrick Cockburn:
It is astonishing to discover that the same small American unit, the US Marine Corps' Special Operations or MarSOC, has been responsible for all three of the worst incidents in Afghanistan in which civilians have been killed. Its members refer to themselves as "Taskforce Violence" and the Marines' own newspaper scathingly refers to the unit as "cowboys".

The US military commanders in Afghanistan must have known about MarSOC's reputation for disregarding the loss of life among Afghan civilians, yet for 10 days, they have flatly denied claims by villagers in the western Afghan province of Farah that more than 100 of their neighbours had been slaughtered by US air strikes.

Everything the US military has said about the air strikes on the three villages in Bala Boluk district on the evening of 4 May should be treated with suspicion – most probably hastily-concocted lies aimed at providing a cover story to conceal what really happened. Official mendacity of these proportions is comparable to anything that happened in Vietnam.


Survivors from Gerani, Gangabad and Khoujaha villages say that there had been fighting nearby but the Taliban had long withdrawn when US aircraft attacked. This was not a few errant sticks of bombs but a prolonged bombardment. It had a devastating effect on the mud-brick houses and photographs of the dead show that their bodies were quite literally torn apart by the blasts. This makes it difficult to be precise about the exact number killed, but the Afghan Rights Monitor, after extensive interviewing, says that at least 117 civilians were killed, including 26 women and 61 children.

The US military has now fallen back on the tired old justification that the enemy was using civilians as human shields. This certainly is not satisfying infuriated Afghans from demonstrating students at Kabul university all the way to President Hamid Karzai. Whatever MarSOC troops thought they were doing in Bala Boluk, the killing of so many civilians will do nothing but strengthen the Taliban.
On Cockburn's final point, too, the Obama administration faithfully follows the Bush model, which again is the model followed by all administrations. I summarized certain of the basic principles involved several years ago, in "The Folly of Intervention":
Intervention always leads to more intervention: the first intervention leads to unforeseen and uncontrollable consequences, which are then used as the justification for still further intervention. That intervention in turn leads to still more unforeseen and uncontrollable consequences, which are then used as yet another justification for still further intervention. The process can go on indefinitely, and the ultimate consequences are always disastrous in the extreme.


These are only some of the very bitter fruits of foreign intervention: uncontrollable consequences are always set loose and, all too often, those consequences are directly opposed to what the original stated purpose had been. And yet, like the insane man, we repeat this behavior over and over again, insisting that this time the result will be different, and it will finally work -- and we'll get exactly the result we want, and no others at all.
Consult that earlier essay for details of the disastrous results of the Clinton administration's interventions in the Balkans, consequences which liberals and progressives uniformly ignore. In addition, almost all liberals and progressives continue to defend Clinton's interventions to this day; to do so, they steadfastly rely on a series of outright lies, which I detailed here and here (the latter post discusses Biden's notable lies about Bosnia, as well as most liberals' willingness to believe that we "succeeded" there -- absolutely none of which is remotely true; follow the links in those pieces for still more). And if you continue to offer the lie that "a genocide was going on," I suggest you study this post in particular. Unfortunately, it has been my repeated experience that most political partisans have no interest in the truth on this point or on most others.

The determined refusal of liberals, progressives and sundry other defenders of the U.S.'s interventions and wars of conquest and control (but only when those interventions and wars are directed by Democrats) to see that the Bush administration represented a continuation of what had gone before and was not in any significant way a "break" with the past representing some "unique" evil, results in commentary that is hopelessly superficial and completely useless in terms of political and historic analysis. As is true of Obama himself, all such liberals and progressives offer no serious challenge to the existing system of oppression, destruction and death; to the contrary, they are the most faithful representatives and adherents of the system that causes havoc in every area it affects, both abroad and at home. Anyone who expected otherwise hadn't been paying attention and had understood very little about world and national events, if anything at all.

As I say, I will soon have much more on these issues.