Monday, January 26, 2009

Between the Lines

The U.S. was "suspected" of two missile strikes in Pakistan on Friday. "Suspected" only because the Pentagon never publicly acknowledges such things, but of course, who else would have launched a missile strike?

The American empire flexing its muscles in the Middle East never makes me feel any safer, regardless of whether the dead in this case are innocent civilians or (as is claimed) "suspected militants."

In the world of realpolitik, one always needs to read between the lines. Tom Hayden offers an interesting take in his Obama Notes:

"The night after Obama's torture order, I was at dinner with a human rights lawyer who worried that the right-wing would launch political attacks on Obama for "letting our guard down." With that in mind, I became certain that the following day's Predator attack in Pakistan, which killed at least 10-18 people, was as much political as military, a message that the Pentagon will keep on launching strikes against a sovereign country in keeping with "war on terrorism" objectives. The cold truth may be that those people died in Pakistan to make closing Guantanamo more politically palatable. Many more will die as America tries to exorcise and replace the war on terror mentality.

"Obama has good reason to worry about counter-pressures from the right and the intelligence community. One day after the executive order banning torture was signed, an odd article appeared on the New York Times' front page about a former detainee who has joined al Qaeda in Yemen. There was no apparent reason for the article's timing except the Obama announcement. The detainee in question was released by President Bush, and is suspected of involvement in car bombings in September 2007."

It would seem that a President advocating change needs to cover his back at all times, prone as he is to constant harassment from the militarists and their right-wing enablers in and out of government. When, for instance, a seemingly coincidental article in the NYT such as that cited by Hayden appears, you must assume a deliberate strategy on the part of some faction. This is what it's been like for a long time--the real maneuvering is secret, far from the phony narratives concocted to explain events to a passive TV audience. It's to be expected that the domination of politics by elites will take on a conspiratorial character, although not the neat and monolithic type as dreamed by believers in Illuminati and such. There are power struggles within the establishment, within the ruling class if you will, and that is the real story occurring behind the curtain of public events and pronouncements.

The struggle against the notion of American empire will continue to be the primary field of struggle for progressives. It will be long and difficult because we are opposed not only by the Republican right, but by the so-called centrist Democrats, including Obama, who are unwilling (for whatever reasons: self-interest, political expediency, or just fear) to advocate true peace, which would involve shifting away from old notions of hegemony. It will take many years for this gradual shift to occur, but ironically the one factor in our favor is the collapse of the financial system. The sheer cost of military dominance is becoming economically unsustainable.


DED said...

The sheer cost of military dominance is becoming economically unsustainable.

IMO, it's already here. However, launching Predator strikes is quick and inexpensive; much easier to facilitate that occupying a country.

DED said...

Excuse me... "than occupying a country."

Case Wagenvoord said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Case Wagenvoord said...

Of course the strike was political. Obama is confronting an arthritic bureaucracy in which policy has been reduced to the great deadner, habit.

His presidential orders are going to bounce off our military/intelligence establishment like spit balls off an elephant's hide.

Our only hope for change is a complete systemic breakdown.

Cahors said...

Obama was explicit during his campaign that he would strike Pakistan, so no surprise there. And I assume he felt the need to show the rest of the world that he'll be tough even while he reinvigorates U.S. diplomatic efforts.

Haden's comment about the attack being a strike on a "sovereign" country begs the question: if the sovereign government of Pakistan had any authority in Waziristan, the strike would have been unnecessary.

The NYT article was an obvious plant by those who want to thwart Obama's plans. But it doesn't take a vast conspiracy theory to explain why and how the media is used as a tool by virtually every interest in society (the government, politicians, businesses, charities, unions, churches, you name it). It does seem, however, that the NYT seems particularly willing to being used as a tool.

One other point on the detainee story. I've never understood the logic of those who point to former detainees and their supposedly nefarious post-release activities as evidence that Bush's detainment policy was correct. If, as Bush claimed, we know the people we detain are bad and are therefor not deserving of any due process, why did we release some of them? If the system of coercive interrogations is necessary because it is effective, why didn't we learn that these detainees would engage in violence after they were released? And who -- other than an irrational fascist completely lacking in human empathy -- would expect someone who is kidnapped, abused and mistreated not to strike back against their abuser?