Has Reform Come to Middle East Policy?

Has Reform Come to Middle East Policy?

(Pictured: President Obama and President Karzai of Afghanistan)

The sudden rise of Chuck Hagel.  The discussions with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  The alleged “drawdown” in Afghanistan.  Could it be that the United States of America has come to its senses and realized that non-intervention and diplomacy are the pillars of a liberty-minded foreign policy?


One must realize that war policy is a fluctuation.  Sometimes you surge, sometimes you contract.  But control over the target is rarely humbled.  For instance, the Obama administration, as well as the 2012 Romney candidacy, vocalized a whole lot of baloney.  It centered around this lie: “Obama ended the war in Iraq.”  Here are three facts which show why this is misleading.

1.  Bush, in his initial decision to go to war against Iraq, architected a timetable which American troops were to leave by December, 2011.  In other words, Obama ended nothing.  He was stuck with Bush’s plan.

2.  Obama, for as long as he could, worked to convince Iraq to let him keep troops in Iraq even longer than Bush’s plan allowed! (Imagine, Bush’s policy keeping Obama from increasing troops).

3.  After the end of 2011, the troops did indeed leave.  But our consultants, special operatives, and CIA (with armed drones) remained.  In other words, Iraq has not since been left alone.  We have only transitioned roles.

And then why would Obama and even Romney continue the lies?  To keep the American public’s focus on the differences, not the similarities between the Red and Blue teams in Washington.  The only differences of which consist merely of special interest groups, not principled policy preferences.

Regarding Afghanistan, it seems to be an Iraq all over again.  Obama’s rhetoric implies his “honorable” willingness to withdraw from Afghanistan.  But his actions speak louder.  As was noticed here, “[i]t’s the same debate, the same numbers and practically the same plan, but the White House is working harder to keep troops in Afghanistan than it did in similar but failed discussions in Iraq in 2011.”

All this talk of “withdrawing” from Afghanistan is not what it seems.  Look at the wording of the Wall Street Journal’s revealing statement: “After White House meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday, Mr. Obama said the U.S. is moving up the schedules for pulling American forces out of Afghan villages.”  Notice first the specificity of where the the American forces are being considered for withdraw.  ”Afghan villages.”  This is no end of war measure.  This is an Afghan President aiming to back off from dangerous control of his poor people.  Second, as an aside, I am sure the so-called and hypocritical “antiwar” left would be shock to learn that their noble peace prize winning White House resident has surged troops into the villages of a country in turmoil.

As in Iraq, it appears we are transitioning to a different role in Afghanistan.  Sometimes the empire uses troops.  After those troops have trained up new armies in distant lands, it now uses the armies.  This allows the American troops to be utilized in new places, while at the same time giving false attribution to the President for his “withdrawing troops.”  This is exactly how to build an empire.  And the Brennan/Hagel nominations only reinforces this.  Brennan is the mastermind behind the drone wars and Hagel is a relative realist compared to his neoconservative Secretary of Defense predecessors.  But, as the wise Congressman Ron Paul recently stated, the secretaries follow the lead of the President.  Not the reverse.

And “on war, Obama has been worse than Bush.”

Where are the troops then going now?  Places such as Mali, in West Africa.  The Washington Times reports:

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Sunday that the United States is providing communications and transport help for an international military intervention aimed at wresting Mali’s north out of the hands of Islamist extremists.

U.S. officials on Saturday said they had offered to send drones to Mali. British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to send aircraft to help transport troops.

Glenn Greenwald points out:

As French war planes bomb Mali, there is one simple statistic that provides the key context: this west African nation of 15 million people is the eighth country in which western powers – over the last four years alone – have bombed and killed Muslims – after Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and the Phillipines (that does not count the numerous lethal tyrannies propped up by the west in that region). For obvious reasons, the rhetoric that the west is not at war with the Islamic world grows increasingly hollow with each new expansion of this militarism. But within this new massive bombing campaign, one finds most of the vital lessons about western intervention that, typically, are steadfastly ignored.

There is no reform when it comes to war policy.  The method changes, but the goal never does.  More control over world affairs is what the American leadership seeks, and more control is what we get.  We come.  We see.  We conquer.  And after we conquer, we move on to the next prize.  The taxpayers take the bill, the lobbyists take the loot, and the State takes exaltation.

About cjayengel

C.Jay Engel is the editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. He in lives Northern California with his wife, where he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. C.Jay also writes for various other blogs and sites. You can follow him on twitter @reformedliberty or send an email to cjay.engel90@gmail.com.