In one of the many good articles on Obama’s international (and domestic?) appetite for violence, Micah Zenko writes for Foreign Policy,
“During his second inaugural address, President Obama offered two aspirational statements that struck many observers as incongruous with administration policies: ‘A decade of war is now ending’ and ‘We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.’ We should question these observations, not least because of the string of U.S. government plans and activities that increasingly blur the conventional definition of war.”
As far as I can tell, if Obama believes his rhetoric, then he thinks pulling back on American military personnel counts as “ending war.” Of course, he tried to stay in Iraq with multiple bases and he plans to never really leave Afghanistan. But even though they will get combat pay those troops in Afghanistan will be “advisors” or whatever other term is considered pacific enough.
But if Obama believes his rhetoric then he is fooling himself. Just because we do not have troops invading a country at the moment, it is false to say we are not engaged in ongoing warfare. The drones are expanding their killing reach into North Africa. And we have more or less openly made Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda affiliates our proxy mercenary army in Libya and now in Syria. (In Obama’s defense, this plan was already developed late in Bush’s second term.)
Thus, Obama has “ended” war by establishing that war is now the same as everyday life—as “peacetime.” We will never go to war again because we will be forever killing people in every nation whom we designate as threats to “national security”—which will, of course, include threats to whatever international apparatus or system of relationships that we designate as “vital” to national security.
So the executive branch will never need to go to Congress for a declaration of war again. A declaration of war pretends that there is some such thing as peacetime that must be temporarily disrupted until peace can be reestablished. But now peace and war will be simply the same. Really, we’ve fulfilled the Orwellian prophecy: It is now official that war IS peace.
And the whole distinction between economic interest and national security interests is inevitably smudged out of existence in this new warpeacetime. Currency wars and drone wars will all be just tools available for the perpetuation of US hegemony.
Of course, Obama’s not going to push US hegemony by name the way Bush did. But that doesn’t matter. The hegemony he strives for (like Bush) really means simply the hegemony of a cartel of people holding office in some nation states and international organizations and some international corporations who will be forever lining their pockets as they convince themselves that they are doing what is best for “the planet”—which is a goal conveniently wide to justify killing terrorists, sponsoring terrorists, starting industry, or dismantling industry. Recall Bush’s attempt to give port security to UAE, or the fact that Henry Kissinger decided not to chair the 9-11 commission after being reminded that to accept the position would mean he would have to reveal if any of the Bin Laden family were included in his client list.
This is the world our children are growing up in, one where War Is Peace and everyone knows we have always been allied to Eurasia and at war with Eastasia, or the other way around.
(Cross-posted at Kuyperian Commentary)