US foreign policy under Bush/Obama: what’s wrong with this partnership?

By Mike True

Daily cartoons in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette ridicule President Obama, making no distinction between the success of his domestic policies and the failure of his foreign policies.

Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, vote NO on any Obama initiative, even when it helps to revive the economy and improve health care. They seem unwilling to concern themselves with governance. In their lust to return to power, they seem to care less about Americans victimized by a depression.

Ironically, after voting against economic aid to unemployed citizens, Republicans then approved billions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan. Does it matter to Congress that 60% of Pakistanis regard the U.S. as their enemy and that a significant portion of that aid ends up in the hands of insurgents in Afghanistan? Why do we continue to send our young men and women to die and to kill in such circumstances?

On matters of foreign policy, however, Democrats and Republicans mostly agree. Both of them appear satisfied with Obama’s abuse of executive authority, represented by his commitment to another failed policy, this time in Afghanistan.

Recent reports in the New York Times describe secret U.S. interventions being waged in countries throughout the world and General Petreaus’s lobbying for further involvement in Afghanistan. Referring to the latter report, Columnist Bob Herbert rightly asked “Who’s in charge here,” with the implied answer, “The Pentagon, not the President.”

Through direct intervention, the U.S. tries to impose its will and system of government on sovereign governments whether they want it or not.

Since the Reagan administration, further intensified under George W. Bush, elite politicians and Pentagon officials have endorsed foreign policies that threaten democratic governance. Meanwhile, an army of cheerleaders—academics and columnists–parrot the rhetoric of government agencies, corporations make lots of money peddling arms and winning government contracts.

Radio and TV interviewers, in fact, treat officials responsible for them as if they were movie stars, seldom questioning their basic assumptions. That makes it difficult for the general public to find out what’s really going on and how decisions are reached, remaining uninformed about U.S. military involvement.

1,000 bases around the world, is financed by a wasteful military budget larger than all other military budgets in the world combined. Often, as the NY Times indicated, Congress remains unaware of the extent of secret wars waged in countries that many of us couldn’t identify on a map. And they are financed and in ways that conceal the direct connection between military extravagance and an increased national debt. Exaggerating our military might abroad, as Andrew Bacevich says, “we court bankruptcy” at home.

Congress, which is supposed to be guardian of the public trust, seems satisfied with this state of affairs. In its disfunction, it surrenders power to the executive branch and a corps of advisers surrounding, one might say imprisoning, the president.

Those responsible for policy maintain that they withhold information from the rabble (you and me), for our own good. That assumption reflects the arrogance and ignorance responsible for our making a mess of things in the Middle East, much as we did earlier in Southeast Asia.

After waging a war on false pretenses in Vietnam, and wrecking havoc on Laos and Cambodia, the U.S. invaded Iraq, where there were no weapons of mass destruction or Al-Queda. The result: massive civilian casualties and further destabilization of the Middle East, ultimately benefiting Iran.

That’s the bad news.

The good news remains hidden from view. If it weren’t for investigative journalists, organizations such as Amnesty International, UN relief agencies, and nonviolent resisters to injustice, we would remain in the dark.

The solution is, as it always has been, for an informed Americans to ask hard questions, to speak truth to power, and to resist. That means confronting members of Congress for allowing the president, his advisers, and the Pentagon to squander our people, money, and resources on futile military adventures.

Among the more absurd assumptions informing our present condition was George W. Bush’s claiming, in his second inaugural address, that America’s mission is to abolish evil from the world–“a task ordinarily thought reserved to God,” says William Pfaff. Arrogance and ignorance is a great combination, particularly when allied with militarism and imperialism.

Only an aroused citizenry can save us from the likely consequences of such behavior.

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