Thursday, December 3, 2009

Phyllis Bennis in the Huffington Post

The following is an excerpt from a piece by Phyllis Bennis, Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, in the Huffington Post, about the escalation in Afghanistan. The full article can be found here"

In a speech like this, widely acknowledged to be setting the framework for the security/foreign policy/military paradigm for the bulk of Obama's still-new presidency, location matters. West Point was crucial partly for tactical reasons (nowhere but a military setting, with young cadets under tight command, could the president count on applause and a standing ovation in response to a huge escalation of an unpopular war). But it was also important for Obama to claim West Point as his own after Bush's 2002 speech there, an address that first identified preemptive war as the basis of the Bush Doctrine and a new foreign policy paradigm.

There was an important honesty in one aspect of President Obama's speech. All claims that the U.S. war was bringing democracy to Afghanistan, modernizing a backward country, and liberating Afghan women, are off the agenda - except when the Pentagon identifies them as possible "force multipliers" to achieve the military goal. And that goal hasn't changed - "to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future." So now it's official. It's not about Afghanistan and Afghans at all - it's all about us.

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