I apologize that I got too busy doing book publishing over the past few days to comment directly on the shameful decision by the Obama administration to veto last Friday’s Security Council resolution that condemned Israel’s continued settlement building program.
What on earth were they thinking?
Answer: They weren’t doing any real-world strategic “thinking”, as such. They were triangulating their chances of being able to retain AIPAC’s powerful financial-aid program through the next electoral cycle here in the U.S. (Which– hullo!– we’re still at the very beginning of, anyway.
Luckily, others have written good analyses of what was happening. Including Steve Walt, and Glenn Greenwald.
Greenwald included his little analysis of the terrible effects, as well as the terrible nature, of the veto decision as one of four items in a great piece titled (with great irony) “This week in winning hearts and minds.”
The other three were:
- The Raymond Davis incident in Pakistan. (Today, by the way, the CIA admitted that Davis, who killed two people in Lahore last week, was indeed working on contract for them.)
- The fact that most– though not all- of the dictatorial regimes that have been toppling and coming under threat over these past weeks have been “cherished allies” of Washington; and
- The fact that the local tribal elders in Kunar, Afghanistan, say that many or most of the 64 people killed in NATO’s latest air-raids there were civilians…
There are many other ways, too, in which the heavily militarized and diplomatically tone-deaf policies that Washington has pursued for many years now toward the majority-Muslim parts of the world (and elsewhere) have ended up actually undercutting the American people’s interests around the world.
And now, with Washington continuing these policies in an almost completely solipsistic way, the imperium that the US military has been maintaining throughout (and over) most of the Greater Middle East is crumbling more and more visibly every day.
I believe they don’t have any idea what to do about the vast challenge of (not entirely irrational) anti-Americanism in Pakistan. The WaPo’s Gregg Miller wrote this morning that though, under Pres. Obama, the CIA has significantly stepped up the use of killer drones to launch extrajudicial killings against “suspects” in the northwest of the country, they’re still not managing to kill any more of the (allegedly) “high value targets”:
- CIA drone attacks in Pakistan killed at least 581 militants last year, according to independent estimates. The number of those militants noteworthy enough to appear on a U.S. list of most-wanted terrorists: two.
See the graphics here.
In Afghanistan, NATO (most likely U.S.) air raids have been busy killing scores of people in Kunar province (as noted by Greenwald)… and the very best case anyone can make as to how the U.S. could be described as “winning” this war, as made here yesterday by Fick and Nagl, was just a mishmash of wishful thinking.
In Tunisia and Egypt, the U.S. has lost the compliant, totally toadying leaders it had been relying on for many decades– and whatever governments now get formed in those countries will have to be a lot more responsive to the popular will than Presidents Ben Ali and Mubarak ever felt they needed to be.
Libya is in the middle of an extreme, megalethal crisis. Right now. With citizens being mowed down in their hundreds by a gun-happy military.
Bahrain– home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet– is in the midst of huge upheavals.
The rulers of Saudi Arabia, long a key pillar of the U.S. imperium in an area stretching from north Africa to Pakistan, are almost unable to do anything to arrest the decay. They are (as I’ve noted here several times before) locked into their own very long-drawn-out succession struggle. They have a crazily misdesigned society that is totally reliant on the contribution of contract laborers from elsewhere (including a large proportion from Pakistan) and on the deliberate exclusion of people from neighboring countries like Yemen… Where there is also right now, let’s not forget, a major social-political upheaval (along with truly shocking levels of mass impoverishment and also, ta-da, intermittent killings from U.S. drones.)
* * *
There is, indeed, too much going on right now to make easy or swift sense of it all. What is clear, though, is that throughout the Arab parts of the Middle East, a new spirit of liberation and self-empowerment has been unleashed that will change the politics of the region forever.
What is also clear is that the the great big structures of war-fighting that the U.S. has supported throughout the Middle East, and the actual wars it has waged within it, have done nothing to protect the interests of the American people, but rather, have massively undercut our ability to have sane, friendly relations of mutual respect with the peoples of the region.
And that is even without looking at the vast financial burden that all this militarization has imposed on us. Add that in, and the true craziness of the way our policies have been militarized since 2001– under George W. Bush and also under Obama– becomes stunningly, tragically clear.
Time for a large-scale “re-set” in our priorities.