The presidential candidates' antiwar smokescreen

For some reason, the Iraq war is emerging as a key issue in the Democratic presidential primaries. American policy in Iraq, the Middle East more generally, and the entire world should be one of the main issues up for debate. But it's weird when "debate" emerges around an issue that all three top candidates agree on. (The only candidate that I'm aware of who has a different position, Dennis Kucinich, has been excluded from contention by the media and lack of campaign funds.)

Obama apparently has the edge on Iraq, since unlike Edwards and Clinton he opposed the war from the start. Yet as this article shows, Obama's actual voting record in the Senate has been timid at best when it comes to ending American involvement.

More to the point, on what grounds is Obama's opposition to the war based? That it's immoral to invade another country? That it's wrong for the United States to dominate other parts of the world? Certainly not. As his speech to AIPAC demonstrated, he fully believes that the US has the right to control other countries, and he has made clear that violence is an option when countries like Iran defy US commands. Obama has not called for cuts in our enormous military budget, which is as big as the military spending of the rest of world combined. He has not called for closing US bases in Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, the Middle East, and elsewhere. He has not promised an end to America's continuing interference against the revival of progressive forces in Latin America. He has not called for global nuclear disarmament.

Instead, Obama's statements indicate that his foreign policy would be similar to that of Bill Clinton. Clinton would not have invaded Iraq, it's true, but he had no problem maintaining sanctions against Iraq that killed a million people. He readily sent hundreds of millions of dollars in weaponry to countries like Turkey and Colombia engaged in vicious state terrorism. He had no trouble backing Suharto in Indonesia even as the government massacred people in East Timor. Obama stands squarely in this long tradition of liberal imperialism: an aggressive and militarist foreign policy with the same basic goals as that of the neoconservatives (perpetuating American military and economic supremacy), but in which multilateral approaches to maintain American power are tried before switching to unilateral ones should our shows of consultation and bribery fail.

Clinton and Edwards have the same foreign policy orientation, and have yet to give any indication that their presidential administrations would be any different from Obama's. As I've followed campaign news and read blogs, I've seen a disturbing idealization of the Clinton years on the part of progressives. It's time for us to reaquaint ourselves with the crimes of the Clinton administration and understand that all of the viable Democratic candidates would be just as criminal. Should a Democrat win the election, the left will have to sharpen its critical eye and move beyond slogans like "anyone but a Republican", or risk falling into the collective torpor of the Clinton years that allowed terrible atrocities to be committed in our name.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Let us not forget the words of the Ghostface Killah:

"As I stroll the globe and terrorize the planet/
With a Bill Clinton mask..."