Monday, July 26, 2010

Cat's out of the bag

The Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel have published a huge cache of secret military files from the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, detailing the war in Afghanistan. Follow reaction to the Afghanistan war logs here. More here. Also, more here.

Read the Whitehouse condemnation of the leak here. Evidently, Wikileaks published a CIA document last year that gave us a gleam of CIA strategy to keep Western Europe from pulling out of Afghanistan: use the popularity of Barack Obama. Unfortunately, Obama is the willing heir to Bush's wars, and I think its fair to say at this point that they're are fully his. He's certainly given the war in Afghanistan a warm embrace since day one, and it may actually turn out that the only campaign promise Obama kept was to escalate that conflict.

What other reaction could the administration have to such a leak? They've invested a lot of time and energy embracing the war as their own. What could they do at this point, come out and commend the press and admit that the war is an ugly, costly, human disaster waged on the basis of imperialist motives?

Unlike some of the liberal commentariat, I don't think that the Obama Administration's hawkish positions re: Afghanistan are "strategic" moves they made in order to massage public opinion polls. This is quite obviously false. Polls, on the contrary, have shown for some time that the war is unpopular, and many enthusiastic Obama supporters (mistakenly, although somewhat understandably) took him to be "anti-war." This is not as egregious as the claim in 2004 that John Kerry was "anti-war", but its bad (recall Kerry's frequent insistence that he would have voted for the Iraq War all over again, even if he'd known ahead of time that there were no weapons of mass destruction, which he probably did).

But the bigger point is this. The Democratic Party is, and always has been, a firm supporter of US imperialism abroad. Their historical record is impeccable on this score. As is well-known among the foreign policy establishment in Washington, there is virtually no distinction between the parties on the goals of foreign policy, there are only minor disagreements over how to achieve them from time to time. Now there are, to be sure, left-ish members of the Democratic Party who dissent from this consensus, but they are a marginal force and always, at the end of the day, go with the imperialist flow of the institution of which they're a passive appendage.

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