By Kevin Stoda, Europe
Back in autumn 2007, long before Americans had any idea that Barack Obama would become our current USA President and commit himself to endless war in Pakistan and Afghanistan, I wrote an article entitled "THE CAMBODIAZATION OF PAKISTAN ROLLS ON--AS ARABS IN THE MIDDLE EAST CONTINUE TO RIDICULE U.S. ATTITUDE ON DEMOCRACY". In that article, I warned that Afghanistan would become a much longer war if the USA continued attacking within Pakistan and sending more U.S. military trainers in.
Such an approach would likely prolong the USA's involvement in the region for another decade (or two), i.e. as the U.S.A.'s attacks on Laos and Cambodia did in the mid-1960s.
Recently, the Historians Against the War (HAW) emailed me a round table report from their January evaluation of the Cheney Bush years. At that round table event many famous historians, like Alice KesslerHarris and Barbara Weinstein spoke on their overall evaluation of the 2001-2009 era (i.e. an era of horror and grave regret). Among them was the foreign affairs historian Vijay Prashad, who noted that since Carter, every single U.S. president has continued to follow a flawed-but-similar foreign policy approach to Southwest Asia, the HimalayanStans, and most of the planet (outside Western Europe). More specifically, Prashed claims that three basically misguided beliefs lead to the continuing American travesty and underdevelopment of more democratic politics in Asia.
In the meantime, Prashed holds out a bit of hope for Obama´s domestic programs, but due to his many mainstream presidential paradigms he has simply accepted from 5 prior presidents, Obama appears to be currently only fit to repeat the sins, crimes, and misguided activities of his presidential predecessors.
3 LOUSY PARADIGMS OF U.S. FOREIGN POLICY 1979-2009
Prashed explained at the round table of HAW, "... I'm going to talk a little bit against the idea of presidential time-looking at U.S. history through the era of one presidential time-and suggest that even though we might be agreed on the personal stupidity of George Bush, the continuities between, say, Carter onward, are quite astounding on the level of foreign policy--though not domestic policy. So I would like to lay out a narrative of the continuity against the question of presidential time."
Prashed then looked first at what-might-have-been, i.e. had the many Non-Aligned states in the world of the Cold War not suddenly capitulated to Debtor Capitalism in the late 1970s and 1980s. The Marxist historian Prashed speaks proudly of the far-sighted Fidel Castro who called an important summit of the Non-Aligned states in New Delhi in 1983, e.g. just as many Latin American states, from Mexico to Argentina were threatening to stop paying on their bad debts incurred during the first of many financial bubbles.
These early financial bubbles had grown up between 1972 and 1982 as the result of the first and second oil shocks. These bubbles were produced as huge amounts of petro-dollars in reserve at New York and London banks, e.g. where Middle Eastern Oil Sheikhs preferred to stuff their currency, arose. This situation of having too much money on hand led to a sense of crises for the bankers. This feeling of crises had led Citibank and other New York and London financiers to head to Latin America, Africa, and Asia knocking on doors and handing out money to be paid back later at usury rates.
In the wake of the first of a subsequent thirty-year-long series of financial bubbles, Castro had appropriately warned the poorer Non-Aligned states of the planet that "we are under attack from the International Monetary Fund, we are under attack from the advanced capitalist countries, who are in the middle of a problem." Castro advised the 170 underdeveloped lands of the globe to unite and fight off the slavery offered them in the name of national debt and pro-West development. Castro, according to Prashed, then called for an international strike against debt payments and servicing. Castro claimed "we are creating out of our hard work to build our national infrastructure to create mutual trade, and not to send debt servicing back to the advanced industrial countries to get them out of their slump."
Naturally, Castro was not listened to.
By the end of the 1980s , the world's economy was in a mess as both (1) social democratic states were giving up on their commitments to the poorer and middle classes and as (2) even national revolutionary regimes in most every corner of the planet had joined by the same late 1980s--or early 1990s-the parade of peoples marching and lining up for the IMF, massive debts, overdependence on trade, and the GATT/WTO.
According to Prashed, the resulting decline in commitments by national states around the globe to their own people's social and democratic development starting from the 1970s onward subsequently led to the rise of radical fundamentalist religious groups gaining political, economic, and social ground everywhere on the planet in a few short years. That is, in the absence of a high level of concern and commitment to the welfare-of-all as urpscribed by trickledown economists of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s (and the Bush-Cheney era), many rightwing extremist groups soon took over the social development roles abandoned by many of these same regimes and sectarian groups and unions went out of favor as they had no power to return favors without socio-economic progress.
Paradigm Number One, which is the You-do-it-my-way-or-Get-out-of-the-way paradigm, is certainly the first paradigm that Obama needs to toss out when approaching most of the globe and the peoples of sovereign states, like Pakistan, who do not want him their lobbing missiles or flying drones. This paradigm demands that the world do things the American president's way (and his supporting cast of wealthy interest groups)-or get out of the way. The approach may sound like a W. Bush or Ronald Reagan view of the planet, but Carter, Clinton and apparently Obama were (and are) the types of American leaders who (do and) did continue to emphasize the WTO's-World Order (and the IMF-Chicago School of Economics) as the primary foreign policy approach to political-economic development abroad.