Multiple Wars are Symptoms of the Need to Escape the Quagmire of Empire
By Kevin Zeese
I can't remember a time when the U.S. military has been stuck in so many war quagmires at once. Libya seems destined to fail unless the U.S. gets a lucky shot and kills Gaddafi. U.S. militarists are openly maneuvering to stay in Iraq -- the war Obama told us was over. Relations with nuclear-armed Pakistan are at their lowest levels ever. And, Afghanistan is getting worse with Obama's minimal, slow withdrawal looking more like staying than leaving.
The new Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, is making his first trip to the war fronts and letting it be known that the U.S. is staying, not leaving. The Wall Street Journal headline said it clearly, Panetta Slips Up on Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan, and highlights Panetta saying at a press conference "We're going to have 70,000 there through 2014." This is inconsistent with President Obama's stated plan of being down to 70,000 troops next summer and continuing to draw down from there.
In Iraq, the New York Times reported Panetta as saying he expected the U.S. to have "an enduring presence" in the region while pushing the Iraqi government to "invite" U.S. forces to stay beyond 2011. Panetta, echoed the Bush administration when he told U.S. troops in Iraq that we were there because of 9/11 (when U.S. intelligence reports Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11). He later clarified the remark by making it worse saying "we really had to deal with Al Qaeda here." Of course, there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until the U.S. invaded. Last month 15 American troops died making June the bloodiest month for American combat-related fatalities since the Bush administration in June 2008. This in the war where Obama told us combat was over.
Pakistan has become a major foreign policy problem for the U.S. The relationship has been on a downward spiral ever since the CIA led drone war got going under Commander-in-Chief Obama. Then, the arrest of CIA hired Blackwater agent Raymond Davis for killing two Pakistanis -- who Obama falsely told Pakistanis and the American people was a diplomat -- added to the crisis in the Pakistan-U.S. relationship. That mess resulted in hundreds of CIA agents being required to leave the country. Panetta was head of the CIA at the time of those blunders and left unable to fix the situation. Finally, the reported killing of Osama bin Laden has made the relationship even worse, with Pakistan expelling US military trainers from the country and limiting the ability of US diplomats and other officials to get visas. The crisis culminated this week in the U.S. withholding $600 million in military funds to Pakistan.
Without the Pakistan supply lines the Afghanistan war becomes more difficult and expensive to fight. And, it has become evident that when the chorus of politicians and corporate media in Washington was recently singing about the success of the Obama surge and the need to protect U.S. gains, they were deluded or lying. Since then, the Taliban showed they could successfully attack one of the most guarded hotels in the country, the highly-protected Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul. And, this week they showed they can kill one of the most guarded people in Afghanistan, President Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, a notorious governor in Southern Afghanistan.
The bad news continues, Libya the war that was supposed to last "days not weeks" is now in its fifth month. Gaddafi has survived assassination attacks against him, mass demonstrations of support have been seen and now NATO seems divided on how to continue. There are reports of people dancing in the streets of Tripoli as they see victory with peace talks beginning and bombing slowing. What seems to be occurring is NATO countries are trying to find a way out of war that cannot succeed in changing the regime in Libya.