War on the Down-Low: Obama’s Afghan Lies
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
“President Obama never had any intention of withdrawing from Afghanistan.”
It should come as no surprise that President Obama has secretly extended the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan. Empires do not retreat unless they are defeated. This is especially true of U.S. imperialism, which, like no other empire in history, seeks to bring the entire planet under its control. That’s why the United States maintains 900 military bases in 130 countries. It’s why Washington is methodically subverting international law, which it views as an impediment to its goal of global domination. And, that’s why President Obama never had any intention of withdrawing from Afghanistan, the longest war in American history.
Barack Obama is no different than any other U.S. imperial leader – except that he is a more accomplished liar than most. He spoke with forked tongue back in May, when he promised that, after the end of this year, U.S. troops would have no combat role in Afghanistan, aside from hunting down the all but nonexistent forces of Al Qaida in that country and training Afghan government forces. Actually, all Obama really planned to do was a paper-change, reclassifying the 10,000 U.S. troops as “non-combatants” on paper, while continuing to deploy them against the Taliban. He tried to play the same trick in Iraq, but the Iraqis insisted that he pack up all his soldiers and go home, in 2011, as President George Bush had previously agreed.
Obama was determined to stay in Afghanistan, by hook or crook, until at least the year 2024. It was, after all, very much his personal war. In his presidential campaign, Obama characterized Afghanistan as the “right” war – as opposed to the “dumb” war in Iraq. He dramatically increased drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and “surged” 30,000 new troops into battle. He never planned an exit, but was compelled to pretend otherwise in the face of mounting public opposition to the war. If Obama had remained true to his word, at the end of this year U.S. troops would find themselves on the sidelines of the war against the Taliban, and watching America’s NATO allies booking flights back to Europe.
The Would-Be Eternal Empire
Rather than accept a phasing out of the U.S. role in the war, which is a kind of defeat, Obama turned the actual defeat of Iraqi forces at the hands of the Islamic State into an excuse to re-enter Iraq and to renege on the phase-out of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Islamic jihadists’ victories in Iraq and Syria, hundreds of miles away, provided the excuse for Obama to reboot the U.S. air and land war in Afghanistan. However, it was still necessary to keep the news from the American public until after the November elections.
Obama can now probably coast to the end of his term with a full combat role in Afghanistan, with confidence that his successor will also fight tooth and nail to keep that hopeless war going. Obama is also determined to continue waging a shadow war against Syria, despite the fact that his proxy Free Syrian Army is all but non-existent. Retreat is tantamount to defeat and, since war is all that U.S. imperialism is good at, defeat – even in a far-off place – can mean the end of the empire.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com. And, while you’re there, sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.