James Petras: The Obama Regime’s Military Metaphysics Rejects Diplomatic Opportunities
Introduction: Political and economic changes in recent years have opened possibilities for the end of international and national conflicts. Regime changes, pragmatic leaders and the promise of serious negotiations in the Middle East, North Africa, Russia, Southwest Asia, China and elsewhere provided the Obama regime an opportunity to end long standing and costly wars, to access new markets and resources and to reduce domestic deficits and external trade imbalances.
At every opportunity, with precise consistency, the Obama regime rejected fresh overtures from adversaries, choosing instead to rely on a now discredited “double discourse”, of talking peace and engaging in war, of talking trade and increasing sanctions, of talking about greater Asian engagement and fomenting economic pacts which exclude the second biggest economy in the world.
The Obama regime’s incapacity to take advantage of the favorable political and diplomatic conjuncture can be attributed to several structural causes: (1) His embrace of a “military metaphysic” which identifies violence as the key to empire building, independently of the context, correlation of forces and possibilities of victory. (2) His overweening commitment and submission to Israeli dictated Middle East policies transmitted and implemented by the domestic Zionist power configuration. (3) His overwhelming commitment to FIRE – capital (finance, insurance and real estate) over any long-term large scale commitment to rebuilding the productive sector and the welfare state. (4) His commitment to short term goals of “regime change” – destroying adversaries – over and against pursuing long-term economic linkages and incremental concessions.
Regime Dogmatism and Rigidity
The Obama regime’s conception of empire building and its defense, is inflexible in its reliance on strategic military intervention and abysmally ignorant of its short and long-term negative consequences. Imbued with self-deluding moralizing as a “rational” justification for crude militarism, the regime is deaf, dumb and blind to the diplomatic openings and opportunities offered by adversaries. It proposes negotiations and promises of “new beginnings” and at the same time announces plans to destabilize the same regime.
From the perspective of long term empire building and given the economic constraints of a stagnant economy, impending military defeats in Southwest Asia and the Middle East and the political debacles resulting from the global spy expose, the Obama regime’s current diplomatic failures can only lead to further economic decline, greater political isolation and more explosive military conflicts.
Militarism Trumps Diplomacy: The Case of Seven Lost Opportunities
Over the past year at least seven grand opportunities emerged which offered the Obama regime a chance to crawl out from under long term costly wars and confrontations and to move ahead toward an era of relative economic expansion and peaceful coexistence.
The Case of Iran: Sacrificing a “Grand Bargain” to Serve the Israeli State
For over a decade the US has headed a Security Council coalition opposed, as it claims, to Iran developing a nuclear bomb. Rejecting the evaluation of all of its own intelligence agencies, which clearly specify that Iran is not engaged in weaponizing its nuclear program, the Obama regime and Congress chose or are forced to accept, Israeli propaganda to the contrary. Washington imposes harsh sanctions, threatens war and demands unilateral, unconditional surrender, citing the supposedly “extremist Islamist” character of the regime. Washington never engaged in serious negotiations. In mid-2013, Iran elected a new President (Rohani) by all accounts, a pragmatic, conciliatory and flexible political leader who early on emphasized the desire to end the nuclear stalemate and provide guarantees in exchange for an end to economic sanctions.
President Rohani proposed to negotiate with the Obama regime with an ‘open agenda’ without conditions. He emphasized his priority was domestic economic recovery and development over and above any present or future nuclear weaponry or even high level uranium enrichment. He appointed a prominent Western oriented Foreign Minister, Mohammed Jawad Zarif who has a track record favorable to a “Grand Bargain”.
Instead of welcoming these major political and diplomatic breakthroughs, the Obama regime supported a Congressional resolution drawn up and promoted by Zionist zealot David Cohen of Treasury and the Israel lobby (AIPAC), to tighten oil sanctions even further. Obama and Congress chose military confrontation, threats and regime change over and against pursuit of a grand diplomatic opportunity which could include: (1) securing an intrusive supervision of Iran’s nuclear program; (2) reduced enrichment of uranium; (3) Iranian co-operation in securing the peace in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria; (4) access to a multi-billion dollar petroleum market.
Washington demands “negotiations” that surrenders Iran’s sovereignty. The Obama regime disdains a favorable diplomatic solution with the elected Rohani regime in favor of pleasuring the acolytes of the Netanyahu regime, by pursuing an impossible unattainable “regime change” via economic strangulation.
Palestine – Israel Peace Negotiations: Land Grabbing and Peace Negotiations
There is no political leadership more accommodating and financially dependent on US policymakers then the Mahmoud Abbas regime in occupied Palestine. Abba’s police force works in tandem with the Israeli occupation army in repressing popular protests. He has arbitrarily retained dictatorial powers , represses popular democratic movements and denies Palestinian citizens legal electoral rights. He has refused to organize or condone mass protests against Israeli land seizures.
In other words he is the “perfect client” for Washington and the most pliant negotiator for the Israelis: one willing to accept an agreement with Israel, which (1) accepts 500,000 Jewish colonial settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; (2) the “no return” of exiled Palestinians; (3) the continued imprisonment of over 6,000 political prisoners (4) and a perpetual Israeli military presence in Galilee. Abbas is willing to accept and call “Palestine” a series of non-contiguous territorial islands, surrounded by a ten meter Wall and subject to colonial depredations and military intrusions. In entering negotiations, Abbas did not object, let along reject, Kerry’s appointment of Martin Indyk as the US mediator, despite his notoriety in Washington as a Zionist apologist and purveyor of confidential documents in the 1980’s.
The stage was set for a US “brokered” peace agreement – except that Israel announced a grand land grab: a massive expansion of 3000 new housing settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama did nothing to restrain Israel; on the contrary Kerry acknowledged that the Obama regime had foreknowledge and clearly gave the green light. In effect the negotiations served as an Israeli pretext to accelerate the annexation of the last 20% of what was “historic Palestine”. As it stands, the Abbas regime has lost the last shred of legitimacy as it bows its head and enters negotiations, over a smaller and smaller remnant of Palestinian territory. It is clear that the Abbas regime is “putting in time” to cover the four hundred million payoff from Washington and to buy personal safety and protection from their Israel colonial overseers. By accepting peace negotiations as a pretext for colonization, Obama gratifies his wealthy Zionist bankers in the US and deepens the anger and alienation of Palestinians and tens of millions of their Muslim supporters around the world. Kerry’s support for the Israeli land grab makes the perverse outcome a source for continued armed strife. Obama trashed a great “peace opportunity” by choosing Israeli annexation over a mini-state ruled by an iron fisted Palestinian stooge, on the US payroll and willing to side with Washington in every Middle Eastern conflict.
US and Venezuela: Peaceful Co-Existence or Destabilization?
Since late 2001 and for the next twelve years, the US has engaged in a multifaceted destabilization campaign designed to overthrow the democratic-nationalist government of President Chavez. Threats, military coups, large scale funding of electoral opposition parties, violent street demonstrations and referendums are part of the imperial repertory that has been tried and failed to stem the tide of Venezuela’s policy of expanding public ownership, social welfare and regional integration (ALBA). With the death of Hugo Chavez and the election of President Maduro, Washington refused to accept the electoral outcome, validated by international observers and governments the world over. Washington launched its defeated client candidate (Capriles) on a destabilization campaign first via violent street actions and then in a regional crusade, both of which made no headway and only further isolated the US in Latin America.
The Obama-Kerry regime, having failed to destabilize the Maduro regime, ‘apparently’ decided to try diplomacy, following the common sense precept; “if you can’t defeat them by force entice them with peace”. At a conference in Guatemala, Kerry called the Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua for “a new relation, the re-opening of Ambassadorial ties and diplomatic negotiations” … Venezuela’s President Maduro responded favorably, eager to lessen tensions and reach a peaceful accommodation. Then Samantha Powers, Obama’s nominee to be the US Ambassador to the UN, in testimony before Congress, declared that upon appointment she would prioritize “the fight against state repression in Venezuela”, in other words intervene in Venezuela on behalf of the opposition. Kerry endorsed her positions, highlighting Washington’s hostility to the Maduro government. Kerry’s overtures were exposed as a phony ploy of no consequence. Peaceful reconciliation went out the window. No negotiations took place. In order to retain ties with its client opposition, Washington closed the book on ending its isolation in Latin America and eliminated prospects for any economic openings which might have benefited US business interests.
US and Russia: Obama’s Snowden Caper Revives the Cold War
At the beginning of his second term, President Obama announced that he would seek to improve relations with Russia. President Putin responded favorably. President Putin backed (1) the US-NATO assault (“no fly zone”) on Libya; (2) the US designed economic sanctions against Iran; (3) allowed the US to ship arms and military personnel through Russia to bolster the occupation of Afghanistan; (4) and convinced President Assad of Syria to participate in negotiations in Geneva with the Islamic terrorist led opposition backed by Saudi-Turkey-NATO. Putin went along with US policy on Israel-Palestine. Clearly Washington got most of all it wanted from Putin, via this diplomatic relation. Ongoing peaceful cooperation was clearly working in Obama’s favor. In exchange Obama offered to attend an OECD meeting in Russia and have a side meeting with Putin. In the run-up, Russia granted asylum to US political refugee Edward Snowden seeking refuge from political persecution. Obama sharply denounced Putin. Washington ignored its ignominious record of giving refuge to and refusing extradition requests for Chechnyian terrorists, Russian oligarchical swindlers, as well as Cuban airline bombing terrorist Posada Carriles and Bolivian President Sanchez de Losada accused of murdering dozens of protestors, The White House responded by snubbing Putin and threatening further reprisals and “dire consequences”. In other words Obama put into questions a favorable asymmetrical diplomatic relation, resorting to cold War rhetoric and threats. The Russians responded by affirming their right to grant asylum to political refugees and pointed to the onerous restrictions they imposed on Snowden effectively curtailing any further revelations. Putin restricted Snowden’s freedom to discuss US spy operations. In a word instead of deepening a favorable diplomatic policy, Obama put it into the deep freeze, ensuring the loss of an important ally in its ongoing wars and conflicts.
The Syrian Triangle: Secular Collaborator, Al Qaeda Terrorists and Obama’s Double Discourse
For years Bashar Assad worked closed with the US in (1) curbing Al Qaeda terrorists; (2) preventing cross border attacks in Israel; (3) denying sanctuary for Iraqi insurgents fighting against the US occupation of Baghdad;(4) complying with US policy by withdrawing troops from Lebanon.
Syria was a “co-operative adversary”, maintaining regional stability and a tolerant multi-ethno-religious state in a region riven by Islamic and Jewish sectarian violence. But Washington under Obama magnified their differences and prioritized the policy of establishing a submissive client-state. Instead of continuing a policy of diplomatic pressure and tactical collaboration, Obama joined with an unholy alliance of Gulf State Islamic autocracies, ex-colonial European powers (especially France and England) ,Israel’s secret services (Mossad ) and Turkey Islamist President Erdogan in arming, financing, training and providing sanctuary to armed Islamic mercenaries led by Al Qaeda brigades. Syria was riven by conflict, the economy was destroyed, security was non-existent and millions of refugees fled to Iraq, Jordan, and Turkey and beyond. Thousands of Jihadists from afar journeyed to the neighboring countries, received arms, paychecks and terrorist training in pursuit of a “Taliban style” regime in Syria as a springboard to destabilizing pro-US client states in the region. Turkey’s and Egypt’s (under Morsi) intervention on behalf of the Islamic uprising provoked internal mass popular protest, weakening the US collaborator regimes. Obamas “all or nothing” attempt to establish a Syrian client regime via violence has produced a “no win” situations: either Assad retains power as a less co-operative adversary or the Islamic terrorists establish a regime that serves as a springboard for one, two, and many caliphates. In the midst of this negative scenario, through Russian mediation, Bashar Assad agreed to pursue negotiations with the opposition in Geneva. The Obama regime seized diplomatic failure from the mouth of a face-saving peaceful resolution: it failed to convince the terrorists and rejected the diplomatic option.
The war continues and refugees destabilize neighboring clients and Obama’s incapacity to recognize failures and seek diplomatic ‘half way solutions’ erodes imperial pretensions.
US-Afghanistan: Prolonging the Longest War and Sacrificing a Diplomatic Retreat
The US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was the prelude to (1) the longest war in US history; (2) a war costing hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of dead and wounded soldiers; (3) incited major insurgencies in Pakistan and elsewhere. In the face of substantial majorities calling for the end of US warfare and in the face of rising fiscal deficits, the Obama regime promised to withdraw most combat troops by the end of 2014, providing the “security situation allows”. Well, that is a very dubious condition.The 300,000 Afghan army is riven by nationalists, Islamists and other opponents of the corrupt Hamid Karzai puppet regime and US war atrocities , drone killings included .They will likely overthrow the pro-US regime, first chance. In the face of a military-retreat and with improbable collaborators in the state, who have their baggage packed and tickets in hand, the Obama regime seemingly has no option but to cut losses by opening negotiations with the Taliban. The opportunity for negotiations exists: the Taliban opened an office in Qatar (December 2011) and Washington seemed to be agreeable to talks … ad then Washington chose to accommodate its corrupt puppet ruler Karzai by insisting on his presence in the process. Obviously, regime continuance excludes any meaningful recognition of the Taliban’s minimum demands for regime change. To further undermine any settlement, the Obama regime rejected the Taliban’s strategic demand of total US military withdrawal. Taliban closed their Qatar office in July 2013. In other words the Obama regime sacrificed the possibility of a peaceful settlement which would moderate Taliban foreign and domestic policies in order to prop up a corrupt puppet regime lacking popular support, based on armed forces of dubious loyalty and dependent on a continued US presence. Instead of accepting retreat, cutting losses and pursuing accommodation, Obama maximizes losses and ensures that the inevitable military withdrawal will prejudice relations for decades ahead.
US-China Containment in the Face of Impotence is a No Brainer
China has the second largest economy in the world and a growth rate three to four times that of the United States. China has become one of the most important investment sites for the top US multi-national corporations and potentially a major source of investment capital for the US economy. Given China’s growing demands for advanced technology, financial and IT services, agricultural, energy and other commodities and the US demand for manufactured goods, there is a high degree of economic “complementarity”. US-China cooperation offers opportunities for greater integration and joint ventures which can exploit market opportunities.
Faced with the historic opportunity to forge an economic partnership with an emerging global power, Obama has opted to isolate China; by (1) actively promoting regional trade agreements (the Transpacific Partnership) which pointedly exclude China: (2) intervening and fomenting territorial and maritime disputes between China and its neighbors and supporting separatist ethno-religious groups in China.
The Obama regime raised illusions that he would turn from his losing and costly Middle Eastern military adventures toward the more lucrative and profitable Asian markets, when he announced a “pivot to Asia”. Instead of a reasoned and balanced shift toward (1) expanding US economic bridgeheads in China; (2) and seeking to deepen financial penetration and technological links, Obama simply transferred his failed militarist ideologically driven policies to Asia. He sided with Japan in a South China Sea dispute. He is inciting the Philippines and Vietnam to contest China’s maritime claims. He is securing new military base agreements with Canberra and Manila. The Obama regime has (1) fortified its forward bases aimed at China; (2) encouraged and supported separatist Tibetans; (3) and armed Uigar terrorists.
The Obama regime has attempted to undermine China’s economic linkages in Asia without providing any comparable alternative. The end result is that China still remains as the pre-eminent trading partner for most of the members of what Obama conceived of as a “US centered” Pan-Pacific trade alliance. Furthermore by bluster and provocative military maneuvers, Obama has pushed China into a closer and deeper strategic economic and political alliance with Russia. Obama’s “isolationist ploy” was dead in the water. Commodity exporters like Australia, Indonesia, Peru, Chile and Colombia can ill afford to shun China, for the simple fact that the US offers no alternative market! Nor can Taiwan, South Korea and Japan find an alternative market for their high tech exports. Nor can the US replace the massive infrastructure investments that China has made in Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Pakistan.
Obama’s policy of mindless military posturing, accompanied by vacuous ideological sniping, has lessened US economic opportunities, and heightened military tensions. Obama’s belligerent policy toward Beijing in pursuit of a US centered and hegemonized Asia lacks economic substance and client states willing to sacrifice economic gain for the dubious “honor” of housing US military bases pointed at threatening their principal economic partner.
The grand, historic opportunity of a declining empire coming to peaceful and profitable terms with a rising global economic power was missed.
The Obama regime has systematically rejected opportunities to resolve conflicts and move on to a more moderate and balanced foreign policy, one more in accord with the real capacity of the US economy and state. Current and recent foreign policy discussions and decision makers have been blinded by a ‘military metaphysic’ whose only ‘calculus’ is based on the capacity to project military power independently of the real consequences. Obama’s diplomatic initiatives lack substance and most often are neutralized by parallel military moves and aggressive interventions. Even within the constraints of obsessive empire building, a dysfunctional legislature and incompetent executive advisers,recent political changes including the ascendancy of pragmatic adversaries provided the Obama regime with real options which clearly would have opened the door to political compromises and strategic gains.
The Obama regime’s failure to pursue diplomatic solutions can be attributed to the structural links between the Presidency and the military-police state apparatus. The latter has gained a high degree of autonomy from the productive economy, as evidenced everywhere, from Obama’s China containment policy to the economic losses resulting from economic sanctions on Iran, Syria and (previously) Libya.
Obama’s deep, long-standing and pervasive links to the 1% of Americans affiliated with notorious Israeli ideologues and his pandering to their lobbies and wealthy fund raisers has led to a rigid adherence to colonial-military policies that eschew any diplomatic compromises which might dim the megalomaniacal vision of “Greater Israel”. Obama’s myopia is ‘structural’. He follows the dictates of prestigious Ivy League advisers whose judgment is forever defined by “what’s good for Israel” and whose academic expertise is clouded by pea-brained assessments of what ‘others’ want and how they will react to perpetual belligerency.
The world view of the Obama regime is one of mirror looking in an echo chamber: it cannot visualize and accommodate the interests of rivals, competitors or adversaries, no matter how absolutely central they are to any meaningful compromise. The give and take of real world politics is totally foreign to the world’s Chosen People. They only know how to “seize power” and create military facts, even as they then spend a dozen years and billions of dollars and millions of lives in endless wars, bemoaning lost markets amidst serial diplomatic failures. The epitaph for the Obama regime will read:
They turned friends
friends or our enemies.
They stood alone, in splendid isolation,
And said it was their only choice.