Obama has overseen the largest military budget since WWII; an eight-fold increase in drone strikes; special forces operations in at least 134 countries, twice as many as under Bush
September 10, 2014 | Editor's note: On Wednesday night President Barack Obama gave a nationally televised address in which he vowed that the United States would "degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL."
Thirteen years ago, a draft dodger from Texas stood on a pile of rubble in New York City and promised, "The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon." Of course, the people who flew the planes into the World Trade Center could not hear anybody, as their remains were buried in the rubble beneath Bush's feet. And our government's extraordinary relationship with one of the world's last and most brutal absolute monarchies ensured that any accomplices still in the U.S. were quickly flown home to Saudi Arabia before the crime could be investigated. In 2003, Bush meekly complied with Al-Qaeda's most concrete demand, that he withdraw U.S. forces from military bases in Saudi Arabia.
A month after September 11, Donald Rumsfeld stood at a podium in front of a $2 billion B-2 bomber at Whiteman AFB in Missouri andaddressed the aircrews of the 509th Bomber Wing, before they took off across the world to wreak misdirected vengeance on the people of Afghanistan. Rumsfeld told them, "We have two choices. Either we change the way we live, or we must change the way they live. We choose the latter. And you are the ones who will help achieve that goal."
Since then, the United States has launched more than 94,000 air strikes, mostly on Afghanistan and Iraq, but also on Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Rumsfeld's plan has undoubtedly achieved his goal of changing the way people live in those countries, killing a million of them and reducing tens of millions more to lives of disability, disfigurement, dislocation, grief and poverty.
A sophisticated propaganda campaign has politically justified 13 years of systematic U.S. war crimes, exploiting the only too human failing that George Orwell examined in his 1945 essay, " Notes on Nationalism." As Orwell wrote, "The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." Orwell listed " torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians." The U.S. has committed all these atrocities in the past 13 years, and Americans have responded exactly as the "nationalists" Orwell described.
But some of the horrors of the U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan found their way into the conscience of millions of newly war-wise Americans, and President Obama was elected on a "peace" platform and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. To the deep disappointment of his former supporters, Obama has overseen the largest military budget since WWII; an eight-fold increase in drone strikes; special forces operations in at least 134 countries, twice as many as under Bush; and a massive increase in the special forces night raids or "manhunts" originally launched by Rumsfeld in Iraq in 2003, which increased from 20 in Afghanistan in May 2009 to 1,000 per month by April 2011, killing the wrong people most of the time according to senior officers.
Like Eisenhower after Korea and other Presidents after Vietnam, Obama turned to methods of regime change and power projection that would avoid the political liabilities of sending young Americans to invade other countries. But the innovations of Obama's doctrine of covert and proxy war have only spread America's post-9/11 empire of chaos farther and wider, from Ukraine to Libya to the seas around China. Covert wars are no secret to their victims, and the consequences can be just as dire. The U.S. dropped more tonnage of bombs in its secret war on Cambodia than it dropped on Japan in WWII. As Cambodia imploded in an orgy of genocide, the CIA's director of operations explained that Khmer Rouge recruiting "has been most effective among refugees subjected to B-52 strikes."
Nicolas J. S. Davies is the author of "Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq." Davies also wrote the chapter on "Obama At War" for the book, "Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama's First Term as a Progressive Leader."ش