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Obama and Romney: Brothers of the Same Imperial Lodge

October 26, 2012

This article by Glen Ford is re-posted from Black Agenda Report.

Debate? What debate? What we witnessed Monday night was the total hegemony of imperial corporate ideology, served up in chocolate and vanilla flavors. On every point of substance, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are indistinguishable – not just equally evil, but identically so. On foreign policy, there is not one ray of daylight between the two.

In 2011, Obama was simultaneously waging drone and bomb wars against five countries: Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan (he’s currently down to four, plus a proxy terror war in Syria). Romney applauds all of these aggressions, with the caveat that he would bring superior “leadership” to the carnage. Given these facts, how shall we rate the contenders?

If you believe that Romney – who has never caused a cruise missile to be fired in anger – is a dangerous warmonger, then what about the guy whose five actual wars Romney fully endorses? Do you prefer Obama’s martial leadership qualities to Romney’s? If leadership in war involves building foreign and domestic support for war-making, then Obama is your man. After all, he’s neutralized most domestic anti-war sentiment while leading (and definitely not from behind) his NATO and royal Persian Gulf allies in the nine-month pulverization of Libya – great feats of imperial stewardship!

But, of course, that raises the question: should peace-loving voters, given a choice, prefer politicians who are very good at global aggression – who make war palatable to domestic and foreign audiences, as Obama does – or should peaceful folk opt for the less gifted warmonger, one so poorly endowed in leadership skills that he brings discredit to the imperial project, as did George Bush (and as seems likely under a President Romney)? Such is the nature of the choice facing those who cannot resist voting for one or the other of Monday’s contenders: the wannabe destroyer of worlds, or the guy with all the bloody hash marks on his arm.

One can also choose one’s favorite liar. Romney lies about what he has said in the past, while Obama lies about what he has done. Often, they share the same lies. The two got indignant with each over whether Romney, in Obama’s words, “recently gave a speech saying that we should have 20,000 more” troops in Iraq, today, rather than pulling out last December. No doubt, Romney said it. But, throughout the summer of last year, Obama’s civilian and military officials were negotiating with the Iraqi government to allow up to 10,000 U.S. troops to remain. A July 5, 2011, Associated Press story, for example, reported that “the White House has worked out options to keep between 8,500 and 10,000 active-duty troops to continue training Iraqi security forces during 2012, according to senior Obama administration and U.S. military officials.” The talks continued deep into the fall. In the end, Obama had no choice but to honor the withdrawal agreement signed by George Bush, or put the U.S. in a state of war with the Iraqi government and people. But he begged and pleaded to stay. His whole narrative of having always intended a total pullout is a lie – with Romney now chiming in “me too.”

Both candidates tell the same lie about Afghanistan. There are no plans, and no agreement with the Afghan government, for anything remotely resembling a total pullout in 2014. It’s a game of “name change,” with the remaining U.S. troops to be designated as “trainers” rather than “combat” soldiers. How many? The U.S. military is planning for 25,000 troops, including many thousands of Special Forces. When President Obama took the oath of office, there were 34,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan – so we are mainly discussing undoing Obama’s own “surge” of 66,000 in additional troops. Romney endorsed the fake “pullout” – so, at least the two are lying in synch.

Obama’s most noxious statement of Monday evening, on the death of Moammar Gaddafi, revealed the president’s core rottenness as a human being:

“And to the governor’s credit, you supported us going into Libya and the coalition that we organized. But when it came time to making sure that Gaddafi did not stay in power, that he was captured, Governor, your suggestion was that this was mission creep, that this was mission muddle.”

Gaddafi was not “captured,” he was murdered, a knife stuck up his rectum by U.S.-backed thugs after his convoy was disabled by what appear to have been U.S. bombers. The world saw the Libyan leader’s torture on video, and heard Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brag, “We came, we saw, he died.”

For Obama, it seems that a momentary interval between being seized by an enemy and executed, constitutes a “capture” – for which he takes credit, but not the murder. Although his choice of words may not constitute a lie, it speaks volumes to his character.

Romney’s “mission creep” comment may have been a symptom of inner caution in foreign policy. But it seems that was a passing moment, and he is now gung ho on Obama’s Libya adventure.

Obama failed to revel, at the debate, in having used the Libya operation to invent a new definition of war. Since no Americans were killed, there was no reason for Congress to invoke the War Powers Act, said Obama. Although thousands might be slaughtered by U.S. and allied firepower, Obama has declared that, henceforth, no state of war or even “conflict” may exist unless Americans are also harmed.

Mitt Romney seems to have no problem with the Obama war/non-war doctrine. He agrees that Syria’s “Assad must go,” presumably in the same manner as Gaddafi. Romney’s spin on the arming of jihadis is that the U.S. should avoid it, while Obama’s lie is that Washington isn’t doing it. Romney wants the U.S. to draw even closer to Israel. Obama says, truthfully, that he already has “created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history.” Mitt said amen to that.

Presumably, the Republican and Democratic standard bearers covered every important area of potential disagreement during the 90 minutes allotted – and found none. So, which warmongering, imperialist mad dog are you going to vote for? The one who is actually waging multiple wars and savaging international order, or the rookie?


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