Considering the Obama Presidency And Musings on Foreign Policy

President Obama came into office on a wave of emotion and hope for change. His two terms have been largely a disappointment. He did a competent job of working part way out of the financial crisis of the Clinton-Bush Bubble – the 2008 Wall St. meltdown. Having completed the bailout of the banks, his Justice Department ran around giving out get-out-of-jail cards to the villains. The millions of people caught up in the meltdown with underwater houses (mortgages that is) were left to fend for themselves. Bailouts and bonuses for the Wall St crowd, but nothing for the little people.

Obama’s policy initiative, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)s, proved to be painfully slow, touched a small portion of those affected, and deeply flawed in its conception and execution. But this merely reflects the attention of an administration whose economic advisers were all part of the big money banking cabal. Geithner and Summers, two examples, led their careers in this environment and never portrayed any connection to the the middle class or the real life of most Americans who are not part of the Wall St. nexus. Summers was famously approving of the enormous bonuses to AIG executives after the government bailed it out with $68 billion.

“We are a country of law. There are contracts. The government cannot just abrogate contracts. Every legal step possible to limit those bonuses is being taken by Secretary Geithner and by the Federal Reserve system.” – Summers.

But we all know that contracts are only contracts for some people. Just ask pensioners and union members whose pensions (a pension is a contract between employer and employee) have been cut or terms changed.

The area of foreign policy has been a continuing disappointment. Obama has taken no steps to change the footprint of the American Empire. In fact he is taking steps to enlarge it. Most recently devoting $ billions to putting more armaments into Europe. Like every President after WWII he acts like the President of the US Empire.

It is his April 11th comments about the 2011 Libya regime change that is a shocking example of the perpetuation of American arrogance and stupidity that is most shocking.

“Probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya,…”

Here we have a President who like all of the rest of us lived through Bush’s catastrophic adventures in Iraq where it became quickly clear that we had no plan, just delusions of spreading the seeds of democracy to flower. This was compounded by sending in Paul Bremer to be Governer of Iraq. This is a man who had no experience in the Middle East, spoke no Arabic, and basically was only qualified by his Washington connections. He promptly throw all of Iraq’s government officials and bureaucrats out on the street and then lit the match by disbanding the Iraqi army. We all know the chaos that ensued and it continues to this day metastasizing in new and more virulent forms.

So how could it be that Obama would not have red flags going off in his head when some DOD or State Department official raised regime change in Libya as an objective?

For that matter what were Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and any number of others in the government thinking? They had lived through the same Iraq debacle. Seen us spend well over a $ trillion dollars and kill several hundreds of thousands and created millions of refugees.

This why it is so disappointing that such an intelligent thoughtful guy as Obama obviously has not taken steps to move us significantly away from Imperial America.

Now five years on after our Libya regime change declared victory with Gaddafi’s head on a platter, metaphorically of course,  almost predictably we have a country without a government or functioning economy, rife with tribal conflicts and endless war. Sound like Iraq? What were they thinking?  In 2010 when they began planning this great march to democracy, we had already had 8 years experience with Bush’s “Mission Accomplished”. Some of the same people involved in Obama’s Iraq policy must have participated in planning Obama’s Operation Muammar.

Obama’s foreign policy seems to emphasize negotiation and multilateralism. This is hardly an innovation, though in an era of maniacal reflexive opposition by Republicans, even this “innovation” is described as a catastrophe of American weakness.

We need a President who will move the policy decisively away from our imperial role, close down most of the almost 800 military bases we have, bring home the tens of thousands of American troops stationed in them. Put an end to international sales of weapons funded by American tax dollars. Generally, putting the gears in motion to leave the realpolitik thinking of the Kissinger’s of the world. They can go back to the think tanks on the Potomac and the ivied halls of academe. We should renounce our role as the sower of democratic seeds and all that self-serving rhetoric of America’s virtuous championing of human rights and so on.

As to our economic interests, oil can no longer justify any strategic focus. With the changes in US production we are hardly dependent on the Middle East, we can source elsewhere. They need us as customers much more than we need them as suppliers. As to the other multi-national corporations, most of them are so large that they can run their own foreign policy.

What if we were to think of defense as literally defending the borders of the country from potential invaders? We could certainly shrink our military from its current behemoth size, spending $1 out every $2 spent in the world,  to something more modest but focused on defense, not the empire. Think of it. We are surrounded by two oceans, Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. Defend that. OK, there are Alaska and Hawaii, too. But, do we need a permanent garrison force at 800 military bases around the globe to defend North America?