America’s military interventions have clearly failed. The Afghan and Iraq wars have been strategic disasters. And its intervention in Libya has proved counterproductive. The American people are sick and tired of thirteen years of unending wars. And President Obama himself has promised to end wars.
US President Barack Obama delivers a statement on American troops in Afghanistan from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, May 27, 2014. Obama said Tuesday that plans to keep 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan next year depended on the Kabul government signing a long-delayed agreement. [Xinhua photo]
Yet in his commencement address at West Point delivered on May 28, Obama repeated the threadbare claim that “the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation,” and that “America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world.”
And he asserted that the question “is not whether America will lead but how we will lead.” He stressed that the military will be the backbone of that leadership, but, he acknowledged, military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of U.S. leadership in every instance. Parents applauded when he said the first class to graduate from West Point since 9/11 may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Obama said: “The landscape has changed:” The U.S. has removed its forces from Iraq and is winding down in Afghanistan. The lesson is obviously not to rush into military adventures. He even quoted from Eisenhower that “war is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.”
That was why he did not attack Syria and is reluctant to commit U.S. ground forces in Ukraine. For which he came under fierce attacks from all sorts of hawks.
The war-loving John McCain attacked the West Point speech as insufficient response to global threats. Fred Hiatt’s Washington Post editorial page accused Obama of “binding America’s hands on foreign affairs.”
But he stood the empire’s ground. He accused Russia of “aggression towards former Soviet states” and claims “China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors.” He further claims “regional aggression that goes unchecked, whether in southern Ukraine or the South China Sea…will ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military.”
That is standing facts on their heads. It is America’s allies Japan and the Philippines and its new friend Vietnam that are stirring up trouble and nibbling at China’s territory. It is deploying two state of the art Global Hawks and a new X-Band Radar in Japan that will put China under surveillance. Its military has already been drawn in in a big way!
Obama also boasted about isolating Russia. But Moscow is turning even closer to China. Not even Germany’s Merkel wants to distance herself from Putin.
He unequivocally stated: “The United States will use military force if necessary, when our core interests demand it.”
But Obama said he is focusing on growing the economy. He also claimed that al-Qaeda leadership has been decimated. Yet he admits the most direct threat to America is still terrorism. Only he emphasized working more effectively with partners.
He called on Congress to support a new counterterrorism partnership fund of up to US$5 billion. He also insisted on continuing the drone war, “with near certainty of no civilian casualties.” That is a lot of empty talk. The U.S. drone war keeps killing more and more innocent civilians.
The Washington Post said Obama was arguing for a new form of American leadership that strikes a balance between interventionism and “foreign entanglements.” In fact, he only made some long overdue tactical adjustments. “It’s the same old stuff with a different label” as the Chinese saying goes.
By Zhao Jinglun
The author is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please
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