(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India
Obama�s Imperial Overstretch
THIS year�s Nobel Peace Prize
nominee Barack Obama has
chosen the path of war. In a speech on December 1, he announced a sharp
escalation of the war in Afghanistan.
The candidate who was elected on a non-war, non-racist platform has
overnight transformed into a �war president� in the mould of his
predecessor, George W. Bush. President Obama chose the American
academy at West Point to announce the dramatic escalation of the war in
a nationally televised speech, Obama said that 30,000 additional troops
deployed in Afghanistan
in the next six months.
The American president in his
speech said that the
goal was �to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan,
and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in
future�. The president barely mentioned the Taliban in his speech. The
on the Al Qaeda though American intelligence officials themselves have
that there are less than 100 al Qaeeda fighters still left in Afghanistan.
central message in his speech was that the Americans are occupying Afghanistan
protect the �homeland� and not ordinary Afghans from terrorism.
The president said that the
troop surge was for �a
vital national interest�, adding that attacks against the US
planned as I speak�. Obama�s language is becoming strikingly similar to
President Bush. Hawks like Senator John McCain was among the first to
the troop escalation ordered by Obama in Afghanistan. The president
initially wavered on the Pentagon�s request for a dramatic surge. Gen
McChrystal, the top US
commander in Afghanistan
had asked for 40, 000 additional troops and had aggressively lobbied
Obama�s initial reluctance to
get bogged down further
in the Afghan quagmire was obvious in the months preceding his speech.
also wanted to be on the right side of the powerful US
security establishment. The US
Defence Secretary, Robert Gates along with valuable help from the
State, Hillary Clinton persuaded the president to finally go along with
McChrystal�s plan for a military surge to secure �the vital parts� (the
population centres) of Afghanistan. It is however clear that the
was evident from his speech still does not view the Taliban in its
a natural enemy of the US.
He suggested in his speech that the defeat of the Taliban was not
President Obama also announced
that American forces will
start �transferring out� of Afghanistan
and a �transit to Afghan responsibility� will take place. �After 18
troops will start returning home�, he said. His military point man in Afghanistan, Gen McChrystal, was
to assure the jittery Afghan government that the US is
not considering a precipitate
military withdrawal. Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton also made
implying that the US
government is committed to a long term military presence in Afghanistan and Central
Asia. �The July 2011 date is a day we start transitioning,
leaving�, told Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs
Staff to the US Congress. The US
president in his speech had said that the struggle against �violent
will not be finished quickly and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan�.
Obama like Bush is now
talking about endless wars.
Obama has also given the green
signal for the dispatch
of large numbers of �contractors� (read mercenaries) to Afghanistan to
US army wage a bloody �Falluja� like counter-insurgency against the
resistance. It is estimated that there are already more than 100,000
�contractors� in Afghanistan fighting along side the occupation forces.
Following the president�s announcement, American and NATO forces have
a massive attack on the Taliban stronghold of Nov Zad valley in the
The Pakistani establishment is
alarmed at the American
troop surge and the talk about American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
They fear that the Taliban fighters will cross into their territory
American forces snapping at their heels. Pakistani officials have
protested against the increasing number of American drone attacks in
areas. Islamabad is also upset with
army is all set to start a bombing campaign in Balochistan against
hideouts of militants.
The New York
Times has reported that President Obama has authorised the
expansion of the
war into Pakistan
as well. The paper reported that the CIA
has got a commitment from the White House for expanded operations,
drone strikes in Balochistan. The president had suggested in his speech
the al Qaeda gets support from sections of the Pakistani establishment.
have been those in Pakistan who have argued that the struggle against
is not their fight and that Pakistan is better off doing little, or
with those who use violence�, he said.
The Indian government is also
wary about the Obama
administration�s blueprint for the region but for different reasons.
government is happy that Obama did not mention �India�
even once in his speech, the repeated references to Pakistan
as an indispensable ally
in the fight against terrorism have not gone down too well. It is well
that the Obama administration sees a link between Kashmir
and the Afghan war. Obama�s special envoy to the region, Richard
been trying unsuccessfully for some time to get India
talking on the Kashmir issue.
The US Defence Secretary, Robert
Gates, said in the
first week of December that al Qaeda will try and provoke an
by using pro-Kashmiri groups like the Lashkar-i-Taiba. He said the aim
group was to destabilise Pakistan
and gain control of its nuclear arsenal. Admiral Mullen told the US
Pakistan-India relationship was critical in the regional security
said that while President Obama�s strategy focussed greatly on Afghanistan and Pakistan,
it covered the entire
South Asian region.
New Delhi has expended a lot of
diplomatic energy and
finances into Afghanistan.
A comeback for the Taliban will also not be good news for India.
New Delhi has been a consistent backer
of the Northern Alliance which had
fought the Taliban when it
was in power. President Obama in his speech described Pakistan as a friend and ally and that
success in Afghanistan
inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan�.
Interestingly, the president
in his speech tried to portray the American occupation of Afghanistan
a benign act unlike earlier foreign interventions. He specifically
the Soviet intervention, describing it as an �occupation�. Moscow had
dispatched its troops to prop up a
progressive government that was trying to modernise a feudal country.
American intervention through their Pakistani and Saudi proxies that
led to the
rise of Islamic extremism in the region and its consequent global
Significantly, President Obama
also said in his speech
that he supports the efforts of the Afghan government to start talking
those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of
citizens�. This is the line Islamabad
to adopt for a long time. New
on the other hand is insisting that there are no �good or bad Taliban�
they should be militarily defeated. The Iranian foreign minister,
Mottaki, who was in Delhi
in the third week of November, also said that the Taliban have to be
At the same time, he said that the Iranian government was against the
administration�s military surge in Afghanistan. He said that
could resolve their problems among themselves once all foreign troops
their country. New Delhi, on the other
seems to be favourably disposed to the indefinite stay of American and
forces in Afghanistan.
The eight year war in Afghanistan
has now lasted longer
than world war two. More than a million Afghans have lost their lives.
American casualties have been the highest since Obama took office.
announcement of the military surge, it is estimated that the US government will have to spend $100
year on Afghanistan
alone. The president has not bothered to explain how he hopes to
surge in the midst of a recession. A casualty of the Afghan war could
ambitious domestic agenda which includes health reforms. Already,
critics have been comparing Obama�s decision to escalate in Afghanistan with President Lyndon B.
to do likewise in Vietnam
in the mid-sixties. The horrendous consequences of the Vietnam War left
than a million dead and left Johnson a politically shattered man.
that the Vietnam
was unwinnable but tried to stave off the inevitable by escalating the
Obama and his advisers are also no doubt aware that a military solution
possible in Afghanistan.