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November 13, 2008

New Tomdispatch


Don't Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart
Why Americans Shouldn't Go Home

By Tom Engelhardt

On the day that Americans turned out in near record numbers to vote, a record was set halfway around the world. In Afghanistan, a U.S. Air Force strike wiped out about 40 people in a wedding party. This represented at least the sixth wedding party eradicated by American air power in Afghanistan and Iraq since December 2001.

American planes have, in fact, taken out two brides in the last seven months. And don't try to bury your dead or mark their deaths ceremonially either, because funerals have been hit as well. Mind you, those planes, which have conducted 31% more air strikes in Afghanistan in support of U.S. troops this year, and the missile-armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) now making almost daily strikes across the border in Pakistan, remain part of George W. Bush's Air Force, but only until January 21, 2009. Then, they -- and all the brides and grooms of Afghanistan and in the Pakistani borderlands who care to have something more than the smallest of private weddings -- officially become the property of President Barack Obama.

That's a sobering thought. He is, in fact, inheriting from the Bush administration a widening war in the region, as well as an exceedingly tenuous situation in devastated, still thoroughly factionalized, sectarian, and increasingly Iranian-influenced Iraq. There, the U.S. is, in actuality, increasingly friendless and ever less powerful. The last allies from the infamous "coalition of the willing" are now rushing for the door. The South Koreans, Hungarians, and Bulgarians -- I'll bet you didn't even know the latter two had a few troops left in Iraq -- are going home this year; the rump British force in the south will probably be out by next summer.

The Iraqis are beginning to truly go their own way (or, more accurately, ways); and yet, in January, when Barack Obama enters office, there will still be more American troops in Iraq than there were in April 2003 when Baghdad fell. Winning an election with an antiwar label, Obama has promised -- kinda -- to end the American war there and bring the troops -- sorta, mostly -- home. But even after his planned 16-month withdrawal of U.S. "combat brigades," which may not be welcomed by his commanders in the field, including former Iraq commander, now Centcom Commander David Petraeus, there are still plenty of combative non-combat forces, which will be labeled "residual" and left behind to fight "al-Qaeda." Then, there are all those "advisors" still there to train Iraqi forces, the guards for the giant bases the Bush administration built in the country, the many thousands of armed private security contractors from companies like Blackwater, and of course, the 1,000 "diplomats" who are to staff the newly opened U.S. embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone, possibly the largest embassy on the planet. Hmmmm.

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at November 13, 2008 09:53 PM

Obama wil break YOUR bank long before he breaks my heart.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 14, 2008 11:49 AM

U really wanna help Obama, then IMPEACH the present administration. 1-202-225-0100.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 14, 2008 11:51 AM

And remember...if Obama continues representing his corporate owners after we all formed a circle and clapped our hands for Tinkerbell to live and gave away our votes without a demand...IT'LL BE ALL YOUR FAULT!

Fuck you, Engelhardt you useless pendantic delusional pwoggie pundit-wannabe. Fuck you right in the ear.

Posted by: AlanSmithee at November 14, 2008 02:42 PM

So Alan has alighted here, has he? ever the bane of any blog he frequents.

I have next to NO expectations that Mr Obama will be able to perform on the promises made and implicit in his campaign. I held my nose and voted for him, but I have not supported any Democrat with enthusiasm since Mcovern, in 72.

On ereason Obama is doomed to be co-opted and "our" hopes to be shattered by militarism is suggested by this telling statistic: Some part of the b-2 strategic stealth bomber is built, or programmed, or assembled in EVERY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT IN THE USofA! All 435 of 'em. Those are jobs for workers in those districts, paychecks, and rent checks, and groceries and liquor sales.

Militarism in the USofA is like poppy-farming in Afghanistan: it keeps the economy perking along, and the people profitably occupied, and it won't change unless and until a "better" alternative is found, where 'better' means the same or more money for the same or less effort.

Mr Obama is already deep in the toils of the cliched military/industrial/national security industry. He wouldn't be where he is today unless he'd been vetted at LEAST 'harmless', and more probably 'friendly' to those interests.

I am deeply suspicious of 'true believers,' but my greater antipathy is towards those who consciously and deliberately appeal to and inspire them.

I suspect in some final analysis, Mr Obama's election will be regarded as of far greater symbolic importance than of practical consequence.

Posted by: woody at November 14, 2008 09:57 PM

Bless the True Believer, just keep him as far away from me as possible. I'm all for diverting MICFIC into lunar colonization. Uses much the same kind of technology, will cost just as much (maybe even a little more if WE're lucky--deficit spending), and will HONORABLY kill some people also if WE stick with the program. New lands to conquer---its a win/win in my book.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 15, 2008 11:18 AM