In his book, Hegemony Or Survival, Noam Chomsky argued that George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was merely the next step in an imperial grand strategy which was drawn up in Washington at the end of World War II:
The imperial grand strategy asserts the right of the United States to undertake “preventative war” at will: Preventative not preemptive. Preemptive war might fall within the framework of international law.
Ross Douhat, in this morning’s New York Times, argues that President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense and John Brennan as Director of the C.I.A. is in keeping with the original plan — with a new twist:
Like the once-hawkish Hagel, Obama has largely rejected Bush’s strategic vision of America as the agent of a sweeping transformation of the Middle East, and retreated from the military commitments that this revolutionary vision required. And with this retreat has come a willingness to make substantial cuts in the Pentagon’s budget — cuts that Hagel will be expected to oversee.
But the Brennan nomination crystallizes the ways in which Obama has also cemented and expanded the Bush approach to counterterrorism. Yes, waterboarding is no longer with us, but in its place we have a far-flung drone campaign — overseen and defended by Brennan — that deals death, even to American citizens, on the say-so of the president and a secret administration “nominations” process.
Obama is not one for leaving big footprints in foreign countries. But his emphasis on drone warfare signals his acceptance of the idea of preventative war, to be waged on America’s terms. It’s the same story with a new twist.
Obama is many things. But he certainly is no dove.