The Same Story With A New Twist

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.

  

Author: OWEN GRAY

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6 Comments

  1. Drone killings… CIA killings… military black op killings…

    It is, and has been, part of running a country in a dangerous world.

    Instead of killing Russian spies in foreign lands, we are killing terrorists in foreign lands.

    I have serious concerns about killing American citizen in foreign lands, but I am sure it is not the first time it has been ordered.

    I am not really a dove either.

  2. I am not a dove nor a hawk; I am a chicken.
    Realistically, won’t the use of weapons of war to further our policies lead to the use of weapons of war by those who resist our policies? I am sure that 90% of our opponents can be cowed, but humanity is full of people who become enbittered when dominated by a far away foreigner. They will then support the ten percent who won’t be cowed.
    In today’s world, it should be very easy for a group that opposes the US to make their own drones. There are cheap radio-controlled airplanes available to hobbyists. How hard would it be to weaponize them? Will any Afghan weep if a model airplane loaded with explosives lands in an American city.
    Before using a weapon, should not the use of that same weapon by the other side be considered? Weapons can be used by bad guys as easily as by good guys. Should not the guy on top look to lower lower conflicts since the guy on top has the most to lose?

  3. And I’m a duck and we go any which way. Yes Mars, anyone can build a simple drone, and hopefully they won’t use it against us, or we will have to ban them as gas warfare was. (The politics of using them to assassinate people is a whole big political and moral issue and I’m surprised that the International Criminal Court hasn’t jumped all over it.)
    The weapons race and has been going on since the invention of bronze to replace copper which then was replaced by steel. Be first, or begone.

  4. 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.

    I’d say it is a very big twist, and perhaps a new story altogether.

    Yes, drone warfare is problematic and troubling for many reasons, yet it is a sharp departure from the doctrine of the previous administration and to a certain extent the policies of the nation going all the way back to the end of WWII.

    The Bush response to 9/11 was, essentially, collective punishment. The Taliban had sheltered Al Qaeda, and so their regime had to be toppled, even if it meant more misery for the entire nation of Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein had done something terrible to us (what, we never discovered), and so his regime had to be toppled, even if it meant the nation of Iraq had to be destroyed.

    Candidate Bush had promised no nation-building on his watch, but he didn’t say anything about nation-destroying, did he? That wasn’t a new idea, but rather a continuation of what was begun in WWII: You attack us or our allies, you threaten us or our allies, and we will destroy your nation and remake it as we see fit.

    Drone warfare, while fraught with obvious problems, is not a method by which to destroy nations. It is not collective punishment whereby an entire country is ruined to kill one leader or wipe out a group of bad guys who set up shop in that nation.

    Does it set a dangerous precedent – giving a President the power to send drones wherever and whenever to kill an enemy? Yes. Yet the previous model, where a President had the power to make war at will, destroying nations in the pursuit of policy (Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again) caused more damage than a fleet of drones could ever hope to accomplish.

  5. Be first, or begone

    Yep! This is why we need military R&D. We do not need the largest military in the world. We need the most advanced military in the world.

  6. I find it quite absurd to imply that there has been a cohesive “Imperial Grand Strategy” going on since WWII. I am quite sure that the use of our military has been largely up to the individual presidents, and Clinton’s style was much different from Bush’s who is much different from Obama. But then again I imagine that is why Chomsky orbits the edge of the political solar system.

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