Illusions die hard. Especially the ideological kind. When the illusion of Barack Obama, the peacemaker, is finally dispelled, we are going to wake up and find ourselves waist-deep in a war that will soon threaten to dwarf the disastrous invasion of Iraq, both in human and material cost.
We know this from what he has said he will do, and what he has already done. He’s already announced he’s sending 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, bringing the total to nearly 40,000. Not that this comes as any surprise: his entire critique of the Bushian foreign policy during the campaign was that we’ve been fighting the wrong war: that we had to get out of Iraq so we could occupy and pacify Afghanistan, and make a proper job of it. He advocated going into Pakistan, and outflanked the Republicans on the right.
Democrats attacked Republicans for underestimating the number of troops it would take to topple Saddam and set up a full-fledged, multi-year occupation, and there was that controversy over General Eric Shinseki, the former army chief of staff who resigned after contradicting the official administration estimate and testifying that we’d need at least a couple of hundred thousand instead of Rumsfeld’s fifty-thousand or so. The Democrats made Shinseki into a hero, but one wonders if they’ll ask him about Afghanistan. He’s liable to answer half a million.
Oh, but we’re going to do it with the help of our allies: NATO is going to take on extra added importance, once again, just as it did in the Clinton era, as the favored instrument of US military aggression. That archaic alliance of nations spawned during the cold war as a defensive shield against advancing communism, is now venturing into the former Soviet heartland as a would-be conqueror. Plunging into the Caucasus region, admitting Georgia and perhaps even Azerbaijan, the gateway to the oil riches of central Asia — NATO is going to be our spearhead, not only in Afghanistan but throughout the Eurasian crescent extending from Gdansk, in the north to Tbilisi, in the south, and then eastward to Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires.
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.