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|Obama – America’s “Second Chance” or Is It Its Last?|
By Maher Osseiran
24 September, 2008
I was asked to write a follow up analysis to “The Clintons’ Contributions to the Iraq War”, which showed the continuity of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East spanning one Republican and two Democratic presidential administrations and how they paved the way for Bush II to invade Iraq.
Since McCain will not be our next president, this article will strictly deal with an Obama presidency and how Obama will fit within this continuity of US foreign policy.
By examining the Obama foreign policy team, during the primaries, and in its latest version, announced in June of 2008 after he became presumptive candidate; an assessment of the team’s contributions to American foreign policy through the decades will help us accurately predict their future war plans.
At least this is how things started, but as I went deeper into the analysis, Brzezinski came to the forefront and Obama faded away. As I was finishing this follow-up, I stumbled upon Webster G. Tarpley’s excellent work “The Postmodern Coup: Making of a Manchurian Candidate”.
…the Illinois Senator is a synthetic Manchurian candidate who has been concocted over a period of two decades or more by a political intelligence faction associated with the Zbigniew Brzezinski clan…W.G. Tarpley, Feb. 19, 2008
From the little that I have read, if my analysis has similarities with Mr. Tarpley’s work, it should be looked at as an independent confirmation from a geopolitical perspective into how Obama, through Brzezinski, would operate on the international stage.
Brzezinski and the Neocons
On my part, I could not complete this task without reading “Second Chance”, a book written by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Obama’s earliest advisor during the primaries that spanned the same period and the same administrations I had already reviewed in relation to the Iraq war.
We also need to keep in mind that Brzezinski had written “The Grand Chessboard – American Primacy and its Geopolitical Imperatives” an American foreign policy roadmap after the fall of the Soviet Union.
As a book, a “Second Chance” is the earliest sales pitch for the Obama presidency. First published in 2006, it talked to the ruling elite and not to the people of this country; it examined the performance of the three presidents since the fall of the Soviet Union, Bush I, Clinton, and then Bush II. Professor Brzezinski gave the first two mediocre grades and ended with an F for Jr., for lack of a lower grade. Finally, he went on to describe the ideal future president; namely, Obama.
If we first examine Brzezinski’s other book, “The Grand Chessboard”, we quickly realize that the neocons hijacked Brzezinski’s work of the 90’s in order to develop their own plans for Central Asia and winging a plan for the Middle East through the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The neocons, headed by Bush Jr., stole Brzezinski’s well-thought vision and turned it into a global quagmire. No wonder Brzezinski wants a “Second Chance” to implement his plans, but can he turn back the clock and erase eight years of what he considers a dismal failure, and what are his odds for success?
In order to establish American hegemony, Brzezinski and the neocons are in agreement as to what is needed, a spectacular attack on the United States, without it, Brzezinski argues, there would be no internal support within the United States for the sacrifices needed to implement his plans for American supremacy. In his book “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives”, Mr. Brzezinski writes:
Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.
Similarly, The Project for a New American Century, a Washington think tank that took the reins, as embodied by the neocons, at the Pentagon and the Bush II White House, felt strongly about the need for a “Spectacular Attack” that they openly conveyed their wish in a September 2000 white paper, Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century, thusly
Furthermore, the process of transformation [rebuilding America’s Defenses], even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.
These expansionist plans that would affect Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and the military support they require, can only be accelerated and such acceleration acceptable to the American public if there were a new Pearl Harbor and the public felt a continuous outside threat of unpredictable catastrophic attacks; that was Brzezinski’s theory that the neocons implemented by allowing the 9/11 attacks to take place and through their declaration of the “war on terror”; the failure was in the execution Brzezinski laments
Alas, the foreign policy that the president forged [after 9/11] became outspokenly unilateralist (“if you are not with us, you are against us”), demagogic, fear-driven as well as fear-inspiring, and politically exploitative of the slogan “we are a nation at war”. It ultimately plunged America into a solitary war of choice in Iraq.
Brzezinski obviously favors a more consultative and coalition-building approach with the U.S. at the helm. Again I ask, can Brzezinski turn back the clock and erase eight years of unilateralism?
Brzezinski and the “old guard”
Brzezinski felt that the only way he could turn back the clock and restore some of the goodwill toward America that Bush II totally squandered, was to present the world with a fresh face - not any fresh face - but one that is an amalgam of JFK and Martin Luther King that bridges the cultural divide, is appealing to a Muslim audience, but most importantly, acceptable to the Europeans who are to be Brzezinski’s cornerstone of a global alliance of advanced, moderate, and wealthy nations. In “Second Chance” he writes
In brief, by selectively drawing the more advanced and democratic non-European states into closer collaboration on global issues, a dominant core of moderation, wealth, and democracy can continue to project a constructive worldwide influence.
As a close observer of Washington’s machinations, Brzezinski had a clear understanding of the competing currents at the highest levels of American politics; it is no longer a competition between Republicans and Democrats with corporate giants and the industrial military complex weighing in, it is a fight tooth and nail for the survival of the United States between its self-appointed protectors, the “old guard”, Republican and Democrats allied on one side, and AIPAC and the neocons on the other.
The consensus among the “old guard” that the Bush II presidency was out of control came toward the end of his first term, they were probably all wishing he would not get re-elected.
Once re-elected, they fired a bi-partisan first shot across the bow in the form of The Iraq Study Group (ISG), formed to independently evaluate conditions in Iraq. The ISG, led by James Baker, a Bush family friend, and Lee Hamilton was critical of the conduct of the war in Iraq and favored phased withdrawal and dialogue with Iran and Syria.
Shortly before the ISG released its report, a Republican member, Robert Gates, resigned due to his nomination for Secretary of Defense, and it is presumed that Robert Gates shares the ISG’s recommendations and was most likely forced on Bush by the “old guard” as their ambassador in Bush II’s court.
Other than Mr. Gates, Admiral Fallon was assigned to replace General Abizaid as head of Central Command whose area of operation includes Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. Admiral Fallon can be single handedly credited for delaying an attack on Iran, not just by publicly opposing it, but by bringing the issue to the forefront and into the public debate.
Also, shortly after that, Admiral Mullen ascended to the highest military position at the Pentagon as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It is no coincidence that Admiralty was suddenly at the helm, no pun intended. The Pentagon needed a steady hand and Admirals tend to be more deliberative, have a better grasp of world affairs, and are the ones who could rein in the cowboy mentality pervasive in the other services.
One would think that by now the writing is on the wall: the neocons and their brand of governance was no longer welcome. However, the neocons know all too well that, once out of the White House, it is going to be very difficult for them to get back in.
The stakes are very high, the neocons and the “old guard” with their respective allies are engaged in the most vicious fight between two competing currents within government and is the reason why foreign policy positions seem disjointed until we divide them into two different categories.
The first one under the control of the “old guard” through Robert Gates at the Pentagon; setting the ground for the Obama presidency, while the other is under the control of the neocons, lead by Dick Cheney and company; Bush II is nothing but a stooge flailing in the wind and what he says and does is more like a weathervane indicating which faction has more control at that instant.
What is under the control of Robert Gates is direct military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and we see a shift there that emphasizes troop reduction in Iraq and an increase in Afghanistan. If we add to that the many meetings on US aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea between admirals and the Pakistani military, we know that Obama’s war focus is not just campaign rhetoric; it is a full blown war in that region. We even hear Obama insinuating the draft in recent speeches.
On the other hand, the disruptive activities of the neocons, who still yield significant control through Dick Cheney are designed to help McCain in the short run, during the elections, and if McCain fails to secure the presidency, would create new international realities, neo-realities, that undermines the plans of the “old guard”, potentially set them up to fail, and keep a back door open for the return of the neocons in four years.
Examples of these disruptive activities would be:
The creation of the Georgia situation and the re-activation of the cold war with Russia.
Keeping unauthorized channels open such as the contacts between the US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalizad, a neocon protégé, and Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto and newly elected president of Pakistan.
The attempted white coup in Turkey, a stable Islamic democracy and a key country to implementing American diplomacy in Central Asia; by trying to shut down its ruling party and bringing the military back in control, the neocons would have a partner known to be more interested in war to justify its existence.
The picture is not very pretty internationally; it has actually been very ugly for a long time and is currently getting uglier on the Euro-Russian front. The “old guard” clearly have to deal with these neo-realities once Obama is in office.
Brzezinski the Puppet Master
Leading those who are helping Obama deal with these issues is Brzezinski, who has chosen to work in the shadows like a true puppet master, and his foreign policy team that he announced in June of 2008, shortly after he became the presumptive nominee.
Brzenzinski’s intellect can deal with any adversity and he probably welcomes them as challenging and fun. The rest of the Obama team is understandably tapped from the last democratic administration, Bill Clinton’s, with extensive hands-on experience in foreign policy, nuclear proliferation, defense and weapons systems, etc…
The most puzzling were the latest additions shortly after he defeated Hillary Clinton; Hillary’s heavy weight, Madeleine Albright, the one responsible for paving the way for Bush II to invade Iraq, jumped ship and joined the Obama team, so did Lee Hamilton, a leading member of the Iraq Study Group that was so critical of the Bush II Iraq policies, and, a leading member of the white-wash 9/11 commission whose report left so many questions unanswered and failed to address potential complicity of the White House.
This expanded advisory is quite large, too large to lead and may be even too large to reach a policy consensus. It is more like recycled gravitas that would help shore up Obama’s perceived inexperience and to help calm down a jittery “old guard”.
Still, the combined experience of the final condensed version, the executives of foreign policy in the Obama White house, would be coming entirely from the Clinton presidency, the presidency that picked up where Bush I left, paved the way for the Bush II’s war in Iraq, and would have to pick up now where Bush II left and deal with his neo-realities strictly through the Brzezinski perspective. But could this “Brzezinski team” turn back the clock and what does turning back the clock mean?
A turning of the clock should be anchored in a watershed moment in American history, 9/11; it is the moment where the entire world was full of goodwill toward the US. A similar event or conditions would need to be created in order to provide the optimum conditions for Brzezinski’s “Second Chance” for American hegemony.
Is it sufficient for Brzezinski to introduce a new face, a half-white, half-black, half-Christian, half-Muslim, to regain this worldwide goodwill that he needs? Or would a savvy world population see it for what it really is; a Sarah Palin like maneuver that is pandering to a specific crowd, albeit larger?
The answer is an unequivocal no; the clock could not be turned back. What Brzezinski knows too well and purposely failed to tell us in “Second Chance” is the true damage Bush II inflicted on America’s standing in the world.
What Bush II did is irreparable; he stripped the US of its mask, America is now playing geopolitical poker with an open hand, its worldwide plans clear enough that its adversaries, big and small, are always a few steps ahead of it. It is true of Hizballah, the neocons’ nemisis in Lebanon, Al-Sadr in Iraq, Ahmadi Najad in Iran, and Putin of Russia; all have reacted to US sponsored actions in ways unanticipated by Bush II.
Nevertheless, whatever the outcome (mostly failures) of a Bush sponsored action is, new parameters and new realities are created. As two of the most important areas under a president’s watch, war effort and the economy, reach catastrophic failure, World War III can be seen as the natural progression of the policies that got us there, and may become the new savior reality in the twisted minds of the neocons if McCain is elected.
The stakes are way too high and the risks associated with a McCain presidency are intolerable to the “old guard”; McCain can no longer enjoy the protection of his family’s long military heritage. The October surprise will be the airing of McCain’s true Vietnam record. According to Colonel Earl Hopper, a thirty-year intelligence veteran who had served in Korea and Vietnam, McCain was worse than a collaborator, he was a traitor
McCain, for what he did while he was in captivity, was a traitor. Because he gave information to the enemy, classified, military information to the enemy, which caused the deaths of many of his fellow aviators that came in behind him… The result of this, according to the information that came out later on, in intelligence,… we started losing 60% more aircraft and more men than we had previously.
I doubt very much that a POW yellow canary could ever become our president.
Brzezinski’s perceived “Second Chance”
In the absence of goodwill from the world, the only tools Bush II is leaving his successor are: brute force, intimidation, bribary, and coercion; these are the tools Obama and Brzezinski will instantaneously inherit.
Whatever bump in the level of goodwill a newly elected Obama will receive will quickly erode unless Brzezinski can capitalize on a Bush II neo-reality and convert it into a rallying call not too different from what 9/11 was; that is where Pakistan comes in.
In “The Mass Killing of the Good Options…” I discuss the peace conference in Annapolis between Palestinians and Israelis from a fairly unique perspective, I describe how the “good options” are falling one by one to Bush II’s policies to the point of extinction, and thereby transforming the Greater Middle East into a powder keg with Pakistan as its fuse.
Obama is still clinging to 9/11 and describes the war in Afghanistan as the “just war”, and thinks of Pakistan, the fuse, as the source of the problem. He is a proponent of pursuing the Taliban across the Pakistani-Afghani borders and engaging them in Pakistan with or without the consent of Pakistani authorities.
Many analysts in the US see that as a destabilizing move of the Pakistani government and military; it might even plunge Pakistan into its own civil war and even partition.
The negative impact of destabilizing Pakistan will not be limited to its borders. The instability in Pakistan would quickly spread across the border into Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Eastern Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and spread westward to Europe’s backdoors; Algeria and Morocco.
These countries, whose majority share borders, is a contiguous swath of land that is very close to Europe and whose population is heavily represented within the European immigrant community; a swath of land where militant Islam roams unchecked and threatening.
It would be the equivalent of 9/11 as it brings together in a tight alliance a panicky Europe, America, and the rest of Brzezinski’s civilized world, in an atmosphere similar to that of the cold war, but this time in a struggle against militant Islam; what Bush Jr. failed to achieve in eight years, Brzezinski will have to make happen within six months of the Obama presidency before the little bump in goodwill fades away and before anyone wises up to their plans.
The Georgia situation, which is strictly a neocon creation, will be allowed to cool down and Russia will be somehow rewarded with an apology for the inconvenience.
Bush II used 9/11 to launch “two” criminal wars, Obama acknowledges only one, the Iraq war, not as criminal but as a war of choice, and still clings to the war in Afghanistan as the “just war”; the Obama presidency will start with a lie, nine months sooner than Bush II, and his “just war” will expand and unjustly kill more innocent civilians and unsuspecting US soldiers doing their duty.
To understand the extent of the criminality of the war in Afghanistan, you might want to read “The Crime Behind the Criminal Wars!”. Obama and Biden cannot deny knowledge of how criminal that war is. As a member of Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden received, in early 2006, detailed information about the crimes committed by Bush in preparation for and during the Afghanistan war, which include high treason, high crime against humanity, and murder of both US and foreign citizens.
If Obama and Biden are sincere about prosecuting crimes committed by the Bush administration as they recently expressed,
"If there has been a basis upon which you can pursue someone for a criminal violation, they will be pursued," Biden, The Guardian, Sept. 4, 2008
they should have prosecuted the crimes committed by George W. Bush in the Afghanistan war while they were in the senate, and certainly if elected, they should declare the Afghanistan war a criminal war and refrain from using it as a launching pad for Brzezinski’s vision; that is the only chance, last chance, for the US to get it right and recapture, on solid footing, the goodwill Bush II so frivolously squandered.
As president, McCain will more than likely continue Bush II’s policies with World War III as their natural progression.
An Obama presidency, as I see it now, will not be a presidency of peace; it will be a presidency of wars sold as “just wars” of necessity in the Greater Middle East. After all, there is very little difference between Brzezinski’s vision and that of the neocons, the only difference is in the execution.
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