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Capacious Maw of Stars and Stripes

Obama’s “Twofer” Policy

by NORMAN POLLACK

Welcome Mr. President to Warsaw, we have a stellar roster to greet you on Legacy Week, where all the Fascist groups from World War 2, those still extant or their heirs, have sent representatives to greet you, Svoboda, Right Sector, leading the charge in Kiev (which you so kindly supported), to the Romanian Iron Guard—freedom fighters all, now united by their common hatred of Russia (and the prospect of further American military and financial largesse). We welcome the American presence on our soil to preserve the security, honor, and integrity of Eastern Europe, airfields complete with fighter groups, troops, the amassing of NATO forces, missile installations, anti-missile installations, training bases to beef up our own military and paramilitary operations—and, Mr. President, if we’ve left anything out in our First Line of Defense to keep the American Homeland safe, such as nuclear stockpiles at-the-ready, please tell us. We want more than anything to be a vast arsenal (FDR spoke of the “Arsenal of Democracy,” which to us sounds a mite suspicious—we want to be the “Arsenal of Capitalism” and bask in your esteem and favor).

You no doubt have a busy schedule, but with the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact and its reprobative stance on international politics (starting with ingratitude over US leadership and American defined- and implemented-globalization), this goodwill trip to fill the ideological-economic vacuum with the values of democracy, market fundamentalism, humanitarian interventionism (as here) is beyond words so deeply appreciated. We realize our insignificance in the Great Chain of (Capitalist) Being, but your desire to aid in our struggle against godless communism, socialism, and, pardon our reference to that most terrible of conditions known to humankind, PEACE, has made us staunch friends and allies for life. Putin is Satan, if not worse. He devours little children for breakfast, stops the bombing of Syria for lunch, and acts as a counterweight to American global hegemony for dinner; the first though unproven is useful for exciting the populace to adopt a permanent war psychology, the second, an affront to diplomatic niceties, and the third, wholly unwarranted interference of selfless actions of The Greatest Nation on Earth.

Rest assured, the New York Times, as in Peter Baker’s article, “Obama, in Warsaw, Pledges Solidarity With Eastern Europe,” (June 3), is with you step-by-step in America’s much anticipated confrontation with Russia. He writes: “President Obama announced more steps on Tuesday to bolster security in central and eastern Europe with additional deployments and training as he arrived in Poland for the start of a four-day European trip aimed at locking arms with allies following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.” No mistake about it, LOCKING ARMS is what American diplomacy is all about, as befitting the nation reaching out (down?) from the practice and fact of unilateralism. Perhaps Baker takes his eye off the ball because this is exactly what Obama did weeks ago in his Pacific Rim military-diplomatic journey: locking arms with friends and allies for purposes of the encirclement, containment, isolation, ultimately, the hoped-for implosion or actual hostilities directed to that end, not, in that case, of Russia, but China—the Obama twofer policy, pressure of every description short of war, thus far, treating both China and Russia alike from the same starting point and seeking the same outcome.

The starting point: carefully crafted political-military alliances, backed by joint maneuvers, funding of the military and intelligence capabilities of each of the partners, and mutually beneficial (presumably) trade relations and investment opportunities, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in one case, Obama’s negotiations to the same end in forming an anti-Russian coalition. Seeking the same outcome: in the face of a multipolar world structure of power because of Russia and China, the return to an international context in which the US in fact possessed disproportionate power leading to its unilateral dominance in all areas, military, political, economic, ideological, whatever reinforces hegemonic status. Neither set of global aspirations is possible without the other, dominance itself (or Obama’s reiterated word “leadership” at West Point) an uncontested given. Obama brought to Warsaw full-dress Exceptionalism pointed toward Moscow for effect, but also to gladden the hearts of his hosts: intervention, fighter jets, cyberespionage, all on order as or when needed, along with less conventional means of cheering up what famously had been termed decades ago, the Captive Nations. This trip had for its larger purpose to light a fire under the Cold War, lest it no longer serve the capacious maw of militarism, the “defense” industries on which it thrived, and the domestic brainwashing ideal for its continuance.

Obama, the jaunty bringer of glad tidings—for as Baker writes: “Mr. Obama tried to make a point of demonstrating solidarity with leaders of Poland and the rest of the region immediately upon landing. Striding across the tarmac from Air Force One, he visited a hangar with four American F-16 fighter jets and addressed about 50 American and Polish airmen and soldiers with a message of resolve.” Never mind the US jets in Polish hangars, the atmosphere (“a message of resolve”) is reminiscent of wartime. Obama’s own words (even his passing reference to the domino theory) set the mood, firming up allies for the struggle to follow: “I’m starting the visit here because our commitment to Poland’s security as well as the security of our allies in central and eastern Europe is a cornerstone of our own security and is sacrosanct. As friends and allies, we stand united together and forever.” This, to the troops, with the president of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, beside him.

Do I exaggerate the militarism, the anti-Russian meaning and intent, the means of creating a context in which war itself is both possible and practical? Here is Baker again, surely not a hostile critic of the administration. The details are fascinating (and not so different from promises and arrangements made in the Pacific): “He later announced that he would ask Congress for $1 billion for a ‘European reassurance initiative’ that would increase exercises, training and troop presence in Eastern Europe and send American navy ships more often to the Baltic and Black seas. The plan would deploy American experts to bolster capabilities and would help pre-position equipment among European allies for quicker military responses. It would also provide aid to Ukraine and two other former Soviet republics, Georgia and Moldova.” It is “help pre-position equipment…for quicker military responses” which no doubt gets Putin’s attention, the Ogre with Red Army troops swarming over Europe, to be resisted on the beaches of Long Island or Hilton Head—no, don’t think so, the threat possibly being the other way around, Obama the Man of Peace loaded down with grenades ready to toss.

Envious of others who enjoy America’s full military protection, the Polish foreign minister said (in a telephone interview with Baker): “America, we hope, has ways of reassuring us that we haven’t even thought about. There are major bases in Britain, in Spain, in Portugal, in Greece, in Italy. WHY NOT HERE?” (my caps.) Ghoulish, on the verge of proto-fascism (especially “that we haven’t even thought about”), I think, yes. And this was before Obama’s arrival; what was said after, is anyone’s guess. To the airmen, part of a full-time Air Force detachment in Poland since 2012, he added: “Poles and Americans stand shoulder to shoulder for freedom. And we’re so grateful to all of you for your service.” This would be a busy time, delivering the same message of standing shoulder to shoulder for freedom “with the leaders of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia, all of whom are traveling here to see the American president.” The roster of leaders in the Pacific was shorter, the message, though, the same.

My New York Times Comment on Baker’s article, same date, follows:

Obama has brilliantly fused anticommunism and counterterrorism into a fascistic cocktail worthy of US desires to maintain unilateral global hegemony. Just as his recent Pacific Rim visit, which, along with TPP, is intended to contain, isolate, and drastically weaken China, his Warsaw excursion, as described, reeks with the none-too-subtle desire to reawaken a Cold War that in fact never ended. Russia is NOT communist, yet the anticommunism theme on the subliminal level–Putin as Stalin in modern dress–is being invoked to encircle Russia just as the Pacific-first strategy does, in China.
This escalation also means more military appropriations, more interventions, joint-maneuvers, bankrolling of other nations’ militaries–as meanwhile, massive surveillance at home, rotting infrastructure, inadequate social safety net. Obama, the toast of Right Sector and Svoboda in Kiev and similar fascistic remnants of World War 2 throughout Eastern Europe, no longer, remnants, however, because with US assistance, part of the governing groups which stacked together shows a thirst for confrontation with Russia.

America thrives on war to keep its juices running. Else why let Obama’s vulgar militarism translate into favorable approval ratings? By all means, beef up forces in the region. We’re getting impatient–start the Conflict, even if it means nuclear annihilation on both sides. We seem entrapped by a gigantic death-wish, an impulse to self- and others’ destruction.

Norman Pollack has written on Populism. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.