FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama Intensifies Wars and Threats of War

by

shutterstock_218485873 (1)

The Obama Administration is expanding its military power and threats against Russia and China as well as increasing its war efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria while preparing to restart Washington’s old war in Libya.

Most of this has been revealed in the first six weeks of the 2016 election year and President Barack Obama’s last full year in office without any significant new provocations against the United States. At least part of the White House motive must be to undercut right wing Republican campaign rhetoric alleging Obama and the Democrats are “soft on defense,” and creating a more robust martial entry into the president’s legacy.

On Feb. 9 the White House revealed that is sending up to 800 more soldiers to Afghanistan to join some 10,000 U.S. troops already in the country, according to an account in the Guardian, which reported: “In keeping with Barack Obama’s formal declaration that the U.S. is not engaged in combat — despite elite forces recently participating in an hours-long battle in Helmand province — defense officials said the additional troops would not take part in combat. But they will help the existing Helmand force defend itself against Taliban attacks, officials said.”

Nearly five years after the U.S., Britain and France launched a bombing campaign against the Libyan government to bring about regime change, President Obama is now preparing a second military intervention in that country. Washington’s initial intrusion resulted in the murder of the country’s leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, and unexpectedly sparked a civil war between two factions that seek to rule the country. The chaos induced the Islamic State to enter Libya, becoming a powerful force in recent years. The use of U.S. special forces troops and airpower are soon expected.

On Feb. 2 Defense Secretary Ashton Carter addressed the Economic Club of Washington about the new military budget and its uses, noting: “We don’t have the luxury of just one opponent, or the choice between current fights and future fights. We have to do both.” This evidently means fighting in the Middle East now and preparing for a much bigger war in the future against a more formidable force. Who might that be?

The Washington Post’s Missy Ryan wrote the next day: “Carter previewed the Pentagon budget proposal for fiscal 2017, making a case for why China’s rapid military buildup and Russia’s intervention beyond its borders pose a bigger danger to U.S. security, and merit larger investments, than does the immediate threat from the Islamic State…. The proposal reflects Carter’s attempt to broaden the military’s focus to include not just the insurgent conflicts of the post-2001 era but also ‘higher-end’ threats from Russia and China, whose military innovation U.S. officials acknowledge has at times out-paced the United States.

“Almost half of the new investments… are related to what officials see as a growing threat from Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated his willingness to employ Russian military might from Ukraine to Syria…. A senior defense official said the advances made by Russia and China do ‘force a competition that has to be confronted in the next decade.'”

The proposed Pentagon budget for 2017 is $583 billion and if passed will go into operation Oct. 1. The separate national security budget, which also includes war-related expenses, will be about the same size, bringing such expenditures to about a $1 trillion annually.

Money for “securing Europe” will grow to at least $3.4 billion. There are presently about 75,000 U.S. military personnel in Europe.  On Feb. 2 The New York Times revealed that Obama “plans to substantially increase the deployment of heavy weapons, armored vehicles and other equipment to NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe, a move that administration officials said was aimed at deterring Russia from further aggression in the region.” The war budget for the fight against the Islamic State is expected to reach $7 billion, an increase of 35%.

Speaking on the John Batchelor Show Feb. 2, Nation contributing editor and long time Russian analyst Steven F. Cohen argued that the Obama Administration’s actions will further militarize the “new Cold War” between the countries, making it more confrontational and likely to lead to actual war with Russia. According to the program notes paraphrasing Cohen’s remarks: “The move is unprecedented in modern times…. Russia will certainly react, probably by moving more of its own heavy weapons, including new missiles, to its Western borders, possibly along with a large number of its tactical nuclear weapons.”

Cohen pointed out that a new and more dangerous U.S.-Russian nuclear arms race has been under way for several years, which the Obama Administration’s decision can only intensify. The decision will also have other woeful consequences, undermining ongoing negotiations by Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov for cooperation on the Ukrainian and Syrian crises and further dividing Europe itself, which is far from united on Washington’s increasingly hawkish approach to Moscow.

On Jan. 29 it was reported that President Obama is in the process of intensifying U.S. military engagement in Iraq. There are further reports Obama has revised the “terms of engagement” in Afghanistan to enable remaining U.S. forces to once again undertake combat missions. At the same time, in the name of “freedom of the seas,” Washington sent a Navy destroyer to intrude on a small China Sea parcel of territory claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The United States spends far more annually on military matters than the combined war budgets of the eight other highest spenders, including China and Russia, and this doesn’t include non-Pentagon war and national security spending. While there may be a need for increasing spending for the Obama Administration’s several ongoing wars, where there have been setbacks and surprises, nothing remotely justifies the warlike rhetoric and war spending aimed at China and Russia. The U.S., NATO and other allies are inestimably more powerful in combination than these two countries — not that Beijing and Moscow have provided any evidence of an intention to eventually attack Washington.

This is an election year, and the Democratic Party must display martial prowess in its confrontation with the same reckless chest-beating Republican opposition that heedlessly launched the new wave of wars since 2001 that President Obama has been continuing these last seven years. It is also an escalation of the U.S. threats to China and Russia, warning of the potential military consequences of disrespecting the leadership of the global superpower.

More articles by:

Jack A. Smith edits the Activist Newsletter.

January 17, 2018
Seiji Yamada
Prevention is the Only Solution: a Hiroshima Native’s View of Nuclear Weapons
Chris Welzenbach
Force of Evil: Abraham Polonsky and Anti-Capitalist Noir
Thomas Klikauer
The Business of Bullshit
Howard Lisnoff
The Atomized and Siloed U.S. Left
Martha Rosenberg
How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science
George Wuerthner
The Collaboration Trap
David Swanson
Removing Trump Will Require New Activists
Michael McKinley
Australia and the Wars of the Alliance: United States Strategy
Binoy Kampmark
Macron in China
Cesar Chelala
The Distractor-in-Chief
Ted Rall
Why Trump is Right About Newspaper Libel Laws
Mary Serumaga
Corruption in Uganda: Minister Sam Kutesa and Company May Yet Survive Their Latest Scandal
January 16, 2018
Mark Schuller
What is a “Shithole Country” and Why is Trump So Obsessed With Haiti?
Paul Street
Notes From a “Shithole” Superpower
Louisa Willcox
Keeper of the Flame for Wilderness: Stewart “Brandy” Brandborg
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Sinister Plan to Kill the Iranian “Nukes” Deal
Franklin Lamb
Kafkaesque Impediments to Challenging Iran’s Theocracy
Norman Solomon
Why Senator Cardin is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning
Fred Gardner
GI Coffeehouses Recalled: a Compliment From General Westmoreland
Brian Terrell
Solidarity from Central Cellblock to Guantanamo
Don Fitz
Bondage Scandal: Looking Beneath the Surface
Rob Seimetz
#Resist Co-opting “Shithole”
Ted Rall
Trump Isn’t Unique
January 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Democrats and the End(s) of Politics
Paul Tritschler
Killing Floor: the Business of Animal Slaughter
Mike Garrity
In Targeting the Lynx, the Trump Administration Defies Facts, Law, and Science Once Again
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong Politics: a Never-Ending Farce
Uri Avnery
Bibi’s Son (Or Three Men in a Car)
Dave Lindorff
Yesterday’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Can Become Classy Places Donald, and Vice Versa
Jeff Mackler
Lesser Evil Politics in Alabama
Jonah Raskin
Typewriters Still Smoking? An Interview with Underground Press Maven John McMillan
Jose-Antonio Orosco
Trump’s Comments Recall a Racist Past in Immigration Policy
David Macaray
Everything Seems to Be Going South
Kathy Kelly
41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo
Weekend Edition
January 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
George Burchett
Wormwood and a Shocking Secret of War: How Errol Morris Vindicated My Father, Wilfred Burchett
Roberto J. González
Starting Them Young: Is Facebook Hooking Children on Social Media?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Between the Null and the Void
Andrew Levine
Trump After Bannon: What Next?
John Davis
Mud-Slide
Ajamu Baraka
The Responsibility to Protect the World … from the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Stirs the Methane Monster
Paul Street
Lazy Liberals and “the Trump Effect”
Carmen Rodriguez
Trump’s Attack on Salvadoran Migrants
Mike Whitney
Oprah for President, Really?
Francisco Cabanillas
The Hurricane After Maria
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail