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Bush, Obama and Foreign Policy


President Bush seems to have shifted ever so slightly in the direction of the diplomatic route with respect to Iran but the hint of a new approach was forced on him by political realities. American foreign policy has not fundamentally changed since the period after World War II when it was defined by Truman, George Kennan, John Foster Dulles and Dean Acheson. The underlying premise of U.S. foreign policy is that the government should not hesitate to use military force whenever and wherever it is necessary to protect American interests.

That premise still dictates American approach to countries where America either needs to establish or protect its interests through force if needed. The bombing and occupation of Iraq has been driven by the imperative of protecting American oil company’s interests which included the building of military bases. Hence you have Obama’s pledge to draw down the troops rather than withdraw the troops. Between 30,000 and 70,000 troops will be needed to protect American oil interests. Since democracy, freedom and reconstruction are as distant today as they were after the occupation, it is difficult to argue that those were American goals in Iraq. The sectarian violence did not begin until after the occupation.

Afghanistan is another example of bombing and fighting a war in a country where the U.S. needs to build bases for the purpose of protecting the pipeline from the Caspian Sea. Again, it is difficult to argue that fighting the war on terrorism, freeing the Afghan people and bring democracy to the country was the real purpose. The United States abandoned the hunt for Osama to bomb Iraq, a country with no involvement in 9/11. The warlords and Northern Alliance supported by the U.S. are no better and possibly worse than the Taliban. The American puppet government barely has control of Kabul so democracy is well beyond the horizon.

Obama has pledged to send more troops to this war-torn country to intervene in a civil war that appears to be not winnable. The Taliban are gaining strength with recruits from Pakistan and have gained control over half the country where they are winning popular support against the occupiers who have killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Weddings seem to be the target of choice for American bombers.

Nothing has really changed since Truman funded dictatorships in Greece and Turkey after WW II to prevent left-wing insurgents from taking over. If Obama is serious about a new direction in foreign policy he needs to rethink his basic assumptions about how to relate to the rest of the world.

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