As the Afghan war escalates, it becomes painfully obvious that the Democratic Party and its leftist allies will not serve as a force for peace, and will support American violence abroad so long as a Democratic President is in office. This is an inevitable feature of the two party political system dominated by the military industrial complex and no amount of effort will change that. Instead what will likely happen is that anti war forces will continue to be further marginalized and ridiculed by the Democratic establishment, as has already happened with such anti war activists as Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink.
But another feature of the two party system is that if one party goes one way, the other party has to go the other way. Libertarian ideology can easily become a foundation for anti war sentiment, take Pat Buchanan, or Antiwar.com, or this article in the American Conservative. If this trend continues, what will become of the former left wing anti war movement? Will they ally with those on the right wing that feel the same, or will the movement remained divided in the face of the centrist pro war consensus.
I have often been called out on this site for not being a partisan Democrat, and it is true, I am an anarchist, who often finds himself in sympathy with many leftist views, such as universal health care, but who is utterly disguisted with the emerging consensus supporting the ongoing escalation of the American wars in Central Asia. At a certain distance from the American political discourse, the supposedly opposing positions of the two parties often appear indistinguishable, especially in foreign policy. Everybody wants to bomb something, but the target list is different. Bill Clinton bombed Serbia and Iraq, George W. Bush bombed Afghanistan and Iraq, McCain wants to bomb Iran and Samantha Powers wants to bomb Sudan, but bombs are bombs and tear human flesh apart the same way. Nation building occupations have now been accepted by both sides as practicable and positively good.
The Obama Pentagon is just as repugnant to me as the Bush Pentagon, in part because the same exact people, from Robert Gates to David Petreaus to Cheney's assassination ring commander Stanley McChrystal, have been put in charge by Obama and the same policies have been maintained. In fact, in Afghanistan, Obama appears to be going beyond the Bush administration, doubling the number of troops, increasing airstrikes in Pakistani territory, launching new bloody offensives, and there is no end in sight. In fact, further escalation at this point seems inevitable, and the Democratic Senate has just voted 93-1 to increase the size of the US Army by another 30,000 troops, who will be sent into the Afghan meat grinder as soon as they are out of basic training. This increase is unfunded, so Obama will have to get an emergency spending bill to pay for it, a Bush era approach that Obama had previously condemned but has continued. Predictably, opposition to the return to misleading permanent emergency funding of the current wars drew opposition only from Antiwar.com and some left wing bloggers (not the staunchly loyalist DailyKos). Of course, all the accounting gimmicks cannot obfuscate the fact that despite some cosmetic cutbacks (7 less F-22s will be built), the Pentagon budget has increased under Obama, and will continue to do so as the Afghan war becomes increasingly massive and expensive. If you thought supplying 150,000 troops in Iraq through the Persian Gulf and Turkey was expensive, you can double that for keeping a force of that size in Afghanistan supplied via overland routes stretching thousands of miles through Pakistan and Russia.
Speaking of Russia, Biden is over in Georgia now, reassuring the Georgian dictator, who exists solely on American support and aid, that the US stands behind Georgia on its continued course of confrontation with Russia. Recent American military maneuvers in Georgia and hints regarding American willingness to sell heavy weaponry to Georgia underscore the point. On a previous stop in the Ukraine, Biden stated explicitly that the US would not any zone of influence for Russia in its immediate neighborhood. Such zones of influence must remain one of America’s unique prerogatives as the world’s hyperpower, but as always, Joe puts it best: "We recognize no sphere of influence, or no ability of any other nation to veto the choices an independent nation makes as to with whom and under what conditions they will associate." (Emphasis mine). I guess this is why the US keeps arresting Iranian diplomats in Iraq, because this principle only applies to "other" nations.
America’s real policy toward Russia was humorously encapsulated in a recent gaffe. Hillary Clinton presented Russian President with a button mechanism marked "Reset" in English and its equivalent in Russian. Apart from the fact that only to the Americans would such a juvenile gimmick seem appropriate and that all the Russians were visibly wincing, the translation into Russian had been botched. Instead of reading "reset," the button read "overload." But she didn’t hand out cowboy hats and boots, and this seems to be the main distinction between Bush and Obama’s policy toward Russia.
And yet, there is no opposition to the escalation in Afghanistan or the continuation of other American bellicose policies. A 93-1 vote seems pretty conclusive to me, the Democrats are behind Obama and Republicans love spending money on war, so who's complaining (the solitary dissenter was Russ Feingold, who wants more cutbacks in Iraq). Furthermore, observing the diary activity on the DailyKos, it is clear that the vast majority is prepared to continue supporting Obama's militaristic policies. After all, he told us during the campaign that he was going to escalate Afghanistan, so what's the problem?
So where does that leave the marginals who continue to desire peace above all? Looking around the political spectrum, we begin to realize that the only other group that will stand with us in opposing the wars are the libertarians and various paranoid right wingers afraid of growing government and international entanglements (affectionately referred to as Paultards here). This thinking informs the American Conservative article, which attacks long time Obama ally Samantha Powers for being a war hawk, although her reasons are humanitarian and not neocon/geopolitical in nature. She wants US intervention for human rights, she hails the brutal bombing of the Serbian people in the 1990s and wants to see the same tactics deployed against the Sudan, and other human rights violators. Doubtless, the article was published mainly because it attacked an Obama Administration official, but the person who wrote it is closer to me than any Democrat who would support any American assault on countries posing no threat to the US.
This expose of American imperialist hubris contained in the article could have easily come from the pen of Noam Chomsky, or even from some of the last leftist antiwar figures who are still palatable to the mainstream pro war Democratic majority, such as Glenn Greenwald. Already, people on the DailyKos are turning on Greenwald because of his increasingly strident outrage regarding the Obama Administration’s continuation of Bush ear torture and detention policies, which the consensus here defends as alternatively necessary or accidental. If Greenwald keeps going down this path, how long until he is relegated to the ranks of "anti American" fringe cooks like Noam Chomsky, and deleted from the leftist blogroll.
So what is to be done when the Democrats and the Republicans present a united pro war front, and seek to marginalize those of us who continue to point out the insanity of America's ongoing wars and the war crimes being committed in the process? As right wing opposition gradually grows stronger as more and more right wingers take on the anti war position as a way to criticize Obama and the Democrats, will the marginalized left wing anti war forces stand by and let the movement be redefined as a conservative opposition movement in the vein of conservative opposition to FDR's bringing the US into the Second World War? Or can an apolitical ant war movement transcend the fairly arbitrary American political dualism (for the life of me I can't tell the centrists apart - though the bomb throwers on both sides do come off different even if they both throw their bombs in the service of the same regime and the bombs seem to always land on brown people in the Third World who happen to be sitting on some natural resources).
The same dynamic, incidentally, is in play also in the domestic counterpart to America’s militarism abroad, the internal police state. There are those on both the left and the right who stand against the increasingly militarized police forces, in their zero tolerance rampage, packing our prisons with millions of our countrymen. Those on the right oppose it because they think it’s the prelude to a coming totalitarian regime, and those on the left oppose it because of civil rights considerations and the obvious racism and classism of the police state. Those on the left think the right wing opponents are paranoid militia wackos, and those on the right think the left wing opponents are bleeding hearts or reverse racists or some such thing. As a result, both sides of the opposition remain marginalized, as the center continues to expand the police forces, pass more draconian sentencing laws, and build more prisons.
I know that for the people here, the political divisions are very significant, and an alliance with libertarian forces is out of the question, in contradiction to Barack Obama’s own favored approach of seeking out such areas of agreement in order to come together as a nation. Bipartisanship is acceptable on war funding bills, but not on war opposition, it appears. But at what point do our duty to humanity and the absolute moral imperative to oppose butchers as they systematically cleave their way across the globe transcend American domestic politics and link all of the people opposed to war together, regardless of their other political positions? Is the construct of the American two party system so strong as to override such moral concerns? Are the psychological barriers created within us by systematic indoctrination dividing the people into warring camps too great to overcome, even while the actual disagreements between the camps largely come down to symbolic issues and 93-1 votes to expand the wars? Because if they are, the anti war movement in American will remain impotent and marginal, as the militarists intend it to be, and the world will continue to tremble under the boot of the American "liberators."