The New York Times and Al Jazeera are reporting that a US airstrike has killed 40 Afghan civilians, including women and children, attending a wedding in Kandahar province. 28 others were wounded.
This is a brutal reminder that even while we are dancing in the streets over Obama's victory, that US imperialism continues to terrorize the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. While Obama's campaign recieved much of its initial impetus from his early opposition to the war against Iraq, his more recent statements suggest an open-ended US presence there and an escalation of the war against Afghanistan.
While Obama has promised to get US troops off the streets of Iraq in 16 months, his plan will leave tens of thousands of troops on bases and in the "Green Zone." A portion of the troops to be withdrawn from Iraq under Obama will be redeployed to Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan is not the "good war." It is, like Iraq, a war of occupation. Despite the convenient enemies in Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the war is really about the projection of US power and the Afghan government installed by the US remains an opportunistic alliance of warlords, religious fanatics, and oil-company hacks. The resurgence of the Taliban is not, as is widely asserted, simply the consequence of the original redeployment of forces to Iraq, but much more deeply the predictable response of a people living under foreign occupation. Obama's rhetoric notwithstanding an escalation of US operations in Afghanistan will not win "the hearts and minds" of the Afghan people, but will only produce more of what happened today.
So what does this all mean for us?
It means that the selection of the likes of Joe Biden and Rahm Emmanuel signal a continuation of the decades-long project of US global domination. It means that there is more to politics than elections. It means that if we really want these wars to end that we can't count on Barack Obama to do it for us. It means that Obama can't be given the honeymoon that these would-be Afghan newlyweds were denied. It means that we still have to raise the political costs of continuing these wars by turning up the heat in the streets.