Thursday,20 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1142, 4 -10 April 2013
Thursday,20 June, 2019
Issue 1142, 4 -10 April 2013

Ahram Weekly

On Obama’s second term

US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Israel will be remembered with shame by all Americans who believe in peace with social justice,
but it set the tone for what may be a dismal second term, writes James Petras

Al-Ahram Weekly

As US President Barack Obama enters his second term with a new cabinet, the foreign policy legacy of the past four years weighs heavily on his strategic decisions and empire-building efforts. Central to the analysis of the next period is an evaluation of past policies, especially in regions where Washington expended its greatest financial and military resources, namely the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.
This article will proceed by examining the accomplishments and failures of the Obama-Clinton regime. It will then turn to the ongoing policy efforts to sustain the empire-building project and take account of the constraints and opportunities that define the parameters resulting from imperial and military ambitions, Israeli-Zionist influence in shaping policy, and the ongoing anti-imperialist struggles. It concludes by examining likely polices and outcomes resulting from current strategies.

THE OBAMA-CLINTON LEGACY: The greatest success of the Obama-Clinton (OC) imperial legacy was the virtual elimination of organised domestic anti-war dissent in the US, the demise of the peace movement, and the co-optation of virtually the entire “progressive” leadership in the US, while multiplying the number of proxy wars, overt and covert military operations and the amount of defence spending. As a result, the entire political spectrum moved further to the right towards greater militarisation abroad and increased police-state measures at home.
Facing mass revolts and the overthrow of long-standing client regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, the OC administration moved rapidly to reconfigure new client regimes while preserving the existing state apparatus, including the military, intelligence, police, judicial and civilian bureaucracy. The empire dumped incumbent regimes in order to save the repressive state, the key guarantor of US strategic interests.
Washington reminded its client rulers that “there are no permanent alliances. There are only permanent imperial interests.” It successfully engineered a political pact between conservative Islamist leaders and parties and the old military elite. The new political blocs in Egypt upheld the Israeli annexation of Palestine, the brutal blockade of Gaza and the neo-liberal economic order. Washington repeated this “reshuffling of clients” in Yemen and Tunisia, and OC intervention temporarily aborted the pro-democracy, anti-Zionist and anti-corruption popular revolt.
OC policies secured a temporary respite, but the subsequent effort by Egypt to secure an IMF loan has led to a stalemate amid deteriorating economic conditions and rising political protest. The successful imposition of new client regimes amenable to US hegemony in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, in the face of popular revolts, marked the beginning of a series of favourable political-military outcomes in the region for the OC regime.
Facing Israeli annexation of ever-widening swathes of Palestinian land and the end of any pretence of peace negotiations, Washington continued to provide Israel with massive military assistance, modern weapons systems and unconditional political support in the UN. By submitting to Israel, the OC regime succeeded in retaining the political support of the domestic Zionist power configuration (ZPC). The OC regime’s economic handouts supported the puppet Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as it policed the West Bank for Israel. Despite losing the vote to seat the Palestinians as a non-voting member in the UN, Washington succeeded in blocking full their membership. The OC regime succeeded in fulfilling its role as Israel’s handmaiden, despite opposition from the vast majority of UN members.
The OC regime succeeded in tightening sanctions on Iran by securing Russian, Chinese and Arab League support without provoking a potentially destructive war. The US sanction policy towards Iran is largely designed and implemented by key Zionist appointees in the US treasury (formerly Stuart Levy, now David Cohen) and in Congress, by legislators bought and directed by the powerful America-Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
The US, under Obama-Clinton, destroyed the independent nationalist Gaddafi government in Libya via a joint air war with the EU and tried to set up a client regime. In turn, Libya became a key recruiting ground for violent Islamist mercenaries invading Syria and a weapons depot supplying Islamist terrorists. The OC regime’s military success in Libya was part of a general strategy to accelerate the expansion of US and European military operations in Africa. This includes setting up drone bases and promoting African mercenary armies from Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia to expand imperial control in Somalia, Mali and elsewhere.
In the Gulf region, the US succeeded in propping up the autocratic Bahrain monarchy, as it killed and jailed opponents and outlawed the mass pro-democracy social movement among its oppressed Shia majority population. The OC regime successfully secured Gulf state financing for the Libyan and Syrian wars.
In Iraq, the US has succeeded in dividing the devastated nation into fragments of warring fiefdoms — Shia, Sunni, Kurd and subsets of each. It succeeded in destroying a once modern and secular society, an advanced economy and independent nationalist regime. Initially, the OC regime hoped to establish a client outpost in Iraq from which to secure Washington’s wealthy petro-clients in the Gulf, especially among the patrimonial dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Washington, in alliance with other NATO powers and its Gulf state clients, succeeded in converting a peaceful civilian protest movement in Syria into a full-scale civil war and military invasion, increasingly dominated by armed Al-Qaeda internationalists. The US-EU-Gulf State-Turkey-Israeli alliance has armed, financed, trained and advised Islamist and mercenary terrorists to effectively destroy the Syrian state, society and economy, dispossessing and uprooting a million refugees across the border and resulting in the death and injury of hundreds of thousands.
The US-promoted invasion of Syria has seriously weakened one of the last governments defending the Palestinians, opposing Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and providing a refuge for persecuted Palestinian leaders. By virtually destroying the Syrian state, the OC regime has driven a wedge between Hizbullah, the leading nationalist force in Lebanon, and its ally Iran, while tightening the military encirclement of Tehran and exerting cross-border pressure against Iraq. A brutal Islamist regime in Syria will replace the secular state with prospects of massive ethnic cleansing against minority populations, especially Christians and Alawites.
Obama and before him Clinton successfully expanded the US drone assassination programme throughout the Middle East and South Asia, killing more civilian non-combatants than suspected adversaries, especially in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.
The OC regime successfully imposed the presidential doctrine of the killing of US citizens via drones with the support or acquiescence of the US Congress, judiciary and most of the mass media and without a shred of judicial due process.
Accompanying the license to assassinate civilians via drones, Obama/Clinton successfully expanded the use of Special Operations death squads, dispatching them to 70 countries to assassinate political adversaries, destabilise independent governments and bolster client regimes.
The OC regime has spent tens of billions of dollars and succeeded in building a 350,000-man mercenary army in Afghanistan to defend US strategic interests, sustain its military bases and destroy the nationalist-Islamic opposition (the Taliban). The OC hoped to cover Washington’s retreat from the combat front. Despite the military build-up and in the face of a sharply deteriorating military situation in Afghanistan, the OC regime has been negotiating with political sectors of the Taliban, to dump the current client ruler, Hamid Karzai, and “reshuffle the regime to save the state,” hoping to pull-off a coalition-collaborator Islamist-military regime such as has been shoe-horned into place in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

Vulnerability of the OC legacy: The apparent and real empire-building successes of the Obama-Clinton regime are nevertheless fraught with vulnerabilities and are based on fragile political and socio-economic foundations. Temporary tactical gains reveal strategic weaknesses and high military costs without commensurate imperial economic gains.
The OC counter-revolutionary offensive and its political military successes are driven by a military conception of empire-building without a shred of economic thinking. It is not surprising that many of the key decision-makers promoting military-driven empire-building are militarist ideologues and Zionist policy-makers who specialise in destroying adversaries (of Israel) and not in promoting or protecting US imperial oil, manufacturing and service interests.
A telegraphic point-by-point analysis and critique of the major policy interventions of the OC regime highlights strategic weaknesses and failures, even in areas that the empire-builders currently celebrate as successes.
While the OC regime succeeded in procuring close to $15 billion from the US taxpayer in tribute payments to Israel, it failed to secure a neo-colonial settlement of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, even one based on conceding a truncated part of the West Bank composed of disconnected enclaves (Bantustans). As a result of the total dominance of US Middle East policy by the Zionist power configuration (representing less than one per cent of the US populace), the OC regime was repeatedly humiliated by its Israeli overlords.
The supremely confident Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu launched and flaunted massive, new and exclusive Jews-only colonial settlements on Palestinian land, despite near universal condemnation, knowing that he could count on the veto power of Washington in the United Nations and on its political leverage over EU allies and Arab clients. Strategically, the OC regime’s deep links to the Zionist power configuration includes the appointment of Israel Firsters to top positions in the US foreign-policy establishment. These appointments ensured that Israeli interests would continue to determine US policies in North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf region.
The Zionist appointees designated which political clients would be acceptable and which adversaries would be targeted for destruction. The OC regime’s biggest failure as US empire-builders is its inability to achieve independence from the Zionist incubus and accommodate the emergence of new socio-political forces, as well as its failure to reap economic gains commensurate with its budget-busting military expenditures.
The successful imposition of new client regimes in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen) is a short-term victory, based on force and the continuation of the authoritarian-repressive state apparatus. The introduction of regressive neo-liberal policies will doom this short-term success. If the US “won” the first round in the Arab Spring, its client rulers face a more radical social upheaval, one which goes beyond the earlier anti-dictatorial struggle and which explicitly targets the US, EU and the IMF.
The new clients’ prospects of achieving stability via economic recovery are virtually non-existent. The full implementation of the OC-IMF agenda of ending popular food and fuel subsidies, increasing regressive taxation and widespread privatisations will create a powder-key among the Arab masses. Under pressure from new waves of mass uprisings against brutal neo-liberal economic policies, the Arab clients’ US-mandated complicity with Israel may end.
The OC regime’s successful overthrow and assassination of Gaddafi was accompanied by the destruction of the Libyan nationalist state, its economy and social fabric. The OC policy of total war has produced a miserable, lawless, chaotic society “headed” by powerless expatriate neo-liberals at the top and run by local tribal chiefs, Islamist thugs and criminal gangs on the ground. These specialise in running guns, dispatching armed mercenaries abroad (especially to Syria), trafficking in migrant workers, drugs and sex-slavery.
The oil industry enclave has partially recovered, but few if any oil profits make it to the US. Meanwhile, even US embassy personnel (including the ambassador himself) have been murdered, and visiting US officials only travel in heavily armed conveys. Instead of a political victory, Washington has lost a potential oil partner for its own extractive industry. One might say that the only real beneficiary of the US-EU war to destroy Libya was Israel: Gaddafi had been a staunch ally and supporter of the Palestinian people. The invasion of Libya led to the massive displacement of armed ethnic communities, which has exacerbated conflicts in resource-rich sub-Sahara neo-colonies.
The Zionist power configuration, embedded in the US Congress, treasury and inside the OC regime, has succeeded in imposing new and harsher economic sanctions on 75 million Iranians in support of Israel’s goal of regime change in Tehran. However, the effect has been to strengthen the unity of the ethnically diverse Iranian population, especially when overt military threats, emanating from nuclear-armed Israel, are amplified by the White House and the Zionist-occupied US Congress.
Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme continues, and oil-and-gas sales to China, Japan, India and Korea and Pakistan continue. A new billion-dollar gas pipeline agreement with Pakistan has been signed. Iran has replaced the US as the major foreign influence in Iraq.
In other words, the Obama-Clinton diplomatic success (sanctions against Iran) has not enhanced US power nor achieved any strategic goals. Moreover, Zionist-designed sanctions have had a negative effect on US energy prices and oil-company profits. The OC regime’s policy towards Iran has succeeded in maintaining Israel as the only nuclear power in the Middle East, a goal of Tel Aviv.
Obama and Clinton’s success in expanding outposts, missions, drone platforms and mercenary armies in Africa has been costly, politically destabilising and has not prevented large-scale, long-term Chinese economic penetration in the most lucrative resource sectors of the region. The US may have closer ties with African generals and dictators and its bankers come and go, but capital flight out of Africa accompanies inflows of US foreign aid. While the OC regime was building drone platforms, thousands of Chinese miners, investors, construction and transport companies were establishing an economic empire that over time will enhance China’s power, long after the US military empire has collapsed.
The OC regime claims military victory in Iraq when, in fact, what we see is defeat via retreat on the ground. The US has spent $2 trillion in order to overthrow and execute former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. The Bush and OC regimes have made fools out of the entire executive branch of the US government by justifying the war on the basis of crudely manufactured intelligence (falsely claiming the existence of weapons of mass destruction) through a series of lies cooked up by Israeli-collaborators in the Pentagon, White House and New York Times (especially the infamous propagandist, US journalist Judith Miller).
The end result is a failed state: savage ethnic-religious divisions, millions of dead, displaced and injured, daily terror bombings against a brutalised population, and a great leap backwards in terms of Iraq’s economic, scientific and social development. In political terms, Iraq is now ruled by a thuggish Shia elite closely tied to Iran, which is the biggest beneficiary of the US-led invasion of Iraq and the principal adversary of US empire building.
The OC regime’s post-war Iraq is composed of an overwhelmingly hostile population, a divided and fragmented country pitting Arabs against Kurds, where the most qualified and educated have been driven out or assassinated and entire ancient Christian communities have been obliterated. The OC regime claims to success in Iraq in fact show a weakening of the overall US presence in the Gulf region. Economically, Turkey has become Iraq’s main trading partner, with trade growing by double and triple digits each year.
In other words, the US-led invasion of Iraq destroyed an adversary of Israel, broke the US economy ($2 trillion and counting), increased the influence of Iran and handed Iraq’s petro-dollar consumer market and lucrative reconstruction contracts over to Turkey. The Obama-Clinton regime’s claims of military victory ring hollow in the empty coffers of the US treasury — where are the spoils of this imperial war?
Most of the intellectual authors of the invasion of Iraq have departed from the US government and are now comfortably ensconced within Zionist think-tanks (propaganda mills) in Washington or flaunt lucrative consultant contracts on Wall Street and in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, American taxpayers are left to struggle with an enormous war debt and to grieve for the several hundred thousand American casualties — soldiers who lost their lives, limbs and minds — all for a blatant lie perpetrated at the behest of a foreign power, Israel.
The people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria — serial victims of the US-EU military machines and their Islamist mercenaries — face an increasingly militarised Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, out of which new wars are already emerging, like pus from festering wounds. In Libya, US and EU diplomats cringe in their bunkers and travel only in armed convoys, the consequences of their “humanitarian” imperial-Islamist alliances.
As the US and EU supply arms to Islamist terrorists and murderous gangsters who plunder Syrian cities, decapitate captured government soldiers and execute civilian suspects (civilian government functionaries, such as schoolteachers), Syria’s diverse secular society is on the brink of extinction. Islamist fanatics bristling with advanced weaponry bought by the Saudi monarch and Gulf petro-oligarchs capture sophisticated Syrian cities and impose mediaeval Sharia law on what was one of the region’s most diverse and sophisticated secular societies.
The large communities of Alawites, Orthodox and Syrian Christians, Kurds and educated secular Syrians face extermination or expulsion by Saudi-funded Wahhabi fanatics. The EU-US backed “secular” clients (mostly expatriate Syrians with US or UK passports) serve as propaganda cover for the armed Islamist thugs and mercenaries. Authoritarian Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, himself a soft-core Islamist, provides bases, training, and logistical support for the Syrian invasion. Turkey has become the Islamist pivot for fundamentalist power taking over Syria and the Levant. Islamist terrorist violence is spilling over the border into Lebanon today, Jordan tomorrow and may eventually lead to multiple wars involving vulnerable Gulf clients.
The OC regime undermined an independent, secular, nationalist adversary in Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and by doing so it has destroyed an advocate of Palestinian self-determination, but the ultimate results will not favour US imperial military, economic or diplomatic interests. The OC regime’s wars have destroyed US commercial prospects for decades ahead; the victory of their mercenary Islamist rebels is setting in motion a more virulent armed version of Al-Qaeda with a territorial base and access to immense quantities of modern weapons in areas contiguous to US client regimes.
The OC regime claims to have discovered a low-cost (in terms of American blood) technique to project US military power: killing anti-imperial opponents by drone and special forces. According to the OC regime’s strategists, the advantage of assassination by drone warfare is that it would not result in the death of US combat soldiers and the special forces, whose high-intensity, low-visibility operations are “off-budget” and do not elicit any public or legislative scrutiny.
But drones have become highly visible, even to the usually complacent and highly myopic US Congress, and they are routinely condemned even by client regimes in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The United Nations has publicly condemned drones, as civilian casualties have far exceeded the number of so-called terrorist targets. Most experts agree that drone assassinations have vastly increased the number of opponents and facilitated the recruitment of resistance fighters. Drone warfare has increasingly isolated client regimes like Yemen that permit US drone attacks against its citizens. The strategy of foreign policy by drone and death squad has not replaced the need for ground troops in the task of empire building. Once US troops do withdraw, its mercenary armies have proved incapable or unwilling to obey US advisors, trainers or Special Forces.
The clearest expression of this failed strategy is the rising number of defections from Afghan security forces and the killing of NATO and US officers by Afghan soldiers and officers — even those with the highest security clearances. This infiltration into the highest ranks of the Afghan military and police points clearly to the near-future demise of the puppet Karzai regime. The various ministers in the Afghan client regime and their banker cronies know they have no chance of surviving a post-US withdrawal: they have multiple passports in hand and millions in stolen funds stashed in Gulf bank accounts; their families are safely housed abroad; and their private planes are ready to take off at a moment’s notice.
We may witness panic scenes at the US embassy in Kabul that are reminiscent of the last days in Saigon (Viet Nam), with local small-fry collaborators clamouring to board the last flights out before the advancing Taliban insurgents — if the jaded media even bother to cover the debacle. The current attempt by the US to strike a face-saving deal with the political Taliban (under auspices of the Saudi autocrats) has infuriated Karzai. As a result, he is now publicly condemning special forces operations and their arbitrary killing and torture of villagers, as well as US drone attacks against Afghan civilians.
The OC regime’s overtures to the Taliban have so far failed because the sine qua non-condition of the Islamist nationalists is the total withdrawal of all US military and civilian occupation forces: in other words, an unconditional collapse of US power in Afghanistan. The Taliban do not need to offer Obama a face-saving formula allowing for a residual US presence. As the withdrawal proceeds, more and more Afghan military officers will switch sides, dumping the losers and building bridges towards the new rulers. If the US decides to reverse course and retain garrison bunkers in Afghanistan, it will face a continuing and deepening war of attrition under conditions of growing budgetary constraints and US electoral hostility.

RESULTS AND PERSPECTIVES: The Obama-Kerry-Hagel (OKH) regime has few imperial assets with which to confront the next four years of US empire-building and has powerful constraints against devising strategic innovations or even tactical advances that are capable of limiting US losses.
The most significant obstacle to any shift from costly and ineffective military-driven empire-building to economically and diplomatically informed policies is the influence of the Zionist power configurations (ZPC) over the “troika” (OKH) and the US Congress. The new Israeli coalition regime is even more extremist and militarist, as indicated by the powerful presence of a radical settler-colonist party intent on violently annexing what remains of the Palestinian West Bank.
The effective Israeli veto over US foreign policy in the Middle East is enforced by the presidents of the major American Jewish organisations (representing over 50 powerful Zionist groups) that exclude any possibility that the Obama-Kerry-Hagel regime can even paste a tiny fig-leaf peace process onto Israel’s accelerating seizure of Palestinian land. The OKH regime, under war-mongering ZPC tutelage, will never attempt any reasonable negotiations with Iran.
The OKH regime is openly committed to entering a war on Israel’s behalf, if the Jewish state unilaterally decides to attack Tehran. Obama’s recent visit to Israel, and his obligatory consultation with leading Jewish-Zionist leaders prior to the trip, was designed to fix the White House agenda: US lock-step conformity with Netanyahu’s policy of provoking war against Iran and Israeli annexation of Palestinian land.
The Zionists have even dictated Obama’s own body language towards Netanyahu: no public spats, only smiles and handshakes, the lapdog US president agreed. If anything, the OKH regime will be even more servile to Israeli demands over the next four years because the Zionist-occupied US Congress has given Israel a free hand in deciding US foreign policy in the Middle East, including the timing of war and the substance of negotiations.
Obama’s newly appointed secretary of state John Kerry and treasury secretary Jack Lew are unconditional lifetime Zionists who can be expected to advance economic sanctions against Iran in the hopes of strangling its economy and provoking a military confrontation.
Given Washington’s costly commitment to Israeli war plans and the constraints of US budget cuts, the new OKH regime will try to coordinate policies with the other NATO powers, including sharing material resources and devising complementary strategies in counter-insurgency operations in sub-Saharan Africa, Islamist mercenary operations in Syria and managing Muslim–neo-liberal regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Kerry’s visit to Europe was designed to strengthen inter-imperial efforts and especially to bolster French Socialist Party President François Hollande’s imperial war policies in Mali and Niger and the Franco-Saudi efforts against Syria.
Under pressure from the puppet Syrian mercenary army invading Syria along with British prime minister David Cameron and Hollande, the OKH regime will step up the flow of US arms in an attempt to forestall the advance of the Wahhabi-Islamist terrorists who have effectively taken over regions of Syria with backing from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other Gulf petro-dictatorships. The great fear in Washington is that its modern weapons will not just contribute to overthrowing the secular nationalist Al-Assad regime, but will also put in power a new Al-Qaeda-type regime on the borders of the most vulnerable client rulers in Jordan and Lebanon.
An Islamist fundamentalist Syria could serve as a headquarters and trampoline for cross-border attacks on US bases throughout the region. Israel will finally annex the strategic Syrian Golan Heights, which it has occupied since 1967, on the pretext of protecting itself from the Islamists it worked hard to put in power. The Kurds will try to seize regions of northern Syria as part of Greater Kurdistan, to Ankara’s consternation. Turkey will traffic its gentler version of Islamist nationalism. Washington, London and Paris will be unable to enthrone their London-based expatriate clients in Damascus. The OKH regime may oust the secular, nationalist Al-Assad, but it will certainly reap the whirlwind of long-term bloody strife, pitting regional powers, rival clients and Al-Qaeda terrorists against each other and all intent on pillaging war-ravaged Syria.
Faced with its dubious prospects in Syria, unable to secure a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan and impotent to regain influence over Shia Iraq, the OKH regime will make an effort to bolster the military-Islamist regimes in Egypt and Tunisia by co-opting sectors of the liberal secular opposition. This will not be an easy task given the growing socio-political polarisation in these countries. Washington’s prospects for consolidating a new set of client regimes will be severely tested by its support for brutal IMF demands on Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to eliminate popular food and fuel subsidies — a policy guaranteed to provoke large-scale rioting among impoverished Egyptians and even the threat of a mass national uprising, uniting secular leftists and poor Muslims. The key concern in Washington is that the ouster of its Islamist client Morsi might jeopardise Egypt’s subservient deal with Israel to enforce the economic blockade of millions of Palestinians in Gaza and to accept Israel’s seizure of more Palestinian land in the West Bank.
So far, the OKH regime has relied on the combined repressive power of the intact Egyptian military, police and intelligence services to prop-up Morsi. But at a pinch, and if he falls, the US may try to reshuffle the deck and seek a new set of liberal political clients or impose an outright military dictatorship on the Egyptians.
In Obama’s never-ending pursuit on behalf of Israeli interests, his new secretary of state made a point of directly attacking Erdogan for equating Zionism with fascism as soon as he landed in Turkey. While his ham-fisted tirade made little headway in achieving Turkish-Israeli reconciliation, Obama convinced Erdogan to accept a pro-forma apology from Netanyahu. Erdogan now has to face the political reality that 90 per cent of the Turkish people clearly oppose Israel’s savage repression of the Palestinians.
In the meantime, Turkish capital has been the main beneficiary of the US military-imposed partition of Iraq. Turkish traders and oil speculators dominate the market in Iraqi Kurdistan. The US may have wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on the invasion, but the Turks have made many billions more in profits from a war they did not support and immensely increased Turkey’s regional influence. The OKH regime can do nothing about Turkey, an opponent of Washington’s Iraq invasion, reaping huge profits from that $2 trillion-plus investment of US treasure and blood.
The OKH regime may have secured Erdogan’s support for the violent overthrow of the Al-Assad regime in Syria, but it will be for Turkey’s own hegemonic interests. Erdogan’s interest in overthrowing the secular-nationalist Al-Assad is based on his plans to establish a compliant client Islamist regime in Damascus and a market to be dominated by Turkish business leaders and policy-makers. Erdogan has taken a page from the Israeli playbook of manipulating the US military machine for its own regional interests and profit.
Washington will continue to rely on Saudi and Qatari financing of mercenary armies and Islamist terrorists to destabilise and invade anti-imperialist regimes, but with the caveat that the battle-hardened mercenaries are also fanatics and are profoundly hostile to the US and the EU.
Qatar’s billions of petro-dollars are like a venereal disease, infecting a region through the funding and arming of Islamist terrorists in tandem with NATO missiles and bombs to destroy Gaddafi’s nationalist welfare state in Libya, savaging the independent secular government in Syria, and providing billions of dollars to prop up the puppet Islamist regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. Qatar’s autocratic monarchy enriches its extended royal family and the foreign imperial protectors, namely the US and UK, in exchange for buying and distributing weapons to Islamist mercenaries attacking independent nationalist regimes.
The OKH regime will retain the presence of its naval armada in the Gulf and its training missions and military bases in order to prop-up the Gulf petro-monarcho-dictatorships. However, the entire Gulf-US complex could become the scene of a grisly military conflagration if the extremist Israeli regime decides to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran and provoke a generalised regional war. As it stands, the stability of the entire US-Gulf oil alliance rests on the whims of a third party (Israel) and the latter’s fifth column embedded in the US Congress and executive branch.

CONCLUSIONS: Obama’s second term depends on a precarious set of alliances, conditioned by the decisions of a fanatical ultra-militarist foreign power (Israel) and subject to a rising tide of mass pro-democracy movements in an arc extending from Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen over to Pakistan.
Moreover, many of the crucial outcomes are beyond the control of the US White House. The OKH regime does not control the mass movements in North Africa, and the mercenary Islamists currently taking over Syria are sworn enemies of both Washington and Damascus. Washington may retain, within a shrinking budget and in concert with the EU, the power to brutally destroy independent regimes. However, in the process it rips the very fabric of complex societies and shatters their economies, thus undermining its own capacity to reap the economic spoils of imperial conquest.
Indeed the main booty extracted from Washington’s imperial wars has derived from the US treasury, as rapacious contractors, corrupt politicians and US military officials pillage billions of US taxpayer dollars in “aid and reconstruction programmes” for themselves.
A 2011 report from the US Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan estimated that defence contractors had wasted or lost to fraud as much as $60 billion dollars — or $12 million a day since 2001. The biggest military contractor ($39.5 billion dollars) is Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton — formerly run by George W Bush’s vice president Dick Cheney. Cheney was a co-architect of the Iraq war, along with the Pentagon Zionists Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. Corrupt war profiteers and Zionist fifth columnists teamed up to pillage the US treasury to consolidate their self-enrichment and to destroy Iraq, a key ally of Palestinian liberation, and reinforce what Obama hails as Israel’s military supremacy in the Middle East.
The legacy of the Bush regime and Obama’s first term is one of pyrrhic military victories: an Iraq shredded by sectarian wars and the reversal of half a century of socio-economic, educational and scientific progress under a secular nationalist government. The OKH regime cannot undo the growing ties between Iraq and Iran. Nor can it reverse the growing commercial, gas and energy ties between Iran and Pakistan.
The US has secured greater Israeli military links with NATO and the European Union, but a growing European and North American boycott against Israeli goods and investments is taking its toll on the Jewish state. The Obama-Kerry-Hagel regime shows no sign of making even a partial break with its costly policy of military driven imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa. Moreover, it lacks economic resources to prop up its new clients in North Africa. While it scurries to fund the current brutal war against Syria, it will have to prepare for new wars against Lebanon and Iran.
The OKH regime will have to rely on low-cost, high-risk, mercenary warfare in Syria. It will try to carve out defence perimeters around its political and petroleum enclaves in Libya. It will have to concede even greater economic and Islamist ideological influence to Turkey. Above all, it will need to appease the Jewish State’s annexation of the West Bank, under pressure from the ZPC.
The old RCA Victor company marketed its “Victorolas,” ancient phonograph players with huge horn-like amplifiers, using the image of an attentive dog sitting before the machine in eager anticipation of “his master’s voice.” The recent trip by Obama to Israel evokes such an image. Obama’s speech to Jewish students in Jerusalem included such ecstatic praise of everything Israeli or Jewish that he exceeded any propagandistic AIPAC press release, surpassed any fabrication by Netanyahu, and embellished (almost to the point of caricature) every racist myth of Jewish superiority.
He lauded Israel as a “land of peace and democracy” in the face of 45 years of brutal military rule and expropriation of 60 per cent of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. He spoke of “negotiations without conditions,” a euphemism for giving Israel the green light to annex what remains of Palestinian land in the West Bank. He praised Israel’s “creativity and courage” in founding the Jewish State, ignoring the violent ethnic cleansing and expulsion of over 850,000 Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians. He spoke of Israeli technological genius, forgetting that Israel’s main exports are weapons of massive destruction.
No US leader, past or present (or any other imperial ruler), has so faithfully echoed and embellished the lies of such a bloody colonial power and its US-based fifth column with greater fervour than Obama’s degrading effort to satisfy his Zionist handlers in Washington. His performance far exceeded their highest expectations of US servility. In style and substance he fulfilled and over-fulfilled their demands for unconditional US subordination to the Jewish state. In fact, one might suspect that in doing so he set a new standard for the boot-licking belly crawl so familiar to observers of US congressional servants to Israel. Needless to say, the entire Zionist propaganda apparatus, from neo-cons to liberals, was ecstatic. Here was a Shabbat goy out-Zionising the most fanatical Zionist.
The day Obama spoke in Jerusalem will be remembered as a day of shame for all Americans who believe in freedom and dignity and peace with social justice. To listen to the president of the United States grovel before a racist colonial power is degrading. It was also a day of anger for the five billion people of the world who have broken their chains of colonial racist oppression. Obama has made his choice: his administration will have to live with this for the next four years.
The OKH regime’s attempt to penetrate Africa via military missions and the promotion of Pan-African mercenary forces will require an accommodation of France’s rising imperial militarism. It will have to acknowledge China’s increasing economic supremacy in Africa’s extractive sectors, infrastructure and trade. The OKH regime’s “pivot to Asia” involving trans-Pacific free trade agreements excluding China, military bases encircling Beijing, and encouraging Japan’s provocation over disputed territory has had no impact on China’s economic growth and burgeoning trade relations.
China’s trade with Asia now surpasses its trade with the US. The two-way flow of investments into and out of China trump all the OKH regime’s offshore war-mongering. The OKH regime’s Asian pivot has failed to produce any imperial economic rewards for Washington’s coffers. However, it has incited greater military tensions between Japan and China and between North and South Korea. This is occurring at a time when the Pentagon faces major budget cuts and US treasury secretary Lew is trying to drum up greater trade with China.
In sum, the past military commitments, the links to Israel, the legacies of political failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fragility of new client rulers mean that the OKH regime will play an increasingly marginal economic role in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. The Obama-Kerry-Hagel troika will do its best to salvage the US military bases and political influence among autocratic petro-states in the Gulf.

The writer is a former professor of sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

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