Obama and the US: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Written by Muzammil Hussain Saturday, 01 June 2013 15:51
The speech of President Barak Obama at the National Defense University may 23rd 2013 heralded the much anticipated change in American foreign policy. This change has been anticipated by many astute analysts and politicians for nearly two years. In his speech president Barak Obama focused upon the war on terror he stated: “What is clear is that we quickly drove al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, but then shifted our focus and began a new war in Iraq. And this carried significant consequences for our fight against al Qaeda.”
Although President Barak Obama spoke specifically about the war on terror, his words reflect a growing shift in the thinking of his administration and more generally the political elite of the US. The origins of the war on terror, lie in the hubris of the post cold war era. The neo conservative thinkers and politicians felt that the hegemonic power that America possessed was here to stay and that she had the moral and ethical imperative to asset her influence by force of arms necessary upon the rest of the world and that full spectrum dominance was achievable and desirable.
Post Iraq and Afghanistan there is a new understanding, the imperial hubris has evaporated, and has been replaced by a more sober understanding this can be seen in President Barak Obama’s speech he stated: “Any U.S. military action in foreign lands risks creating more enemies and impacts public opinion overseas.” This statement is from the stand point of politics, as for the view from an economics perspective then the following statement from his speech adequately summarizes the point: “For over the last decade, our nation has spent well over a trillion dollars on war, helping to explode our deficits and constraining our ability to nation-build here at home.”
The Us elite were during the 1990’s intoxicated with their own success, after defeating communism and occupying the middle east, the US emerged as the most powerful state the world has seen. This lead many in the previous administration to feel that world public opinion is an irrelevance. They felt that the US should not be constrained by its perception overseas, international law or any international body like the UN or ICC to complete its moral and ethical duty.
The dawn of the 21st century has brought with it a host of changes which have forced the re-examination of many of these opinions by the US elite, The US elite have realized that the preponderance of the US and its status as the pinnacle of a unipolar world has been very short lived. Rather than fading onto irrelevance the previously defeated USSR has re-emerged with the help of record mineral prices as a nationalistic capitalist state, which is working hard to preserve the remaining influence it has on the world stage, especially its defined sphere of influence i.e. Central Asia. Nor have European nations idly sat by and watched, They have in fact used the negative public opinion of the US to attempt to reassert themselves in their former colonies.
From the military perspective it is abundantly clear to the US administration that modern wars are neither winnable nor affordable from a military perspective and that the reason for having a large and well equipped army as the roman parable states is “so that it isn’t used” is true. Squandering expensive equipment and trained staff in wars that have no end will quickly bankrupt any nation. Hence President Obama stated: “For over the last decade, our nation has spent well over a trillion dollars on war, helping to explode our deficits and constraining our ability to nation-build here at home.”
He mentioned well over a trillion dollars but in fact the cost of the debacle called the war on terror runs into several trillion dollars, which places an unbearable burden upon the future of US economy, and these were wars fought against fairly unsophisticated armies. Funds diverted to the military have starved many fields critical to the future of the US for example in education, research and development, many nations are fast catching up with the US and in some cases have over taken the US.
Furthermore the proliferation of advanced weapon systems like the S300 MPU air defense system produced by the Russia and the HQ9 air defense system produced by china together with the proliferation of many anti ship cruise missiles complicate any military intervention as air dominance is not a fore gone conclusion.
This fact is adequately shown by the recent US announcements regarding the sale by Russia of Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria, which in the event of any US intervention in Syria would greatly reduce the effectiveness of the US carrier fleet, and it should be noted during prelude to the Iraq war Russia did not sends any sophisticated defense systems to Iraq but it now feels more confident to do so in Syria.
In the previous century advanced weapon systems were only available from the US or USSR, who rarely provided up to date equipment, but now many second tier nations like Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, south Korea and even Japan have very active weapon development programs, so much so that after the refusal of the Russia to sell the S300 air defense system to Iran it has developed its own comparable system known as Bavar-373. Also if the leading suppliers are not willing to provide sophisticated weapon systems then China is more than willing to take advantage of the economic opportunities missed by its competitors.
Hence in future any military misadventures are going to be extremely costly in terms of men and equipment. It may be pertinent to mention the issue of “men”. The changing demographics of the US means that to each individual family their often only child is infinitely more valuable to them than in previous times when families were much larger and could absorb the loss of a child significantly better than now.
So if any administration is going to send American service personnel to die in foreign lands then they better have a damn good reason to do so. In the age of the internet, information is freely available and the profits of American corporations are just not good enough to justify the death of even a relatively small numbers of troops hence when president Obama states:
“Our service members and their families have sacrificed far more on our behalf. Nearly 7,000 Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
It shown the significance of a relatively small loss (over 50,0000 American service personnel were killed in Vietnam).
Hence in the medium to long term the military card probably be reserved for extremely vital interests.
Further more and more importantly China has changed the dynamics of the world economy. Post Second World War the US accounted for more than 60% of world GDP it now accounts for a little over 15%, but even this grim statistic is not the whole story. The reality for the US economy is much worse, in terms of volume of trade China is fast becoming the largest trading partner for many countries displacing the US as the previous holder of this title.
As trade is the lubricant which oils the machinery of world economy a reduction in this relationship will inexorable lead to a decline in the importance and hence influence the US wields over the lesser nations like Pakistan and Egypt and Turkey.
US economic influence has been further eroded by the decline in the dollar, no simply from the perspective of its value of its exchange. Rather what is more important is its importance as a medium of exchange. The preponderance of the US dollar as the currency of trade in the world was and inevitable result of its position as the major producer of manufactured goods in the world. Any nation wishing to buy goods would have to obtain US dollars, as the only currency any US company was prepared to deal in was the US dollar. The situation is more diverse now, with the emergence of China and other nations a sources of manufactured goods, the US dollar is increasingly being by passed by what are known as currency swap deals. These are agreements between two states where they agree to deal directly with each other’s currencies rather than using the US dollar as an intermediary. Hence the US dollar and the significant influence that this gives the US are much reduced.
Also the 21st century has seen the emergence of government which are much more representative of the populations of those countries. It is no longer the case that most third world nations are controlled by dictators of one form or another, rather most states have elected representatives in power albeit from a narrow political elite. Hence government have to keep at least one eye on the opinions of their respective populations.
These facts inevitable complicates US policy as a government will not be able to acquiesce to all demands placed upon them rather they will have to take a more balanced approach, hence when President Obama states: “And even then, the cost to our relationship with Pakistan — and the backlash among the Pakistani public over encroachment on their territory — was so severe that we are just now beginning to rebuild this important partnership.” This shows that even in a country like Pakistan where the army has traditionally scorned public opinion, the civilian government has had to take notice, and adjust its policy.
The decline in US influence can be seen from the example of Iran, in the 1950’s the US overthrew the Iranian regime using a single resourceful CIA operative, and this is beyond its imagination in today’s world.
In conclusion the US understands that its hegemony over the world is unsustainable using the traditional means employed by her. Rather she feels that she needs to adjust her policy to focus more upon an intellectual leadership rather than relying on her military and economic might alone to influence other states. To this end president Obama Stated: “American leadership has always been elevated by our ability to connect with people’s hopes, and not simply their fears.”
Although we are seeing the emergence of an American foreign policy, with a focus on soft power rather than hard power, it should be noted that this is a difference in style only the required result is still the same namely the economic and political colonization of other states. We should not be fooled by a change in style rather we should focus upon the ideology upon which the US in particular and the west in general are based upon.
The issue of representative government is especially significant in the mind of the US when it comes to the Muslim world, The US understand without out any doubt that the true and inevitable representative government in the Muslim world is the Khilafah state, and at its inception the US will not be in a position to intervene militarily or economically, hence with its new focus on a intellectual leadership it hopes to prevent the emergence of the Khilafah state President Obama stated: “Nevertheless, this ideology persists, and in an age when ideas and images can travel the globe in an instant, our response to terrorism can’t depend on military or law enforcement alone. We need all elements of national power to win a battle of wills, a battle of ideas.”
So the US has in fact become the wolf in sheep’s clothing attempting to entice the Ummah away from its yearning for the Khilafah.
Source: Hizb ut-Tahrir America