What has possessed Obama?

9 December 2009

What has possessed Obama?

The majority of people in the Netherlands celebrated when Obama was elected President of the United States. At last an end had come to the neo-conservative regime of George W. Bush, a regime which in addition to inflicting a great deal of domestic misery on the US, was also responsible for starting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

by Jan Marijnissen

The war in Iraq was begun on false grounds and has furnished that country with hundreds of thousands of civilian dead and absolutely no future prospects. The war in Afghanistan was started in order to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, destroy Al Qaeda and remove the Taliban from power. At least, that was the story. Osama has not been arrested, Al Qaeda is still breathing and the Taliban have more support than ever. State power is now in the hands of a corrupt regime under the leadership of President Karzai, who holds his position due to the fact that no second electoral round was held because no honest elections could be organised. The country, dominated by a tribal culture, is deeply divided, and the US and NATO have in almost no sense whatsoever been able to record any progress in the eight years that the war has lasted. Too little is said about the strategic interests of the US in the region, and the interests that exist there in connection with the oil- and gas reserves in the countries north of Afghanistan, countries which can only find a way to the sea via that country.

At the time the SP was the only party which offered any resistance to this war against one of the world's poorest countries. We saw in the size of the country, its barren inhospitableness, and the huge divisions amongst its people, no prospect of rapid change. Worse still, a carpet of bombs and an invasion would simply work in a counterproductive manner. The Afghans will, probably via many detours, choose their own path. And that is a good thing. If we can sometimes offer help, we must not fail to do so, but they must in the end do it for themselves.

Obama has now decided that thirty thousand additional soldiers should go there. From mid-2011 the withdrawal must begin, including of NATO troops. An exceptionally strange decision. First of all, we know after eight years that this violent strategy will never produced the desired result, and secondly the resistance, now that they know that within two years the retreat will be sounded, will adopt their strategy accordingly.

Is this the beginning of the end of the Obama era?

You are here