Posted 11 months ago on June 8, 2014, 6:07 p.m. EST by flip
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The Empire’s New Clothes by paul street
In a similar vein, Obama has dramatically expanded the number of “sovereign” nations in which US Special Forces are deployed from 60, at the end of the Bush43 administration, to 134 today. According to the antiwar journalist Nick Turse, in a passage that deserves lengthy quotation:
“This 123 percent increase during the Obama years demonstrates how, in addition to conventional wars and a CIA drone campaign, public diplomacy and extensive electronic spying, the US has engaged in still another significant and growing form of overseas power projection. Conducted largely in the shadows by America’s most elite troops, the vast majority of these missions take place far from prying eyes, media scrutiny, or any type of outside oversight, increasing the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences….”
“Although elected in 2008 by many who saw him as an antiwar candidate, President Obama has proved to be a decidedly hawkish commander-in-chief whose policies have already produced notable instances of what in CIA trade-speak has long been called blowback…the president has presided over a ramping up of the US military presence in Africa, a reinvigoration of efforts in Latin America, and tough talk about a rebalancing or ‘pivot to Asia’….”
“The White House has also overseen an exponential expansion of America’s drone war. While President Bush launched fifty-one such strikes, President Obama has presided over 330, according to research by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Last year, alone, the US also engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. Recent revelations from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden have demonstrated the tremendous breadth and global reach of US electronic surveillance during the Obama years. And deep in the shadows, Special Operations forces are now annually deployed to more than double the number of nations as at the end of Bush’s tenure.”
“In recent years, however, the unintended consequences of US military operations have helped to sow outrage and discontent, setting whole regions aflame….A more recent US military intervention to aid the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi helped send neighboring Mali, a US-supported bulwark against regional terrorism, into a downward spiral, saw a coup there carried out by a US-trained officer, ultimately led to a bloody terror attack on an Algerian gas plant, and helped to unleash nothing short of a terror diaspora in the region….And today South Sudan—a nation the US shepherded into being, has supported economically and militarily (despite its reliance on child soldiers), and has used as a hush-hush base for Special Operations forces—is being torn apart by violence and sliding toward civil war.” (emphasis added) 
As the Obama White House and Pentagon surely know, Washington’s arch-criminal drone campaign – in which the US “peace” president acts as personal executioner (without trial) of officially designated enemies (serious controversy arises in the “homeland” only when those executed are US citizens) – kills a large number of innocent civilians (so-called “collateral damage,” more honestly described as “bug-splat” by military insiders) and breeds terrorists in tribal societies . Top-down terror from the imperial core breeds “blowback” from and across the Muslim periphery, promising more lucrative cost-plus “defense” contracts for the president’s “friends atop Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon, etc. Another large Islamist attack on the imperial “homeland” (a revealing militarist phrase Obama44 has picked up from Bush43 and run with) waits in the wings.
A “return of great power conflict” has emerged in the interim, courtesy of “antiwar” Obama. US Special Forces and military hardware are now provocatively deployed in former Soviet republics on the western border of Russia, with whom the Obama administration has sparked a potentially disastrous conflict over strategically super-significant Ukraine , through which Western armies have repeatedly charged into Russia with catastrophic consequences over the last two centuries. Meanwhile, Obama is menacing China, whose “containment” is the essential goal behind his much-ballyhooed “pivot to Asia.” “By 2020,” John Pilger noted last April:
“almost two-thirds of all US naval forces in the world will be transferred to the Asia-Pacific area. This is the greatest military concentration in that vast region since the Second World War….In an arc extending from Australia to Japan, China will face US missiles and nuclear-armed bombers. A strategic naval base is being built on the Korean island of Jeju less than 400 miles from the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai and the industrial heartland of the only country whose economic power is likely to surpass that of the US. Obama’s ‘pivot’ is designed to undermine China’s influence in its region. It is as if world war has begun by other means.” 
In a recent saber-rattling speech at West Point, Obama said the following: “Let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency: The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it… International opinion matters, but America should never ask permission to protect our people, our homeland or our way of life.”The left analyst Mike Whitney offers a useful and accurate translation on Counterpunch:
“In other words, the United States will do whatever the hell it wants to and if you don’t like it: ‘Too bad.’ This is the Bush Doctrine verbatim. The West Point oration proves that the new administration has simply modified the Bush credo to suit Obama’s pretentious speaking style. Strip out the visionary formulations, the grandiose bloviating, and the sweeping hand gestures and the ideas are virtually identical; unilateralism, preemption, and exceptionalism, the toxic combo that has spurred 13 years of war, occupation, regime change, black sites, extra-judicial assassinations, drone attacks, and hyperbolic state terror most of which has been directed at civilian populations whose only fault is that they occupy regions where vast petroleum reserves have been discovered or which have some fleeting strategic importance to Washington’s war planners.” 
By “our core interests…our people, our homeland” and “our way of life,” Obama does not mean “we the [American working class majority of] people,” whose living standards continue to deteriorate in the current US New Gilded Age of savage inequality and abject plutocracy. He means the stupendous profits and right-figure salaries of the nation’s top investors and corporate managers, whose shameful shocking fortunes are rooted in the ruthless exploitation of working people and the natural environment at home and abroad.
US military contractors got another opportunity to lick their lips when Obama recently announced in Warsaw that he will ask Congress to spend $1 billion to expand the US military presence in Eastern Europe.The Guardian reports that Obama plans “to rotate more troops in and out of Poland, to strengthen air patrols over the Baltic, and to beef up naval operations in the Black Sea off the Russian and Ukrainian coasts” (emphasis added). (Dominant US mass media had nothing to say about how that $1 billion might be better spent to help some among the more than 16 million US children who scandalously live beneath the nation’s notoriously inadequate poverty level  – this in a nation where six Wal-Mart heirs possess between them as much total wealth as the bottom 40 percent of the population.[15A])
Obama does and says all this and more (unburdened by translations in US “mainstream” media) while claiming to honor “international accurate law” to and to guard against US global “overreach.” He saves his loftiest oratorical passions for standard presidential phrases about “exceptional” and glorious America’s grand and selfless commitment to defending peace, freedom, security and justice around the world. In France for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion last week, Obama made sure to remind his audience that “the United States of America is and will remain the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known” and asked God’s continued blessing for all the US and Western troops who sacrifice and “serve today for the peace and security of our world.” [16A]
The vast US military Empire (which continues to account for nearly half the world’s military spending) is not retreating from “overreach” under Obama. It is repositioning and expanding in a stealthier way than it did under the more club-footed Dubya and his neoconservative posse of mad-dog-killers (Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Libby et al.). The “peace and security of our world” is the last thing really on the mind of the Pentagon and White House’s imperial planners in the Obama era as during the Bush43 years.