ALL AH WE IS ONE: A confused imperialism
The election of Barack Obama in November 2008 was motivated by the need to wash the international face of the United States clean of its ugly stain of unjust war and imperialist greed.
The universal sigh which was heard on the night of his election was breathed out of sheer relief that the murderous warpath upon which the world had been set by his predecessor had reached a dead end.
For the American public, the opportunity to reverse the world’s negative perception of their country had arrived, and they could now focus on internal self-renewal rather than external adventurism and conquest. It was indeed a moment of hope.
For his part, Obama said all the right things. His inauguration speech was a neat summation of a counter-Bush doctrine.
It stressed the need for America to use the option of diplomacy, to accept that its role as a world leader implied more than just military domination, and it promised to take the United States out of the era of self-indulgent unilateralism into one of constructive global engagement.
But imperialism has always moved to its own internal logic. A failing economy, a mode of production dependent on a cheap supply of oil, the incessant need for war to sustain the military-industrial complex have always worked to transform United States idealism into a fringe ideology.
In addition, the only claim upon which the United States can assert itself as a world power is through war. On the basis of its economic performance, its culture, its science and technology, and its ideological justification of itself, America represents a dying imperialism.
The irony of its campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan is that other countries have taken the economic spoils, leaving the United States to carry the military burden.
It is for this reason that the United States’ violation of the sovereignty of the Libyan state represents imperialism in a state of utter confusion. Much of the confusion of the current Libyan adventure is that it has failed to ideologically justify itself.
Whilst the Bush invasion of Iraq had come after months of misinformation on “weapons of mass destruction”, and had indeed carried the faint whiff of a global effort, Obama has failed to convince even in his own Democratic party of the “justness” of the current effort.
Significantly, while other Arab states have been using arms against their protesting publics, Libya is the only country where there has been an organized military uprising. The United States is yet to explain why Gadaffi should allow such an internal military threat to remain unanswered.
Sadly, Obama is the main casualty of the Libyan war. His opportunistic bombing of Libya has suggested the bankruptcy of his own post-Bush ideology, and has legitimized the Cheney-Rice doctrine. Nor will it reverse America’s global decline.
It has now opened the way for his electoral defeat.