Monday, November 30, 2009

When US Foreign Policy Makes No Sense

Just wondering aloud here. Some of our government's policies on the surface make absolutely no sense. I know several right wing war mongers that will defend the invasion of Iraq, but even they can't understand why we're fighting in Afghanistan. I've wondered as well.

But it's not just Afghanistan. Consider the hostility and punishment directed towards Cuba even with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The hostility has only been intensified since the fall.

Everybody knows that the war on drugs has been a complete failure. A Rand report study compared the cost effectiveness of 4 methods of dealing with drugs. These were 1-source country control, 2-prohibition, 3-domestic enforcement, and 4-prevention and treatment. Prevention and treatment was FAR superior (which is also proved by the recent decriminalization in Portugal, see here), yet the vast bulk of the money in fact is spent on the very least effective technique; source country control (i.e. bombing Colombian peasants). More people die from tobacco than cocaine, yet we're not bombing North Carolina. What's going on here? It makes no sense. Or does it?

It only makes no sense if we assume that the stated reasons are the real reasons. What if the war on Colombia is more about clearing the land for agri-business or mining interests in this resource rich country? What if the aggression against Cuba was never about fear of the Soviets, but once again about installing governments that do as they are told by Washington, and the very act of defiance had to be squelched to prevent others from following a similar course? And the best way to overthrow a government you disapprove of is to portray them as a threat to the American people. Though that's no longer tenable the aggression towards Cuba remains and is kind of not discussed.

Tomorrow Obama will let us know if he'll be sending additional troops to Afghanistan. Michael Moore pleads with him not to. I wish Michael all the success in the world. And it might work. Politicians know more and more these days that popular resistance is a big problem for their imperial ambitions. But why would Obama even consider expanding a purposeless war? Well, maybe it isn't purposeless. Maybe there's a lot of money to be made piping oil out of the Caspian Sea, through Afghanistan and Pakistan and out to the Indian Ocean (bypassing Iran). Is that what's going on? I really don't know. But when our wars appear to make no sense I tend to think that there must be a way in which they do make sense. Obama has pressure from some people that stand to make a lot of money, and he must balance that against popular resistance. Tomorrow we will find out which way he goes.


HispanicPundit said...

I'm not going to defend the US policy in Afghanistan, but I will say that your theories make even less sense.

I bet most of your "conspiracy theories" never really pan out either. What real benefit is there to the United States with all its money its invested in the embargo with Cuba? Or the coups in Latin America? Or the war in Vietnam? Or even the invasion of Iraq? Nothing - all of these can be said to be a net cost on the country, even most of our corporations made little to no money. Yet I bet conspiracy theorists like yourself would have had many now debunked theories as to why we were "really" there.

Same with Afghanistan. At the end of the day, I bet that we try to save face and leave - never building an oil pipeline, or any other conspiracy theory. But you will continue with your conspiracy theories.

I bet its alot simpler than what you make it: The United States went into Afghanistan to destabilize the Taliban and shut down Al Qaeda operations and is now trying to find a way to leave without destabilizing the region, and having those forces return.

Jon said...

So how many times did you say "conspiracy" there. I think that's your method of discrediting a view without dealing with it.

So why are we engaging in chemical warfare against Colombia when it is clear that this is the least cost effective method?

I think rather than call my views conspiracies they should rather be called business as usual. It's usual for powerful people to gain wealth via force. Every country always lauds it's own forceful interventions. They perceive their own benevolent intentions, though outsiders don't see it. "Oh, were in the most important region of natural resources because we want to bring happiness and democracy, etc, etc." That's never been the way history has worked. You believe that's what's happening now? You believe the rhetoric of "American Exceptionalism"?

Why did we overthrow the government in Guatamala? For the United Fruit Company. Why did we install a murderous dictator in Iran? For British Petroleum. These examples aren't even controversial. Look at Chile. Copper and other important resources. In each case we're dealing with a government that is looking to counterbalance a situation where oligarchs control 90% of the resources and the remaining 95% of the population lives in poverty. Altering that balance is a threat to the profits of corporations that fund our politicians, so interventions occur.

My point is that Afghanistan, Cuba, and Colombia make no sense if they are really about the stated reasons but make perfect sense in a context of the pattern above. Is it irrational for me to think that in fact the stated reasons aren't the real reasons?

HispanicPundit said...

Yes Jon, your explanations make alot more sense: the real reason we are in Afghanistan, Columbia, Cuba, Vietnam, and other places is for our economic interests.

These countries dont even have a GDP big enough to match our poorest states....but our corporate interests is what drives our intervention there??? Afghanistan Jon? Vietnam? Columbia? Cuba? Seriously??? Wow.

Like I said above, the simple answer is the more probable still.

Jon said...

That's a total dodge, man. Come on. Give me something to work with.

HispanicPundit said...

How do you disprove a conspiracy theory? If I tell you that Bush and the jews were really behind 9/ do you disprove that?

Jon said...

Who's asking you to disprove anything like that? I asked the following questions:

1-Why do you think we're involved in chemical warfare against Colombia when it is clear that this is the least cost effective method of drug control?

2-Every time in the past that a state has been the most powerful in the world/region it uses it's force for malevolent/imperial reasons. Is America the first country to buck the trend?

3-If I conclude that the stated reasons for intervention don't make sense, is it rational to turn to rational reasons that fit the historical pattern?

Nothing here is a demand that you disprove an assertion about a conspiracy theory. You're obviously dodging.