During the lead-up to the 2008 US election, Barack Obama made much of his plans to end the war in Iraq. His bold declaration - that “on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war”. Across the world, many people pinned their hopes on this promise.
Obama’s policy was never really about ending America’s imperialist war policy. It was always about managing the US war effort more effectively.
Obama only wanted out of Iraq because he believed that war was a poor use of US military assets. In an Op-Ed in the New York Times (14 July 2008), he declared:
“As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won’t have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq.”
For Afghanistan, read “Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven”. Since taking office, Obama has escalated the war in Pakistan and his recently announced Iraq troop withdrawal has freed up troops for redeployment there. Obama always stated that Iraq was an unnecessary distraction, that the real focus in the “war on terror” should be Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that his Iraq pull-out would be accompanied by an increased deployment in that theatre. It was his legions of hopeful believers who convinced themselves that Obama would somehow be different. In fact, Obama’s much touted withdrawal plan provides for 50,000 US troops being left in Iraq until the end of 2011, the same time frame as the Bush administration’s.
He has surrounded himself with many veterans of the Bush administration and so far only demonstrated a more sophisticated and effective hand on the levers of US imperialist power.