Friday, December 17, 2010

The Washington Consensus

"Substantial gains have been made in Afghanistan"; the ticker at the bottom of BBC World reinforces the clichés and while the band plays "believe it if you like", President Obama, a year after he ordered 30,000 more troops to the Hindukush, tells those either myopic, moronic or masochistic enough to listen, "I want to be clear, this continues to be a very difficult endeavour, but we're on track to achieve our goals." Are they now? Well, we could briefly discuss what those "goals" are, or, in other words, we could look at the reasons why innocent Afghan civilians and young men from the United States and its allies are being sacrificed.

According to F. William Engdahl there are two reasons the first of which is: "to restore and control the world’s largest supply of opium for the world heroin markets and to use the drugs as a geopolitical weapon against opponents, especially Russia. That control of the Afghan drug market is essential for the liquidity of the bankrupt and corrupt Wall Street financial mafia." It is a thesis, which certainly requires closer consideration and all the more so as it would seem to support Engdahl's main thesis that the "American Empire" or, as he calls it, "full spectrum dominance" is built, like the British Empire before it, on three pillars, namely, control of the global financial markets, oil, and military hegemony.  Nevertheless, it is to the last of those three pillars  namely "military hegemony" and to Engdahl's second reason for the American presence in Afghanistan which is,  "to build a permanent US military strike force with a series of permanent US airbases across Afghanistan",  that we should turn.

What is being referred to here is in fact the implementation of what Andrew J. Bacevich refers to as the "Washington Consensus on National Security", where the American military is used not for defence but for global power projection and interventionism.  Moreover, while, it is a strategy which supports and complements that other Washington Consensus, namely, the orientation towards those free market policies which Naomi Klein terms "disaster capitalism", it is also a strategy which we might look at on its own. On doing this we will discover that it is not only a policy which has nothing to do with American national security, but is indeed also detrimental to that security.

In his speech to cadets at West Point just over a year ago Obama wanted it known that by sending thousands of additional U.S. troops to fight in Afghanistan he was following in the footsteps of his predecessors.Their policies were to be his policies. There was to be no change. There was to be no questioning of the fact that the Pax Americana is no more legitimate than the Pax Britannica. There was no questioning of the fact that the United States invasion of Afghanistan is every bit as criminal as previous invasions and like those invasions it is doomed to fail.

Just over a year ago Hillary Rodman Clinton in an interview with 'Der Spiegel' said that " (America's ) goal is to defeat al-Qaida" and its extremist allies". That is a pretext for the war on the Hindukush that insults our intelligence. Nevertheless, the United States' real goal in Afghanistan, that is to implement the Washington Consensus is doomed to failure and one might now suspect that beyond the pretext, the hyperbole, and the geopolitical ambitions the only goal is now to avoid the humiliation and slaughter that the British experienced in 1842.

That will probably be avoided and we might instead look to the 15tth of February 1989 and the 'New York Times' report the following day: "The last Soviet soldier came home from Afghanistan this morning, the Soviet Union announced, leaving behind a war that had become a domestic burden and an international embarrassment for Moscow." History, does indeed repeat itself, and we while we can still only speculate, there is evidence to suggest that just as Afghanistan ushered in the end of the Soviet empire, so too might it be the death knell for the Washington Consensus.


Anonymous said...

Another very good and insight post!
Well done!

Anonymous said...

Another top-class post, for me it effortlessly draws together many strands to form a coherent picture of an empire in its death throes, its tail lashing out dangerously, yet ultimately hopelessly, as it expires.

James Nelson said...

... and who and what is waiting in the wings and will we be spared an ensuing slide into chaos?