Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick: Obama’s empire
January 13, 2013
Has America’s commitment to a global reign deepened?
In January 2003, headlines such as “American Empire: Get used to it” seemed commonplace. In the wake of 9/11, the United States had already invaded Afghanistan, was weeks away from invading Iraq and in the middle of a “global war on terror.” Since then, many Americans have indeed gotten used to American Empire. The most disappointing among them is President Obama, who once railed against the empire’s blackest outrages — from torture to perpetual imprisonment without trial. Instead, Obama is about to enter his second term as heir of George W. Bush’s imperial strategy unless his latest foreign policy appointments signal significant change.
While following through on some key promises, such as withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, Obama has often simultaneously deepened his commitment to the empire. In some cases, he pursued his promises, proposing to closeGuantanamo and launching a plan to give terrorist “detainees” civilian trials, and then quickly backed away as his political foes attacked.
When in office, Obama ignored warnings about getting trapped in the Afghan quagmire. Pushed by his handpicked advisers, including Hillary Clinton and Republican holdover Robert Gates, and generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, he tripled the number of U.S. troops there. By 2011, the United States was spending $110 billion on military operations. Even as the president announced a slight acceleration of the planned 2014 pullout, it is unclear what long-term impact Obama’s Afghan “surge” will have.