Last night, the President announced a new twelve year commitment to the maintence of U. S. forces in Afghanistan. From the very beginning of the 2008 presidential primary campaign, Obama has been wrong on Afghanistan, and at every step along the way he has compounded that mistake. He had the opportunity to reverse course after the in-depth strategic review he ordered, and he chose instead to escalate America's military involvement. Despite the total failure of the announced goals of that escalation, he has now made what is essentially an imperial commitment in perpetuity. As Tallyrand said of Napoleon's decision to execute the Duc d'Engien, this is worse than a crime. It is a blunder. Even if you endorse America's imperial foreign policy, which I have been arguing against for more than fifty years, this is a mistake. Because America is so rich and so powerful, it is not a fatal mistake [save for all those who will die as a consequence of it], but it is a mistake nonetheless.
Obama has received much counsel opposing this sort of Afghan involvement, so this is clearly his deliberate decision. Nor do I think it is based on a politial calculation [like his obvious decision not to "evolve" into support for same-sex marriage until after the election.] He really believes this is in America's national interest, which it is his job to promote, and he is just wrong.
Since 1959 at least, I have been publicly arguing for a non-imperial foreign policy -- for a foreign policy commitment to the advancement of progressive interests around the world. I will not repeat those arguments here. For half a century and more there has been a bi-partisan consensus on the fundamental direction of American foreign and military policy that has won the support across the political spectrum of every major American political figure, from the Kennedys to the Bushes. I have long since despaired of ever seeing that policy changed.
Naturally, all those who oppose my decision to work for Obama's re-election will now ask how I can possibly do so in light of this decision, and the policy on which it rests. My answer is the same: Consider the alternative. Do not be deluded by the non-interventionist stance of marginal figures like Ron Paul. The Republican Party is as committed to the bi-partisan imperial policy as the Democratic Party, and on the evidence of the past dozen years, considerably more destructive in its implementation of that policy.
If this decision, or all the previous decisions, persuades you to disengage from electoral politics and commit your energies to other projects that advance progressive interests, I honor and respect that. But do not imagine that by doing so you are somehow weakening the grip of imperialism on America.