Dysfunctional American leadership leads to new global disorder

isis H. L. D. Mahindapala

The jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) has seized the Iraqi city of Mosul and looted $429m, becoming the world’s richest terror group.

Last week President Barack Obama notched one more killing field to his list of countries he has already bombed. With absolute contempt for international law or international humanitarian law he has moved according to the dictates of his political necessities to bomb Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and Lebanon – all of which are Muslim countries. Last week he added Syria as his seventh killing field – an act which he justified in the name of crushing intransigent and cruel terrorism of ISIL.

This escalating list does not prove that America is “the most powerful nation on earth.” In real terms it means that America has lost its power to manage the post-Osama bin Laden threats to America from Islamic extremists. Airstrikes are mere panic-stricken reactions to the failure of American strategies/policies to confront the Hydra-headed threats rising from diverse corners of the Arab world. This is the most frightening scenario in the current global situation: “the most powerful nation on earth” (Hard Choices, Vol. II, Hillary Clinton) is dithering like Hamlet not knowing whether to act or not to act. Either way the road ahead is mined with potential dangers both to America/West and global peace.

After Obama’s Naval Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden and his wife – both of whom were unarmed — he claimed triumphantly that he had weakened, if not crushed, Islamic extremists threats to the West. But his crushing of Al-Qaeda has resulted only in giving rise to ISIL and Nusra – two Islamic forces which threaten Western interests on a scale far greater than that of Osama bin Laden ever did.
Starting from post-World War II to the present day American foreign policy has run on phobias manufactured and propagated to frighten the world into submission. The Dulles brothers ran the anti-Communist phobia which resulted in total defeat in Vietnam. After the fall of the Berlin Wall America has been manufacturing lies against the Islamic world. Everyone knows how Colin Powell, Secretary of State, lied to the Security Council, about the WMDS in Saddam Hussein’s armoury.
Listing some of the lies of America Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of How America Was Lost wrote:
“The public fell for the lie that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that were a threat to America and that if the US did not invade Iraq Americans risked a “mushroom cloud going up over an American city.” With the rise of ISIS, this long war apparently is far from over. Billions of dollars more in profits will pour into the coffers of the US military security complex as Washington fights those who are redrawing the false Middle East boundaries created by the British and French after WW I when the British and French seized territories of the former Ottoman Empire.
The American public fell for the lies told about Gaddafi in Libya. The formerly stable and prosperous country is now in chaos.
The American public fell for the lie that Iran has, or is building, nuclear weapons. Sanctioned and reviled by the West, Iran has shifted toward an Eastern orientation, thereby removing a principal oil producer from Western influence.
The public fell for the lie that Assad of Syria used “chemical weapons against his own people.” The jihadists that Washington sent to overthrow Assad have turned out to be, according to Washington’s propaganda, a threat to America.
The greatest threat to the world is Washington’s insistence on its hegemony. The ideology of a handful of neoconservatives is the basis for this insistence. We face the situation in which a handful of American neoconservative psychopaths claim to determine the fate of countries.
Many still believe Washington’s lies, but increasingly the world sees Washington as the greatest threat to peace and life on earth.”
The Western media demonizes the victims of American hegemony as the evil forces that must be crushed. Neo-conservative imperialism of America is bleeding America to death. The cost of running wars abroad is spinning out of control like the maddening events. Gordon Adams, a professor at American University and former budget official during President Bill Clinton’s time in office, doing his maths said: “The back of my envelope says this (Iraq-Syrian offensive) will cost between $15 billion and $20 billion on an annual basis or between $1.25 billion and $1.75 billion a month.” This comes on top of the 17 trillion debt faced by America. American decline is guaranteed by the arrogance of “the indispensable nation”.
The ISIL forces sweeping across Iraq and Syria are the latest challenge that is dragging America deeper into debt. Besides, the unexpected explosion of Islamic extremists forces in Iraq and Syria exposes Obama as a lame Lawrence of Arabia limping in the Middle Eastern deserts without a camel or a compass. With each exploding event that throws him off balance he is forced to react nervously and defensively not like the “most powerful nation on earth” but like a Goliath facing multiple Davids.
The air strike cures prescribed by America have proved to be worse than the extremist disease sweeping the Arab world. Obama’s initiatives have boomeranged and the impact of the unmanageable events seems to be hitting home harder than ever before. Today he is faced with the strange spectacle of American and Western citizens flocking in their hundreds to fight against the West in the “Caliphate” of ISIL. America, which boasts of thousands of think-tanks, the mightiest military power and still the number one economic giant, is virtually cornered by Islamic extremists using American money, American weapons, and even American recruits to rub America’s nose on the sands of the Middle East.
In short, Obama is stuck without a strategy to combat the new monsters he created by crushing Al-Qaeda. His only strategy so far has been to launch airstrikes. His generals know that airstrikes are not going to have the same impact as that of ground forces confronting and chasing the ISIL from Iraq and Syria. Ironically, the mightiest power on earth doesn’t have the capacity to put boots on the ground – the only means of combatting and crushing the ISIL. Osama’s ghosts are striking back with a ferocity that Obama cannot handle. The Obama-led world is lurching from crisis to crisis with America losing its grip, each step of the way, as it slides down the greasy pole.

Bombing seven countries isn’t a bad record for a Nobel Peace Prize winner! But has it brought peace or security to the West or the to the world at large? ISIL has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of Al-Qaeda. Except for 9/11, which was specific to America. The West had not faced a threat of this magnitude with sleeping Islamic cells rising within the dominant White-Christian nations wielding global power.

The American-led policies of the post 9/11 period have radicalized the Islamic world. Obama’s drones hunting down individual Islamic leaders have resulted in producing new and more militant leaders preaching anti-Western venom. Remote-controlled bombing clearly is not the answer to the rise of extremist Islamic cults. America has miscalculated, mishandled and bungled all the way from 9/11 in New York to Raqqa – the capital of ISIL’s caliphate in Syria. It was 9/11 that led to the invasion of Iraq. But where has it taken them even after pouring in $60 billion dollars into Iraq, not to mention the body count, over the last ten years.
America managed to muddle its way through the Cold War only because the Communist commissars were more stupid than the American generals. American foreign policy has been one continuous rigmarole of rushing into places where knowledgeable angels fear to tread. They rushed into Vietnam on the bogus domino theory. They rushed into Iraq on the fictions of non-existent WMDs. They embraced ‘the Arab spring” which produced only grapes of wrath. Their penchant for backing losers is monumental. They rushed into Chile to overthrow the democratically elected Allende only to replace him with brutal Pinochet.

The natural course of evolving events had produced better results than the forced manipulations of the State Department. The Soviet Union which America failed to dismantle collapsed on its own volition. The Berlin Wall came down not because Ronal Reagan cried: “Mr. Gorbachev tear down the wall!”. It came down because “Something there is (politically speaking) that doesn’t love a wall,” (Frost).
The post-Berlin Wall period is haunted by the specter of terrorist violence, linked mainly to separatism. Sri Lanka stands out as the only nation that had successfully crushed terrorist violence. None of the big powers has been able to stabilize their nations by crushing the terrorists outfits decisively. At the time Sri Lanka was fighting the Tamil Tiger terrorists America and the West were bases for exporting dollars, propaganda and military material to Sri Lanka. Hardly any expatriate Tamils risked their lives to die for Prabhakaran like the way the Islamic fundamentalists do for their “Caliphate”. Today America and the West have become resourceful bases to export not only money and material but also Western men and women to fight against the West.
Besides, Islamic extremists are brazenly taunting America / West by publicly executing White-Christians. This is their way of thumbing their noses at “the most powerful nation on earth”. Mocking American power with executions is more effective in delivering telling messages to the West than merely burning the Stars and Stripes. It hits at the nerve center of each and every American / Western home.
The execution of Christian Westerners by the Islamic extremists brings in another dimension: it has polarized the world on religious lines. This is reminiscent of the barbarism that goes back to the time of the Crusades. Israeli genocidal attacks on Gaza is seen as another variation / extension of Western barbarism. The enormity of the American-sponsored violence has torn to shreds the moral façade behind which the West parade as high-minded and committed defenders of human rights. The violence spilling out of the collision of the Bible, Torah and the Koran makes a mockery of the vaunted Western religious values.
There is no doubt that ISIL must be dismantled the way Sri Lanka decimated the Tamil Tiger terrorists. The promised “Caliphate” of ISIL is the equivalent of evil Eelam promised to the Tamils. An angry Obama expressed his despair when he told the UN General Assembly: ““No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning — no negotiation — with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.”
President Obama, it must be admitted, is an unwilling partner dragged kicking and screaming into the Middle Eastern muddle. In his own words: “I came to end wars not to start them.” Unfortunately, for him it is the very act of withdrawing from the Middle East that has pulled him back into the Arab cauldron. Every new turn of events in the Middle East is forcing him to eat his own words. He is juggling his words in vain to strike a balance between his failed ideals and justifying wars which he launches reluctantly. .
At the UN General Assembly he was trying his best to give a positive spin to his stewardship. But the words didn’t ring true. The words lacked conviction because he knows that he has lost his grip on events. He even looks tired like his rhetoric. His failures are written all over his face. He has lost the sap and the vigour that gave him a glow in his first term. Though he keeps on plugging messages of hope in the midst of despair, the weariness, so apparent in his demeanor, indicates that he is circumambulating in a world spinning out of control. In short, he is very much like America: going down-hill with squeaky, ineffective brakes.
He, like America, is nagged with doubts. Despite all the bravado he is not sure what the war against ISIL would look like in the end, He, like his generals, knows that airstrikes will not end the war in a hurry, if at all. Pentagon is preparing the American public for a long haul. So what is the end going to be like?
One thing is certain: the civilian casualties of his airstrikes will mount in the end to a figure higher than that of the exterminated ISIL extremists. What is more, the ISIL fanatics are not going to sit like ducks in strategic places waiting for Obama’s drones to hit them. Reports say that they are moving with the civilians which the drones cannot detect.
Desperate Obama is going all out to win through his latest drone offensive. He has gone as far as lifting the rules governing drone attacks which indiscriminately kill civilians and children, according to the Huffington Post (01/10/14). Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told Yahoo News …”a much-publicized White House policy that President Obama announced last year barring U.S. drone strikes unless there is a “near certainty” there will be no civilian casualties — “the highest standard we can meet,” he said at the time — does not cover the current U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.”
Commenting on this violation of Obama’s own principles Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite said: “This is a tragic error. One of the worst mistakes the United States can make is to respond to the horrors of the conduct of ISIS, especially its wanton killing of civilians, by killing civilians in response. We are meeting horror with horror and it will come back to haunt us, both morally and strategically.
“In addition, this new information from the White House undermines a substantial part of the argument for the morality of the drone program, since the drone program has been sold to the American people as a way for the U.S. to kill terrorists without substantially endangering local populations.
“We are supposed to be operating under a new drone policy where protecting civilians is a priority. The President acknowledged civilian deaths in his major 2013 speech on drones, calling them “a tragedy.” In that speech, the President promised the drone program would operate within limits protecting civilians, and that in addition to control of the drone program being transferred from the CIA to the Pentagon, a new era of a new era of transparency on drones would begin. This has now been shown to be more a rhetorical and less actual policy.” (Huffington Post – 01/10/14)
Now here’s the rub. At the UN in New York Obama was mobilizing world opinion to legitimize his drone attacks in Iraq and Syria – both of which will result in mounting civilian casualties in a war that is not going to end in a hurry. At the same time, in Geneva he mobilized global forces at the UNHRC to accuse Sri Lanka of doing what he is doing right now in Iraq and Syria : fight back with all resources to crush terrorism.
At the UNHRC the American-led anti-Sri Lankan resolution said that Sri Lanka did the right thing in crushing the LTTE. But Sri Lanka was accused of not doing it according to international humanitarian law. Having taken the high moral ground against Sri Lanka what is Obama doing now in Iraq and Syria now? He is violating his own rules – let alone international humanitarian law – and giving the drone operators the license to strike civilians, children and elders with impunity.
The double standards applied here is obvious. But putting Sri Lanka on the mat for not waging a war according to international humanitarian law goes beyond double standards. It goes beyond that of the failure of American diplomats to grasp the realities facing them as a global power which has to fight on many fronts. It is a despicable act of accusing and bullying small nations to cover-up America’s heinous crimes against humanity on a massive scale. Attacking Sri Lanka at the UNHRC is another hypocritical tactic to make America look like the moral leader of the world. In lifting Obama’s own rules for drone strikes is an act of reinforcing and expanding America’s “network of death”. How can the world trust and respect America as a moral leader when it refuses to follow its own rules to maintain its “network of death.”?
What is America’s morality worth for a new global order? For instance, Michele J. Sison, the American Ambassador, went to the north and posed before a pro-Tiger poster to show solidarity with the victims of the Vadukoddai War which was launched (1976), directed, financed and fought to the bitter end by the Tamil leadership dismissing all opportunities that came their way, through the courtesy of the international community, for a negotiated settlements. By the same token, can we expect to see any of her colleagues in the Middle East to pose before the ruins of drone bombings in Raqq?

Laura Davies, the Deputy British High Commissioner, another moral poseur in the diplomatic circus in Colombo, is pontificating from the east and the north, as if she had descended to the ninth circle in Dante’s hell. This is typical of British hypocrisy. She skips the suffering of the indentured Tamil labour that her colonial ancestors planted in the central hills to fatten the bank balances of British investors in tea estate and goes to pick on the northern and eastern Tamils who have recovered their normal lives at a rate far greater than the 21 million IDPs located in near-starving camps caused mainly by bombings, invasions and wars sponsored by her masters in UK.

She is not a morally concerned Jane Austen depicting (as the latter did in Mansfield Park) the exploitative, colonial and cruel perversions perpetrated in the plantations in the West Indies owned by the British investors. Ms. Laura Davies’ morality, coming from a nation that was the first to establish concentration camps in the Boer War in S. Africa, stinks to high heaven.
So does the morality of Sison. After holding prisoners without trial at Guantanmo Bay for years, after torturing prisoners in the process of renditioning, after causing the deaths of 600,000 Iraqi children who died prematurely because the American-led naval blockade prevented food, medicine and other essential reaching these kids, after dropping atom bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima – to mention only a few – what moral authority has Ms. Sison to strut the stage in Sri Lanka as if she is a holy nun walking on high heels. Even her boss, Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State, has knocked the bottom out of the specious argument of feminists that women in power can be more humane than men.

Madeleine Albright statement that killing 600,000 Iraqi children is “worth it” amounts to child pornography for which she should be prosecuted by an ad hoc court set to try her for this crime alone. American morality looks no better than the face of a tired old tart : all paint and no beauty or redeeming features to ease the pain of the world raped by American exploitations, lies, invasions and wars – all of which have failed to serve American security and long-term political and economic interests. .

Here’s the verbatim report from her interview with Lesley Stahl of CBS News: “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.”

Osama bin Laden never forgave America for killing the 600,00 children. “These remarks became a notorious example of extreme American callousness toward the Muslim world,” reported Wikipedia.

“A few months later, in August 1996, Osama bin Laden cited the deaths of 600,000 Iraqi children in a fatwa declaring war against the U.S. “More than 600,000 Iraqi children have died due to lack of food and medicine and as a result of the unjustifiable aggression (sanction) imposed on Iraq and its nation,” he said. “The children of Iraq are our children. You, the USA, together with the Saudi regime are responsible for the shedding of the blood of these innocent children.”

Over the years, bin Laden hammered the U.S. repeatedly on the theme of sanctions killing Iraqi children, citing “the greatest mass slaughter of children mankind has ever known” as one of his three main justifications for the 9/11 attack.

In fact, several years prior to 9/11, a new UNICEF survey of child mortality in Iraq appeared in The Lancet,” said Wikipedia.

This is America’s “network of death” that no father or mother can accept. If the logic of Madeleine Albright concludes that the murder of 600,000 Iraqi children is “worth it” how can the West, which follows the American lead in global morality, question Hitler’s holocaust? The stark difference, however, is that not even Hitler dared to murder 600,000 children in one deadly maneuver. This also demonstrates conclusively how American violence against innocent Muslim children and civilians contributed directly to the rise of the violent Islamic movements like the Al-Qaeda.

Against this background how can Ms. Sison, the devoted disciple of callous Madeleine Albright, preach high morality to Sri Lanka? When will America “dismantle its network of death” to guarantee world peace? Irrespective of the rights and wrongs, it must be conceded that Ms. Albright was forthright in admitting that killing 600,000 children was “worth it”. There is no moral spin given to this mass murder. So why is Ms. Sison parading in Colombo as if she is clean and white as unused toilet paper?

Clearly, there is something absolutely rotten in the state of America. Defending American morality abroad is making the task of diplomats worse than that of Quixote tilting at windmills. When she goes back to sit in the inner circle of Obama her experience in trying to market American morality to Sri Lankans should be helpful. She could tell the decision-makers in Washington bluntly that the task of Sisyphus rolling the stone up the mountain was far easier than the American diplomats selling American morality to the natives.

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About noelnadesan

Commentator and analyst of current affairs.
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