If Russia were doing its very best to tame the Middle East, America could dedicate itself to carefully defining a new and constructive role in international affairs.
It is not easy being Barack Obama these days. Every time he thinks he has a plan to disengage the United States from its disastrous foreign adventures, events beyond his control seem to get in the way. Iraq and Afghanistan continue as battlegrounds that America can’t seem to leave behind. Meanwhile, Syria beckons the warrior class with its unrealized potential for adding more weapons, more soldiers and more death to an already devastated killing field. It seems that like any good opiate, giving up killing is a really hard thing to do.
I give President Obama credit for at least talking about reduced reliance on our killing machine to lead America and the world to a better place. The problem is that he keeps pulling up way short of actually ending our contribution to ongoing international disasters and keeps getting drawn into the shadow world of providing arms to the chosen ones, training anything that says they will do our dirty work for us, counter-insurgency strategies and warfare by proxy. And then, just for good measure, he somehow seems to think that dropping bombs and raining bullets from the sky by airplane, helicopter and drone will keep terrorists at bay and satisfy right-wing blood lust.
To make matters worse, America once again is left to seek forgiveness for “collateral damage” that can only be avoided if we adopt a policy of no damage. Just days before our heroes took out a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, fearless US leaders were all over the rest of the world in Syria about their collateral damage in that quagmire. However, I don’t imagine that those who themselves are the collateral damage give a damn about whether the angel of death is draped in American or Russian red, white and blue. They are dead and dying either way.
But now, much to our surprise, there really is a way out. Let the Russians have a shot at the killing fields that we have tried so unsuccessfully to dominate. We can bring US troops, trainers, advisors, planes and drones home to a hero’s welcome and a big parade. The Russians are probably just as good as we are at killing folks (see Ukraine) and don’t learn any quicker than we do that they can’t do anything to pacify the Middle East or Afghanistan (see the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and compare to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq).
Bonus Features for America
This plan comes with a couple of bonus features for America. If the Russians play their cards right, they can become Israel’s new best friend and relieve the US of the cost and burden of our self-imposed responsibility. Benjamin Netanyahu can have another great moment in Moscow, replete with an appearance before Russia’s parliament and a parade of his very own right-wing former Russians. An added bonus would be appreciation from China for cleverly sucking the Russians into the Syrian vortex. The Chinese always sleep better when all they have to really worry about is Japan.
If Russia were doing its very best to tame the Middle East and the Taliban were pacifying Afghanistan (see the aftermath of the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan) without US-induced chaos added to the mix, America could turn its attention homeward. We could dedicate ourselves to reducing the size of the military and to trying to manufacture something other than weapons, while slowly and carefully defining a new and constructive role in international affairs.
This strategy could help President Obama try to bring his actions more in line with what seems to be his intellectual and moral vision. What a way to end his presidency—with the US at peace and re-engaged in a world effort to end poverty, hunger, disease and ignorance. Nothing would serve our nation and the world better than a profound and complete removal of the United States from the killing fields we have done so much to create in the first place.
But what of the warrior class and the arms merchants? They will surely rally around their old heroes and meet together to plot future military glory over cigars and cognac. Senator John McCain, General David Petraeus and now Senator and President-in-waiting Lindsey Graham are all worthy purveyors of killer soundbites to keep the media fired up. To add to the tribal milieu, the “terrorists” surely will be able to whip up a frenzied response with a good video or two of their handiwork.
President Obama can then step to the microphone and explain to an anxious nation and the world that the Russians have the terrorists on the run, the US is hard at work to reduce poverty, hunger and disease, and that US factories are being re-tooled to provide products for peace in lieu of instruments of death.
All of this, however, depends on the Russians taking over the fight for peace in the Middle East. I wish them the best. Just imagine an America that is actually perceived by others to be exceptional in lieu of wallowing in its own delusions—an America actually feeding hungry children instead of killing them.
*[A version of this article was also featured on Larry Beck’s blog, Hard-Left Turn.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
Photo Credit: Pete Souza