I take Eliot Spitzer to be one of those smart (except when he is thinking with his gonads) people who represent the possibilities of a renewal of an old, comforting America that many used to seek in Obama. But these comments from an “Advice to Barack” column in Slate show the cul-de-sac that American imperial policy has entered. If someone from his part of the political spectrum doesn’t see the problem, he will never be given control of the steering wheel in the current system.
And finally, President Obama should acknowledge that the Afghan war is failing, that Hamid Karzai’s loyalty is nonexistent, that the local warlords are simply using us for their own purposes, and that the true enemy may not even be there any longer. Terrorists have the clever habit of moving where our ground troops are not deployed. We should get our ground troops out of Afghanistan and take the war to the terrorists through covert operations and sophisticated strikes.
What I mean to say is that even though all that he says is true, an American withdrawal now will be a strategic disaster for the US as great or greater than Iraq. Pakistan will re-assert its attempt at hegemony in Kabul, with Chinese backing and India will not defend its position there, but instead be forced to seek a modus vivendi with rising China. Net result will be further erosion of the American grip on global petroleum reserves. (Yes, yes, Afghanistan doesn’t have oil, but connect the dots….)
And yet I think an American withdrawal is inevitable.
So the US is caught in a no-win situation. Spitzer’s blithe notion that the US could withdraw without serious repercussions for its global hegemony (or his indifference to that fact, take your pick) reminds me of Howard Dean’s stump speech — one which convinced me the Democrats were headed for political oblivion. It was, if you recall, organized around the theme of “I want my country back” — a stirring (and delusional) call to baby boomers to recreate (in effect, though he didn’t put it quite like this) the domestic division of output between labor and capital that existed artificially in the 1950’s. Completely ignoring the required imperial hegemony which enabled it.
To me it seems clear that the new right will run the state and administer austerity, and progressives will need a new political party that actually understands what’s goin on if they want any influence in the next historical period.
In other words, there is no going back.