What Did Einstein Say of Insanity?

Doing the same thing and expecting a different result!

What couldn’t be stranger, though, is that from the whirlwind of policy disaster, the Obama administration has drawn the least likely conclusion: that more of what has so visibly failed us [Who dat? Cui bono?] is in order — from Pakistan to UgandaAfghanistan to Somalia, the Persian Gulf to China.  Yes, COIN* is out and drones as well as special operations forces are in, but the essential policy remains the same.

The evidence of the last decade clearly indicates that nothing of significance is likely to be built from the rubble of such a global policy — most obviously in relations with China, America’s greatest creditor.  However, there, too, as President Obama signaled (however feebly) with his recent announcement of a symbolic permanent deployment of U.S. Marines to Darwin, Australia, the military path remains the path of least resistance.  As Michael Klare put it recently in the Nation magazine, “It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the White House has decided to counter China’s spectacular economic growth with a military riposte.”

As Barry Lando, former 60 Minutes producer, points out, China, not the U.S., is already “one of the largest oil beneficiaries of the Iraq War.”  In fact, our military build-up throughout the Persian Gulf region is, in essence, guarding Chinese commerce.  “Just as American troops and bases have spread along the Gulf,” Lando writes, “so have China’s businessmen, eager to exploit the vital resources that the U.S. military is thoughtfully protecting… A strange symbiosis: American bases and Chinese markets.”

In other words, the single most monstrous mistake of the Bush years — the confusion of military with economic power — has been set in stone. 

* COIN is the counter insurgency doctrine of the US armed forces.  The fundamental concept is to win hearts and minds by minimum lethality and maximum aid.  Somehow the doctrine omits the option of leaving people the hell alone and going home as the best way to win hearts and minds.


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