NATO was founded at the end of World War II to contain Russia and foster American imperialism. But that was six decades ago.
As Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn writes, today NATO “needs to disappear in the trash can of history along with the Cold War that engineered it.”
Unfortunately, the anachronistic NATO will not be abolished any more than the U.S. military empire will be dissolved. Instead, NATO seeks ever new roles to serve America’s interests.
It found one in Afghanistan. NATO supplies 30,000 non-American troops for the senseless, endless war. America pays the majority of its bills.
Yet the war is unwinnable, always has been and always will be. The obstinacy and stupidity of U.S. presidents about wars never ends.
Vietnam was one. Now it is Afghanistan, the graveyard of imperial powers from ancient Macedonia to the modern-day Soviet Union.
All of which leads to the worst disappointments of President Obama: perpetual war, enormous military spending and the national security empire.
Those grim facts alone portray Obama as just another shabby politician who climbed “the greasy pole” to gain the presidency.
Obama proudly announced the end of the 11-year Afghanistan War, declaring “we can see the light of a new day.” (Perhaps he is too young to recall the mythical “light at the end of the tunnel” in Vietnam.)
Obama did not herald the “fine print,” which notes that American soldiers will stay in Afghanistan until 2014. Moreover, America will keep advisors to the Afghan military in the country until 2024.
The defense budget is $700 billion a year. It spends $120 billion a year on the Afghan War. The military spends an outrageous $2.2 million a minute.
The U.S. military budget is double the combined levels of defense spending by China, Russia, Germany, Great Britain and France.
Then there are “hidden” wars: drone attacks on countries like Pakistan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia.
Droning is a cowardly way to fight from thousands of miles distant. Technicians pull “joysticks,” killing scores of innocent human beings while aiming at “suspicious behavior.”
The Pentagon maintains a fleet of 19,000 drones, some even patrolling the border with Mexico. But not to worry: First, America conquers countries then sells them weapons.
Iraq buys $15 billion worth of military supplies from America, including 36 F-16 fighter planes, M-1 tanks and armored personnel carriers. It will soon buy drones from America.
As Mary Dudziak notes in her book “War Time,” America is “a Sparta at arms with soldiers, tanks, drones, spooks, hackers and every other manner of combat.” Jeremy Scahill, writing for the online Common Dreams, says firing drones has made us “a nation of assassins.”
Another hidden fight: The drug war in Honduras being fought by America with helicopters and commandoes. Among the victims are civilians.
The constitutional guarantee of habeas corpus is violated with prisoners being held for years at Guantanamo without charges.
Jose Padilla, an American citizen detained as an enemy combatant, was arrested in 2002. He has been shackled, forced into painful postures, inundated with noxious fumes and subjected to deafening noises.
Guantanamo is an infamous torture prison. Since it is in Cuba, prisoners at Gitmo are considered outside the jurisdiction of civilian courts and their rules of evidence. The CIA wields waterboarding and outsources its torture.
Yet America is considered a humane country.
Fortunately, we still have much watchdog-barking in the lower federal courts, the true patriotism so often lacking in the Supreme Court.
U.S. Judge Katherine Forrest of New York’s eastern district court bravely struck down a key provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (2011). Forrest called that section, 1021, “facially unconstitutional,” allowing the president to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely without charge or trial.
Then there’s the transparency that Obama promised, declaring that lobbyists “will not run my White House” and “drown out the voices of the American people.” Yet another vow broken. Members of the K Street Gang regularly visit the White House.
Truth-tellers and whistleblowers are treated with contempt by the Obama administration.
Bradley Manning, releasing WikiLeaks documents about historic events, revealed truths about U.S. chicanery. His revelations enlightened American people. For his pains Manning has been jailed and tortured.
Obama is the first president to claim legal authority to kill American citizens without judicial involvement and public accountability.
Incredibly, this is the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize despite his militarism and scorn for the Constitution.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.