Monday, December 1, 2008

Jeremy Scahill on Obama's Foreign Policy Line-Up

By Ben Trott

Jeremy Scahill posted a piece to the Guardian's Comment is Free site a few hours after Obama announced his (generally widely anticipated) foreign policy/national security team. Scahill is probably best known for his work on the Blackwater Worldwide 'private military' company. Back in March, he wrote a piece with Naomi Klein urging the anti-war left caution in their often hasty support for Obama.

In the CiF article, Scahill argues that with Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, Susan Rice and Joe Biden, Obama has assembled a 'a kettle of hawks with a proven track record of support for the Iraq war, militaristic interventionism, neoliberal economic policies and a worldview consistent with the foreign policy arch that stretches from George HW Bush's time in office to the present.'

Dismissing Obama's claim that the records of those he is appointing does not mean that he, as president, will not be able (or is not willing) to implement change, Scahill goes on to look at the histories of those who have been rewarded with the top jobs. Max Boot, who Scahill describes as a 'neoconservative leader and former McCain campaign staffer', is quoted as saying General Jones' appointment and Gates' retention, 'all but puts an end to the 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, the unconditional summits with dictators and other foolishness that once emanated from the Obama campaign.'

There is not a single, solid anti-war voice in the upper echelons of the Obama foreign policy apparatus', Scahill concludes.
'And this is the point: Obama is not going to fundamentally change US foreign policy. He is a status quo Democrat. And that is why the mono-partisan Washington insiders are gushing over Obama's new team. At the same time, it is also disingenuous to act as though Obama is engaging in some epic betrayal. Of course these appointments contradict his campaign rhetoric of change. But move past the speeches and Obama's selections are very much in sync with his record and the foreign policy vision he articulated on the campaign trail, from his pledge to escalate the war in Afghanistan to his "residual force" plan in Iraq to his vow to use unilateral force in Pakistan to defend US interests to his posturing on Iran.'

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