Home > Uncategorized > Most Significant Shift In U.S. Military Policy Since End Of Cold War

Most Significant Shift In U.S. Military Policy Since End Of Cold War

Daily Pioneer
January 26, 2012

America reinvents policies to meet new challenges
Mayuri Mukherjee

By scripting the most dramatic shift in its foreign and defence policies since the end of the Cold War, the US prepares to confront a new world order

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In the last two decades since, Washington, DC has actively played the role of a global hegemon that has maintained an absolute military superiority over the rest of the world, further strengthened by its economic prowess.

In the first half of the post-Cold War era, the continued maintenance of such a mammoth defence structure was justified by military engagements in Europe (think of the ‘humanitarian intervention’ of the US-led Nato forces in the Balkan Wars)…

Mr Obama’s new doctrine focuses America’s attention on balancing power equations among emerging nations such as India and China in the Asia-Pacific region.

This will be done through a network of regional allies on the front-stage, in diplomatic terms, and through sophisticated secret surveillance, un-manned drones and CIA-style special operations in the back-stage, in military terms.

Think of how quickly popular support waned for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though far more American soldiers died in the Vietnam and Korea. No one really bought the fourth World War logic, and they are no less glad that it is now over.

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When US President Barack Obama said in a recent interview that, “I made a commitment to change the trajectory of American foreign policy…and I think we have accomplished those principal goals,” his statement was lot more true than popularly acknowledged. Indeed, the new set of ‘defence strategies’ unveiled by his Administration earlier this month marks the most significant shift in US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.

In the last two decades since, Washington, DC has actively played the role of a global hegemon that has maintained an absolute military superiority over the rest of the world, further strengthened by its economic prowess. Indeed, even after the threat of a communist take-over had been effectively eliminated by the late eighties, the US military was only nominally downsized from its war-time proportions.

In the first half of the post-Cold War era, the continued maintenance of such a mammoth defence structure was justified by military engagements in Europe (think of the ‘humanitarian intervention’ of the US-led Nato forces in the Balkan Wars) and in West Asia (a successful Gulf War saw the containment of a belligerent Saddam Hussein). Then, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, there emerged a new enemy in the form of Al Qaeda and its network of jihadi groups. It was, and still is, a stateless, shadowy entity that has nevertheless been portrayed as an evil superpower, somehow akin to communist Russia or Nazi Germany, to once again rationalise the presence of a vast American military. Indeed, as the first US troops landed in Afghanistan, neo-conservatives even declared that this would be the fourth World War (the third being the Cold War), or the ‘Long War’.

A decade later, Mr Obama has now declared that war to be over. Osama bin Laden is dead (although the threat of global jihadists remains, but that is another story), US engagement in Afghanistan is winding down, and for all practical purposes, there are no longer any American boots in Iraq.

But that is not all — the past 10 years have also witnessed the sagging of America’s economic strength. Weighed down by a mounting national debt, the US economy which is yet to fully recover from the global financial meltdown of 2007-2008, can no longer afford a gigantic military — and definitely not one that had supposedly been prepped to fight two wars at the same time. Besides, the possibility of a traditional land war is almost obsolete in a nuclear and globalised 21st century.

It is against this backdrop that the new policy, which seeks to trim the US military and renounce the bipartisan consensus achieved post-1989, must be understood. From performing the traditional role of a hegemon fighting ‘nation-building wars’, Mr Obama’s new doctrine focuses America’s attention on balancing power equations among emerging nations such as India and China in the Asia-Pacific region.

This will be done through a network of regional allies on the front-stage, in diplomatic terms, and through sophisticated secret surveillance, un-manned drones and CIA-style special operations in the back-stage, in military terms. A preview of this kind of warfare is already available in the manner in which the US is carrying out counter-insurgency operations in the AfPak region.

Also, compare this to the far more boots (and weapons) intensive approach of traditional warfare and it naturally explains the smaller, leaner, more agile but technologically advanced military that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talked about at the release of this strategic document at the Pentagon. Finally, the new strategy also fits in with the narrative of fiscal discipline and domestic cost-cutting that has become an American imperative since the economic downturn.

Grounded in realism, the new policy is a classic example of realpolitik and marks a definite break from the quest for imperial hegemony of the neo-conservative years of former President George Bush and his deputy Dick Cheney who foolishly led US troops into an expensive and ineffective ground battle in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But the new policy is not without flaws. For instance, if the Obama Administration hopes to contain China’s imperialist tendencies — and make no mistake that that is exactly what the new strategy is all about — then simply positioning ships across the Asia-Pacific from Japan to South Korea and even in far away Australia will not serve any purpose. If anything, this unnecessarily aggressive posturing of the US can only serve to provoke an already jittery China.

Ultimately, Mr Obama’s policy is a reflection of his people’s mood. Americans are tired of foreign wars and now simply want their boys to come back home and not in a body casket, please. There may have been a time when a John F Kennedy could have captured the nation’s imagination by promising that his country would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” But those days of a zealous commitment to Americana or the rhetoric of freedom and liberty that surrounds it are long gone. Think of how quickly popular support waned for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though far more American soldiers died in the Vietnam and Korea. No one really bought the fourth World War logic, and they are no less glad that it is now over.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. AR
    January 28, 2012 at 9:17 am

    “A decade later, Mr Obama has now declared that war to be over. Osama bin Laden is dead (although the threat of global jihadists remains, but that is another story), US engagement in Afghanistan is winding down, and for all practical purposes, there are no longer any American boots in Iraq.”

    This is disinformation.

    Practically speaking, there are no longer any American troops occupying Iraq–just ignore the thousands of US troops who will be stationed there, the thousands more American proxies in the form of Blackwater-style mercenaries in Iraq, and the US Embassy/fortress in Baghdad, which is as large as Vatican City!

    “Grounded in realism, the new policy is a classic example of realpolitik and marks a definite break from the quest for imperial hegemony of the neo-conservative years of former President George Bush and his deputy Dick Cheney who foolishly led US troops into an expensive and ineffective ground battle in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

    Again, pure disinformation. The Obama regime is a *continuation* of the Bush regime and indeed every other American regime’s quest of imperial hegemony. The differences are only TACTICAL in nature and the political mask deployed.

    The false distinction between Neo-conservative and “Realist” foreign policy factions is a political smokescreen.

    And this “Neocon” meme promoted incessantly by many so-called analysts is designed to damage control blame for America’s aggressive behavior to a particular political faction of the USA–rather than the American Empire as a whole.

    “But the new policy is not without flaws. For instance, if the Obama Administration hopes to contain China’s imperialist tendencies — and make no mistake that that is exactly what the new strategy is all about — then simply positioning ships across the Asia-Pacific from Japan to South Korea and even in far away Australia will not serve any purpose. If anything, this unnecessarily aggressive posturing of the US can only serve to provoke an already jittery China.”

    Mayuri Mukherjee stands reality on its head. America’s agenda is to expand its own “imperialist tendencies” and that of its allies like Japan, Australia, and India under the guise of containing a demonized threat like China.

    India is thus attempting to play a geopolitical double game by both allying with the United States to further its expansitionist ambitions from South Asia to SE Asia, while also linking up with multipolar blocs like the BRICs and SCO.

    It’s curious that Mukherjee forget to mention this India angle.

    • richardrozoff
      January 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      The false distinction between Neo-conservative and “Realist” foreign policy factions is a political smokescreen.

      And this “Neocon” meme promoted incessantly by many so-called analysts is designed to damage control blame for America’s aggressive behavior to a particular political faction of the USA–rather than the American Empire as a whole.

      This is 100% the truth. “Neo-cons” are like hippogriffs and manticores – mythological creatures. Reborn Cold War liberals who are economic and social conservatives at home (for others, not themselves) and full-fledged Wilsonian imperialists abroad.

      And you’re as right as possible on the shell game of blaming the “neo-cons” when things go wrong and praising their “multilaterist” counterparts when they go “right.”

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