[Marxism] Obama and McCain proposals for "concert" or "league" of democracies to back US wars

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Jul 24 22:08:29 MDT 2008

Gary wrote:
The problem with metaphors like wine and bottles is that they may guide
>thinking along too narrow a focus. The fact that the bottle is a different
one may turn out to be important. I noticed in this context that Chomsky
in a recent interview argues that McCain is the more dangerous option than
Obama. Is that simply because of his personality or because he is closer to
a more militaristic wing of the ruling class?

John wrote:
There's a part of me that actually considers Obama much more dangerous
than McCain in the long term. McCain may (but there's certainly no
certainty in this) act more in accord with the "more militaristic wing
of the ruling class" but he's unlikely to bring about a major shift in
international support for the US. Obama on the other hand seems to have
become an international darling and, given that his foreign policy
(Afghanistan and Israel in particular) seem as hawkish as, but just more
politically astute than, McCain's, I'm inclined to think a McCain
victory might be less damaging internationally than a win by Obama. I
don't claim any expertise in this, it's just a feeling I've got from
where I sit in a minor Imperialist state a long way from the USA.

Fred comments:
I don't see much percentage in estimating which one is more dangerous. The
system is dangerous, the crisis of US world domination is dangerous. Shifts
away from the hegemony of one power are very explosive, not simple
"uncouplings" (to use a term I recall from a complacent article from
Permanent Revolution on the world economic difficulties). The US is FIGHTING
for its position as the hegemonic world power. And it is having a rough
time. We should recall that the relative decline of British imperialism was
a major source of two cataclysmic world wars.

I submitted this item from Juan Cole's website because it highlighted how
much all wings of US imperialism have in common in their approach to the
world today, including the need to get free from the limitations of the
United Nations (once basically a rubber stamp) and other bodies, in favor of
"coalitions of the willing" -- international groupings based on agreement
with the war plans or related moves of the United States. How do you join
the "democracies"? By supporting Washington. How do you find yourself
outside this camp? By disagreeing with Washington. The "Freedom Fries"

But this shows that the basic issue supposedly posed by the Bush course --
growing reliance on unilateralism -- is not under challenge at all. 

The unilateral decision-making role of the United States as against all
comers is at the heart of both proposals.  The one indispensable nation,
with the partial exception of Israel with its completely unique and
exclusive "right to exist." (The "right to exist" of other nations -- say
Iran -- is validated or invalidated by their attitude toward Israel.)

It is important to keep in mind that the disreputable character of the Bush
administration in the eyes of a wide range of bourgeois politicians,
experts, and sections of capital is based on the failure of its policies to
accomplish the goals. Period.

But the goal of maintaining and strengthening world domination is unchanged,
and apparently cannot change yet. The "multipolar world" is more recognized
than before, but as something to be overcome and made unipolar.

Will Obama be able to get and maintain more international support than Bush,
should Obama be elected to succeed him? John cites this as a "danger." That
depends on either sharply changing the current policies, or showing that he
can carry out the Bush course (the "New American Century" line) more
intelligently and, most importantly, more successfully.

He won't be able to grin and wave his way past these problems, not to
mention the still deepening problems of the US and world economy.

Of course, if Obama really reverses the Bush course -- get rid of
Guantanamo, stops torture, sends hom the prisoners, looks for a way out of
Afghanistan, unwinds the occupation of Iraq, reaches an accord with Iran,
creates a real opening to Cuba, decides to live with Latin American
nationalism rather than counterposing the Colombia "model" to the processes
of change taking place, he will gain credibility. He will even earn some.
But I don't see much chance of him turning sharply in this direction. 

So far as I can see, the course is toward trying to make the Bush course
work by carrying it out with modified tactics, intelligently and
diplomatically and without being crudely dominating toward the imperialist
allies, though this is not excluded toward Russia or China or the
misbehaving Latin Americans,

Of course, what a president does is not primarily resolved by what they
campaign on. Roosevelt had a very conservative campaign platform, and his
rhetoric on the campaign trail was little better. What happens afterward is
more decisive. How serious is the economic crisis?  How will the current
challenges to imperialist domination fare and what new ones may emerge? And
how will the US working people, oppressed nationalities, and youth respond?

What interests me in the Obama campaign is not so much the candidate --
although his race is politically significant (as Noam Chomsky put it, he
"looks like" someone who will change things) but the shift in the sentiments
of the population represented by his campaign and the breakdown of the
Republican modus operandi.

But serious change seems unlikely to come from the top, although "danger" is
almost certain to come from there whoever wins.
Fred Feldman


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