We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Obama, Afghan, and that Infernal Drip

by Russ Baker from Who, What, Why

This astute observer knows how to read between the lines in mass media reports. The only problem I have is the way he poses the concluding question:
And it raises this question: if an elected president is truly in control, then why are “US military and intelligence officials” going around doing their own thing?
As I see it, Obama was selected, or hired like most Presidents, to sell the main policies of the ruling class. There are always rival factions within this class who try to influence strategies. 

This brings to mind my recent reading of the Korean War and the post-WWII events in the Far East when there was a rather powerful China lobby that wanted to pursue aggressive policies against the newly established People's Republic of China (PRC) and North Korea. The Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, was in charge of foreign policy strategies under the Truman administration. Truman deferred to his judgment because he lacked much experience or knowledge of foreign affairs. Acheson wanted a less aggressive policy of containment of these nominally socialist states. He favored the promotion of splits between the USSR and the PRC, while he wanted to gradually put pressure on North Korea to the point that they would attack South Korea. From my reading of volume 2 of Bruce Cumings book entitled, The Origins of the Korean War, it appears that the machinations of the China lobby greatly accelerated the start of the Korean War, but it probably would have happened anyway.

Military leaders and their followers always have a much narrower view of things and tend to pursue aggressive policies which may backfire if the public is not sufficiently prepared to back them. Obama is very attuned to the various political factions of the ruling class, but it is difficult to tell which ones are in the ascendancy at this time.