I was thinking that in light of the labor and youth revolutions of 2011, Washington’s focus on Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past two decades seems increasingly odd, like a set of fixations. They originated in the Cold War and in a frantic attempt to keep petroleum inexpensive so that alternative energy did not eat into Big Oil’s profits (Rupert Murdoch famously promised us $14 a barrel petroleum as a result of the Bush war on Iraq). But if you’ve ever played the board game “Risk,” you know that campaigns against the enemy can sometimes progress unexpectedly and you are left with a pile of your soldiers so far behind your lines that they are essentially useless.
In the same way, Washington has been left behind, its Soviet-era fixation on Central Asia now inexplicable in the absence of a Soviet Union, its hopes of cheap oil a distant chimera. Given global warming, cheap oil would not even be a good thing. Washington just seems increasingly out of touch with the real world, as Michael Schwartz recently argued. After all, a youth-and-labor revolution against Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism, and local tyranny supported by both– all at once– leaves inside-the-Beltway pundits sputtering and spinning their wheels.
(For my own recent thinking on some of these foreign policy issues see this interview in Foreign Policy in Focus).
So I was thinking of writing something about all that, but as often is the case, Tom Engelhardt of Tomdispatch.com beat me to it, with his incisive essay, “Washington’s Echo Chamber.” Don’t miss it.