If the next president is John McCain, one might well expect a continuation of the Bush Doctrine, with its disregard of world opinion and its emphasis on preemption and the use of the military to solve complex international problems. If it is Barack Obama, he will hopefully have a predilection to negotiate before bombing and a greater willingness to listen to the views of America’s foreign allies. But on key issues such as the Middle East, where Obama is advised by neocon-lite Dennis Ross and other Clinton administration holdovers like Madeleine Albright and Richard Holbrooke, one can expect little change. There might even be a regrettable tendency to demonstrate an Obama administration’s seriousness by picking a ‘small crappy little country and throwing it against the wall’ just to make a point, something that leading neocon Michael Ledeen has recommended (hat-tip to A conservative blog for peace.
The first decade of the 21st century has been marked by the Caliban versus Taliban wars. At least that is what it seems like, in the light of Robert Browning’s poem, Caliban upon Setebos:
Thinketh, such shows nor right nor wrong in Him
Nor kind, nor cruel: He is strong and Lord.
Am strong myself compared to yonder crabs
That march now from the mountain to the sea;
Let twenty pass, and stone the twenty-first,
Loving not, hating not, just choosing so.
Say, the first straggle that boasts purple spots
Shall join the file, one pincer twisted off
Say, this bruised fellow shall receive a worm,
and two worms he whose nippers end in red;
As it likes me each time, I do; so He.
And Caliban seems to be an appropriate metaphor for the USA — much strength, little intelligence, arbitrarily throwing some crappy little country against a wall like a crab, just to make a point, or even to make no point at all, as in the case of Iraq.