Will the administration of President Barack Obama be characterized by imperialism light? Just enough kindler, gentler crusading to keep peace-loving Americans trapped in the Democratic Party?
It is hard to predict the actions of someone whose election campaign was characterized by unprecedented massive spending, vagueness on policy issues, and emotional manipulation. But in the opening days of his presidency we have seen two early indicators of how things are going to work. The prison at Guantanamo is supposed to be closed within a year (but we'll keep the base we stole from Cuba). That is good. It really is not much, but it is good.
The bombing of Pakistan this week, allegedly using unmanned drones operated by the CIA, is bound to please the security people. Barack has shown he can order people to be murdered in foreign countries. As far as I can tell, we (I am a citizen of the United States of America, and must accept some collective responsibility) invaded Afghanistan without any reasonable pretext for war. We overthrew the government of Afghanistan and installed a puppet government that has been characterized by the usual ineptness and corruption, and which exists mainly to profit from the poppies to heroin trade. Anyone who fights against the American occupation is in the right; every American bullet just does further wrong. It does not matter if I like the American way of life better than I like the radical Islam way of life. America has no military business in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
What will imperialism light look like? Most likely it will simply mean a more economical application of resources. Regimes that don't march to U.S. orders will get the usual carrot and stick treatment. There will be greater reliance on the CIA and Air Force, as opposed to use of ground troops. Regimes we don't like will be destabilized. Regimes we like will be propped up no matter how undemocratic or intolerant they are.
The Taliban's big mistake was not understanding how the game is played. They should have become a pro-U.S. band of Islamic fanatics, like the Saudis. That's fine. The U.S. does not care if women are oppressed, as long as the government that oppresses them caters to U.S. military and economic interests.
Or maybe the Taliban understood perfectly well how the game is played, and unlike "moderate" Islamic leaders, decided it was wrong to play that way. Just as there are always a few U.S. citizens, very few usually, who show some spine and actually do their best to prevent our government from committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. The way you get ahead in the U.S. in politics is you join one of the two major parties and work hard for the capitalist class. When that class screws up badly, as they did in 2008, you help a section of the class to make slight policy changes that will insure the survival, political and economic, of the class.