As the Obama administration started to openly discuss torture, there seemed to be some celebration on behalf of progressives, followed by the inevitable backlash when the President caved in to the arguments of Dick Cheney. Apparently, Guantanamo will not be closed, there will most likely not be indictments and the photos of torture procedures will not be released. While it is unlikely that all of these things would have been done together, even if one or two were carried out, it would not change a thing about US foreign policy. Mainstream progressives are simply confused about what the real issues are.
The anger at the Bush administration is largely due to the fact that he resorted to a rather old-school tactic of colonialism; that is, he flat-out invaded and conquered an entire country. This is something which, around the time prior to the invasion, was more likely to be associated with the Second World War than 2003. In fact, the idea seemed so absurd that it was the main reason why I doubted the Bush administration would actually go to war then. I just could not believe they would do something so stupid.
Clinton knew how to properly wage American imperialistic wars. There was always some humanitarian reason; otherwise there would just be the occasional bombing. Clinton would charm his NATO allies into murdering Serbs in 1999; meanwhile Bush’s diplomacy was like a bull in a china shop. The sad thing about this is that far too many “progressives” actually credit Clinton for this. So much for principle.
The reason why torture is not the point is because if this is “corrected” in the typical centrist way it will merely mean that American foreign policy, insofar as it can be further sustained, will return to an earlier neo-colonialist strategy, which is the most intelligent strategy from the perspective of the ruling class and a major factor in America’s success throughout the post-war 20th century. Torture far worse than waterboarding will be carried out by trained proxy soldiers of America’s allies. Unfriendly, uncooperative governments will be taken down by Western-backed rebel movements. Short, “clean” wars with high-tech bombs and “collateral damage”; the kind of war even liberals halfway, secretly enjoy, because they can pretend that cruise missile flying into the middle of a bright city at night hit a military barracks and nothing more. So that’s it, Democrats. Your horse won, and already you are seeing your dreams shattered before you. From the class-conscious community, the real progressives if there are any, let me say: “We told you so.” I am definitely not the first, and I won’t be the last.