Obama Takes up the White Man’s Burden: Eric Margolis

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A little more than a century ago, when the United States was just beginning to take its first steps toward becoming a world power, Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The White Man’s Burden,” became all the rage in political circles. The poem captured the mixed reality of imperialism, as the U.S. (following in the footsteps of the English) tried to help its “little brown brothers” of the newly captured Philippines (taken over as a result of the Spanish-American War) who weren’t interested in trading one master (Spain) for another (the USA). Kipling’s yarn has relevance today, argues journalist Eric Margolis, who says President Barack Obama, the man who ran on an anti-war platform, has in effect taken up a new “burden” by sending U.S. forces ever deeper into developing nations.

Margolis made his case following the announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he intends to reshape the Pentagon’s budget, and as a result, alter the course of U.S. foreign and military policy for decades to come. “Gate’s newly announced defense budget makes clear that America’s military future lies in what the Pentagon calls, ‘expeditionary warfare’ or ‘counter-insurgency operations,’” writes Margolis. “These, it is clear, will take place mostly in the Muslim world”—what Margolis considers the 21st century terrain for Obama’s version of the “White Man’s Burden.”
He adds that Gates and Obama managed to play good cop, bad cop while announcing the drastic changes in Pentagon priorities, with the President “offering the ‘hand of friendship’ to the very same Muslim world to which Secretary Gates was planning to dispatch more U.S. troops and Predator killer drones.” Margolis adds, “this sharp irony was completely lost on the U.S. media and much of the political establishment.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Obama Takes Up The White Man's Burden (by Eric Margolis, Huffington Post)


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