If there was any lingering doubt that the putative Obama Revolution was destined to sink into politics as usual we didn’t have to wait long for proof.

The first warning sign was the cabinet full of partisan hawks like Robert Gates and bullish hacks like Rahm Emmanuel, the excuse being the so-called ‘big tent’ thinking of a natural born moderate, the effect being more big cigars and big steaks inside the beltway.

Today’s announcement of a new, broader strategy for Afghanistan embraces a similar model, and satisfies a reliable Yankee narrative: when you’re sinking in the polls thanks to a frenzied Republican assault that has more in common with a rabid pit bull attack than anything recognisable as political debate…kill some ‘forners’. Specifically, the new approach involves hunting down and killing ‘drug lords’, a deserving target if ever there was one, and a mission worthy of Schwarzenegger if he weren’t busy trying to save California from bankruptcy.

If it feels like deja vu, that’s because it is. If there’s no war at hand, create one. If one’s available, escalate it. First, deploy the military, then create a Wild West for the 21st Century, complete with a  seemingly-barren landscape seeded with cut-out villains and rule-breaking heroes, et voila: the greatest show on earth. If that won’t erase all traces of pesky debate about cancer treatment, AIDS/HIV, and infant mortality rates I don’t know what will.

Of course, the latest news from across the pond isn’t likely to raise an eyebrow here in the UK, where journalists and politicians long ago agreed tacitly to dispense with any thoughtful, nuanced, or historically accurate debate about Afghanistan.

Instead, urgent and legitimate questions about whether British soldiers are properly equipped for combat have merely provided another opportunity for a (well-deserved) offensive against the Labour Party. Meantime, compelling arguments from people like Imran Khan about whether the Afghan war is simply radicalising the rural populations of Afghanistan and Pakistan are left to languish, absent the journalistic compulsion or the political will of any of the main parties to ask – unrhetorically – Why Are We in Afghanistan?

The coverage of this week’s killing of a Taliban honcho at a farmhouse in Pakistan epitomised the moral sleight of hand that allows this strategy – paradoxically aimed at making us ‘safer’ – to go unquestioned. People usually live in farmhouses.  So who else was inside when it was hit? Women? Children? I read some speculation about a ‘wife’ but otherwise no one bothered to ask. Meantime, even the BBC admits that more than 1000 Afghan civilians were killed in the first six months of 2009. But if you’re hunting for clues as to why young kids who see their parents slaughtered before their eyes join militant groups, don’t look to the canon of psychology about war, despair and rage. Apparently, the only answers lie in the Koran, and the Eastern predisposition to violence. Buying into the Obama strategy requires us to abandon both humanity and common sense, and opt instead to embrace this implicitly racist rationale.

In reality, the stage was set for the exposure of Obama’s foreign policy ‘revolution’ in January, before he was sworn into office and surrendered an overwhelming mandate for change without even waiting for anyone to ask. That’s when the then-President Elect defended the Israeli offensive in Gaza, in which hundreds of women and children died, saying he wouldn’t want his own children to live in fear of rocket attacks from across the border. In other words, he wouldn’t want his children to live as Israeli children do. How Palestinian children live – or not – is their own problem.

As ever, you needn’t dig deep to find the familiar moral Q&A at the heart of these conflicts. Q: What is the value of a human life? In Obama’s world of politics as usual the answer is – as ever – ‘it depends’.