"Never underestimate the Scandinavian sense of humor."
Now Barack Obama has added his name to the list of previous American Nobel peace prize winners: Henry Kissinger, the Butcher of Indochina whose bombing campaigns killed hundreds of thousands of people, maybe millions; Woodrow Wilson, the Apostle of Self-Determination who invaded Panama, Haiti, Mexico (twice), the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua, the USSR (twice), and restored segregation to Washington D.C.; Teddy Roosevelt, who exulted in the slaughter of war and saw the elimination of indigenous peoples as the righteous fulfillment of “Manifest Destiny”; President McKinley’s War Secretary Elihu Root, who directed the U.S. slaughter in the Philippines starting in 1898, dismissing Filipino independence hero Emilio Aguinaldo as a “Chinese half-breed” and Filipinos in general as "children" who were “but little advanced from pure savagery"; and Dr. King, who surely must have wondered what he had ever done to deserve such degrading company.
More suitable for a Ripley's believe it or not collection than a peace address, Obama's acceptance speech is the familiar attempt to construct a self-serving mythology that deflects all blame from the U.S. onto its official enemies. For example:
"America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons."
As noted before on this blog, Washington unveiled the Marshall Plan to avert economic, social and political chaos, prevent the collapse of U.S. exports, achieve "multilateralism," and dissipate the growing strength of indigenous communist parties (i.e., not Moscow-directed) in post-war Europe. In the absence of massive U.S. aid, American strategic planners feared, war-ravaged Europe might forsake capitalism for experiments with socialist enterprise and government controls, which could have jeopardized "free enterprise" even in the United States. There was major elite concern over the "dollar gap," which prevented Europe from being a market for U.S. manufactured goods, threatening to produce a glut of unbought merchandise that could plunge the U.S. economy into economic chaos. Europe was thus subordinated to a considerable degree to the designs of U.S. corporations, with a corresponding narrowing of the European political spectrum. A prime element of the plan called for the exclusion of "Communists" from power, a broadly defined Satan class that included major elements of the wartime anti-fascist resistance and trade union movements. Secretary of State George Marshall, after whom the Marshall Plan is named, made it clear that U.S. aid was contingent on not voting what Washington considered political undesirables into power.
The United Nations began by discarding the guarantees of the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms. It accepted coolie labor and cheap raw materials as the basis of the world economy. It redefined colonies as "dependent territories" and placed them under Great Power trusteeship until they demonstrated they were sufficiently deferential. It denied representation to blacks, Puerto Ricans, Hawaiians, Guamanians, and Alaskans. India's delegation was completely British. The USSR flatly refused to participate in the "parliament of democracy" sham.
Attending the opening session as a spokesman for the N.A.A.C.P., W. E. B. DuBois protested the continued abuse of 750 million oppressed people around the world, complaining that there was no provision “even to consider the aggression of a nation against its own colonial peoples,” which meant that in the U.N.'s ostensible planetary democracy “at least one-fourth of the inhabitants of the world have no part in it, no democratic rights.”
Meanwhile, Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov declared it essential that “dependent countries are enabled as soon as possible to take the path of national independence,” and Washington announced it would neither propose nor support a declaration of universal human rights. When Latin American delegations resisted the continuation of Great Power rule, a U.S. delegate urged Nelson Rockefeller, Assistant Secretary of State For Latin American Affairs, to give them a spanking: “Your goddamn peanut nations aren’t voting right. Go line them up.”
Three years later (1948), Washington opposed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' call for economic security to be a basic entitlement, dismissing the proposal as socialist heresy. Any notion of a right to subsistence was anathema to the U.S. State Department, which successfully lobbied to have economic, social, and cultural rights split off from civil and political rights, thus creating a divided U.N. covenant. Believing that a right to eat was an intolerable limitation on "free enterprise," Washington never ratified the Covenant calling for guaranteed economic security, and relegated it to inferior status ever after.
On the U.S. commitment to preventing genocide, Washington has never owned up to its genocidal or quasi-genocidal treatment of indigenous peoples, let alone atoned for it. There is a U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington dedicated to Jewish suffering in WWII, but not one commemorating the wiping out of indigenous nations here in the U.S.
In 1998, Amnesty International offered this rather unflattering portrait of the U.S.'s record vis-a-vis preventing genocide:
"The first U.N. Human Rights treaty ratified by the U.S.A. was the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It ratified the Convention in 1988, 40 years after signing it and after 97 other states had already ratified it. The U.S.A. took 28 years to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, after 133 other states had already ratified it. At least 71 other states ratified the Convention against Torture before the U.S.A. It was only in 1992, after 109 other states, that the U.S.A. ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 26 years after its adoption by the UN General Assembly. The ICCPR is one of two principal treaties protecting human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The other - the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - has still not been ratified by the U.S.A."
On war and weapons, Washington is far and away the world leader in producing armaments and war, is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, and refuses to renounce a first-strike nuclear policy. It maintains thousands of U.S. military bases around the world while allowing no country to have a base in U.S. territory. Its Latin American officers graduating from Fort Benning Georgia have tortured and murdered all over Latin America for decades.
"Only a just peace based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting. It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War . . . a just peace includes not only civil and political rights - it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want."
But the United States opposed (and still opposes) the likely large world majority favoring economic security as a human right!
Furthermore, economic security and economic opportunity are not the same thing. No one works harder than workers eager to prevent their families from starving. If there were economic security this kind of desperate earnestness would disappear, and with it a good deal of productivity and profit. On the other hand, for the owners of the system, the security of being "too big to fail" encourages the runaway speculation that has crashed the system into disaster on a regular basis. The only way to prevent the kind of economic pain the world is currently experiencing (for the umpteenth time) is to place worker security and well-being above the profit motive. But that means an entirely different kind of economy and a fight to the finish with the private owners of the present economy. It is difficult to believe Obama is calling for that.
Freedom from want? Obama has gone along with shoveling trillions of dollars of public money to the swindlers who almost destroyed the world economy, and may yet do so. He has done little or nothing for the millions who have lost homes, jobs, pension funds, and hope for the future. Having run up an astronomical budget deficit to provide "economic security" for those designated "too big to fail," he now speaks of cutting the deficit rather than directing government spending to meeting the needs of Wall Street's long-suffering victims. He cannot have it both ways. Either there is economic opportunity for all, which means that corporations, no matter how large, must be allowed to fail just like smaller businesses when their performance merits that, or there is economic security for all, which means government spending must be directed toward meeting the needs of the American people, not subsidizing Wall Street firms, which are not supposed to need such help in a "free enterprise" economy where all are said to rise or fall in accordance with their merits.
"For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism - it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason."
Evil exists in "the world," but not in U.S. leaders and institutions. How can that be? It is self-serving to assume, as Obama does, that the U.S. is free of evil, while its official enemies are defined by it. Nowhere does he concede that "rogue states" have legitimate grievances that must be addressed, or that the U.S.A is guilty of evil acts that must be atoned for. Only others are wicked; the U.S. makes mistakes, but is incapable of evil. This is an attitude more characteristic of a juvenile delinquent than a great diplomat.
The false dichotomy of pacifism vs. force is equally self-serving. The alternative Obama overlooks - real diplomacy, real problem-solving, an end to demonization in favor of cooperative engagement around issues that threaten human extinction - is ruled out in advance.
Hitler's armies might never have done any damage if not for the huge surge in U.S. investment in Germany that occurred between 1929 and 1940 - the years the Nazis rose to awesome power. It seems likely that a non-violent movement of U.S. investors might very well have insured that Hitler never achieved the heights of power that allowed him to do so much damage. In short, "stopping" Hitler by force is far less impressive when seen from the perspective of having helped him for a decade prior to the U.S. entering the European war. Furthermore, the U.S. put fascists back in power repeatedly in the wake of its victories in WWII, so the presumed U.S. commitment to "stopping" fascism is dubious at best.
Ditto for getting Al Qaeda to "lay down its arms" - or shall we say box cutters. Here Obama seems to forget that Al Qaeda is "armed" primarily by a desire for revenge against U.S. crimes in the Muslim world, especially Palestine. Osama bin Laden, or whoever speaks using that name, has made it very clear that what the U.S. has primarily to do in order to achieve peace with "Al Qaeda" is end its support for a Jewish apartheid state on Palestinian land. Israel is far and away the leading grievance in the Arab world and it is understandable why it would be. But Obama doesn't get it, cannot get it. He's committed to Jewish supremacy, not peace.
Yes, force is sometimes necessary. Force was necessary to expel the U.S. from Nicaragua in the 1930s, from Cuba in the 1950s, from Vietnam in the 1970s, and from Lebanon in the 1980s. But Obama is oblivious to the need for force to be applied against the United States. He can only think of the United States as a victim of unjust force, never the perpetrator. His ideological blindness is total on this score.
"The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense."
The great majority of the world in fact did not support the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan in 2001, with international public opinion strongly favoring diplomatic and judicial measures over military action. An international Gallup poll in late September 2001 asked, "Once the identity of the terrorists is known, should the American government launch a military attack on the country or countries where the terrorists are based or should the American government seek to extradite the terrorists to stand trial?" Among Europeans support for the application of U.S. force ranged from 8% in Greece to 29% in France. In Latin America, support went from 2% in Mexico to 11% in Colombia and Venezuela. Panama was an exception, with public support for the military option favored by 16%. Even in Israel, a majority opposed responding with force. Meanwhile, Taliban overtures to extradite Bin Laden were rejected by Washington, which also refused to provide evidence for its accusations.
If the world didn't support the U.S. attack at the beginning, what are the chances that it supports it eight years later?