Sunday, July 22, 2012

False Savior: Barack Obama (Part 1)

"I'm a pro-growth, free market guy. I love the market."

-----Barack Obama

"My heart is filled with love for this country."

-----Barack Obama

The first African-American president in U.S. history, he displayed his attitude towards his African heritage by destroying Libya, the most modern and democratic country on the African continent, which boasted an average life span of 77 years and a literacy rate of 90%.

This policy was carried out using air and naval bombardments, Special Forces advisers, a mercenary army and client ex-patriots (slated to be the "new leaders"), and a multi-lateral coalition of European empire builders and Gulf state petrol-oligarchs. With sustained and massive air attacks (14,000 bombing raids) taking the place of an occupying army, Obama absurdly claimed that the horrendous massacre wasn't even a war, as though that could somehow make the bloodletting more tolerable.

Despite a huge propaganda offensive designed to convince the unwary that mercenary "rebels" toppled Qaddafi, the fact is that Qaddafi loyalists were only defeated by the combined air power of NATO, with the usual dubious legal justification, in yet another instance of imperial conquest of Africa. Meanwhile, the Libyan economy, from ports to irrigation systems to roads and hospitals, was utterly destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan African workers and North African professionals were forced to flee as Washington's mercenary crew of fundamentalist, tribal, gangster, and opportunistic clan and neo-liberal forces set about carving up rival fiefdoms.

Obama's gender sensitivity was revealed to be a fraud. Women had more freedom under Qaddafi rule in Libya than in other Arab countries, and thanks to equal education, they held high office as a matter of course. Nevertheless, Obama's Secretary of State and champion of Western feminism Hillary Clinton giggled as she celebrated the torture and murder of the man who helped bring such policies about: "We came. We saw. He (Qaddafi) died." The best rejoinder was delivered by capitalist critic James Petras, who wrote that, "Only a brainless and morally depraved Hillary Clinton could sing the praises and dance a jig celebrating the victory of a knife-wielding sodomist torturing a captured president as 'a victory for democracy.'" Indeed. And Obama happily stands behind her.

Elsewhere on the foreign policy front the pattern was much the same. In Pakistan, Obama's drone warfare alienated virtually the entire population, killing a few "insurgent" commanders while engendering widespread hatred with his mass killing of civilians. In Iraq, he continued the completely unjustified U.S. occupation, adding to an already appalling death toll and withdrawing only when Iraqi resistance forced his hand. U.S. foreign policy critic William Blum aptly summed up the results of the Bush-Obama policy for the only people who count: Iraqis.
"The people of that unhappy land have lost everything - their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women's rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives. More than half the population [is] either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile. The air, soil, water, blood and genes drenched with depleted uranium [are bringing] the most awful of birth defects . . .. A river of blood runs alongside the Euphrates and Tigris, through a country that may never be put back together again."

The "sectarian violence" we hear of in Iraq is actually disguised imperial violence, even in the wake of the U.S. troop withdrawal. Extrajudicial executions and other crimes are being committed by Iraqi paramilitary forces recruited, trained, and armed by the United States. And should they fail to maintain Iraq in a mode of control Washington finds agreeable, Washington reserves the right to re-invade.

The Bush-Obama occupation represented a frontal assault on Iraqi civil society that ultimately killed at least 10% of the Sunni Arab population, driving about half of that population into exile or internal displacement. While Washington consistently tried to portray the violence as driven by religious extremism, it was in fact a conflict primarily between secular nationalist forces and Washington's imperial forces, with the former striving to expel all U.S. influence. Foreign occupation of the country was the real problem, not religious extremism.

And it's still not over. Tens of thousands of CIA operatives remain in Iraq, special forces units, hunter-killer squads, and ruthless private security details. This is what passes for peace in the era of the "homeland," a term Obama uses as freely as Bush did.

Turning to Afghanistan, those dangerous radicals at the Wall Street Journal editorialized on June 5, 2009 that "one benefit of the Obama Presidency is that it is validating much of George W. Bush's security agenda and foreign policy . . . [with] artfully repackaged versions of themes President Bush sounded with his freedom agenda." No surprise, then, that Obama won the support of John McCain and Karl Rove, as well as many other Republicans with his Afghan policy, which quickly threw 30,000 more troops into the sausage-grinder.

When a suicide bombing killed seven CIA agents working in Afghanistan some months later (December 30, 2009), President Obama glorified the fallen, calling them "part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life." As though the U.S. killing hundreds of thousands of Afghans going back to the Carter years were on such a basis justifiable. Madness.

In his Nobel Peace prize speech Obama unconvincingly laid out his differences with Dr. King and Gandhi vis-a-vis war policy: "We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes." There will be times when nations - acting individually or in concert - will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified." He said he was "mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago: 'Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem, it merely creates new and more complicated ones.'" Obama said he would not be able to use Dr. King or Gandhi as his sole guides to being a good Commander in Chief, however. Afghanistan, he insisted, was a truly just war . . . "I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people . . . Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism - it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason."

But threats to the American people are greatly exaggerated, and the few that refer to anything real are a direct result of relentlessly abusive U.S. foreign and trade policies. And the plain fact is that Washington, not Al Qaeda, is the greatest threat to world peace, and by a wide margin. Nevertheless, Obama increased U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan to 100,000 (not counting mercenaries), where U.S. death squads are running rampant, having killed tens of thousands of civilians in the past decade.

According to the C.I.A., the U.S. government spends $10 billion a month to fight an estimated "50-75 Al Qaeda types in Afghanistan." According to Obama, this is a "smart war."

As for civil liberties, Obama signed an extension of the Patriot Act without a single reform. The provisions let the government, with approval from a special secret court, seize records without the owner's knowledge, conduct secret surveillance of "suspicious" people, and obtain secret roving wiretaps on people. Not surprisingly, therefore, wiretaps for oral, electronic or wire communications are at an all-time high under Obama.

Under Obama administration efforts to criminalize dissent and militarize the police, local police have been turned into SWAT teams accompanied by sound-blasting vehicles, helicopters, and special tanks. Protesters routinely suffer broken bones and numerous other injuries as they are smashed with truncheons, sprayed with chemical agents, hit with tear gas canisters, and blasted with ear-splitting sound machines. Meanwhile, Muslims don't even need to protest in order to get abused. The Obama administration has criminalized their very speech, indicting them for "supporting terrorists" in online comments, even in cases where there is no advocacy of violence.

The Obama administration condemned Wikileaks - the publication of accurate government documents detailing the lies told by U.S. government officials, the killing of civilians, the policy of torture in Iraq, information about who is held at Guantanamo (Cuban territory), cover ups of drone strikes, abuse of children, and even more damaging revelations. These were deliberately and absurdly misconstrued as constituting an attack on the United States. Washington continues to try to find ways to prosecute the publishers of Wikileaks. Obama personally defended the conditions of Bradley Manning's (solitary) confinement, who leaked thousands of government documents to Wikileaks. The government is charging Manning with espionage, which can bring the death penalty.

Among other civil liberties outrages are the following:

(1) The Obama administration has taken no steps to cut back on the cruel and unusual practice of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, to which tens of thousands of U.S. prisoners are subject, nor the practice of confining supermax prisoners to their cells 23 out of every 24 hours.

(2) The CIA under Obama continues a longstanding policy of censorship of books published by former intelligence agents, the (partial) grounds being in one case (a memoir by former FBI agent Ali H. Soufan) that the book made the agency look bad.

(3) Obama has refused to release photos of U.S. soldiers cruelly abusing prisoners. There are hundreds of criminal investigations into such abuses by U.S. soldiers.

(4) Obama continues the Bush policy of calling for dismissal of cases brought against Washington on the part of tortured "detainees" on the grounds that a trial would disclose "state secrets."

(5) The Obama administration successfully requested that the Supreme Court allow the government to criminalize humanitarian aid and legal activities on the part of people giving advice or support to foreign organizations that are on the government list of terrorist organizations. The Obama administration's Solicitor General argued that, "When you help Hezbollah build homes, you are also helping Hezbollah build bombs." The court agreed that state security trumps the First Amendment. Of course, when U.S. taxpayers pay their taxes to help build roads, they are also helping the government build a vast array of weapons with which Washington commits acts of terrorism far greater in scale than anything attributable to Hizbollah, but that's not considered a crime.

(6) The Obama administration has targeted peace and justice activists and labor union organizers for FBI raids and judicial harassment, including Grand Jury subpoenas, this for exercising their constitutional right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

(7) After promising to protect whistleblowers, Obama has prosecuted five whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, more than any other administration. He charged a National Security Agency advisor with 10 felonies under the Espionage Act for telling the press that the government was wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on ill-advised and failed projects. He also prosecuted former members of the CIA, the State Department, and the FBI.

(8) Obama continued Washington's longstanding support for torture. His much ballyhooed torture ban constitutes, at most, the elimination of a small minority of torture episodes carried out by Americans, while retaining the far more extensive torture operations carried out by foreigners under U.S. patronage. And by focusing only on torture in wartime (the dubious "war on terror") he diverts attention from the much vaster torture operations carried out by U.S. client states that are not at war, except with their own populations at the behest of Washington.

(9)Obama has endorsed and continued the most extremist Bush measures, including the "right" to torture anywhere except Guantanamo. Prisoners flown to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan can be imprisoned indefinitely without rights, argues Obama. When a Bush-appointed federal judge handed down a decision rejecting this stance, the Obama administration announced that it would appeal the ruling.

(10) Obama claimed a unique right to jail people for life and execute U.S. citizens without formal charges or due process of law, and adopted Bush's secret military tribunals with minor modifications. And he invented new ways of denying habeas corpus.

(11) Secretary of State Clinton has determined that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and FARC (Colombia) "threaten U.S. national security, foreign policy, or economic interests," a finding not reviewable by the courts. And according to the Supreme Court, non-violent First Amendment advocacy "coordinated with" or "under the direction of" a foreign group listed by the Secretary of State as "terrorist" is a crime. A thought crime, to be exact. This goes on while Obama speaks with great reverence for Nelson Mandela, who was officially defined as a terrorist by the U.S. government for many years.

12. As of 2011, Obama was seeking Congressional authority to compel internet service providers to make our internet records available to government investigators, so dissidents and protesters would be trackable at will, violating the 4th Amendment.

Even Jonathan Swift would be left speechless at all of this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"My heart is filled with love for this country." --Barack Obama

"I'm about to explode with joy." Homey D. Clown