Obama Does Strasbourg
Imperial Deception with a Smiling Face
A Public Relations Masterpiece: Brand Obama
Smooth-talking Barack Obama is a brilliant corporate-imperial bullshit machine. He is perfectly designed and expertly calibrated to "re-brand" American Empire and Inequality, Incorporated in the wake of the long national and global public relations nightmare that was the Cheney-Bush II period (2001-2008). He is a genius when it comes to putting the domestic and global populace to sleep and wrapping the authoritarian state-capitalist American System in fake-progressive rebel's clothing. He is an advertising masterpiece for Superpower's corporate-managed democracy. It's why the United States ruling class hired "Brand Obama" - partly out of a desire to overhaul that damaged product line called "Brand USA"  - after a careful vetting process, initiated in late 2003, determined his "deeply conservative" safety to dominant domestic and global hierarchies and doctrines . It's why the popular consciousness-manipulators in corporate media fell head-over-heels in love with the Obama phenomenon and sold that love with remarkable effectiveness at home and abroad. It's why I picked Obama as the next president the minute he declared his candidacy  and it's why I've been exposing his grand deceptions and his dangerous, oppression-legitimizing essence for more than four and a half years now .
To see the master at work in the midst of a global economic crisis triggered by his leading Wall Street campaign sponsors, let's look briefly at his recent hour-long "town hall" meeting  before hundreds of star-struck schoolgirls at the Rhenus Sports Arena in Strasbourg, France. This exquisitely Obamanistic public relations extravaganza was loaded with standard Orwellian absurdities and deletions that have gone unmentioned - also standard - in the usual fawning U.S. press coverage.
In Strasbourg, the President called his trip to Europe an "opportunity to not only speak with you but also to hear from you, because that's ultimately how we can learn about each other."
Curiously, though, Obama's Strasbourg theatrics consisted mainly of a forty-minute presidential lecture, with time for a grand total of five tepid questions, the last of which asked Obama if he knew that his first name means "peach" in Hungarian. Obama's lengthy answers ate up most of the "town hall's" last 20 minutes.
Consistent with this one-sided balance of "learning" time, the real purpose of Obama's Strasbourg appearance had little to do with meaningful democratic exchange. It was to placate European opposition to the essentially U.S.-imposed global financial and economic crisis and to the related problem of U.S. imperial policy - the increased level and broadening scope of American violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan above all. It was about selling the continent on U.S. and England-led neoliberal economic "solutions" that seek to prop up the existing rotten and parasitic economic order by granting massive taxpayer giveaways to the Wall Street (and Bond Street) perpetrators who started the mess in the first place. As the prolific Marxist geographer David Harvey recently noted on "Democracy Now" while protestors faced down police deployed en masse to protect Obama and other G20 summit-attendees in London last week "what [the Obama team is] trying to do is to reinvent the same system" - to "reconstitute the same sort of capitalism we have had and have had over and over again over the last thirty years in a slightly more regulated, benevolent form" that doesn't "challenge the fundamentals" .
As The New York Times acknowledged two Sundays ago in an article titled "English-Speaking Capitalism on Trial," Obama and his neoliberal partner Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, have "focused on ways of revitalizing the [existing] system, often to the exasperation of those among their supporters who would favor more radical measures. Even as both men have embarked on enormous increases in public-sector spending," Times correspondents John Burns and Landon Thomas noted, "they have maintained that the solutions to the crisis lie in reawakening the markets and recapitalizing the banks rather than tearing at the system's foundations. And both, when they respond to private anger at the private sector, have seemed more geared to managing anger than stoking it." 
Obama's trip to Europe was about winning top-down assent to U.S.-mandated top-down pseudo-fixes. It was about "managing" widespread European "anger" over the fact that U.S. financial mismanagement and militarism have run the world into the ditch. It has nothing whatsoever to do with meaningfully exchanging ideas with ordinary Europeans.
Against Global Warming, Terrorists and "Reckless Speculation"
Seeking to communicate a global interdependence that should encourage Europeans to follow U.S. leadership, Obama delivered the following eloquent lines to the schoolgirls of Strasbourg and the rest of the world listening in: "We also know that the pollution from cars in Boston or from factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, and that that will disrupt weather patterns everywhere. The terrorists who struck in London, in New York, plotted in distant caves and simple apartments much closer to your home. And the reckless speculation of bankers that has new fueled a global economic downturn that's inflicting pain on workers and families is happening everywhere all across the globe...The economic crisis has proven the fact of our interdependence in the most visible way yet. Not more than a generation ago, it would have been difficult to imagine that the inability of somebody to pay for a house in Florida could contribute to the failure of the banking system in Iceland."
Fine sentiments but a smart French or German first-grader might wish to quiz the glamorous new president on the chasm between his rhetoric and his actions. This hypothetical elementary student could ask Obama why his restructuring plan for General Motors and Chrysler contains no serious requirements for adequate carbon-emission reductions in future automobile production and why the new White House insists on stoking the Muslim and Arab anger that drives Islamic terrorism by maintaining the occupation of Iraq into the indefinite future, by increasing the levels of violence and civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and by maintaining core Bush policies on Iran and Israel-Palestine.
She could also ask Obama why he is so keen on deepening global economic moral hazards and increasing the concentration of wealth by bailing out the very financial culprits who pushed the economy over the edge instead of, say, investing trillions into massive public works programs and/or into ending the foreclosure crisis and restoring people and working class peoples' right to adequate housing. And she could quiz Obama on why he refused to embrace the tighter global financial regulations that German, French, and other national elites have called for in recent months.
"The United States Shares Blame"
"Now, there's plenty of blame to go around for what has happened," Obama intoned in Strasbourg, "and the United States certainly shares its -- shares blame for what has happened."
Shares the blame? This takes nationally narcissistic understatement to a new level. The United States' fundamentally fraudulent high-financial sector triggered the current crisis. The U.S. is the leading global disseminator and enforcer of the reckless, anti-regulatory, and arch-regressive neoliberal economic ideological and policy model that has recently blown up around the world, with more disastrous consequences in many other nations than in the U.S. It also happens to be the most powerful nation on Earth.
"The Challenge of Our Time"
"The one way forward -- the only way forward," Obama said in Strasbourg, "is through a common and persistent effort to combat fear and want wherever they exist. That is the challenge of our time -- and we can not fail to meet it, together."
Then why, our clever European schoolchild might ask, does Obama insist on increasing the U.S. "defense budget" (strange term for a $1 trillion-a-year Pentagon funding stream that supports more than 760 bases across more than 130 nations and accounts for nearly half all military spending on earth) even while untold millions of U.S. and world citizens are pushed into destitution and as sprawling tent cities of homeless people spring in more than a dozen U.S. cities? And why does the U.S. insist that European central banks must spend hundreds of billions of dollars to (in U.S. economist Michael Hudson's words) "bear the costs of America's expanding military empire" by "recycling their dollar inflows to buy U.S. treasury bills - U.S. government debt issued largely to finance the military" .
Whitewashing the Marshall Plan
"It was 61 years ago this April," Obama cooed, "that a Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe helped to deliver hope to a continent that had been decimated by war. Amid the ashes and the rubble that surrounded so many cities like this one, America joined with you in an unprecedented effort that secured a lasting prosperity not just in Europe, but around the world -- on both sides of the Atlantic."
Here Obama owed the schoolgirls of Strasbourg and the world over an apology for his excessive historical idealization and simplification. The Marshall Plan, the U.S. reconstruction project for the war-ravaged European core, was loaded with selfish imperial content. U.S. assistance was predicated on investment and purchasing rules that favored U.S.-based corporations and on the political marginalization of Left parties that had gained prestige leading the fight against fascist forces the U.S. had initially welcomed as counters to the European Left. The U.S. military stood ready to intervene directly in the event of Left electoral victories in Western Europe.
"On to Kabul!"
"One year later, exactly 60 years ago tomorrow," Obama further intoned, "we ensured our shared security when 12 of our nations signed a treaty in Washington that spelled out a simple agreement: An attack on one would be viewed as an attack on all. Without firing a single shot, this Alliance would prevent the Iron Curtain from descending on the free nations of Western Europe. It would lead eventually to the crumbling of a wall in Berlin and the end of the Communist threat. Two decades later, with 28 member nations that stretched from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, NATO remains the strongest alliance that the world has ever known."
More nationally narcissistic historical revisionism and imperial whitewash. As Alexander Cockburn recently noted on CounterPunch (while European peace activists planned to protest Obama's efforts to increase Europeans' investment of blood and treasure in the illegal, U.S.-led civilian-killing ccupation of Afghanistan), "NATO's formal purpose evaporated" when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Its real and illegitimate imperial task was exposed, Cockburn explains:
"Then, suddenly, it was all over...Without delay NATO burgeoned into exactly what its left detractors had always said its essential function had been from the very start, a US-dominated political and military alliance, aimed at encircling Russia and acting as enforcer for larger US imperial strategy. NATO's onslaughts on Serbia duly followed...the war-cry raised last week by Obama, only a few days after the tenth anniversary of NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia, is: On to Kabul!"
"NATO doesn't need a new mission," Cockburn rightly adds. "It needs to disappear into the trashcan of history along with the cold war that engendered it." 
The U.S. "Did Not Choose to Fight a War in Afghanistan" (and Pakistan)
Sensing mass European opposition to Superpower's supposed "good war" in Afghanistan (and, increasingly and ever-more dangerously, Pakistan), professor Obama felt compelled to lecture his young Strasbourg charges on "why are we still in Afghanistan" "Know this," Obama commanded: "The United States of America did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan. We were attacked by an al Qaeda network that killed thousands on American soil, including French and Germans...We have no interest in occupying Afghanistan."
But, as very few Americans beyond the so-called "extreme left" seemed to know or care, the U.S. did in fact to choose an illegal war in Afghanistan. Bush administration's heavily Democratic Party-supported bombing and invasion of the Afghanistan took place in bold defiance of international law forbidding aggressive war. Sold as a legitimate defensive response to the 9/11/2001 jetliner attacks, it was undertaken without definitive proof or knowledge that that country's Taliban government was responsible in any way for 9/11. It occurred after the Bush administration rebuffed efforts by that government to possibly extradite accused 9/11 planners to stand trial in the U.S. It sought to destroy the Taliban government with no legal claim to introduce regime change in another sovereign state. It took place over the protest of numerous Afghan opposition leaders and in defiance of aid organizations who expected a U.S. attack to produce a humanitarian catastrophe.
The United States' attack on Afghanistan met none of the standard international moral and legal criteria for justifiable self-defense and occurred without reasonable consultation with the United Nations Security Council. Many defenders of the invasion, Democrats as well as Republicans, upheld Bush's right to bomb and invade prior to such consultation by making the analogy of a maniac who had broken into your house and already killed some residents: "do you sit and around a negotiate with the murderers while they kill more or do you go in and take them out?" But, as Rahul Mahajan noted, "the analogy to the U.S. action would have been better if the maniac had died in the attack, and your response was to bomb a neighborhood he had been staying in, killing many people who didn't even know of his existence - even though you had your own police force constantly on the watch for more attacks" . Not surprisingly, an international Gallup poll released after the bombing was announced showed that global opposition was overwhelming.
Obama's purported lack of "interest in occupying Afghanistan" finds interesting expression in his decision to send tens of thousands fresh troops into that country. His claim to want "to defeat the Taliban" is made in total obliviousness to the fact that Pashtun support for "the Taliban" - far less widespread than Obama wants Americans and Europeans to believe (see below) - is driven largely and precisely by the provocative presence of foreign and mainly U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
"Obama's Domino Theory"
America's supposed new "antiwar president" has been sold by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Central Command leader Gen. David Patraeus on the notion that the U.S. can and should undertake a major "nation-building" and economic and cultural "modernization" project in Afghanistan - a project that is certain to sustain the occupation in which Obama is "not interested" for many years to come. Along the way, Obama has also childishly bought into a recycled version of the Cold War "domino theory" that was advanced by U.S. foreign policy elites to claim that their criminal assaults on small peasant nations like Vietnam were required to stop an alleged (actually mythical) "international communist conspiracy." In Obama's "updated, al Qaida version" of the domino thesis, leading Middle Eastern historian Juan Cole notes, "the Taliban might take Kuna Province, and then all of Afghanistan, and might again host al-Qaida, and might then threaten the shores of the United States." Pakistan is added on to Afghanistan for Obama like Cambodia was added on to its neighbor Vietnam by President Richard Nixon. Nixon's heir Obama ominously proclaims that "The future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of its neighbor, Pakistan. Make no mistake: Al Qaida and its extremist allies are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within" . As Cole rightly observes, Obama's crackpot call to arms is nor more credible than Dick Cheney and John McCain's raving about the danger of an "al-Qaida victory in Iraq":
"this latter-day domino theory of al-Qaida takeover in South Asia is just as implausible as its earlier iteration in Southeast Asia (ask Thailand or the Philippines)...There are very few al-Qaida fighters based in Afghanistan proper. What is being called the ‘Taliban' is mostly not Taliban at all...The groups being branded ‘Taliban' only have substantial influence in 8 to 10 percent of Afghanistan, and only 4 percent of Afghans say they support them...Moreover, with regard to Pakistan, there is no danger of militants based in the remote Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) taking over that country or ‘killing' it...There Kabul government is not on the verge of falling to the Taliban...And there is no prospect of ‘al Quaida' reestablishing bases in Afghanistan from which it could attack the United States...As for a threat to Pakistan, the FATA areas are smaller than Connecticut, with a total population of a little over three million, while Pakistan itself is bigger than Texas, with a population more than half that of the entire United States. A few thousand Pashtun tribesmen cannot take over Pakistan, not can they ‘kill' it. The Pakistani public just forced a military dictator out of office and forced the reinstatement of the Supreme Court, which oversees secular law. Over three quarters of Pakistanis said in a poll last summer that they had an unfavorable view of the Taliban, and a recent poll found that 90 percent of them worried about terrorism." 
If anything, Cole notes, the greatest thing working on the weak Pakistani Taliban's behalf is the occurrence of U.S. Predator drone strikes on Pakistani territory. "The danger is that that the U.S. strikes may make the radicals seem victims of Western imperialism and so sympathetic to the Pakistani public." Even the imperialist New York Times Magazine writer James Traub noted last Sunday that "American policy has arguably made the situation even worse, for [Obama's] Predator-drone attacks along the border, though effective, drive the Taliban eastward, deeper into Pakistan. And the strategy has been only reinforcing hostility to the United States among ordinary Pakistanis" .
"Insidious" and "Unwise" European "Anti-Americanism"
Obama's deceptive Strasbourg oration came to its oft-quoted rhetorical pinnacle when he was teleprompted to balance acknowledgement of American "arrogance" toward Europe by upbraiding Europeans for "an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world," Obama argued, "there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad" - a blame that Obama called "not wise" and lacking in "truth." By "good" and not "bad" in the world, Obama presumably did not mean to include:
· the killing of more than 2 million Iraqis since 1991 through two military attacks, one sustaining an occupation that Obama seems determined to make permanent) or...
· the mass-consumerist, automobile-addicted United States' grotesquely outsized contribution to global pollution and warming or...
· the United States' longstanding promotion of a regressive neoliberal economic model that expands poverty and inequality the world over or...
· the United States' outsized contribution to global militarism and arms sales or...
· the United States' longstanding authoritarian interference (under the deceptive guise of "democracy promotion") in the political affairs of other nations or...
· the triggering of the current global economic crisis by U.S. financial firms whose Obama's economic recovery plan richly rewards and fails to properly regulate...or [fill in the blank; the list goes on].
"A Success of Nations Coming Together"
"The G20 summit in London," Obama exclaimed, "was a success of nations coming together, working out their differences, and moving boldly forward."
More deception and overreach from "Brand Obama"! At the G20, the United States successfully resisted European powers' call for it to subject itself to a global financial regulator. European and other world leaders failed in their effort to win new regulations for hedge funds and tax havens and limits on executive pay. Obama failed to convince the Europeans to pass additional and larger domestic economic stimulus packages.
"To Restore Growth and Lending"
"All of us," Obama said, "are moving aggressively to restore growth and lending." This comment from the president (who says "we'll be back to three percent growth" in "a couple of years") expressed his denial of the fact that global capitalism is hitting absolute environmental, social, and political limits on its capacity for expansion. His belief in what Harvey calls "reinventing the same old system" (what the Times calls "revitalizing the [existing] system" by "recapitalizing the banks rather than tearing at the system's foundations") is either cynical or naïve. It advances a false belief that that is deeply entrenched in received U.S. economic doctrine - that an economic order "run by private shareholders and managed by private institutions" (Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's statement on his concept of the best possible financial system) can and will return "to normal" ("three percent growth") in a modest period of time .
"We Abolished Capitalism"
"No more will the world's financial players be able to make risky bets at the expense of ordinary people. Those days are over," Obama proclaimed in Strasbourg. This was disingenuous nonsense. Nothing that the G20 promises to enact forbids the investor class from engaging in its timeworn activity of gambling with capital pooled from the populace. The G20 did not magically outlaw the business cycle and the longstanding crisis-inducing imbalances and speculative manias that are inherent in the deadly reign of capital.
"We Can't Give Up on Open Markets"
"As we take these steps," Obama said in Strasbourg, "we also affirm that we must not erect new barriers to commerce; that trade wars have no victors. We can't give up on open markets, even as we work to ensure that trade is both free and fair." The false and deceptive assumption here was that the U.S. has not long practiced significant government intervention to protect American corporations and U.S. economic and military power against "open markets."
What We Should and Should Not Forget
"We cannot forget how many millions that trade has lifted out of poverty and into the middle class," Obama said in Strasbourg. "We can't forget that part of the freedom that our nations stood for throughout the Cold War was the opportunity that comes from free enterprise and individual liberty."
Nothing there about how the neoliberal bankers' model Obama and Brown are trying to "revitalize" (with taxpayer infusions) has forced billions off land and out of sustainable ecologies and out of the public sector and the middle and working class and into poverty on the sprawling, shanty-town margins and super-slums of the world capitalist system .
My sense is that Obama is probably too smart to believe much of the vapid nonsense that regularly spills from his soothing state-capitalist lips. He could have added the following in the interest of honesty: "but dominant U.S. capitalist ideology insists, indeed mandates, that we forget how many billions are pushed into destitution and death by the rule of the profits system that [s]elected me, with its false claims of honoring ‘free trade' and ‘free market' principles and with its deceptive claim to advance human freedom. You and I must honor the requirement. We must also agree to throw some other things down George Orwell's memory hole, including how the American Superpower has allied with and advanced fascist and other authoritarian forces and regimes around the world in defense of the profits system and the American Empire before, during and since the Cold War. Along the way and to this day, up to and including this speech, American leaders have insistently proclaimed over and over again that we are an unmatched and special, indeed exceptional, force for good in the world. We are so very good."
"Our Effort to Forge a Lasting Peace Between the Israelis and Palestinians"
"America," Obama said in Strasbourg, "will sustain our effort to forge and secure a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians." Which effort is that? The one where even a supposed "progressive," peace and justice-oriented politician like Obama rushed (as U.S. Senator and presidential candidate in January of 2008) to defend Israel's tightening of its vicious siege of Gaza? The one where Obama the presidential candidate met with the full spectrum of Israeli opinion but could barely meet with Palestinians (during his campaign trip to the Middle East last summer)? The one where Obama as president-Elect remained grotesquely silent about the U.S.-Israel assault on trapped innocents in Gaza, citing "institutional constraints" that prevented him from commenting ("one president at a time," he said) even as he delivered daily proto-presidential addresses on the economy? The one in which Obama calls (in his Inaugural Address) for Palestinians and Arabs to "unclench" their "fist" even as he fails to denounce Israeli violence and to acknowledge the Palestinians' elected government and while he appoints noted anti-Palestinian and pro-Israeli actors like Rahm Emmanuel, Hillary Clinton, and Dennis Ross to key administration roles? The one in which President Obama makes a high-profile visit (to sell his inadequate economic stimulus package) to the headquarters of Caterpillar, the company that provides bulldozers for Israel to crush Palestinian homes and to (occasionally) bury occupation- and apartheid-resisters in the West Bank?
"Safeguarding the Status Quo Can be Healthy and Useful"
Requirements of time, energy and mental health compel me to stop. There was more deception (including misleading comments on Iran and U.S torture policy) than I can cover here in Obama's Strasbourg performance. Little if any of that deception has been or will be remotely exposed or acknowledged in "mainstream" (dominant/ corporate) U.S. media, which continues to perform its longstanding function of manufacturing mass consent to the corporate and military-imperial state. Recently, the leading Newsweek writer Evan Thomas (in an article on the mildly progressive Princeton economist Paul Krugman's supposed "Attack From the Left" on the new administration) boldly identified himself as "of the establishment persuasion... By definition," Thomas elaborated, "establishments believe in propping up the existing order. Members of the ruling class have a vested interest in keeping things pretty much the way they are. Safeguarding the status quo, protecting traditional institutions, can be healthy and useful, stabilizing and reassuring." .
Thomas's statement ought to be seen as emblematic for leading U.S. journalists and media authorities today. They became a key part of the dominant institutional and ideological order they purport to check and balance a long time ago . But that's a topic for another and future commentary, equally challenging to one's sanity in an age of "corporate-managed democracy."
1. For sources and analysis, see Paul Street, "'Brand Obama,' ‘Brand USA,' and ‘The Audacity Of Marketing': Some Candid Reflections at Advertising Age," ZNet (November 19, 2008), read at http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/19692
2. On Obama as "deeply conservative," see Larissa MacFarquhar, "The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama Coming From?" The New Yorker (May 7, 2007) and Ryan Lizza, "Making It: How Chicago Shaped Obama," The New Yorker, (July 21, 2008). On the vetting, see Ken Silverstein, "Barack Obama, Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine," Harper's (November 2006); David Mendell, Obama: From Promise to Power (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), pp 247-250.
3. Speaking to a budding progressive 20-something Democratic Iowa presidential Caucus campaign activist in late December of 2006, I said the following: "well you can work for Kucinich. He's the closest thing to a left candidate in the Caucus. But he won't have any to money to hire you. Hillary will have a lot of money but she's an evil imperialist and she murdered health care reform and her negatives will probably make her un-electable. Edwards is the least objectionable of the ‘viable' candidates and will say some remarkable things you can feel good about against economic inequality and poverty and for labor rights. He can't win. Obama will make you sick with centrist equivocation and deception. He's an ideological twin to Hillary, but he's the next president. If you want to work for the next president, work for Obama. The ruling class and the liberal primary voting base both find him irresistible for different but intimately interrelated reasons. That's a killer combination."
4. I started in the immediate aftermath of Obama's brilliantly deceptive fake-progressivce 2004 Democratic Convention Keynote Address: see Paul Street, "Keynote Reflections," (Featured Article), ZNet Magazine (July 29th, 2004), available online at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=41&ItemID=5951.
5. "Remarks by President Obama at Strasbourg Town Hall" (April 3, 2009), at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-President-Obama-at-Strasbourg-Town-Hall/
6. David Harvey, "The G20, the Financial Crisis, and Neoliberalism," ZNet (April 3, 2009).
7. New York Times, March 29, 2009, section 4, p.4.
8. Michael Hudson, "Financing the Empire," CounterPunch, March 30, 2009.
9. Alexander Cockburn, "From Twin Towers to Twin Camelots," CounterPunch, April 3-5, 2009.
10. Rajul Mahajan, The New Crusade: America's War on Terror, New York 2002, p. 21.
11. Agence France Press, "Obama Makes Pakistan Center of Al-Qaeda War," March 28, 2009, read at http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/5460242/obama-makes-pakistan-center-alqaeda-war/
12. Juan Cole, "Obama's Domino Theory," Salon (March 30, 2009), read at http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/03/30/afghanistan/
13. Cole, "Obama's Domino Theory;" James Traub, "Can Pakistan Be Governed?" New York Times Magazine, April 5, 2009, p. 28.
14. For interesting reflections on the administration's false hopes for a "return to normal," see James K. Gailbraith, "No Return to Normal: Why the Economic Crisis and its Solution, are Bigger Than You Think," Washington Monthly (March/April 2009), read at www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2009/0903.galbraith.html
15. For a horrifying account of neoliberalism-fed urban and peri-urban poverty in the giant global periphery, see Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (New York: Verso, 2006).
16. See Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy (New York, 1992); Hegemony Over Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance (New York, 2003); and Profits Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order (New York, 1999). On American "exceptionalism," see Andrew Bacevich, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (New York: Metropolitan, 2008). "Prior to World War II," Bacevich notes, Reinhold "Niebuhr wrote, ‘No simple victory of good or evil in history is possible.' For Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as for George W. Bush, the actions of the United States during World War II and ever since refute that claim. There is a usable past in which good eventually triumphs as long as American remains faithful to its mission...In this way, ideology serves as a device to for sharply narrowing the range of policy debate." Bacevich, The Limits of Power, p, 81. On Obama's relentless whitewashing of U.S imperial foreign policy (consistent with the Bacevich's comment on the new president's shared allegiance to nationally narcissistic American exceptionalist mythology), see Paul Street, "Obama's Audacious Deference to Power: A Review of The Audacity of Hope," Black Agenda Report (January 30, 2007), read at http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/obamas-audacious-deference-power; Paul Street, "The Audacity of Imperial Airbrushing: Barack Obama's Whitewashed History of U.S. Foreign Policy and Why it Matters," ZNet (July 6, 2008), read at http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/18110; Paul Street, " ‘ We Will Not Apologize for Our Way of Life'": Left Reflections on Barack Obama Not-So Non-Ideological Inaugural Address," ZNet (January 24, 2009), read at http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/20356.
17. Evan Thomas, "Attack From the Left: Paul Krugman's Poison Pen," Newsweek (March 28, 2009), read at http://www.newsweek.com/id/191393
18. See Robert W. McChesney, Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy (New York, 1997), pp. 9-17.