Running Dog Obama
Running Dog Obama
Barack Obama's most recent attempt to prove his Harvard-certified safety to the doctrinal gatekeepers of the U.S. foreign policy establishment ought to make it clear once and for all that he is what the Maoists used to call a "running dog lackey of United States imperialism."
WHITEWASHING PAST IMPERIAL CRIMINALITY
I am referring to Obama's July/August Foreign Affairs essay, titled "Renewing America's Leadership" (Obama 2007).
Reading as much like a campaign speech as an academic or policy document, this 5000-word article begins by praising Franklin Delano Roosevelt for "buil[ding] the most formidable military the world had ever known" and for giving "purpose to our struggle against fascism" with his "Four Freedoms."
It praises Harry Truman for "champion[ing] a bold new architecture to respond to the Soviet threat -- one that paired military strength with the Marshall Plan and helped secure the peace and well-being of nations around the world."
It commends Obama's special historical role model John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) for "moderniz[ing] our military doctrine, strengthen[ing] our conventional forces, and creat[ing] the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress" to "to show people everywhere America at its best" while "colonialism crumbled and the Soviet Union achieved effective nuclear parity."
"Our Struggle Against Fascism"
Funny how Obama didn't actually break-out the "Four Freedoms": freedom of speech and expression, freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom of worship. Maybe that's because the
In 1937, Roosevelt's U.S. State Department's European Division argued that European fascism was compatible with
It is true that fascism became an avowed
After the war,
"The Greatest Thing in History"
The post-World War II era and the Cold War began with Truman's perpetration of one of the greatest war crimes in history. He ordered the monumentally mass-murderous bombing of
The Cold War Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations' determination to use nuclear weapons as a tool of unilateral imperial advancement hatched a nuclear arms race that almost turned fatal in October of 1962. We are still living with the lethal consequences of that arms race, which could have been prevented if the U.S. had put atomic power to internationalist and multilateral instead of murderous and imperial use. The arch-Cold Warrior Kennedy was an especially dangerous transgressor. He rode into the White House partly on the transparently false "missile gap" campaign suggestion that the Eisenhower administration had "permitted" the Soviet Union to achieve nuclear parity with the U.S - a great deception that Obama revealingly embraces 47 years later.
"Scaring the Hell Out of the American People"
"Greatest Generation" U.S. planners and policy makers continued with the restoration of fascist power in "liberated" Italy and intervened for elite class rule and against popular social revolution in the Balkans. In proclaiming the militantly U.S.-globalist Truman Doctrine, the Truman administration smeared democratic struggles in
Consistent with that goal, Truman and two key members of his cabinet, including George Marshall "systematically deceived Congress and the public into thinking that the
The Real "Soviet Threat": Who Deterred Who?
From the Truman Doctrine on, the basic Cold War pattern was set for the
When Third World proxies were unavailable or inadequate for the task of "deterring democracy" (Chomsky 1991) in the Third World,
In the U.S.-USSR Cold War relationship, it was the Soviets not the Americans who are most accurately described as the great power exercising deterrence against a globally ambitious other - a basic truth unmentionable outside officially marginal circles (Chomsky 1991, pp.9-68).
This refusal was a terrible example for the Third World, as far as leading Truman and Eisenhower planners like George Kennan and Dean Acheson - both warmly praised in past Obama publications and speeches (see for example Obama 2006, pp. 284, 304) - were concerned. The illusory Soviet quest for "world domination" and the related "domino theory" were always covers for the real specter haunting "Greatest Generation" planners in the post-WWII world: the danger that peripheral states would choose to follow their own autonomous road of development, outside and against the selfish, world-systemic needs of the state-capitalist core, run by and for the United States (Chomsky 1995, pp. 78-82, 91-93).
"To Maintain This Position of Disparity".
To grasp some of the lovely "Four Freedoms" sentiment behind such supposedly benevolent U.S. Cold War policies as the sponsorship of vicious military dictatorships in Indonesia, Iran, Greece and Brazil (to name just a few U.S. "Free World" partners), we can consult an interesting formulation from Obama's wise "Wilsonian" hero George Kennan (see Obama 2006, p, 284). As Kennan explained in Policy Planning Study 23, crafted for the State Department planning staff in 1948:
"We have about 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population...In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity...to do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives...We should cease to talk about vague and ...unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better....we should not hesitate before police repression by the local government" (Quoted in Chomsky 1995, pp. 9-11)
The Marshall Plan, the
Throughout the American "struggle against fascism" - a war won primarily by the workers, soldiers and peasants of the Soviet Union - U.S. planners worked behind the scenes to make sure that the U.S. would emerge as the unchallenged hegemon in the world investment and trading system (Zinn 2003, p. 413).
In a similar vein, JFK's
Yes, by all means, let us hail FDR, Harry Hiroshima Truman, and JFK and their magnificent contributions to "the peace and well-being of nations around the world."
EVADING AND JUSTIFYING CURRENT IMPERIAL CRIMINALITY
Does if it matter if Obama whitewashes past imperial
As it happens, Obama's Foreign Affairs article contains more than dubious historical reflection to feed suspicions that he (like Hillary and perhaps John Edwards - see Street 2007a and Street 2007b) can be expected to fulfill Maoist expectations if he reaches the imperial throne. Moving from the supposedly glorious post-WWII past he wants to restore ("we can be [Kennedy's]
Obama rips the White House for trying to "impose a military solution on a civil war between Sunni and Shiite factions."
"The best chance we have to leave
Too bad the Cheney-Bush administration did not invade
Those ambitions and that "war" had and have nothing to do with improving Iraqi's lives and have predictably deepened the crisis of Iraqi "life" - a long-running catastrophe the
Too bad Obama's superficially generous statement that Iraqi leaders alone can stabilize and pacify their country deletes the uncomfortable fact that the U.S. assault is the main force that has torn Iraqi apart and generated a civil war that has often been fanned quite directly by U.S. occupation authorities. Also lost in Obama's translation is the elementary moral fact that the
"This Enemy Operates Globally"
Obama praises "our servicemen and servicewomen" for "perform[ing] admirably while sacrificing immeasurably." Then he vilifies Islamic jihadists who "reject modernity, oppose
Too bad the illegal U.S. wars against Iraq and Afghanistan (Obama and other leading Democrats never criticize the latter colonial operation) have killed HUNDREDS of thousands of innocent Arab, Pashtun and other Southwest Asian civilians, helping explain why millions of Middle Eastern and Muslim people "oppose America['s]" Islam-distorting assault and support defensive jihad against Washington's imperial invaders, policies, and structures.
With over 700 military bases located in nearly every planet on the earth and a "defense" budget that accounts for roughly half the world's military spending, the
And it's too bad that "our" troops' "admirable performance" in service to Bush's imperial mission has involved shocking racist and imperial violence against civilians. As Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian report in the July 30th edition of The Nation, the occupation is "a dark and depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of
Many of fifty
"I guess while I was there [in Iraq]," one returning occupation soldier (Jeff Englehart, former Specialist, Third Brigade, First U.S. Army Infantry Division) told Hedges and Al-Arian, " the general attitude was ' a dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi. You know, so what?"
Numerous veterans "described reckless firing once they left their compounds. Some shot holes into cans of gasoline being sold along the roadside and then tossed grenades into the pools of gas to set them ablaze. Others opened fire on children. These shootings often enraged Iraqi witnesses."
"We heard a few reports, in one case corroborated by photographs," Hedges and Al-Arian report, "that some soldiers had so lost their moral compasses that they mocked or desecrated Iraqi civilian corpses."
Twenty four veterans "said they had witnessed or heard stories from those in their unit of unarmed civilians being shot or run over by convoys. These incidents were so numerous that many were never reported."
The killing of "unarmed Iraqis" is "so common many of the troops said it became an accepted part of the daily landscape."
Several interviewees told Hedges and Al-Arian of cases where
"Mom, we killed women on the street today," one
If such savage criminality (ultimately traceable to top decision-makers in Washington) is what comes out of the United States' purportedly advanced culture of "modernity," we should not be mystified if many Middle Eastern people might wish for a pre-"modern" time when the region might be free of Americia's supposed civilizing mission.
Obama calls for the
Too bad the increasingly militarized and regressive Israeli "democracy," whose "security" is Obama's declared first priority ("starting point"), rests on the racist, U.S.-protected occupation of Arab/Palestinian land - an occupation the American U.S. foreign policy establishment deeply supports.
The False Specter of "Isolationism"
Voicing an especially recurrent theme of his (see Obama 2006, pp. 303-304; Obama 2006a), Obama cautions Americans against becoming so disillusioned by Bush II's foreign policy that they fall into the dangerous clutches of "isolationism." "After thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent," Obama says, "many Americans may be tempted to turn inward and cede our leadership in world affairs. But this," the junior Senator from
Never mind that Americans are not veering towards isolationism. They support neither aggressive unilateral
It is interesting that Obama measures the Iraq War body count in the "thousands" while accusing Islamo-terrorists of "killing and maiming tens of thousands." His use of the word "thousands" means that he sees imperial
PROMISING FUTURE IMPERIAL CRIMINALITY
Obama's Foreign Affairs article gives people and states beyond
The last three words harken back to another Democratic imperialist's "Carter Doctrine" (which updated the Monroe Doctrine for the global petro-capitalist era to include the Persian Gulf region in the
"A strong military," Obama says, "is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace," echoing George Orwell's fictional totalitarian state of Oceana, which proclaimed that "War is Peace" and "Love is Hate."
We must "revitalize our military" (to foster peace), Obama declares, partly by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 to the Marines.
Do not rule out future overseas occupations carried out in the name of the "war on terror" by an Obama White House. "We must retain the capacity to swiftly defeat any conventional threat to our country and our vital interests," Obama pronounces. "But we must also become better prepared to put boots on the ground in order to take on foes that fight asymmetrical and highly adaptive campaigns on a global scale."
Reassuring the bipartisan imperialist establishment that he will not be hamstrung by international law and civilized norms when "our vital interests" (other peoples' petroleum, primarily) are "at stake," Obama says that "I will not hesitate to use force unilaterally, if necessary, to protect the American people or our vital interests wherever we are attacked or imminently threatened."
Prepare to take cover, if you can, subject peoples of the oil-rich periphery!
And do not rule out pre-emptive and even so-called preventive wars with Obama at the helm. "We must also consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense," the junior Senator who would be Emperor declares, "in order to provide for the common security that underpins global stability -- to support friends, participate in stability and reconstruction operations, or confront mass atrocities."
Gar Alperovitz 1995. The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb (New York: Vintage, 1995).
Noam Chomsky 1991. Deterring Democracy (New York: Hill and Wang, 1991),
Noam Chomsky 1993. Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War and
Noam Chomsky 1995. What Uncle Sam Really Wants (Berkeley CA, 1995)
Noam Chomsky 2002. Understanding Power (
Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian 2007. "The Other War:
Frank Kofsky 1993. Harry S. Truman and the War Scare of 1948 (New York: St. Martin's, 1993).
Bruce Mirroff 1976. Pragmatic Illusions: The Presidential Politics of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (New York: Longman's, 1976).
Barack Obama 2006. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (
Barack Obama 2006a. "A Way Forward in
Barack Obama 2007. "Renewing American Leadership," Foreign Affairs (July/August 2007), read online at http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20070701faessay86401/barack-obama/renewing-american-leadership.html.
Paul Street 2004. "Keynote Reflections," ZNet (July 29 2004), available online at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=5951.
Paul Street 2007c. "Obama's White Appeal and the Perverse Racial Politics of the Post-Civil Rights Era," Black Agenda Report (June 20 2007), read online at http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=254&Itemid=34.
Paul Street 2007d. "John Edwards and Dominant Media's Selective Skewering of Populist Hypocrisy," ZNet (June 29 2007), available online at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=13177.
Ian Urbina 2007. "Even as Loved Ones Fight On, War Doubts Arise," New York Times, 15 July 2007, p. A1.
Howard Zinn 2003. A People's History of the