A few weeks ago I attended a meeting to listen to a group of extremely excited Obama supporters discuss the wanders of Obama’s candidacy and the profound change that will sweep this country as the consequence of Obama’s possible election in November.
I found the whole discussion bizarre to say the least. Let me explain my feelings.
I come from the Middle East where historically, colonial powers (old and new) have reserved the right to interfere in the affairs of governments of that region, with profound and extreme consequences for the lives of ordinary people.
To use my own experience as examples, my father was killed by a régime that was supported totally by the US. (Republican and Democrat). I was imprisoned and tortured, lost my brother, cousin, uncle and friends again by a regime that had full American support (Republican and Democrats). Hundreds of thousands of people have suffered similar experiences in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Palestine, to name but few countries in the region, as the direct results of the old colonial powers and especially American foreign policy. So to see such enthusiasm being expressed for the candidacy of Obama was very odd. What astounded me the most was the outpouring of emotion and the absence of facts.
So let us look at who is Obama and decide if there is anything worthy of celebration.
Who is Obama?
People from where I come from are more concerned with U.S.’s foreign policy than US’s domestic issues because for them it is in this area that the US government has done the most harm to the world. And in this area Obama’s records speak for him loud and clear.
While “the majority (+ 80%) of Iraqis of all persuasion and ethnic groups believe that the US military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of the ‘occupying forces’ as the key to national reconciliation.” According to the Iraqis, there’s hope of national reconciliation if the invaders, who are responsible for the internal violence and the other atrocities, were to withdraw and leave Iraq to Iraqis.
Obama’s Foreign Policy
“A senior foreign policy adviser to leading Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has told The Nation [magazine] that if elected Obama will not ‘rule out’ using private security companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq.” That’s the lead sentence from a new article by independent journalist Jeremy Scahill. The adviser to Obama also said that the Illinois Senator does not plan to sign on to legislation that seeks to ban the use of these forces in US war zones by January 2009, when a new president will be sworn in.
Obama intend to keep the Green Zone intact and to keep the current US embassy project, which is the largest embassy in the history of the world. And who is guarding US diplomats right now, it’s Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp; it’s these private security companies. Obama wants to keep open the Baghdad airport indefinitely. This means that despite the rhetoric of withdrawal, he is talking about a pretty substantial level of US forces and personnel remaining in Iraq indefinitely.
He says that US personnel are going to remain in the country to protect diplomats and other US officials in the country. Obama wants to keep trainers in place that will train the Iraqi military. He wants to keep a force in place to, quote, “strike at al-Qa’eda,” in the words of Barack Obama’s Iraq plan. When the Institute for Policy Studies did an analysis of what this would mean, they said it’s 20,000 to 60,000 troops, not including contractors, with the contractors, it means 60,000 to 120,000 troops indefinitely in Iraq. This doesn’t include the fact that you have to have troops bringing supplies in and out of Iraq. It doesn’t include the troops that Obama is going to keep in Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan and elsewhere.
He is calling for an increase in the number of troops in the permanent US military bases in Iraq. Obama wants an additional 90,000 new troops to be stationed there.
Obama has threatened, several times, to attack Iran if they don’t do what the United States wants them to do nuclear-wise; threatening more than once to attack Pakistan if their anti-terrorist policies are not tough enough or if there would be a regime change in the nuclear-armed country not to his liking; calling for a large increase in US troops and tougher policies for Afghanistan; wholly and unequivocally embracing Israel as if it were the 51st state; totally ignoring the Palestinian and the world demand for Israel to go back to 1967 boarders.
While an Illinois state senator in January 2004, Obama declared that it was time “to end the embargo with Cuba” because it had “utterly failed in the effort to overthrow Castro.” But speaking as a presidential candidate to a Cuban-American audience in Miami in August 2007, he said he would not “take off the embargo” as president because it is “an important inducement for change.” He thus went from a good policy for the wrong reason to the wrong policy for the wrong reason. Does Mr. Obama care any more than Mr. Bush that the United Nations General Assembly has voted — virtually unanimously — 16 years in a row against the embargo?
Obama has never said that the war is categorically illegal and immoral? A war crime? Or that anti-American terrorism in the world is the direct result of oppressive US policies? Instead he calls for a troop increase and “the first truly 21st century military … We must maintain the strongest, best-equipped military in the world.” Obama is not concerned with ending America’s endless warfare as he is with “succeeding” in them, by whatever perverted definition of that word.
He and his supporters have made much of the speech he delivered in the Illinois state legislature in 2002 against the upcoming US invasion of Iraq. But two years later, when he was running for the US Senate, he declared: “There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage.” Since taking office in January 2005, he has voted to approve every war appropriation the Republicans have put forward. He also voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her complicity in the Bush Administration’s false justifications for going to war in Iraq. In doing so, he lacked the courage of 12 of his Democratic Party Senate colleagues who voted against her confirmation.
When, in 2005, the other Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin, stuck his neck out and compared American torture at Guantánamo to “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings”, and was angrily denounced by the right wing, Obama joined the critics, thrice calling Durbin’s remark a “mistake”
One of Obama’s chief foreign policy advisers is Zbigniew Brzezinski, a man instrumental in provoking Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, which was followed by massive US military supplies to the opposition and widespread war. This gave rise to the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, al Qa’eda, and more than two decades of terror. Asked later if he had any regrets about this policy, Brzezinski replied: “Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, in substance: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.”
Another prominent Obama adviser is Madeleine Albright, who should always wear gloves because her hands are caked with blood from her roles in the bombings of Iraq and Yugoslavia in the 1990s. This is the person that declared the lose of over 600,000 Iraqi children’s lives as a result of US imposed embargo, a worthy price to pay for American domination of Iraq.
In a primary campaign talk in March, Obama said that “he would return the country to the more ‘traditional’ foreign policy efforts of past presidents, such as George H.W. Bush, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.” Use your imagination. Bloody serial interventionists, all.
Who are the top contributors to Obama’s campaign?
Well here are few of them: Lehman Brothers, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, UBS, JPMorgan Chase, and National Amusements, Inc., the parent company of media mogul Sumner Redstone’s Viacom and CBS empire. He is also getting a lot of money from News Corporation, (Fox News’s Rupert Murdoch)
Obama goes around saying he doesn’t take money from lobbyists. Well, it’s true that he doesn’t take money from registered lobbyists, but Obama has been all over the corporate law community. And he, early in his campaign, even went down to the headquarters of Greenberg Traurig, Jack Abramoff’s firm, the headquarters of the law offices in Miami, and did a video stream fundraising pitch, where he raised a whole bunch of money from the lawyers who worked alongside Jack Abramoff for many years. Obama is the number four recipient of campaign contributions from the defense industry, after Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Chris Dodd.
Obama supported authorizing a massive expansion of government surveillance of telephone calls and e-mail, and providing legal immunity to the giant telecom firms that collaborated with such illegal spying over the past seven years.
Given all this, can we expect a more enlightened, less bloody, more progressive and humane foreign policy from Mr. Barack Obama.