by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
President Obama has reached a watershed in his presidency: he has devolved to the intellectual level of George Bush, while retaining his world class powers of speech. History may remember Obama as just another vapid but predatory imperialist president who happens to be…superficially eloquent. Unfortunately, the clarity of Obama’s diction is not matched by coherence of policy. Af-Pak is at least as whack as Bush’s Iraq.
“More occupation means less occupation.”
Barack Obama’s oratorical skills have turned on him, revealing, as George Bush’s low-grade delivery never could, the perfect incoherence of the current American imperial project in South Asia. Bush’s verbal eccentricities served to muddy his entire message, leaving the observer wondering what was more ridiculous, the speechmaker or the speech. There is no such confusion when Obama is on the mic. His flawless delivery of superbly structured sentences provides no distractions, requiring the brain to examine the content – the policy in question – on its actual merits. The conclusion comes quickly: the U.S. imperial enterprise in Afghanistan and Pakistan is doomed, as well as evil.
The president’s speech to West Point cadets was a stream of non sequitors so devoid of logic as to cast doubt on the sanity of the authors. “[T]hese additional American and international troops,” said the president, “will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.”
Obama claims that, the faster an additional 30,000 Americans pour into Afghanistan, the quicker will come the time when they will leave. More occupation means less occupation, you see? This breakneck intensification of the U.S. occupation is necessary, Obama explains, because “We have no interest in occupying your country.”
“The U.S. imperial enterprise in Afghanistan and Pakistan is doomed, as well as evil.”
If the Americans were truly interested in occupying Afghanistan, the logic goes, they would slow down and stretch out the process over many years, rather than mount an 18-month surge of Taliban-hunting. The Afghans are advised to hold still – the pulsating surge will be over before they know it.
At present, of course, the Americans have assumed all “responsibility” for Afghanistan – so much so that President Hamid Karzai only learned about Obama’s plans earlier on Tuesday during a one-hour tele-briefing. This is consistent with Obama’s detailed plans for Afghan liberation, under U.S. tutelage. The president is as wedded to high stakes testing of occupied peoples as he is for American public school children. “This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over,” said the Occupier-in-Chief. He continued:
“And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance. We will support Afghan Ministries, Governors, and local leaders that combat corruption and deliver for the people. We expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable.”
Such rigorous oversight of their country’s affairs should keep Afghan minds off the fact that they have been fighting to remain independent of foreign rule for centuries, if not millennia. If Obama is right, Afghans might also be distracted from dwelling on the question of who their “Ministries, Governors, and local leaders” are answerable to – the Afghan people or the Americans?
“Obama advises Afghans to be patient and trusting regarding their sovereignty.”
Although President Obama is anxious to bring U.S. troop levels above 100,000 as quickly as possible, he advises Afghans to be patient and trusting regarding their sovereignty. “It will be clear to the Afghan government, and, more importantly, to the Afghan people, that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.” That is, it will become clear in the fullness of time, but hopefully no later than 18 months after the planned surge begins. If all goes well, the Taliban will be dead or nearly so, and the non-Taliban Afghans will be prepared to begin assuming “responsibility for their own country.” If not, then the Americans will be forced to continue as occupiers – reluctantly, of course, since, as the whole world and the more intelligent class of Afghans know, the Americans “have no interest in occupying your country” – unless they have to.
Should the Afghans become confused about American intentions, they might consult with their Pakistani neighbors, for whom President Obama also has plans.
“[We] have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe-haven for terrorists whose location is known, and whose intentions are clear,” the president declared. “America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan’s democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting.”
Obama did not mention that it was the Americans that coerced and bribed the Pakistani military into launching the attacks that displaced over a million people in the Swat region and hundreds of thousands more in border areas. How nice of them to join in humanitarian assistance to the homeless.
The Pakistanis, like the Afghans, were assured the Americans will not abandon them to their own, independent devices. Said Obama: “And going forward, the Pakistani people must know: America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.”
Some Pakistanis might consider that a threat. According to polling by the Pew Global Attitudes Project , only 16 percent of Pakistanis held a favorable view of the United States in 2009. Actually, that’s a point or two higher than U.S. popularity in Occupied Palestine (15 percent) and Turkey (14 percent), the only other Muslim countries on the Pew list.
Not to worry. Obama knows things that escape the rest of us. For example, the fact that “we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim World – one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict, and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.”
Which means, we can expect those polling numbers to start going up, soon.
“Only 16 percent of Pakistanis held a favorable view of the United States in 2009.”
When Obama isn’t launching bold initiatives and “new beginnings,” he’s busy taking care of U.S. imperial business as usual. Obama is most proud that the U.S. spends more on its military than all the rest nations of the planet, combined.
“[T]he United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades,” he told the cadets, “a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, markets open, billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress, and advancing frontiers of human liberty.” Others might not view the rise of U.S. hegemony in such a positive light. But they are wrong, said the president. “For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours.”
In Obama’s worldview, it’s the thought that counts. Americans don’t seek world domination; it just comes to them. “We do not seek to occupy other nations,” they leave us no choice. If it were not for American concern for the welfare of all the world’s people, the U.S. would not maintain 780 military bases in other people’s countries.
Obama has certainly matured as an American-style statesman in his nine and a half months in office. As a TV Native American might say, “Black man in white house speak like forked tongued white man.” Only better.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
by ellenr - 12/03/2009 - 08:47
I know you need $ to survive, but really -- advertising from McDonald's?!how many Black people have died due to McDonalds?McDonald's is a serial killer (of Black people especially).think about it
The earth burns wherever we go...
by celestee - 12/03/2009 - 03:06
It was very painful/distressing to listen to those words come out of Obama's mouth.Wherever the USA military goes, the earth burns. Then we blame the “host” country for being too incompetent and corrupt to straighten out the mess our military adventurers made.
...And "we" go everywhere.
by Dosamuno - 12/03/2009 - 10:08
In 1935, the editors of Fortune magazine took it upon themselves to tell their readers what the U.S. has been all about. "It is generally supposed that the American military ideal is peace," they wrote. "But for this high-school classic, the U.S. Army, since 1776, has filched more square miles of the earth by sheer military conquest than any army in the world, except only that of Great Britain. And as between Great Britain and the U.S. it has been a close race, Britain having conquered something over 3,500,000 square miles (9 million square km) since that date, and the U.S. (if one includes wresting the Louisiana Purchase from the Indians) something over 3,100,000."
A picture is worth a thousand words.
by Dosamuno - 12/02/2009 - 20:16
by Sondjata - 12/02/2009 - 19:45
by Dosamuno - 12/03/2009 - 10:10
This is an excellent analysis.
Obama is a historical revisionist, that's his job
by Enlightened Cynic - 12/03/2009 - 11:10
Obama falls into a long, unending line of Empire Spokespersons whose job is to rewrite history under the intoxicating spell of "American Exceptionalism."
Thanks for the analysis. I intend to share it. It shows what a rank, putrid, historical revisionist (or spokesperson for the Empire) Obama is. It's pathetic that he would offend critical thinkers' intelligence.
But again, don't get mad at BO, that's ALWAYS been the job of the US President. Get mad at how "Liberals" in general and African Americans in particular could believe that Booker T would act differently, when BAR and other bloggers, writers, journalists dissected his words during his candidacy and revealed them for the Blue Dog Pablum they are. He promised this Af-Pak nonsense from day one. Astonishing.
It has to be one of the greatest feats of psychological brainwashing in the history of the universe--how African Americans are along for the ride. A great topic for a grad paper: "How Obama and the Media Whitewashed 400 years of history and captured the Black Vote."
It's also clearer than ever than Obama will "outBush" GWB as a militarist.
So much for McCain being scarier.
Obama Quietly Expands Pakistan WarPosted By Jason Ditz On December 2, 2009 @ 7:21 pm In Uncategorized 2 Comments
Though he was less specific about his plans in Pakistan than when he unveiled his March escalation, President Obama is poised to use the escalation of the Afghan War as an excuse to further escalate the Pakistan War as well.
Amid the vagaries of his speech, Obama made it clear that the Af-Pak philosophy of viewing the conflict in Afghanistan as inextricably linked to the conflict in Pakistan is alive and well, and behind the scenes he is said to have already authorized an expansion of America’s strikes in Pakistan.
Convincing the Pakistani government to go along with the conflict in the face of growing popular distrust is easier said than done, but the strategy of forever pressing Pakistan to “do more” seems to already be going into high gear.
Since taking office President Obama has dramatically increased the number and severity of the drone strikes against northern Pakistan. He is, however, being pressed to expand the strikes into Balochistan.
E.Cynic:Paul Street has a good dissection of the O speech,Znet
by NYCartist - 12/03/2009 - 16:15
that went up today:taking apart the lies in the speech. http://www.zcommunications.org/znetAlso, one on capitalism in the new issue of Zmag that I haven't had brain/stamina to read yet.
Raimondo exposes Obama's rank stupidity & ahistoricism
by Enlightened Cynic - 12/02/2009 - 14:35
AND BLATANT HISTORICAL REVISIONISM. Who the f***k does this guy think we are? He offends me with his smug, bullshit, dimwitted, "confidence." What a tool.
Raimondo: Speaking of fraud, that’s really the basis of Obama’s rationale for the continued occupation of Afghanistan because, you see, even he admits that al-Qaeda isn’t much of a presence: "Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe-havens along the border." So we’re in Afghanistan in order to fight an enemy that’s in Pakistan? Good luck making that case – which Obama failed to make.
In failing to make that case, he also tripped over more than a few contradictions. On the one hand, he averred that "Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards. There is no imminent threat of the government being overthrown" – but, on the other hand, he tells us: "In short: the status quo is not sustainable." But if the status quo is not sustainable, then something very close to defeat is indeed imminent – so which is it?
"Which is it?" is a question that kept popping up – in my mind, at least – the more I listened to this consummate politician make the biggest mistake of his career. Ambiguity and doubt hovered over the podium and inflected his every word, especially these words:
"As Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan."
Don’t think of it as escalation – because it’s really the first act of withdrawal. The Yanks are coming – and they’re leaving, too. What kind of doubletalk is this."
Raimondo is also prescient in fearing, like many others, that this war will spread throughout the region and that the time-table for withdrawal is just a P.R. ploy, spoken by an increasingly punch-drunk P. R. spokesman.
"We are in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That is why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border."
In spite of all the folderol about how the US and Pakistan are fast friends and allies, and how we are committed to helping them, subsidizing them, and protecting them, there is no "mutual trust" as Obama would have it, but only mutual contempt and distrust – as Hillary Clinton made clear during her recent trip to Pakistan, where she all but directly accused her hosts of hiding Osama bin Laden. If Obama is seeking "a strategy that works on both sides of the border," then one day he is going to have to cross that border. And I don’t think he’ll hesitate for one moment to widen this war. That’s what this speech, and all this fanfare at the launching of yet another military campaign, are all about: preparing us for a much wider regional war, one that envelopes Pakistan and most of the other Central Asian ’stans. Because as we drive them into Pakistan, and then out of there and into, say, Tajikistan – well, let’s just say there are lots of possible "safe havens" in that part of the world. Out by July, 2011? Don’t bet the ranch on it: by that time we’ll already be in the
"tribal areas" of Pakistan, and encroaching on Uzbekistan"
"Only better." Pretty much sums it up
by Enlightened Cynic - 12/02/2009 - 13:39
Before the illusion and Madison Ave. creation called Obama came into our sphere, African Americans universally, predominantly believed, in the tradition and worldview of Malcom, MLK and countless others, that America was indeed, "the largest purveyor of violence on the planet." That the primary mission of the US president was to promote, protect and secure White Supremacy. And that the plight and struggle of African Americas at home was part and parcel of the plight of US Colonialism abroad.
How shocking how quickly we've taken leave of our senses. How petty our sense of history and moral obligation that we will willfully ignorantly, compromise, equivocate, justify and otherwise rational Obama's escalation as anything but part and parcel of the Imperial Venture-- a continuation of the Monroe Doctrine, Wilsonian Democracy, Gun Boat Diplomacy, and American Exceptionalism which is the strongest religion in the USA? How reprensible are major Black media outlets, Black pundits, politicans, et. al. for White Washing 400 years of American history in exchange for 4 years of a Uncle Tom, weak-kneed, half-Black President whose commonality and support of them is limited to R & B on the iPod and basketball.
If GWB did this, the murmerings would reach thunderous proportions. But because "our guy," "our team," our "tribe" is running the show, morality, ethics, critical thinking, objective analysis, historicism disappear in the twinkling of Obama's speech.
For me, this always goes back to Rev. Wright, what he said, and wrote, the 400 years of historical analysis he summarized, which Obama and the toadies and stooges who saw his Presidency as the culmination of ...."what?" collectively, with volition, discarded with veangeful, deliberate, spiteful, callow ignorance.
Go back and read what Rev. Wright said and compare Booker T's responses. Booker T, and his no safe-haven for A.Q. meme sounds like a smoother, more articulate version of GWB, but with the same rank shallowness of thought and acuity. You have the to be the dumbest M. F.r on the planet not to understand that your are destabilizing Pakistan as you so-called stabilize Afghanistan. Chris Floyd does a remarkable analysis, read the whole thing, here's an excerpt:
... As for terrorism, Wright simply referred the questioners to his previous "controversial" sermon on the matter. And here's what he said in that sermon:
I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday. Did anybody else see him or hear him? He was on Fox News. This is a white man, and he was upsetting the Fox News commentators to no end. He pointed out, (Did you see him, John?) -- a white man -- he pointed out -- an ambassador -- that what Malcolm X said when he got silenced by Elijah Muhammad was in fact true; America's chickens are coming home to roost.
We took this country, by terror, away from the Sioux, the Apache, the Arawak, the Comanche, the Arapajo, the Navajo. Terrorism -- we took Africans from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism. We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians -- babies, non-military personnel. We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with Stealth Bombers and killed unarmed teenagers, and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard working fathers. [fullest voice] We bombed Khaddafi, his home and killed his child. Blessed be they who bash your children's head against the rocks.
We bombed Iraq, we killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed the plant in Sudan to pay back for the attack on our embassy -- killed hundreds of hard-working people -- mothers and fathers, who left home to go that day, not knowing they'd never get back home. [Even fuller voice] We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye. Kids playing in the playground, mothers picking up children after school -- civilians, not soldiers. People just trying to make it day by day. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans and now we are indignant? Because the stuff we have done overseas is brought back into our own front yards.
America's chickens are coming home to roost. Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred, and terrorism begets terrorism.
A White ambassador said that, y'all, not a black militant. Not a Reverend who preaches about racism; an ambassador whose eyes are wide open, and who's trying to get us to wake up, and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. "
So there you have it. This is what Obama calls "equating the United States' wartime efforts with terrorism."
America will always get the politican she deserves. African Americans better wake up to the fact that that includes them too. "We don't occupy other countries." If any Black person or "Liberal" believes that, then they deserve to rot in their ignorance and stupidity. They deserve to face austerity as both parties forecast cuts in social spending to pay for wars. They deserve their place in hell for their callow participation in the banality of evil.
by eshusblues - 12/02/2009 - 13:18
Yes, a regular master of herpetological rhetoric. On the flip side, not even a rattlesnake sheds its skin as many times a year as the president does.
good; esp the opening but it's not possible seeming "lack of sani
ty" but desperation.
by NYCartist - 12/02/2009 - 11:17
Desperation to make a coherent case for bad policy.