International - Opinion

2007 - 2021

Calm Your Jets

Pakistan drone strike protest


When Obama won 4 years ago, a number of people took the huff with me for mentioning these facts that I had found (via Andy Best)…

So, Obama’s in and all us ‘liberals’ are happy.

Just imagine if McCain had won and we saw the following aspects of his campaign carried through:

  • – Continuation of the ‘war on terror’ including more troops into Afghanistan (back to the stone age not enough) and promises to cross borders (invade) others if they ‘don’t comply’ – ie invade Iran and Pakistan.
  • – a promise to take intervention in latin America “further south” ie ‘deal with’ Venezuela and Bolivia
  • – national/single payer healthcare completely off the table.
  • – full support of the Cuba embargo
  • – refusing to be photographed with the mayor of SF so not to appear as supporting same sex unions.
  • – commitment to draconian immigration policies such as the mexico border wall.
  • – penal system and capital punishment off the table as is gun control
  • – 700 billion handout to companies who preach no nationalization and private competition

The thing that I then said of course, which some people took objection to, is that those were things from Obama’scampaign the first time round, not McCain.

Let’s look at the record. In an interview from last year with PBS Frontline programme in the USA, John Rizzo of the CIA who had this to say…

…while candidate Obama “promised a sweeping overhaul of the Bush administration’s war on terror” and “a top to bottom review of the threats we face and our abilities to confront them,” Rizzo explains that, in fact, Obama officials during the transition made clear to the CIA that they intended almost complete continuity.  And Rizzo was joined in this assessment today by Dick Cheney, who — as recounted by his long-time faithful stenographer, Politico‘s Mike Allen — cites this continuity to (once again) claim “vindication”; said the former Vice President, “[Obama] ultimately had to adopt many of the same policies that we had been pursuing because that was the most effective way to defend the nation.”

I’m sure part of you wants to take issue with the last line there, but Change?

Well what about the fighting, Afhganistan? Still there. Yemen, oh, they are there. Libya, been there. Officially troops are out of Iraq, but there are lots of grey areas in that. Change?

George Monbiot puts the lie to notions of any kind of green or progressive climate change policies in this article.

Neither a CIA official nor George Monbiot could be accurately described as the radical left, so what do some of them have to say about Obama? Well, have a look at this list of some of the things he has done…

  • Signed the NDAA into law – making it legal to assassinate Americans w/o charge or trial.
  • Initiated, and personally oversees a ‘Secret Kill List’.
  • Waged war on Libya without congressional approval.
  • Started a covert, drone war in Yemen.
  • Escalated the proxy war in Somalia.
  • Escalated the CIA drone war in Pakistan.
  • Maintained a presence in Iraq even after “ending” the war.
  • Sharply escalated the war in Afghanistan.
  • Secretly deployed US special forces to 75 countries.

Many things in that list concern civil liberties, so what do the American Civil Liberties Unionhave to say about him…

“The Obama administration has endorsed many of the Bush administration’s national security policies,” says Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union – a leading US liberal rights group.

Mr Jaffer says this includes “policies that were regarded three or four years ago as the most extreme of the Bush administration’s policies.”

The most symbolic example is the prison at Guantanamo Bay, which Obama promised to close within a year during his 2008 election campaign, but which continues to detain inmates indefinitely and subject them to military trials, rather than trials in open court.

It may be unfair to blame President Obama for this – he initially tried to close Guantanamo but was ultimately blocked by Congress.

“But the administration does have the ability to fight back against those restrictions,” counters Jaffer.

“The administration does have the ability to go to the American people and say these restrictions don’t make any sense. That’s something that the president could have said and didn’t.”

All I am saying is that after 4 years, quite frankly, not much has changed. The only possible reason there could have been for voting for him was simply that he is not Mitt Romney. The 2 party left-right charade in the USA has been going on for so long and elections there were memorably described by John Pilger thusly…

They are a ritual danse macabre of flags, balloons and bullshit, designed to camouflage a venal system based on money power, human division and a culture of permanent war.

To finish, as was stated before, if you want some change – and this time he won’t have the excuse of needing to be re-elected – how about this for starters

“…if President Obama were serious about hope and change, he’d close the prison tomorrow, apologize to the detainees, and offer them financial reparations. That could be promptly followed up with the immediate indictment of all government officials (including those in Obama’s administration) responsible for supporting torture, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, extrajudicial punishment, etc. And why not toss in the immediate closing of the US military base at Guantánamo Bay and the return of that land to Cuba? That, I submit, would be a minuscule first step upon which we could build.”

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  1. George Gunn says:

    Aye, it’s big business as usual in the USA

  2. picpac67 says:

    An excellent reminder of what the “American system” is really like – pseudo-democracy and continuous war. The idea that any of the obscene level of expenditure on arms is about “defending America from attack” is ludicrous. America has never been attacked. The case for an inside job on 9/11 is now so watertight that no intelligent person with an objective mind can question it. Everyone in the upper echelons of the American state – and many millions of ordinary Americans, including several thousand professional architects and engineers, airline pilots, veterans, ex-CIA officers and others – knows the official account is hogwash. But it’s the Big Lie that must be maintained at all costs. Obama certainly knows it.
    So once again we have a war criminal (i.e. mass murderer) as American president. Hardly cause for celebration …

  3. Thanks,

    Pilger had a decent article on related matters yesterday too…

  4. Yep, counters the optimism that Obama must be better. Now he’s won decisively, lets see how long it takes for the mask of hope and Nobel peace to slip away…
    Great news that same-sex marriage made real progress though, but that’s nowt to do with him. Cameron too pretends to be gay-friendly…

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