The Two Faces Of Obama
According to a Council on Foreign Relations survey, in 2016 alone Obama dropped 26,171 bombs. That is 72 bombs every day. He bombed the poorest people on earth, in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan.
Every Tuesday — reported the New York Times — he personally selected those who would be murdered by mostly hellfire missiles fired from drones. Weddings, funerals, shepherds were attacked, along with those attempting to collect the body parts festooning the “terrorist target.” A leading Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, estimated, approvingly, that Obama’s drones killed 4,700 people. “Sometimes you hit innocent people and I hate that,” he said, “but we’ve taken out some very senior members of Al Qaeda.”
Like the fascism of the 1930s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome, thanks to an omnipresent media whose description now fits that of the Nuremberg prosecutor: “Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically … In the propaganda system … it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”
Take the catastrophe in Libya. In 2011, Obama said Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew … that if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
This was the known lie of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. It became the media story and NATO — led by Obama and Hillary Clinton — launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and UNICEF reported that “most (of the children killed) were under the age of ten.”
Under Obama, the U.S. extended secret “special forces” operations to 138 countries, or 70 percent of the world’s population. The first African-American president launched what amounted to a full-scale invasion of Africa. Reminiscent of the “Scramble for Africa” in the late 19th century, the U.S. African Command has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for U.S. bribes and armaments. Africom’s “soldier to soldier” doctrine embeds U.S. officers at every level of command from general to warrant officer. Only pith helmets are missing.
It is as if Africa’s proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master’s Black colonial elite whose “historic mission,” warned Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the promotion of “a capitalism rampant though camouflaged.”
It was Obama who, in 2011, announced what became known as the “pivot to Asia,” in which almost two-thirds of U.S. naval forces would be transferred to the Asia-Pacific area to “confront China,” in the words of his defense secretary. There was no threat from China; the entire enterprise was unnecessary. It was an extreme provocation to keep the Pentagon and its demented brass happy.
In 2014, the Obama administration oversaw and paid for a fascist-led coup in Ukraine against the democratically-elected government, threatening Russia in the western borderland through which Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, with a loss of 27 million lives. It was Obama who placed missiles in Eastern Europe aimed at Russia, and it was this winner of the Nobel Peace prize who increased spending on nuclear warheads to a level higher than that of any administration since the cold war, having promised, in an emotional speech in Prague to “help rid the world of nuclear weapons.”
Obama, the constitutional lawyer, prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other president in history, even though the U.S. constitution protects them. He declared Chelsea Manning guilty before the end of a trial that was a travesty. He has refused to pardon Manning who has suffered years of inhumane treatment which the U.N. says amounts to torture. He has pursued an entirely bogus case against Julian Assange. He promised to close the Guantanamo concentration camp and didn’t.
Following the public relations disaster of George W. Bush, Obama, the smooth operator from Chicago via Harvard, was enlisted to restore what he calls “leadership” throughout the world. The Nobel prize committee’s decision was part of this: the kind of cloying reverse racism that beatified the man for no reason other than he was attractive to liberal sensibilities and, of course, U.S. power, if not to the children he kills in impoverished, mostly Muslim countries.
This is the Call of Obama. It is not unlike a dog whistle: inaudible to most, irresistible to the besotted and boneheaded, especially “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics,” as Luciana Bohne put it. “When Obama walks into a room,” gushed George Clooney, “you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere.”
William I. Robinson, professor at the University of California, and one of an uncontaminated group of U.S. strategic thinkers who have retained their independence during the years of intellectual dog-whistling since 9/11 wrote this last week, “President Barack Obama … may have done more than anyone to assure Trump’s victory.
While Trump’s election has triggered a rapid expansion of fascist currents in U.S. civil society, a fascist outcome for the political system is far from inevitable … But that fight back requires clarity as to how we got to such a dangerous precipice. The seeds of 21st-century fascism were planted, fertilized and watered by the Obama administration and the politically bankrupt liberal elite.”
Robinson points out that “whether in its 20th or its emerging 21st-century variants, fascism is, above all, a response to a deep structural crisis of capitalism, such as that of the 1930s and the one that began with the financial meltdown in 2008 … There is a near-straight line here from Obama to Trump … The liberal elite’s refusal to challenge the rapaciousness of transnational capital and its brand of identity politics served to eclipse the language of the working and popular classes … pushing white workers into an ‘identity’ of white nationalism and helping the neo-fascists to organize them.”
The seedbed is Obama’s Weimar Republic, a landscape of endemic poverty, militarized police and barbaric prisons, the consequence of a “market” extremism which, under his presidency, prompted the transfer of US$14 trillion in public money to criminal enterprises in Wall Street.
Perhaps his greatest “legacy” is the co-option and disorientation of any real opposition. Bernie Sanders’ specious “revolution” does not apply. Propaganda is his triumph.
The lies about Russia — in whose elections the U.S. has openly intervened — have made the world’s most self-important journalists laughing stocks. In the country with constitutionally the freest press in the world, free journalism now exists only in its honorable exceptions.
The obsession with Trump is a cover for many of those calling themselves “left/liberal,” as if to claim political decency. They are not “left,” neither are they especially “liberal.” Much of the United States’ aggression towards the rest of humanity has come from so-called liberal democratic administrations such as Obama’s. The U.S.’ political spectrum extends from the mythical center to the lunar right. The “left” are homeless renegades Martha Gellhorn described as “a rare and wholly admirable fraternity.” She excluded those who confuse politics with a fixation on their navels.
While they “heal” and “move forward,” will the Writers Resist campaigners and other anti-Trumpists reflect upon this? More to the point: when will a genuine movement of opposition arise — angry, eloquent, all-for-one-and-one-for all. Until real politics return to people’s lives, the enemy is not Trump, it is ourselves.