Obama Won. Hooray?
Obama Won. Hooray?
After Brand Obama’s latest election victory I have again been surrounded by people expressing their relief and happiness, and implicitly asking me to share in it. This has, as usual, made me quite uncomfortable. Either these people do not know the facts or, if they do, they have chosen to ignore them. Unfortunately I find this to usually be the rule among ex- or implicit social democrats, Greens and liberals who believe in capitalism and the present ‘democratic’ system.
To these friends and acquaintances of mine I would address two basic questions. (a) Would they accept Obama’s actions if they were perpetrated by a Republican, and if not, how do they not entertain hypocritical double standards? (b) Are they going to continue to obediently identify with the governing rulers and perpetrators until it all crashes down around us or are they going to finally identify with the victims, past, present and future, of their crimes?
What is Obama’s actual record? Militarism. Nationalism. Imperialism, also involving Australia (Iraq, Afghanistan, US bases in Australia). Climate trashing energy policies. Trashing of international law and domestic rule of law and civil liberties (imprisonment without due process, total domestic surveillance, drones, extra-judicial murders of CIA-suspects). Obama has done nothing but deepen the movement towards climate chaos, the post-liberal police state and international geostrategic and resource wars. But enough from me. Here are three comments by American commentators.
First US energy and political analyst Michael T. Klare, ‘Obama Channels Cheney’s Geopolitical Energy Policy’ (21/6/2012, TomDispatch.com):
‘As details of his administration’s global war against terrorists, insurgents, and hostile warlords have become more widely known — a war that involves a mélange of drone attacks, covert operations, and presidentially selected assassinations — President Obama has been compared to President George W. Bush in his appetite for military action. “As shown through his stepped-up drone campaign,” Aaron David Miller, an advisor to six secretaries of state, wrote at Foreign Policy, “Barack Obama has become George W. Bush on steroids.”
When it comes to international energy politics, however, it is not Bush but his vice president, Dick Cheney, who has been providing the role model for the president. As recent events have demonstrated, Obama’s energy policies globally bear an eerie likeness to Cheney’s, especially in the way he has engaged in the geopolitics of oil as part of an American global struggle for future dominance among the major powers. […]
When it comes to the pursuit of enhanced energy independence, Obama has embraced the ultra-nationalistic orientation of the 2001 Cheney report, with its call for increased reliance on domestic and Western Hemisphere oil and natural gas — no matter the dangers of drilling in environmentally fragile offshore areas or the use of hazardous techniques like hydro-fracking. In recent speeches, he has boasted of his administration’s efforts to facilitate increased oil and gas drilling at home and promised to speed drilling in new locations, including offshore Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. […]
At the same time, Obama has made it clear that the U.S. will retain its role as the ultimate guardian of the Persian Gulf sea lanes. Even while trumpeting the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq, he has insisted that the United States will bolster its air, naval, and special operations forces in the Gulf region, so as to remain the preeminent military power there. “Back to the future,” is how Major General Karl R. Horst, chief of staff of the U.S. Central Command, described the new posture, referring to a time before the Iraq War when the U.S. exercised dominance in the region mainly through its air and naval superiority.
While less conspicuous than “boots on the ground,” the expanded air and naval presence will be kept strong enough to overpower any conceivable adversary. “We will have a robust continuing presence throughout the region,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared last October. Such a build-up has in fact been accentuated, in preparation either for a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, should Obama conclude that negotiations to curb Iranian enrichment activities have reached a dead end, or to clear the Strait of Hormuz, if the Iranians carry out threats to block oil shipping there in retaliation for the even harsher economic sanctions due to be imposed after July 1st. […]
Like Cheney, Obama also seeks to ensure U.S. control over the vital sea lanes extending from the Strait of Hormuz to the South China Sea. This is, in fact, the heart of Obama’s much publicized policy “pivot” to Asia and his new military doctrine, first revealed in a speech to the Australian Parliament on November 17th. “As we plan and budget for the future,” he declared, “we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.” A major priority of this effort, he indicated, would be enhanced “maritime security,” especially in the South China Sea.
Central to the Obama plan — like that advanced by Dick Cheney in 2007 — is the construction of a network of bases and alliances encircling China, the globe’s rising power, in an arc stretching from Japan and South Korea in the north to Australia, Vietnam, and the Philippines in the southeast and thence to India in the southwest. When describing this effort in Canberra, Obama revealed that he had just concluded an agreement with the Australian government to establish a new U.S. military basing facility at Darwin on the country’s northern coast, near the South China Sea. He also spoke of the ultimate goal of U.S. geopolitics: a region-embracing coalition of anti-Chinese states that would include India. “We see America’s enhanced presence across Southeast Asia,” both in growing ties with local powers like Australia and “in our welcome of India as it ‘looks east’ and plays a larger role as an Asian power.”
As anyone who follows Asian affairs is aware, a strategy aimed at encircling China — especially one intended to incorporate India into America’s existing Asian alliance system — is certain to produce alarm and pushback from Beijing. “I don’t think they’re going to be very happy,” said Mark Valencia, a senior researcher at the National Bureau of Asian Research, speaking of China’s reaction. “I’m not optimistic in the long run as to how this is going to wind up.”
But what about health care? Didn’t Obama do something good in that field? Here’s Harvard physician and health care professor Marcia Angell in the Huffington Post:
“Obamacare is simply incapable of doing what it is supposed to do — provide nearly universal care at an affordable and sustainable cost. The problem is that three years ago, in his futile efforts to win over Republicans (remember the embarrassing courtship of Olympia Snowe?), Obama gutted the law before it was even passed. He made the private insurance companies the linchpin of the new system, and promised them millions of additional customers and billions of taxpayer dollars. He also did nothing to rein in the profit-oriented delivery system that rewards providers on a piecework basis for doing tests and procedures. So with all the new dollars flowing into the system and no restraints on the way medicine is practiced, the law is inherently inflationary. “
Let’s leave the general summary of the real bigger picture, minus all the political entertainers of the plutocracy a la Obama/Romney, Gillard/Abbot etc, to Paul Street (‘Stinking Hot Plutocratic Mess’, Znet 4/7/2012):
‘With its inherent privileging of private profit and exchange value over the common good and social use value, with its intrinsic insistence on private management, with its inbuilt privileging of the short-term bottom line over the long-term fate of humans and other living things, with its deep sunk cost investment in old and cancerous ways of life and death, with its reliance on endless growth (real and illusory) to keep equality at bay,  and with its attachment to the division of the world into competing nations and empires that are incapable of common action for the global good, capitalism is the great destroyer of social, political, and literal biological health at home and abroad. It is socially and institutionally hard-wired kill off the chances for a decent, desirable, and democratic future.
As the environmental tipping point/“state shift” looms ever closer, it is clear that centrist incremental-ism won’t do the job. It’s either the revolutionary reconstitution of society or what two officially unmentionable anti-capitalists called in 1848 the only alternative: “the common ruin of the contending classes.” To prioritize ecology and green issues is not to demote or delay radical democratic transformation and socialism. It means the elevation and escalation of the left historical project, for saving ourselves from environmental ruin poses what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. referred to in 1968 as “the real question to be faced…the radical reconstruction of society itself.” And it poses that question with a strong emphasis on what Dr, King used to call “the fierce urgency of now.”
This latest blistering 4th of July, We the People would do well to get to work drafting and acting on a new Declaration of Independence – one that expresses our deep enmity to the nation’s unelected and interrelated dictatorships of capital, empire, and eco-cide. This is our pass-fail moment. We’ve got a generation at most to clean up this hot stinking plutocratic mess and to create a world turned upside down and worth inheriting from a capitalist elite that has nothing left to offer humanity but en ever-deepening descent into death and destruction.’
~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on November 16, 2012.