Obama – Making Your Mind Up 107

Barack Obama does not lie awake at night worrying what Craig Murray thinks of him. One day he will go to his grave without ever knowing what Craig Murray thought of him. But as an infinitesimal fraction of the spreading of views and information in the digital age, I thought I might tell you anyway.

I am not a socialist. I have to say that from time to time, because people imagine that I am, from my dislike of the abuse of power and wealth. But my view remains that organised socialism has generally turned out to be one of the nastier ways of concentrating power and wealth. I am a liberal. My political inspiration has come from Mill, Bright, Hobson, Gladstone, Lloyd George, Keynes and Grimond, from Paine, Cobbett and Carlyle, from Milton, Byron, Burns and William Morris. I am a radical. I am not a socialist.

The point of which disquisition is to explain to you why I was prepared to give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt. Many of my fellow campaigners against war and for human rights, were writing him off after a couple of weeks.

“Give the man time”, I said.

I corresponded with Democrat friends in the US, who explained that, in trying to turn round the neoconservative juggernaut, Obama needed a critical mass of support. His aim was to capture people to his side. Many of those retained, who had served Bush, were careerists not ideologues. Their loyalty was to the Commander-in-Chief. With his authority allied to his charisma, Obama would align them to the new agenda. Give it time – the result would be the most powerful change in modern US history.

The problem is, to believe that someone is changing course, you do have to observe them putting some pressure on the tiller. I see none. On human rights, Obama’s government lawyers have continued seamlessly the positions adopted by the Bush administration in seeking to deny any rights before US courts for detainees in Guantanamo Bay, arguing that they are not legal persons in the US.

The US detention centre at Baghram airbase in Afghanistan, where prisoners have been subject to terrible deprivation and torture, and many have died, is being expanded to take another 244 prisoners. That appears to be the plan for closing Guantanamo Bay, and is one of the few things that could actually make life worse for the prisoners there.

Extraordinary rendition has not been stopped. And to quote just one of myriad cases, Obama continued the Bush administration’s efforts to have the details of the torture suffered by Binyam Mohammed kept secret by the puppet UK government, which complied, and the British courts – the latter thankfully having resisted.

There are to be no prosecutions of Bush administration officals or security service personnel for instituting or implementing the policy of torture worldwide. Which policy, as far as records of the law are concerned, was entirely dreamt up by Ms Lyndie England.

Obama ought to have encouraged prosecutions to deter from it happening again – except it appears not to have stopped. But there are not just to be no prosecutions – the truth is to be buried forever. It was under Obama that Binyan Mohammed was still held, with the complicity of Miliband, while he was pressured to sign a condition of release that he would not tell anyone about his torture. We still don’t know which basements Khalil Sheikh Mohammed was held in over three years and precisely what tortures he was subjected too. At the very least, we need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Torture and Extraordinary Rendition.

Those rendered to the unspeakable torture of Uzbekistan came on CIA flights from Baghram and from the secret prison at Szymano-Szczytny in Poland. Most if not all now lie in graves in the Kizyl Kum desert. The Americans must have lists of who they transported. We – and their relatives all over the World – don’t know their names.

In January, one of Obama’s first foreign policy initiatives was to send General Petraeus to Tashkent for talks with President Karimov, with a view to reopening the US airbase in Uzbekistan. Diplomatic talks continue. Interestingly, I hear from my Uzbek government moles that they have stalled over Karimov’s demand for a photoshoot with President Obama. That sounds crazy if you don’t know Karimov’s megalomania, and his desire to revive a faltering personality cult.

Hillary Clinton is resisting this strongly. She has nothing against an alliance with Karimov, opening the airbase, paying him a large subsidy and resuming the Bush policy of denying Karimov’s massive human rights abuses at the UN, OSCE and elsewhere. But she has made plain that she will not under any circumstances be pictured with Karimov, who boils opponents alive (literally). She doesn’t think Obama should do it either. But there is now a split over this issue in Washington between White House and State Department, with White House senior staff seeing no harm in a photocall with a man that 99.9% of Americans have never heard of, and who (this is a telling factor) is strongly allied with Israel.

The Uzbek policy particularly interests me, and is a subset of Obama’s disastrous Central Asian policy. In Afghanistan we have presided over massive increases in opium production, to exceed all previous levels by over 50%. The Karzai family and the majority of the Ministers and Governors of the government we installed, are deeply implicated in the industrial scale refining of opium into heroin and its export – much of it through neighbouring Uzbekistan and in collaboration with the Karimov family and their bagman Gafur Rakhimov.

What Obama expects to gain by a massive surge of Western troops into this mess is beyond me. Meantime he has actually increased the rate of air strikes into Pakistan, killing many scores of innocent civilians and contributing to the destabilisaton and growth of radical insurgency in that country.

Then we have economic policy.

I praised Obama’s initial economic stimulus bill for old-fashioned Keynesianism, creating jobs in a recession through public works. But it has now been followed up by Geithner’s Public-Private Investment Program. No wonder Wall Street cheered. It represents a huge transfer of money from the man in the street, not just to the wealthy, but specifically to the speculators.

The plan will bankroll private investment firms and guarantee them huge profits in return for buying failed home loans and securities from the banks at vastly inflated prices. Its name conceals the fact that it involves no private investment of any value, and certainly no private risk. It aims to get the whole speculative hedge fund casino back up and running.

But this is not any casino. This is an exclusive casino with a very tough door policy, where the high rollers can keep their winnings, but know that if they lose, their losses will be taken by force from all the little people who were not allowed into the casino. What fun!

Barack Obama will always have the benefit of not being George Bush. I like him for that. But then I like my cat for not being George Bush. Does he really represent the positive change for which Americans yearned? Will he fulfil the aspirations of his ethereal oratory?


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107 thoughts on “Obama – Making Your Mind Up

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  • MJ

    You’ll recall eddie that my point was about daily threats.

    Since the best you can find is one piece of rhetoric from three and a half years ago I take it that you tacitly concede that Iran is not making threats in the same vein.

  • eddie

    MJ – you show me yours and I will show you mine. You haven’t given any evidence of “daily threats” so no I don’t concede, tacitly or otherwise. Are you saying that the President of Iran has changed his opinion from three years ago? I don’t think so.

  • frog2

    I did this ( far more serious ! ) test years ago, which put me outside the UK Greenies on the Left / South quadrant .. An unconscious Anarchist peut-etre.


    I’m still waiting for proof that the new boss is much different from the old one … and I’m not holding my breath .

  • MJ

    Unlike Israel, Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Unlike Israel, its nuclear facilities are under constant surveillance by the IAEI. Said inspectorate has consistently reported that Iran is not producing uranium that is sufficiently enriched to make a nuclear weapon.

    Israeli threats to Iran are to be found everywhere and new ones arise almost everyday. I can’t give links right now but just keep your eyes open; you’ll soon see one.

    Peres is powerless. Just listen to Netenyahu.

  • John D. Monkey


    Somewhat but not entirely off the current topic, for which apologies, but I take it you have seen or are getting the Foreign Office’s latest annual report on human rights?


    The BBC quotes the report as saying:

    “The government has not approved and will not approve a policy of facilitating the transfer of individuals through the UK to places where there are substantial grounds to believe they would face a real risk of torture”.

    Will this report come up at the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights hearing on 28th April?

  • Tom Welsh

    “Those rendered to the unspeakable torture of Uzbekistan came on CIA flights from Baghram and from the secret prison at Szymano-Szczytny in Poland. Most if not all now lie in graves in the Kizyl Kum desert. The Americans must have lists of who they transported. We – and their relatives all over the World – don’t know their names”.

    Just like life in Argentina when I was there back in the 1950s. People were snatched, made to disappear, tortured, and killed. Sometimes, for fun, the military torturers would fly them out over the ocean and throw them out alive.

  • MJ

    “The government has not approved and will not approve a policy of facilitating the transfer of individuals through the UK to places where there are substantial grounds to believe they would face a real risk of torture”.

    I suspect the key phrase there is “through the UK”

  • MJ

    By the way eddie, just put Netanyahu+ Iran into google and you’ll get links to half a dozen threatening remarks from Netanyahu in March alone.

  • John D. Monkey


    There are lots of weasel words here, which is why I posted the quote.

    “approved” vs condoned

    “policy” vs practice

    “facilitate” vs allow or ignore

    “through the uk” vs through UK territories eg. Diego Garcia

    “substantial grounds” vs reasonable grounds

    “believe” vs fear or suspect

    “real risk” vs risk

    Draw your own conclusions!

  • Jon

    @eddie – I am intrigued what logic you used to deduce that comments from MJ show that many of us are anti-American. Really, that was a bit of a silly rant, wasn’t it? For the record, I don’t see there was anything in MJ’s post that was racist, even if you intend to insist there was. For the record, I am a big fan of America’s stated values – I am just looking forward to their administration practising them!

    Meanwhile – using Iran Focus as your source? Wikipedia casts doubt on it. And I am surprised that you put this forward despite the alleged owners of that website being marked as a “terrorist organisation” by US, Canada and EU. Given your record of overblowing terrorism, I would have thought you’d have steered well clear.

    Either way, the “occupying regime in [Jerusalem] be wiped off the face of the earth” – that mistranslation, from the original Persian, will probably be repeated ad nauseum by shady sources despite the thorough debunking it has received. I am no fan of Ahmadinejad’s anti-semitism, but, whilst you are furiously pointing out the specks in his eyes, you are being whacked in the back of the head by the enormous logs in Israel’s eyes (see MJ’s later comments on Netanyahu). And, for some peculiar reason, you are pretending not to notice them.

  • writerman


    I believe your views on Obama are sound.

    I think he’s a fantastic bag of wind, rather like Blair.

    He knows virtually nothing about foreign policy or economics. His ambition was to become President, now that’s over with he’s able to relax. I think he’ll evolve, and very quickly, into another Jimmy Carter. Obama has the right rhetoric, but lacks the balance, substance, or policy or ideology. But rhetoric without content is an empty vessel. Obama can’t rule by making great, set-piece, speeches; Lincoln actually had ideas, rather than merely rhetoric.

    This is the crux of the problem, Obama’s concreted policies aren’t substantially different from Bush’s, only his style is more sophisticated and urbane.

    I think he was chosen, as most president’s are, by the ruling elite, who saw his potential and backed him to the hilt, the Bush model having gone well over it’s sell-by date.

  • Anas Taunton

    Just because Obama’s got feelings, doesn’t mean he hasn’t got baggage. Nobody expects Bush or Blair to show regret, but Obama does. The question in my mind is whether his humility extends to admitting that others have got U.S. policy wrong or whether he will just build on top of the ruins of his predecessors.

    At this time what is needed is a reversal of U.S policy about imposing a Shia regime in Iraq through demography and a refusal to use Iran as a surrogate power against Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    The current Obama overtures to Iran signify a further shift against Sunni power. It would be so nice to have William Morris as leader of the Western World. We could be talking about books and history instead of torture and war. Now is not the time to give any U.S. administration the benefit of the doubt. It’s justa question of which direction the volcanoe will explode in first.

  • Craig


    If I thought Obama would evolve into Jimmy Carter I would be delighted. Best US President in my lifetime – which is why, peculiarly, Americans hate him.

  • writerman


    I don’t think one can describe Carter as a particularly successful president. It’s generally accepted, or, at least perceived, that Carter was a failure, though one could argue that he was a man ahead of his time, I’m thinking about his attitude to the environment and energy consumption. Carter attempted to treat the American people as adults, who could take some hard truths, and he paid a very heavy price for this ‘mistake.’ He was undermined by powerful interests and Carter’s dose of reality was replaced by Reagan’s fantasy world, thirty years of fantasy, Disney Land, politics; the hollowing-out of democracy and the concept of citzenship.

    I think the American people will realise, remarkably quickly, that Obama, is all style and very little character, and this at a time when strength of character, courage, and profound understanding, are desparately needed.

    Obama isn’t a Liberal, or Radical. He is deeply conservative on almost every issue that matters to most ordinary Americans. He isn’t even a true reformist. He’s totally out of his depth in this crisis, as are his top advisors, who believe it’s just a temporary ‘slowdown’ and not a fundamental, systemitic crisis, that can be cured by a return to ‘normalcy’ and business as usual. Their policies are actually making things worse, not better, and dragging the United States down into a long and deep slump that will probably rival the Great Depression. This is terribly sad, because we all know what that lead to.

  • OrwellianUK


    You can’t seem to separate propaganda from facts. The ‘Wipe Israel off the map’ line is well known to be a distortion and mistranslation. He never said it, and you very well know it, the same applying to ‘holocaust denial’.


    As for ‘Iran’s ongoing attempts to gain Nuclear weapons’, it is also widely known that they gave up the idea in 2003, so says the International Energy Agency and all 16 US intelligence agencies.

    However one would wonder why they shouldn’t have Nuclear weapons since Israel is known to have 150-200 – a fact even let slip by Ehud Olmert in a TV interview. Not to mention that at any time there are a couple of Nuclear armed US Carrier groups within striking distance, Permanent US bases in Iraq (most likely with US Nukes present) and of course Nuclear power and US ally Pakistan next door.

    If you’re going to play this game of factual imbecility, not to mention double standards, you would do better to go and comment on the Sun newspaper comments page where you’ll be able to find enough ignorant people to suck in your Western Power Ideology nonsense.

  • eddie

    Jon, forgive me but I don’t think I said MJ was racist. Just anti-American. The quotes from Ahmadinejad about wiping Israel off the map are well known and most scholars agree that there is no confusion over the translation. I suggest you read the speech again. This is a man who says there are no Gays in Iran remember. Also, the nuclear programme is not under his control. Also, he hosted a Holocaust denial conference only recently. There is a long tradition of this stuff in the Islamist world. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini collaborated with the Nazis and made speeches from Berlin calling for the extermination of Jews. Many nazis enjoyed a comfortable life in Egypt after the war.

    Orwellian – I’ve seen your garbage on Media Lens where I am pleased to see that they have started fighting each other over the dodgy Lancet report. About time too. I think your name is a disgrace. For the record, I’ve read every word Orwell ever wrote and I think he would turn in his grave if he thought fools like you were taking his name in vain.

  • Sam

    Oh god, no. Tell me that you didn’t really write the sorts of things I’ve been trying hard not to think for a few weeks now….

    Of course, we have to give a guy a chance to get into his stride. But this was The One crucial time that we all really really needed the new POTUS to hit the ground running Olympic-style.

    I was overjoyed that the US finally had a black prez and rather pleased that the Rep blight had been ended. Like a good number of others, it seems, I’m so hoping he doesn’t Carterise himself.

  • Sam

    Oh god, no. Tell me that you didn’t really write the sorts of things I’ve been trying hard not to think for a few weeks now….

    Of course, we have to give a guy a chance to get into his stride. But this was The One crucial time that we all really really needed the new POTUS to hit the ground running Olympic-style.

    I was overjoyed that the US finally had a black prez and rather pleased that the Rep blight had been ended. Like a good number of others, it seems, I’m so hoping he doesn’t Carterise himself.

  • frank verismo

    With the references to Carter, I’m a little surprised that no one has mentioned the rather obvious link between the two men – Zbigniew Brzezinski. If you’ve read any of his books you’ll know this Trilateral kingmaker prefers his controlled frontmen to at least appear to be thoughtful realists. It was all he could do to stifle his embarrassment at the Bush/Cheney way of conducting business, so at odds with his own realpolitik.

    Personally, I can’t listen to Obama mention Pakistan (or any aspect of foreign policy) without seeing Zbig’s face immediately.

    It’s impossible for me to feel any disappointment with Obama so far, as I never had any expectations. He will simply play his part in the slow-motion coup that is the dismantling of America.

    One key thing left to do is disarm the civilian population. Expect some ‘helpful’ events to this end.

  • OrwellianUK


    You say you’ve seen my ‘garbage’ on medialens, however you’ve not had the courage to post there probably because you know that everyone would see what that you’re a paid fraud.

    As for the lancet report, it may not have been perfect but it’s accurate enough. I myself haven’t bothered wasted time arguing over it anyway.

    Your pathetic baiting won’t rile me, but I wonder – if you’ve read every word Orwell wrote, why do you insist on spouting the very propaganda he exposed?

    ‘Orwellian’ is a term, describing an aspect of politics or society that display similarities to Orwell’s nightmare world of 1984 and other writings. I believe we are living in the beginnings of such as society, hence OrwellianUK. It is not a claim to literary achievement.

    I’m surprised to have to explain this to you.

  • MJ

    Eddie: “most scholars agree that there is no confusion over the translation”

    You’re perfectly correct, there is no confusion whatsoever. He obviously didn’t talk about “wiping Israel off the map” for the good reason that there is no such expression in Farsi. You’ll appreciate that in fact what he said was, quoting Khomeini, the “regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history”. You’ll appreciate further that, from the context of the speech – in which he cited the Soviet Union and Iran under the Shah – he was referring to powerful regimes that collapse from the inside, with no assistance from others. For a full and sober analysis of the speech, by a scholar bilingual in English and Farsi, see http://tinyurl.com/hrrrx

    So yes, no real confusion at all. The only confusion has been deliberately manufactured by an Israel lobby keen to misinform and misrepresent in pursuit of its own rather narrow and repugnant agenda.

  • MJ

    “he hosted a Holocaust denial conference only recently”

    No, he hosted a holocaust conference that was attended by deniers, but not exclusively so.

    “The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini collaborated with the Nazis”

    As did the Zionists, who also funded him.

    “Many nazis enjoyed a comfortable life in Egypt after the war”

    As did even more in the USA.

    Honestly eddie, your Islamophobic tunnel vision is quite astonishing to behold.

  • nobody

    Since no one else has mentioned it, I shall.

    Upon leaving college Barack Obama spent two years with a firm by the name of Business International Corporation. This has been widely identified as being a CIA front company with even its own founder confirming CIA links. And honestly what sort of name is ‘Business International Corporation’? If the naming brief had been ‘must be meaningless, bland, and instantly forgettable’, it couldn’t be improved upon.

    Apparently BIC thought so much of young Barack that they paid off his entire student debt. That was nice of them don’t you think?

    Astoundingly in Obama’s autobiography, those two years of his not particularly long life, warrant a single paragraph. Or was it a single sentence? I can’t recall now.

    Somebody tell me that that’s not weird.

    Still it’s better than the ten year long blank space that George Bush had on his resume. Mind you, between ten years spent on cocaine, and two spent at a CIA front company, I’m not sure which is scarier.

    Oh! And is Eddie back flinging shit at Muslims again? Sure enough! Cheers Eddie! Long may you remain utterly predictable. Also I want to commend you for not signing up for that tedious Megaphone program. Really one can be so much more effective just focusing on one website. A fig for the the Megaphone flock!

  • eddie


    That is nonsense and I think you know it. If you think that living in England in 2009 is anywhere close to the horror depicted in 1984 then I feel sorry for you. Your life must be a very sad affair. Orwell was an anti-totalitarian who nearly died fighting fascism. He was a democrat and a socialist – he believed in decent human values and free speech. I don’t think you, with your hatred of the USA and your support of theorcratic fascism, believe in any of those things. I have tried to sign up for the media lens message board but been denied each time. It seems to be a closed shop of people who all have the same narrow mindset, which is why the Lancet furore is such fun. If you can tell me how to do it I would be delighted to bait the saddos on there.

    MJ two rights don’t make a wrong.

  • jjboulas

    Eddie, how old are you?

    1984 is an alegory of the british society in 1948. As every alegory it musn’t be taken literaly, but all the elemensts of the society described in 1984 can easily be identified around us, if you pay enough attention. Ovbiously you do not.

  • MJ

    There are some rather striking similarities between 1984 and today which surely even eddie can see. Ever-growing surveillance; the perversion of language; a never-ending war against a vague, non-existent enemy…

  • jjboulas

    I am affraid I know very well what I am talking about. It is not my interpretation, but rather Orwell’s own description of his work.

  • jjboulas

    MJ, I fear young eddie cannot tell his ass form his elbow. I hope that’ll change when he grows up

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