Obama – A Liberal Restrained, or a More Plausible Frontman? 24


I watched Obama’s speech about national security live today. There were parts which were much better than anything I ever expected to hear from any American Presiident. Like this:

I know some have argued that brutal methods like water-boarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more. As Commander-in-Chief, I see the intelligence, I bear responsibility for keeping this country safe, and I reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. What’s more, they undermine the rule of law. They alienate us in the world. They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America. They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured. In short, they did not advance our war and counter-terrorism efforts ?” they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all.

And this:

There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law. Indeed, part of the rationale for establishing Guantanamo in the first place was the misplaced notion that a prison there would be beyond the law ?” a proposition that the Supreme Court soundly rejected. Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter-terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.

So the record is clear: rather than keep us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries. By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it. That is why I argued that it should be closed throughout my campaign. And that is why I ordered it closed within one year.

All of which was simply great, and what a huge improvement! At last there seems to be some intelligence and common sense applied.

But from the rest of his speech, it appeared military tribunals will resume, detainees will not in fact have access to normal judicial institutions, and some will continue to be detained without trial.

Most of all, how can he understand that torture and Guantanamo recruit for terrorism, but not understand that bombings of civilian areas in Southern Afghanistan recruit for terrorism?

It is something of a conundrum, whether Obama is a good man hemmed in, or whether he is simply a better salesman for US military dominance than the last one. Having watched him today, I am inclined to give him some further credit.


24 thoughts on “Obama – A Liberal Restrained, or a More Plausible Frontman?

  • Tom Kennedy

    Ever since the primaries, when Obama said he would bomb the territory of another sovereign nation (Pakistan), I saw him as a highly polished spokesman for US imperialism.

    When he talks about America’s “moral authority” Obama professes innocence of the USA’s military history since WWII, which involved the bombing of 34 countries at the last count.

    Obama is the US’s Blair. The sad thing is he was still a much better choice than McCain. Ron Paul was the only candidate with integrity in the election and he was ignored by the media because of it. In fact you can take it that Obama would never have become president had he been other than a frontman for the real holders of power: the multinationals, particularly the military-industrial complex.

  • JimmyGiro

    Moral pragmatism.

    We are stopping bad things because bad things have not worked for us this time; we are not stopping bad things because they are bad, hell no; we want to keep some fear of God over those that oppose us.

  • John D. Monkey

    Obama is a chameleon: clearly personally engaging, charming, plausible etc. but nonetheless a glib salesman. He will do nothing against the interests of the companies who are making a fortune from the so-called War on Terror.

    He wouldn’t have been elected (very narrowly, let’s not forget – there was no “landslide”) if the US electorate thought he was really going to change things radically.

    So I’m not at all surprised that he’s listening to the hawks and rowing back in the face of opposition from Congess, who seem to have bought the story that the Guantanamo detainees are a load of raghead terrorists and would bomb them if they were allowed on US soil…

  • KevinB

    Quote:

    “…..or whether he is simply a better salesman for US military dominance than the last one.”

    That’s about it, I fear.

    Webster Tarpley wrote two books about Obama before he even got elected. Tarpley also predicted that he’d be a winner at a time when Hilary Clinton was a clear favourite for the presidency.

    He had noticed a CIA operation kick in in support of Obama in New Hampshire and it was clear to him (he said) that Obama was Wall Street’s adopted candidate and, therefore, an almost certain winner.

    Tarpley predicted every move, every promise and every u-turn Obama has made over a year ago. It has all come true.

    He said Obama is a creature of Zbigniew Bryzinsky; that unlike the Neo-Cons, who were all about Israel and bullying weak nations (Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran) that could not strike back, Bryzinsky is a global madman of a much more dangerous order who sees Russia and China as the threats to Anglo-American hegemony that must be countered.

    He said that Obama would not want to attack Iran but rather befriend it and turn it against Russia…..that Pakistan would be Obama’s first target with the aim of ‘Balkanising’ it in the name of something like ‘dignity’ and independence for the different tribal regions….so Pakistan would fragment into 4 or 5 pieces and deny China a natural ally (shared border) also impeding the setting up of an energy corridor from Iran to China through Pakistan….and so on.

    Get further details here, in this brilliant but alarming documentary, “The Obama Deception”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAaQNACwaLw

  • KevinB

    If you watch the film you can skip the rather dull section on the Bilderberger group.

  • Jaded

    I’ve been mulling over Obama for a long time. Seeing the people he has surrounded himself with I can’t buy the theory that he is a restrained liberal. He has done absolutely nothing on the vile ‘Stop The Patriots Act’ either. Moreover, instead of reigning in the Federal Reserve he appoints an ex-boss of the New York branch as Treasury Secretary. How can this guy be a good egg? A case of keep your friends close and your enemies closer? :-0 We’ll know for sure before too long. He can only be judged on actions, not rhetoric. The Obama Deception is quite a good documentary. I recommend it as well to those that not seen it yet.

  • dreoilin

    I’m afraid it doesn’t matter much whether Obama closes Guantanamo or not.

    He said he was giving better rights to the inmates at Guantanamo, but in the meantime, the US is building a far bigger prison at Bagram, has already moved some Guantanamo prisoners there, and Obama’s aides, when asked, reiterated that those at Bagram will not have rights to habeas corpus.

    Closing Guantanamo is a PR exercise and nothing else.

    “Why the prisoners at Bagram would be treated by a different standard than those at Guantanamo went unaddressed. But the contradiction underscored the widespread concern that the Afghan air base has become Obama’s Guantanamo.”

    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/rights/130678/in_nyt_interview%2C_obama_contradicts_his_own_policy_on_prisoners%27_habeas_rights/

  • Jason

    The excellent Stan Goff refers to ‘the bipartisan ship of state’ – ie: all the things that never change no matter who is in power. Obama concerns me profoundly because, as has been said also – the Republicans trained one half of the electorate to see these policies as ‘normal’ – now a Democrat is training the other half.

    The cognitive dissonance is hard to bear, perhaps even harder with Obama than Bush, as he is presumably intellectually able to grasp the facts, while at the same time bending them to suit the US’ rather naked interests in waging numerous aggressive wars.

    As you rightly point out, bombing civilians in Afghanistan is surely comparable in its effect (regardless of its basic expunging from Western media) to that of Gitmo.

    Change that I could believe in would be a rolling back of the war-machine, but so far we’ve seen increased military spend and the expansion of operations into Pakistan. It is, in fact, harder for a Democrat to engage in the Realpolitik of tackling the out-of-control military because they are necessarily hemmed in by the right’s endless refrain that they are ‘soft’.

    As for detaining people without charge indefinitely, I don’t see how anybody’s rule-of-law credentials can survive an endorsement of that. But that is the consequence of Obama being caught up in the whole narrative of the “war on terror” etc, with the accompanying ideas that “everything changed on 9/11” that this is “a different type of conflict” blah de blah.

    It’s a Middle East energy grab wrapped up inside a war against a largely non-existent and/or conveniently located “global network” (!) of opponents, as the real business of causing severe depopulation, via straight-up killing or through creation of millions of refugees continues apace.

    For anybody who wants to retort that there ARE real terrorists, sure, of course there are. But how many? And where? And why are they all so conveniently now part of Al-Qaida, regardles of location, ethnic identity, etc – And why are they always in just the right place at the right time to advance US interests?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Interesting about Bryzinsky – the architect of the long-running Afghanistan diasater and much else besides. He was Carter’s National Security Advisor. China has always been the ultimate target – it’s just different tactics.

  • lwtc247

    Previously, people admired all the other fine words Obama had teleprompted – only to be rudely slapped in the face with reality. But now someone has written another speech for him and once again his still starry-eyed audience take the words he reads as having some kind of worth.

    Let me say what BuSh couldn’t: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.

    Obomber’s got a vipers nest of proudly Zionist and Zion tag-a-longs writing out words for him to read. That’s it. It ends there. That’s the length of his ‘substance’ .

    Change my ass.

    The only change that is happening is that instead of a jack-ass of a white man enslaving and lying to you, a suave and debonair black man will do it instead.

    Obama is a hooker for the corporations (military-industrial/biotech/entertainment/media blah blah blah).

    It appears a grand total of zero has been learned from those German people who supposedly looked on passively as all those people go to their deaths.

  • lwtc247

    And Craig et al.

    How can you give anyone credit who has killed civilians??????????? There’s a conundrum all right, but it doesn’t lie solely with Obomber!

  • kc

    The very public spat between Obama and Cheney is unprecedented. A high profile attack on a sitting president a few months into his term, that essentially implies he is a traitor to America who is betraying its true righteous purpose in the world, is extraordinary.Who is Dick Cheney representing? You don’t get much higher profile than Dick Cheney. He still has huge influence on those that wield power in the Pentagon and the CIA and the military-industrial complex. So they are very much behind him when he says: ‘CIA operatives are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough’. Where is he going with this dangerous attack? In the popularity stakes Obama is still riding high but listen to the Republicans and they are convinced he is destroying the USA. He clearly isn’t ?” in fact he appears to be very much for the status quo. The danger for Obama is that the Republicans, and those in power that support them, focus on his fine words and not on his deeds ?” which amount to very little at the moment. Kennedy was also a great rhetorician but in the end couldn’t outmanoeuvre the forces that wanted him out of the way. By Cheney fomenting such transparent emnity against a sitting president how long will it be before we are back to the insanity of Kennedy’s time in office?

  • lwtc247

    A continuous stream of articles from a rapidly growing collection at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/

    Change you can believe in???

    =============================

    Military Attorney: Waterboarding ‘Tip of the Iceberg’

    “They started this monthly treatment where they would come in with a scalpel or a razor type of instrument and they would slash his genitals, just with small cuts.” Continue

    ————

    U.S. Officials Admitted that Boys Were Sodomized In Iraq Prison

    By Washington’s Blog

    In the Washington Post report, one detainee, Kasim Hilas, describes the rape of an Iraqi boy by a man in uniform, whose name has been blacked out of the statement, but who appears to be a translator working for the army. Continue

    ————

    “Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama”

    Democracy Now!

    Jeremy Scahill reports the Obama administration is continuing to use a notorious military police unit at Guantanamo that regularly brutalizes unarmed prisoners, including gang-beating them, breaking their bones, gouging their eyes and dousing them with chemicals. This force, officially known as the Immediate Reaction Force, has been labeled the “Extreme Repression Force” by Guantanamo prisoners Continue

    ————

    Obama: From Anti-war Law Professor to Warmonger in 100 Days

    By Alexander Cockburn

    It didn’t take long for President Barack Obama to swing behind targeted assassinations and bombing raids. Continue

    ————

    Watching Obama Morph Into Dick Cheney

    By Paul Craig Roberts

  • Jives

    Obama’s just another military-industrial/CIA/Illuminati puppet.

    Bill Hicks>” I prefer the puppet on the left…”

    Duh!

  • ingo

    The book to read by brezyinski is ‘the Grand Chess Board’. There he talked up 9/11 as the need to assure global US support which could be prepared for by

    a ‘collosal and attrocious world event that would galvanise support for US hegemony in the Middle East, the safeguarding of US resources and influences. The war on terror used as a strawman, nothing but a cover to fetter the industrial military interests and US resource requirements, regardless of freedom, liberty and democracy.

    These terms were as misused, dragged through the mud and abused to the worst, equal to the prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo.

    Nice words from Obama, I agree, but he is from Chicago and has had access to the neo con/fascists lecturers which taught at that university, it schooled a whole string of bamboozled miscreants, like Kissinger for example, all taught by a nazi refugee with ambitions for grandeur, including Bryszinski. I think that man is dangerous and should not be an advisor to the US Government never mind run anything else, he’s a crypto fascist of the worst kind imho.

  • anon

    The man-made economic cycle will soon turn the corner as our leaders well know, because they planned it.

    The Neo-ConDems’ job is to destroy self-sufficiency and get us paying them profit and tax. In order to enslave the citizens of the world economically sometimes you have squeeze them financially. Your water, your diesel, your council tax, your mobile phone are all tying you down economically so that you have less power than a serf or an untouchable, to protest, to think, to have integrity. Political analysis dies.

    At other times you have to re-inflate the economy in order to blind people with worldly gratifications.You bombard them with media trivia, Art, Music and Culture. You promote moral liberation and stifle emotional stability with fear, war, and freedom. Obama’s Zionist scriptwriters are going to teach the U.S. citizen to hate a new enemy, after communists and Al-qaida. The new pariah will be the non-consumer whose simplicity of life in Africa or Asia, does not include hot baths, constant electricity, or over-consumption of diesel or food.

    The War on Terror is a toe in the door policy for the War on Terra. The second part of the mission is to spread consumerism to places where it has so far been unimaginable. The NeoConDems new enemy is that self-sufficiency which has so far not been penetrated by global institutions and that religious integrity that has so far been a barrier to Western influence. Green politics will be used by the Obama administration merely as a smokescreen for bringing the rest of the world into our consumer thralldom.

  • opit

    We are so vulnerable to enslavement. Of course, the Normans made Britain an open-air slave encampment anyway…part of the reason for Gilbert and Sullivan satire about the British Tar’s lot in HMCS Pinafore many centuries later. The Potato Famine might have been a tip-off not much has changed.

    Monsanto and US Foreign Policy have had interesting strategy games played with corporate farming in Central and South America back in the 50’s and with Agent Orange in the 60’s Vietnam theater.

    Depleted Uranium trumps it for durability and impossibility to adapt to.

    I’ve been following JanforGore on Current TV : she has put up phenomenal posts- especially on water.

    Here are a couple of notes I put out

    http://my.opera.com/oldephartte/blog/27-feb-end-of-an-era

    http://my.opera.com/oldephartte/blog/2009/05/10/10-may-morning-enviroblogging#comments

  • Sally

    Not wearing the same tinted specs as you, Craig.

    Back in Jan 2008, John Pilger presciently stated: “Barack Obama is a glossy Uncle Tom who would bomb Pakistan.”

    John’s latest is even more grim:

    ‘”In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government. He has kept Bush’s gulag intact and at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice. On 24 April, his lawyers won an appeal that ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners were not “persons”, and therefore had no right not to be tortured. His national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says he believes torture works. One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, the US experienced a military coup under Bush, whose secretary of “defence”, Robert Gates, along with the same warmaking officials, has been retained by Obama.

    All over the world, America’s violent assault on innocent people, directly or by agents, has been stepped up. During the recent massacre in Gaza, reports Seymour Hersh, “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” and being used to slaughter mostly women and children. In Pakistan, the number of civilians killed by US missiles called drones has more than doubled since Obama took office.”‘

  • Syd Walker

    I agree Craig. The jury is still out on Obama.

    One small bone of contention. You write:

    “Most of all, how can he understand that torture and Guantanamo recruit for terrorism, but not understand that bombings of civilian areas in Southern Afghanistan recruit for terrorism?”

    Why is popular resistance to invading forces in Afghanistan ‘terrorism’?

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