Thursday :: Aug 2, 2007

Obama’s Speech – A Dissenting View


by soccerdad

Although many liked Obama’s foreign policy speech, I find it hard to understand why. I think many saw it as a tough speech which would mean that the Dems could not be labeled as weak on terror. Of course the wrong wingers will find a way to disparage any speech given by a Dem. The only other people who would like the speech are the CEO’s of defense companies and people who want to see the children of their children fight wars all over the globe.

The first thing that bothered me is that he played straight from the Bush/Rove manual; i.e., 9/11 a horror, they are in Afghanistan, they are going to try and kill you, vote for me I will stop them. Fear as the basis of government has no appeal to me.

First let’s dispense with all the Bush is an idiot remarks. Although true, they don’t represent policy or plans. In my view, to assess whether a candidate will change the current direction of the country, one simply has to examine whether he honestly understands ALL the issues facing the US in the Middle East. So lets go to the tape as they say, actually the transcript. Here is, in my view, the critical piece of the speech for my focus.

When you travel to the world's trouble spots as a United States Senator, much of what you see is from a helicopter. So you look out, with the buzz of the rotor in your ear, maybe a door gunner nearby, and you see the refugee camp in Darfur, the flood near Djibouti, the bombed out block in Baghdad. You see thousands of desperate faces.

Al Qaeda's new recruits come from Africa and Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Many come from disaffected communities and disconnected corners of our interconnected world. And it makes you stop and wonder: when those faces look up at an American helicopter, do they feel hope, or do they feel hate?

We know where extremists thrive. In conflict zones that are incubators of resentment and anarchy. In weak states that cannot control their borders or territory, or meet the basic needs of their people. From Africa to central Asia to the Pacific Rim -- nearly 60 countries stand on the brink of conflict or collapse. The extremists encourage the exploitation of these hopeless places on their hate-filled websites.

And we know what the extremists say about us. America is just an occupying Army in Muslim lands, the shadow of a shrouded figure standing on a box at Abu Ghraib, the power behind the throne of a repressive leader. They say we are at war with Islam. That is the whispered line of the extremist who has nothing to offer in this battle of ideas but blame -- blame America, blame progress, blame Jews. And often he offers something along with the hate. A sense of empowerment. Maybe an education at a madrasa, some charity for your family, some basic services in the neighborhood. And then: a mission and a gun.

We know we are not who they say we are. America is at war with terrorists who killed on our soil. We are not at war with Islam. America is a compassionate nation that wants a better future for all people. The vast majority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims have no use for bin Ladin or his bankrupt ideas. But too often since 9/11, the extremists have defined us, not the other way around.

Where to start? First to imply that terrorism is primarily a result of poverty or “failed states” ignores the basic observation that bin Laden was a Saudi as were many of those involved in 9/11. In addition, everyone who opposes us is a terrorist and belongs to al Qaeda, which is a gross over exaggeration. And he seems to adopt the war on terror paradigm from which nothing but military solutions flow. And he also backs the Democrats withdrawal that’s not a withdrawal, i.e taking out an unspecified number of troops and putting them close by in some unnamed location, to go after al Qaeda, who we have seen, can refer to anyone the government wants it to.

But let’s get to the meat of the issue. The major point of this excerpt, is that from his point of view that the “terrorists” blame everyone else, and do so, without justification. That sentence almost mocks them. So there is no introspection, no cold evaluation of present American policy. It’s all their fault. American does nothing wrong. And yet Obama mocks the terrorists for taking no responsibility. So the people of the Middle East have no reason to hate America for meddling in their countries for over 60 years. There is no reason to be upset at America for supporting despots and regressive regimes who represses their peoples. Note the classic example is Saddam who we sold the WMDs to in the 80’s. But it also includes Saudi Arabia and Egypt, whose increasing repression is ignored for the sake of the war on terror. They shouldn’t be upset when we say “Democracy is important” then turn around and work to negate the outcomes of elections when the results are not to America’s liking. Obama tries to sweep the atrocities of the Iraq war under the rug. “They don’t define us”. Well we did it, who the hell else do you think they define. Talk is cheap. Apparently, Obama believes that no one should be upset that Israel oppress the Palestinians with the backing of the US. And when Israel bombs Lebanon into the ground and the US complains that they didn’t do Syria too, the people of the Middle East have no grievance. And why should people of the ME be upset that we invade a country resulting in the death of up to 1 million people and our biggest complaint is that they haven’t passed the law that will allow Western Corporations to steal their resources, while the people of Iraq live in poverty without food or medical care. The intervention and meddling by the US and Europe for that matter has been the one constant in Middle East affairs for the last 60-100 years. But apparently that should be ignored. How dare they not bow down before the great American Empire.

So how dare the people of the ME hate the US. Don’t they know we are America. We should be able to do whatever we want, to who ever we want, when ever we want to protect our “National Interest”, read oil and gas.

So there is not even a glimmer that he is willing to recognize other issues involved in the ME. This was pure neocon lite. And for those who think this was a one time deal, performed in order to appear more macho after Hillary’s attack read this piece from Obama in the recent Foreign Affairs. Straight neocon, American exceptionalist nonsense. Yeah he throws out some new proposals which given his lack of perspective and understanding are doomed to failure.

Since American policy is not going to change and since the only real energy policy everyone in the US government can agree on is to use military force either by us or our proxies, Iraq will be just the first of many resource wars to come. We can’t raise the CAFÉ standards but we have no trouble killing 1 million people. What a country.

soccerdad :: 2:56 PM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!