william blum: change (in rhetoric) we can believe in

When liberal USians talk about the differences President Obama has made and will make, they usually focus on domestic issues and ending the US occupation of Iraq. I don't blame them for being happy and hopeful. There's no doubt that many aspects of US life will improve under Obama. The fact of his election alone - and I don't mean his skin colour - is reason to cheer.

In my experience, the Obama crowd rarely mentions US foreign policy, except in terms of Iraq and Iran, where they expect improvement, and Afghanistan, where they don't. It seems that most people either don't grasp the US's pervasive and often disastrous global influence, or they understand and accept that it won't change.

William Blum, author of Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2, writes the "Anti-Empire Report," which you can subscribe to if you want to stay informed and depressed. This recent entry is circulating, and well worth reading.
I've said all along that whatever good changes might occur in regard to non-foreign policy issues, such as what's already taken place concerning the environment and abortion, the Obama administration will not produce any significantly worthwhile change in US foreign policy; little done in this area will reduce the level of misery that the American Empire regularly brings down upon humanity. And to the extent that Barack Obama is willing to clearly reveal what he believes about anything controversial, he appears to believe in the empire.

The Obamania bubble should already have begun to lose some air with the multiple US bombings of Pakistan within the first few days following the inauguration. The Pentagon briefed the White House of its plans, and the White House had no objection. So bombs away — Barack Obama's first war crime. The dozens of victims were, of course, all bad people, including all the women and children. As with all these bombings, we'll never know the names of all the victims — It's doubtful that even Pakistan knows — or what crimes they had committed to deserve the death penalty. Some poor Pakistani probably earned a nice fee for telling the authorities that so-and-so bad guy lived in that house over there; too bad for all the others who happened to live with the bad guy, assuming of course that the bad guy himself actually lived in that house over there.

The new White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, declined to answer questions about the first airstrikes, saying "I'm not going to get into these matters." Where have we heard that before?

After many of these bombings in recent years, a spokesperson for the United States or NATO has solemnly declared: "We regret the loss of life." These are the same words used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on a number of occasions, but their actions were typically called "terrorist".

I wish I could be an Obamaniac. I envy their enthusiasm. Here, in the form of an open letter to President Obama, are some of the "changes we can believe in" in foreign policy that would have to occur to win over the non-believers like me.

Blum goes on to list what the US could and should be doing around the world. It's a sobering reminder of how far and wide the arm of Empire stretches: Change (in rhetoric) we can believe in.

1 comment:

redsock said...


Obama named Richard Holbrooke -- who, among other things, helped implement and enforce the U.S.-backed Indonesian genocide in East Timor -- as his envoy to Afghanistan/Pakistan.

Much, much more here,
including from a couple weeks ago:

"... with the first military strikes of his administration, President Barack Obama has given a clear signal that he plans intensified bloodshed in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the US escalates its military intervention in Central and South Asia.
Missiles fired from unmanned Predator drones struck two targets inside Pakistan Friday morning, killing at least 18 people. As is always the case with such exercises in remote-controlled murder, US officials claimed they were targeting Al Qaeda, although even US media accounts admitted that the majority of those killed were local residents."


Same as it ever was ....