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Yet More “Plus ça change…” You Can Believe In March 29, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in About Barack Obama, About Pakistan, About War, Barack Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan, War.
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Roger Hollander, www.rogerhollander.wordpress.com, March 29, 2009

“Good morning. Today, I am announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“This marks the conclusion of a careful policy review that I ordered as soon as I took office. My Administration has heard from our military commanders and diplomats. We have consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments; with our partners and NATO allies; and with other donors and international organizations. And we have also worked closely with members of Congress here at home. Now, I’d like to speak clearly and candidly to the American people. “

These are the opening sentences in Barack Obama’s March 27 speech in which he announced the escalation of the U.S. occupation and agression in Afghanistan.  Note the list of people and institutions with whom the President consulted before coming to a decision about his policy: military commanders and diplomats, Afghan and Pakistani governments, partners and Nato allies, donors and international organizations, members of Congress.  There is one glaring omision: THE AMERICAN PEOPLE .  Not to mention world public opinion.  Note that Obama has a tendeny to speak down people rather than listen to them.  As with his excluding from consideration a single-payer national health plan, which is favored by a vast majority of Americans, for President Obama a peaceful and diplomatic solution in Afghanistan/Pakistan which for most Americans is a fervent hope, is “off the table.”

The lead in a Time Magazine article covering the speech suggested that George Bush must have left an old speech lying around in his desk.  

When Obama was criticized from the left prior to his inauguration for retaining the key members of the Bush team of militarists and war profiteers (Gates, Petraeusl, Mullen, Jones) and adding Hawks such as Hillary Clinton and Rahm Emmanuel, he countered by declaring that he would be making the decisions and not his advisors (Obama the Decider).  Well, if Obama ever was indeed a peacenik, he surely has since succumbed to the Stockholm Syndrome in a big way.

Yet More “Plus ça change…” You Can Believe In.

“There was a day when the world rightly called Americans honest even if crude; earning their living by hard work; telling the truth no matter whom it hurt; and going to war in what they believed a just cause after nothing else seemed possible.  Today we are lying, stealing and killing.  We call all this by finer names: Advertising, Free Enterprise, and National Defense.  But names in the end deceive no one; today we use science to help us deceive our fellows; we take wealth that we never earned and we are devoting all our energies to kill, maim and drive insane men, women, and children who dare refuse to do what we want done.  No nation threatens us.  We threaten the world.” (italics added)

These words could have been written today, but they weren’t.  They appeared forty one years ago in the Autobiography of the Afro-Aerican activist and historian, W.E.B. Du Bois.  Plus ça change… plus c’est la même chose.   I despair to say it, but our nation’s first Afro-American president is turning out to be a traitor to his heritage.

Question: is there any difference at all between the foreign policy of President Obama and his predecessor?  Only if you believe that the part’s of Obama’s speech on Afghanistan/Pakistan that spoke of investment in non-military programs constitute more than window-dressing.  I don’t.  I believe that with respect to the militaristic policies of peace candidate Barack Obama, the more things change, the more they stay the same.




Peace Candidate Obama Set to Expand Illegal, Undeclared War in Pakistan March 17, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in About Pakistan, Pakistan, War.
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Roger Hollander, March 17, 2009, www.rogerhollander.wordpress.com

An article in today’s New York Times ( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/world/asia/18terror.html?_r=1&hp) states that “President Obama and his national security advisers are considering expanding the American covert war in Pakistan far beyond the unruly tribal areas to strike at a different center of Taliban power in Baluchistan, where top Taliban leaders are orchestrating attacks into southern Afghanistan.”

The article cites “senior administration officials” who divulge that two high level reports that have been forwarded to White House call for “broadening the target area to reach the Taliban and other insurgent groups to a major sanctuary in and around the city of Quetta.”

Apparently the reports were generated by “groups led by both Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of American forces in the region, and Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, a top White House official on Afghanistan.”  The Times article adds that “many of Mr. Obama’s advisers are also urging him to sustain orders issued last summer by President George W. Bush to continue Predator drone attacks against a wider range of targets in the tribal areas, and to conduct cross-border ground actions, using C.I.A. and Special Operations commandos.”

Almost as an afterthought, the article mentions that  “Pakistan complains that the strikes violate its sovereignty.”  In previous reporting on U.S. Missile strikes into Pakistan, which since Obama was inaugurated have claimed dozens of civilian lives, it has been suggested that the Pakistani government’s complaints are for home comsumption only and that it secretly is in support of the U.S. raids.  This reminds one of the disgusting old argument that the rape victim really enjoyed it.

Just as Congress and the mainstream media slept while the Bush Administration trampled the U.S. Constitution and committed blatant war crimes, no one seems to be outraged that the new Administration is openly violating the most fundamental tenet of international law with unprovoked attacks on a sovereign nation.

Many of us who voted for Obama based upon his committment to reverse the Bush Doctrine have been more than disappointed with his hawkish appointments, his defense of the “state secrets privilege,” his tacit support of the Israeli massacre in Gaza, and his non-withdrawal withdrawal speech on Iraq.  However, none of these compare with his barely noted incursions into Pakistan.  For Bush, the bogus “war on terror” knew no limits.  To see Obama further expanding military operations into a third country and to see him doing it without public debate or Congressional approval tells us that change we could believe in has turned out to be nothing more than the kind of cheap rhetoric that, ironically, his hawkish opponents (first Clinton, then McCain) warned against.