Where was the liberal left outrage when Barack and Hillary were bombing the hell out of these three “Muslim” countries?
Feb 4, 2017
As the entire liberal left is in a tizzy over Trump’s immigration executive order, which has been cleverly dubbed by the establishment media as a “Muslim ban” (see how Steven Crowder dismantles this word play, fake news propaganda here), we thought it would be fun to showcase three Muslim countries, that under the Obama/Clinton rule, flourished under the inclusive love of the liberal left.
The three countries below are part of the seven countries under US visa moratorium, in accordance with Trump’s executive order.
Actions speak louder than words. If I were Muslim, I would much prefer undergoing extreme vetting under Trump than undergoing extreme bombing under Obama and Clinton.
1. Yemen: American bombs, Saudi bombing.
Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East was targeted by Obama for daring to move away from Saudi Arabia’s sphere of influence.
2. Libya: Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy masterpiece.
HRC single handedly tore apart the wealthiest country in Africa, violently removing a stable and secular Gaddafi government, in favor of chaos and jihadist extremism.
Libya led to Benghazi. It also gave Obama and Clinton the rat line they needed to move US weapons from Libya, to ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria.
Clinton on Gaddafi: “We came, we saw, he died”…
3. Syria: Obama’s “red line” and his “Assad must go” mantra.
Syria’s secular, internationally recognized government under Assad refused to allow an oil and gas pipeline, from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, traverse its territory upwards towards the European market.
For its defiance, Syria paid the ultimate price. Obama’s plan involved giving money, weapons and arms to a jihadist concoction made up of Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, and ISIS invaders, that, in his infinite POTUS wisdom, would do the dirty work of removing Assad, and flipping Syria into a Saudi pseudo state.
Feb 1, 2017
Trump’s first 10 days
as President of the United States have now passed, and it’s certainly been a flurry of activity. Trump has hit the ground running, losing no time in issuing numerous EOs (Executive Orders) to implement his policies. Trump continues to be a mixed bag; some of his efforts are laudable and on the side of the average citizen (e.g. banning the TPP), while others are harebrained schemes bound to backfire, irritate nations outside the US and deliberately cause conflict (e.g. trying to make Mexico pay for a $15 billion wall). To his credit, Trump appears to be on the path of actively fulfilling his campaign promises, and where he has backed down, he has done so to moderate his outlandish and dangerous ideas. However, there is still something definitely unsettling about Trump, especially when he openly advocates torture (waterboarding), theft (the stealing of Iraqi oil) and more theft (the stealing of Jerusalem by Zionist Israel in order to relocate their capital city). Here are Trump’s first 10 days in review.
EOs on TPP, Federal Government Hiring and Abortion NGOs
Trump promptly used EOs to stop the TPP, freeze further federal government hiring and ban US funding of any NGOs which perform abortions. While the latter issue surrounding abortion is a highly personal topic that tends to go strictly down party lines, on the first two, Trump appears to be acting in alignment with the concerns of the average person, worker and consumer (TPP) and in line with the principle of smaller government (freeze on hiring).
National Day of Patriotic Devotion
Those who have picked up on the narcissistic tendencies in Trump’s personality may be alarmed by the fact that Trump issued a presidential proclamation (#9570) for the day of January 20th, his inauguration. He made it a “national day of patriotic devotion”. The proclamation is littered with religious buzzwords and overtones, as well as the usual appeal to American exceptionalism. How do you feel about this in Trump’s first 10 days?
“There is no freedom where the people do not believe in it; no law where the people do not follow it; and no peace where the people do not pray for it. There are no greater people than the American citizenry, and as long as we believe in ourselves, and our country, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2017, as National Day of Patriotic Devotion …”
Trump’s First 10 Days: Erasing the Obama Legacy
Trump is determined to undo what Obama did. Now, I take a dim view of the Obama Legacy, but is it really helpful to delete all information on gay rights from the WhiteHouse.gov website, and no longer make it available in Spanish? I understand the need to take a harder line on immigration, but there are already many Spanish-speaking people in the US as citizens or green card holders. Why make it more difficult for them?
The Mexican Fence – Paid by Whom?
On a similar note, the wall along the Mexican border was one of Trump’s more outlandish election promises. It was widely ridiculed not just due to the potential cost, but also due to the fact that humanity is trying to progress to a point in its evolution where we no longer need to build walls to keep each other out – as was symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This does not mean a nation has to let just anyone in; it is fair for a country to decide who is admitted inside its borders. However there are other ways to do this, as former presidential candidate Ron Paul points out:
“First, the wall will not work. Texas already started building a border fence about ten years ago. It divided people from their own property across the border, it deprived people of their land through the use of eminent domain, and in the end the problem of drug and human smuggling was not solved.
Second, the wall will be expensive. The wall is estimated to cost between 12 and 15 billion dollars. You can bet it will be more than that. President Trump has claimed that if the Mexican government doesn’t pay for it, he will impose a 20 percent duty on products imported from Mexico. Who will pay this tax? Ultimately, the American consumer, as the additional costs will be passed on. This will of course hurt the poorest Americans the most.
Third, building a wall ignores the real causes of illegal border crossings into the United States. Though President Trump is right to prioritize the problem of border security, he misses the point on how it can be done effectively and at an actual financial benefit to the country rather than a huge economic drain.
The solution to really addressing the problem of illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and the threat of cross-border terrorism is clear: remove the welfare magnet that attracts so many to cross the border illegally, stop the 25 year US war in the Middle East, and end the drug war that incentivizes smugglers to cross the border.”
Syria Safe Zones?
When Trump announced in his first 10 days that he would support safe zones inside of Syria, I immediately saw a red flag, because the “safe zone” / “no fly zone” / “humanitarian corridor” language has been used before by the US and NATO to trick people into accepting its invasions. Yet, Trump has consistently stated he is interested in destroying ISIS and befriending Russia, and he seems to mean it. The safe zone strategy could be used to encircle Russia, but in this case, it probably isn’t. Now Russia has announced it would support safe zones as long as the Syrian Government of Bashar Al-Assad is consulted and gives consent. Whether these safe zones lead to genuine peace or more war remains to be seen.
EO Freezes on Governmental Regulation and Lobbying
Trump’s first 10 days also featured him using executive orders to block new government regulations, a good move for those supporting limited government:
“President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order mandating that for each new government regulation being enacted, two need to be revoked … The White House sets aside a budget for regulations each year. Monday’s measure specifies the 2017 regulations budget as $0.”
He also issued an EO to ban different kinds of lobbying. All those working in the Trump administration must not lobby any agency they worked at for at least 5 years:
“Under an executive order that Trump signed in the presence of the news media, every political appointee joining the executive branch on or after Jan. 20 — the day Trump took office — must agree to the lobbying bans. That includes avoiding, for five years after leaving, lobbying the agency they worked for.
Another provision sets a two-year period during which appointees must avoid working on issues involving former employers or clients.”
Furthermore, Trump took up an important issue with Big Pharma (lowering drug costs). However, he also promised them to cut regulation making it easier and faster for them to bring new drugs to market, a process already corrupted by the fact that the FDA is bought and owned by Big Pharma. Rushing drugs to market even faster will mean more danger to those who pharmaceuticals – so on this issue Trump didn’t exactly achieve a real victory for the average person.
Is It a “Muslim Ban”? In Legal and Technical Terms No, In Spirit Yes
The so-called Muslim Ban has been all over the news and has become the most well known issue of Trump’s first 10 days. First of all, is it a Muslim ban? Legally and technically, no, but in spirit, yes. Why? The article Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees — Separating Fact from Hysteria does a good job of breaking down the details. The ban targets countries, not religions, and is based on protection from danger, not discrimination:
“First, the order temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days to improve the vetting process, then caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year. Outrageous, right? Not so fast. Before 2016, when Obama dramatically ramped up refugee admissions, Trump’s 50,000 stands roughly in between a typical year of refugee admissions in George W. Bush’s two terms and a typical year in Obama’s two terms.
Second, the order imposes a temporary, 90-day ban on people entering the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. These are countries either torn apart by jihadist violence or under the control of hostile, jihadist governments … The ban, however, contains an important exception: “Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.”
However, there are reports that the ban is being applied even to green-card holders. This is madness. The plain language of the order doesn’t apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., and green-card holders have been through round after round of vetting and security checks. The administration should intervene, immediately, to stop misapplication. If, however, the Trump administration continues to apply the order to legal permanent residents, it should indeed be condemned.”
However, Rudy Giuliani, mayor during the 9/11 false flag op, spilt the beans when he admitted that Trump had come to him to ask him how to do a Muslim Ban so it could be legal:
““I’ll tell you the whole history of it,” Giuliani responded eagerly. “So when [Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’ “
Giuliani said he assembled a “whole group of other very expert lawyers on this,” including former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.).
“And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us,” Giuliani told Pirro. “Which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.””
Giuliani, of course, is complicit in the 9/11 coverup and another neocon that Trump has surrounded himself with, despite promising to drain the swamp (yeah right!).
Strangely (or not), Trump’s list of 7 countries (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia) is similar to the 7 countries (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran) that General Welsey Clark admitted were scheduled to be invaded right after 9/11. Also, strangely (or not), Saudi Arabia is not on the list (despite having the majority of the 9/11 hijackers) and neither is Israel (despite its involvement in 9/11). Perhaps because best-friends-forever Saudi Arabia and Israel have a powerful sway over the US Government and Trump, who is not as independent as you think …
We Should Have Stolen Iraq’s Oil and that Would Have Stopped ISIS
I will finish the summary of Trump’s first 10 days with this ridiculous exchange between Trump and David Muir of ABC News. Just when you think Trump has got it all together, he comes out with the ridiculous notion that the US, after illegally invading the sovereign nation of Iraq (who had nothing to do with 9/11), should have stolen their oil too – because then it wouldn’t have been there for ISIS to use and fuel themselves with. Trump actually states at the 21:35 mark that:
“Trump: “We should have taken the oil. You wouldn’t have ISIS if we took the oil.”
Muir: “You heard the critics who say that would break all international law, taking the oil, but I want to get to the words you said that … “
Trump: “Can you believe that? Who are the critics who say that? Fools! I don’t call them critics, I call them fools!”
Wow. Trump just brazenly advocated grand theft and then resorted to ad hominem attacks (i.e. name calling) to defend his position. How are the alt right going to defend that one? Maybe, just maybe, Trump could educate himself on what caused ISIS by looking at how the US and Israel created it – especially since one of the men who came out to announce and prove the US connection was none other than former DIA director Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor. Might be a good idea since defeating ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism is the cornerstone of his campaign …
Presidents are Selected
Before we finish, it’s worth remembering the presidents are selected, not elected. Nothing changed in the 2016 election. It turns out that so-called outsider Trump is actually a distant cousin of the illustrious Hillary Clinton. As Brendon Smith writes:
“I have seen endless theories [in the liberty movement] over the past several months on all the ways in which the global elites would sabotage the Trump campaign. I believe the phrase “they will never allow him to win” was repeated in nearly every discussion on the election. The assumption in this instance was that Trump is “anti-establishment” and, therefore, a threat to the globalists … You’ll hear hundreds of theories and rationalizations on Trump’s miraculous victory, but a reason you will almost never hear is also the most likely one: Trump won the election because he serves the interests of the establishment. Trump won because he is a fake.”
Trump’s First 10 Days Have Passed – Make of Trump What You Will
Rather than telling you what to think, I encourage you to make up your own mind now that Trump’s first 10 days have passed. Personally, although I like the fact he has stopped the TPP, banned foreign lobbying, encouraged multinational corporations to move their operating centers back to the US and told the Big Pharma CEOs that prices have to come down, overall I can’t in good conscience get behind Trump. Many awake and aware people, and many journalists and readers of the Alternative Media, stand for principles – not a particular person. We want systems and societies of freedom, justice and peace, not a super hero to save us.
Despite some of the good things he has done, many regard Trump as a danger both to the American people and world peace. He is blinded by Zionism and Islamophobia to the point where he is happy to antagonize Iran (and China) and undo all the negotiations it took to find a win/win with the peaceful Iranian nuclear energy program. He surrounded himself by Goldman Sachs men despite criticizing Hillary for her relationship with Goldman Sachs and Big Banking in general. He seems happy to throw away liberty in the pursuit of security – even if he doesn’t exactly understand what the danger is (e.g. the Zionist roots of Islamic terrorism).
I feel like I am beating a dead horse in saying this, but this isn’t about left vs right. Both polarized “sides” need to grow up and move beyond their limited perspective and their “teams”. The left needs to stop complaining, get over being so shellshocked and take a good hard look at why they are happy to criticize Trump but remain silent when one of their own (Obama, Clinton) start pre-emptive wars and commit mass murder. Just because someone is a Democrat and “progressive” doesn’t mean they are not also a fraud and a killer (like Obama). Likewise, the right needs to get over their Trumpmania, stop worshipping Trump as some kind of messiah, stop overlooking Trumps’ faults and refusing to criticize them, and stop condemning all Muslims as evil. It’s time for all concerned to grow up and use Trump as a way of waking up.
Makia Freeman is the editor of alternative media / independent news site The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com, writing on many aspects of truth and freedom, from exposing aspects of the worldwide conspiracy to suggesting solutions for how humanity can create a new system of peace and abundance.
Which is more morally reprehensible: (1) Introducing a ban on refugees and immigrants from a small number of countries for a temporary period or (2) Killing people and destroying their countries through illegal regime change wars?
Feb 1, 2017
A bit of a no-brainer, eh? It has to be the second answer, surely.
Well, you’d think so, but for some it seems, the first option is far worse than the latter.
How else to explain that large sections of the Western liberal-left seem to be more incensed by Donald Trump’s ban on visitors from some Muslim countries (unjust though it is) than they were by the war which destroyed Libya, a country that had the highest living standards in Africa.
In their anti-Trump crusade, some ‘progressives’ appear perfectly happy to link arms and sing ‘Kumbaya’ with the serial warmongers who unleashed the carnage which caused the refugee crisis in the first place?
Trump’s executive order has caused a furious liberal backlash which Obama’s backing of jihadist death squads in Syria never did. It has led to widespread protests in the US and UK. Over 1.7 million people have signed a petition calling for the State visit of the American president to the UK to be called off. In the House of Commons on Monday, Trump was called a fascist and likened to Hitler and Mussolini, while outside Downing Street angry demonstrators shouted ‘Donald Trump has got to go!’ Parliamentary sketch writer Quentin Letts said the eyes of politician Yvette Cooper were “bulging so much she could have gone to a fancy dress party as Marty Feldman.”
“If the Olympic Games ever goes in for synchronized crossness, we’ll be dead certs for a medal position,” Letts observed.
If you can’t remember this level of ‘synchronized crossness’ during Barack Obama’s bombing of Libya, then it’s not surprising. Similar protests did not occur. There was no talk of a Hollywood strike. Yvette Cooper’s eyes did not bulge; she supported the refugee-making bombing of Libya as she did the refugee-making Iraq war.
You don’t have to be a Trump supporter to acknowledge that ‘Barack O’Bomber’ and his predecessors in the White House have got off very lightly. Deportations? The ‘liberal’ Obama deported more than 2.5 million undocumented migrants between 2009-2015 and a record 438,421 people in 2013.
To the best of my knowledge, Owen Jones organized no protests.
Trump’s executive order didn’t just appear out of thin air, the list of ‘countries of concern’ was, as Seth Frantzman has pointed out, already compiled by the Obama administration. “The media should also be truthful with the public and instead of claiming Trump singled out seven countries, it should not that the US Congress and Obama’s Department of Homeland Security had singled out these countries,” Frantzan says.
The hypocrisy doesn’t end there.
We’ve heard a lot these last few days about how Trump’s ban is an “assault on American values” (Obama himself has said ‘American values’ are at stake) conjuring up an image of the pre-Trump USA whose doors were opened wide for migrants and refugees from all over the world.
The truth is that for a long time it’s been pretty tough to get into the US if you’re in possession of the ‘wrong’ kind of passport, and sometimes even if you have the ‘right’ one.
“Americans seem to think it’s alright to subject everyone else to the pointless rigmarole of passing through their Homeland Security but when they travel they expect to be allowed through other countries’ immigration without fuss,” writes Peter Hill in the Daily Express.
We all know someone who’s been turned back at US immigration as they failed one entry requirement or another, and has been sent straight back home on the next flight. The son of Hungarian friends of ours always dreamed of going to the US, and hoped to work there, but he was turned back on arrival as the authorities didn’t believe he had enough money to support himself.
Fair enough, it’s the US authorities’ call; America is a sovereign country, and they set their own rules of entry. This tough approach at the borders didn’t just start on Friday when Dr. Evil aka Donald Trump formally became president.
That said, there are legitimate grounds to object to what the new president has ordered.
Even though he wasn’t responsible for the regime change wars which caused the migrant crisis, and has promised a less meddlesome foreign policy, Trump should at least acknowledge that the US has a moral obligation to take in refugees from countries that the US, under previous administrations, has set out to destabilize.
We can also question why some countries are affected by the temporary ban, and others not. If national security is the issue, why wasn’t Saudi Arabia, the home country of 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers, on the list? I’m not suggesting Saudi nationals should be banned from the US, only pointing out the omission.
But unfair as it undoubtedly is, the reaction to Trump’s executive order has been overblown, if we compare it to the non-reaction to far worse things US governments have done. As Bertolt Brecht might have said if he was still around: What’s refusing a visa to a Libyan, compared to bombing him? The Nuremberg judgment of 1946 rightly held that to initiate a war of aggression was the “supreme international crime,” but that seems to have been forgotten today.
Liberals, for instance, fawned over the former Secretary of State Madeline Albright when she said she “stands ready” to “register as Muslim” in “solidarity” against Trump. The very same Madeline Albright once declared that the death of half a million (predominantly Muslim) children in Iraq due to sanctions was a price that was “worth it.”
Will Albright be met with large-scale protests next time she comes to the UK for defending infanticide in Iraq? Don’t hold your breath. She’s against ‘The Donald’ so must be a good ‘un.
Serial warmonger John McCain has also come out to blast Trump’s executive order. He’s the man who, when asked what he was going to do about Iran if elected president, sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” to the Beach Boys tune Barbara Ann.
How many Muslims would have been killed if McCain had bombed Iran? But hey, he opposes Trump’s visa ban, so he must be a pretty cool dude. Let’s invite the wannabe bomber of Teheran on the next ’Solidarity with Muslims’ protest, shall we?
In 2015, a report called Body Count, the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, revealed that at least 1.3 million people had lost their lives in the US-led ‘war on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.’ As I wrote at the time: As awful as that sounds, the total of 1.3 million deaths does not take into account casualties in other war zones, such as Yemen – and the authors stress that the figure is a “conservative estimate.”
The vast majority of these deaths will have been Muslims. What a pity their deaths, and the deaths of countless others in US-led regime change ops and “liberal interventions,” did not lead to the same level of ‘synchronized crossness’ that Trump’s executive order has.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Article by Chris Menahan from InformationLiberation.com
While the lying media is freaking out over President Trump‘s (temporary) travel ban for seven Middle Eastern countries deemed security risks, they didn’t give a damn about Obama bombing them.
Though the media is currently in a tizzy because Trump’s executive order held up around 300 people at airports, Obama’s bombings were reported as completely reasonable to bring about peace.
Out of the seven countries that were banned by President Trump last Friday, five were bombed by the Obama administration: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.
Where were the George Soros funded organizations protesting the “nearly 100 attacks” that have occurred since 2009 in Yemen “resulting in the deaths of hundreds of militants, but also many civilians?”
Did Chuck Schumer shed a tear for the 62 Syrian troops killed and 100 more wounded that the Obama administration “accidentally bombed” in 2016?
Did Schumer openly weep when the Obama administration was “duped into attacking Somali troops” and killed 22 of them in an air strike late last year?
It’s fine for the Nobel Peace Prize winning President to bomb these people in their own countries, but for President Trump to temporarily prevent them from traveling to our country to keep America safe is “un-American” and “unconstitutional.”
Read more at: InformationLiberation.com
“Trump told the CIA that the Islamic State arose because the U.S. failed to “keep the oil” when it invaded Iraq and said that “maybe we’ll have another chance” to take Iraq’s oil. ”
Source: The Empire Has No Clothes
With permission from
Harsh realities have long mocked United States “elites’” ritual description of their nation state as a benevolent beacon and agent of freedom, democracy, and justice at home and abroad. The mythology doesn’t square with stark disparities and oppressions inflicted by the nation’s unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money, class, race, and empire. The many dark truths about America behind the nationally narcissistic fantasy include:
Globally unmatched and hyper-racialized incarceration rates.
The imposition of poverty or near-poverty on half the U.S. population while the top tenth of the upper U.S. One Percent possesses as much wealth as the nation’s bottom ninety percent.
The U.S. ranks ahead of only Turkey, Chile, and Mexico among thirty-one “advanced industrial nations” belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in measures of economic equality, social mobility, and poverty prevention.
Shocking levels of racial, ethnic, and gender inequality.
+ The hyper-segregation and mass criminalization of the nation’s disproportionately poor Black population.
+ Rampant domestic police-statism and ubiquitous related public and private surveillance.
+ Transparently plutocratic electoral and policymaking systems and outcomes the mark the country as “an oligarchy” and “not a democracy” (mainstream liberal political scientists Martine Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern) regardless of which party or party configuration holds sway in elected offices.
+ The cultural and informational dominance of a corporate- and military-propagandist commercial media owned by a small handful of communications conglomerates.
+ The maintenance of more than 1000 U.S. military installations across more than 100 “sovereign” nations.
+ An empire (“defense”) budget that accounts for nearly half of world military spending and for 54 percent of U.S. federal discretionary spending.
+ The absence of affordable quality health care for tens of millions living in “the world’s richest country.”
+ More than a third of Black and Native American children live below the federal government’s notoriously inadequate poverty level while parasitic financers and other capitalist overlords enjoy unimaginable hyper-opulence.
+ The loss of 93 American lives to gun violence each day.
+ A recently discovered and unprecedented decline in the life expectancy for American working class whites.
+ A labor market in which 94 percent of jobs created over the last eight years have been temporary, part-time, and contingent, non-life time contract and “gig” jobs.
+ The reliance of 1 in 7 citizens on food banks in “the world’s richest country.”
+ The rampant pollution and poisoning of air, land, water, and food, contributing to sky-high cancer rates.
(This is the short list, taken from the Age of Obama.)
Still, symbols and marketing matter in selling the American System and U.S. power at home and abroad. And the perceived character of the U.S. president is a big part of that marketing and public relations.
Nothing was better for portraying the United States as something it is not – a wise and benevolent, forward-looking agent and embodiment of freedom and democracy – than the replacement of George W. Bush by the neoliberal Wall Street darling Barack Obama in the White House in 2008-09.
It’s not that U.S. policy changed to any significant degree with the shift from George W. Bush to Obama. It did not. As the former longtime top Republican congressional staffer Mike Lofgren notes in the fourth chapter – tellingly titled “Do Elections Matter?” – of his important book The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government (2016):
“In 2008, Barack Obama the change agent ran against the legacy of George W. Bush. But when he assumed office, his policies in the areas of national security and financial regulation were strikingly similar. Even the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans vilify with uncontrollable rage, is hardly different in outline from Bush’s Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (both expand medical coverage by subsidizing corporate interests)…[Obama was] merely an ambitious politician who tested well with focus groups, and who arrived at the right moment, promising hope and change as a pretext to administer an entrenched system…”
Lofgren might have added that the “right moment” included the Deep State establishment’s sense that the American System needed a significant re-branding in the wake of the all-too openly plutocratic, stupid, unhinged, and imperialist Bush’s criminal and bungled occupation of Iraq and the collapse of the economy by the powerful financial institutions that controlled Washington and the White House under Bush43 as under Bill Clinton42. And that that’s one part of why American presidential elections do in fact matter to the nation’s wealth and power elite.
True to the hopes of the ruling class interests who funded (at record-setting levels) and otherwise backed his ascendancy, the “vacuous to repressive neoliberal” Obama44 was much better than Bush43 when it came to selling U.S. and global citizens on the notion that sensible, decent, balanced, and caring people stood atop the American Empire. Bush, Lofgren notes, “was a man out of his depth… a reprise of the hapless James Buchanan on the eve of the American Civil Was…[he] was clueless and never one to read briefing memos of any length.” (Like the figure-head Reagan before him, Dubya was “deliberately kept ‘out of the loop’” of many key elite policy discussions.) Obama, by contrast, was “a far more disciplined student – a constitutional scholar [from Harvard Law – P.S.], no less, and a man capable of penning his own rhetorical flourishes.”
That that was only the beginning of Obama’s marketing value. Additional assets included his telegenic youthfulness and perceived novelty, his status as the nation’s first technically nonwhite and multicultural president, and his thoroughly fake progressive campaign imagery. Obama was The Empire’s New Clothes, the title of my 2010 book on his first year in office. It was a great public relations coup for the American “Democracy, Incorporated” (to use the late Princeton political scientist Sheldon Wolin’s phrase for what he called the United States’ “inverted totalitarian” mode of “corporate-managed democracy”). Who better to complete the no strings attached-bailout of the great financial institutions that pushed the economy over the cliff, to re-fashion the imperial project, and to pass a watered-down corporate and finance-friendly version of health insurance reform than a brash, handsome, and seemingly (superficially) left-leaning first Black president endowed even with a “Muslim name,” no small symbolic asset in the wake of Bush’s mass-murderous provocation of the Muslim world?
The great hopey-changey bamboozlement was impressive, aided and abetted by some very silly Scandinavians at the Nobel Peace Prize committee. The antiwar movement, still semi-active in Dubya’s second term, collapsed almost completely under Obama. It stayed mostly somnolent while the nation’s first Black president launched a drone war program that became “the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times” (Noam Chomsky) and a catastrophic regime-change in Libya – all this this while dispatching murderous U.S. Special Forces across Africa and to more nations than any U.S. commander in chief before him. Droves of liberals and even some self-declared leftists (who can ever forget the relentless and nauseating absurdities of Carl Davidson?) had Obama’s back as he dutifully served the aforementioned unelected and deep state dictatorships, helping create the vacuum and set the stage both for the rise of the Tea Party and the ascendancy of Donald Trump.
And now the American System is saddled with the public relations and marketing dilemma that is the openly white-nationalist, nativist, racist, misogynist, eco-cidal, authoritarian, stupid, reckless, thin-skinned, narcissist, and Twitter-addicted Donald. That the Deplorable One is, like Dubya, a “man out of his depth” was suggested by his first full day in the White House. Confronted with massive, historic demonstrations protesting his Inauguration and across the nation, Trump went to the headquarters of the CIA and stood before the hallowed CIA Memorial Wall (engraved with the names of OSS and CIA agents who lost their lives in service to U.S. foreign policy/imperialism) to deliver a childishly petulant and impromptu rant on the “liberal” media’s supposed under-estimation of the number of people who attended his Inauguration speech. Even more strange, Trump told the CIA that the Islamic State arose because the U.S. failed to “keep the oil” when it invaded Iraq and said that “maybe we’ll have another chance” to take Iraq’s oil. CNN anchor and former CIA intern Anderson Cooper reported that “senior CIA officials sat stone-faced” during this bizarre performance.
The Iraqi oil comments must have gone over well in the Middle East and the Muslim world (I was asked to reflect on them by a Middle Eastern television network within five minutes of their utterance).
The elite cringing isn’t about any serious concern for Iraqi sovereignty, of course. For the U.S. establishment, Trump poses a threat to Brand America. It is longstanding bipartisan U.S. ruling class doctrine that the United States is the world’s great beacon and agent of democracy, human rights, justice, and freedom. American Reality has never matched the doctrine, and it didn’t under Obama, of course, but it is especially difficult to credibly align those claims with a candidate and now a president like Trump, who has openly exhibited racist, nativist, sexist, arch-authoritarian, police-statist, Islamophobic, pro-torture, and even neo-fascist sentiments and values. “If our system of government [under Obama as under George W. Bush and under Bill Clinton and their predecessors – P.S.] is an oligarchy with a façade of democratic and constitutional process,” Lofgren wrote in the preface to his book’s paperback edition last summer, “Trump would not only rip that façade away for the entire world to behold; he would take our system’s ugliest features and intensify them.”
Along with real policy differences they have with Trump’s right- “populist,” “isolationist,” and “anti- ‘free trade;” rhetoric, that is why the nation’s overlapping economic and foreign policy “elites” preferred Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio over Trump in the Republican primaries – and Hillary Clinton over Trump in the general election.
And now Donald the Ripper sits with other vicious and all-too transparently sociopathic swamp creatures like the quasi-fascist Steve Bannon atop the visible U.S. state, where marketing and branding matter to those wielding real and continuous behind the “marionette theater” of electoral and parliamentary politics. The Empire, once again, has no clothes.
January 13, 2017
Barack Obama was in Brasilia on March 19, 2011, when he announced with limited fanfare the latest regime change war of his presidency. The bombing of Libya had begun with a hail of cruise missile attacks and air strikes. It was something of an impromptu intervention, orchestrated largely by Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and the diva of vengeance Samantha Power, always hot for a saturation bombing in the name of human rights.
Obama soon upped the ante by suggesting that it was time for Qaddafi to go. The Empire had run out of patience with the mercurial colonel. The vague aims of the Libyan war had moved ominously from enforcing “a no-fly zone” to seeking regime change. Bombing raids soon targeted Qaddafi and his family. Coming in the wake of the extra-judicial assassination of Osama Bin Laden in a blood-spattered home invasion, Qaddafi rightly feared Obama wanted his body in a bag, too.
Absent mass protests against the impending destruction of Tripoli, it fell to Congress to take some tentative steps to challenge the latest unauthorized and unprovoked war. At an earlier time in the history of the Republic, Obama’s arrogant defiance of Congress and the War Powers Act of 1973 might have provoked a constitutional crisis. But these are duller and more attenuated days, where such vital matters have been rendered down into a kind of hollow political theater. All the players duly act their parts, but everyone, even the cable news audience, realizes that it is just for show. The wars will proceed. The Congress will fund them. The people will have no say in the matter. As Oscar Wilde quipped: “All the world’s a stage, badly cast.”
That old softy John Boehner, the teary-eyed barkeep’s son, sculpted a resolution demanding that Obama explain his intentions in Libya. It passed the House overwhelmingly. A competing resolution crafted by the impish gadfly Dennis Kucinich called for an immediate withdrawal of US forces from operations in Libya. This radically sane measure garnered a robust 148 votes. Obama dismissed both attempts to downsize his unilateralist approach to military operations, saying with a chill touch of the surreal that the 14,000-and-counting sorties flown over Libya didn’t amount to a “war.”
This is Barack Obama, the political moralist? The change agent? The constitutional scholar? Listen to that voice. It is petulant and dismissive. Some might say peevish, like the whine of a talented student caught cheating on a final exam.
Yes, all the political players were acting their parts. But what role exactly had Obama assumed?
Obama, the Nobel laureate, casts himself as a New Internationalist, a chief executive of the global empire, more eager to consult with European heads of state than members of Congress, even of his own party. Indeed, his co-conspirators in the startling misadventure in Libya were David Cameron and Nikolas Sarkozy, an odd troika to say the least. Even Obama’s own Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, seems to have been discreetly cut out of the decision loop.
You begin to see why Obama sparks such a virulent reaction among the more histrionic precincts of the libertarian right. He has a majestic sense of his own certitude. The president often seems captivated by the nobility of his intentions, offering himself up as a kind of savior of the eroding American Imperium.
While Obama sells pristine idealism to the masses, he is at heart a calculating pragmatist, especially when it comes to advancing his own ambitions. Obama doesn’t want to be stained with defeat. It’s one reason he has walked away from pushing for a Palestinian state, after his Middle East envoy George Mitchell resigned in frustration. It’s why Obama stubbornly refused to insist on a public option for his atrocious health care bill. It’s why he backed off cap-and-trade and organized labor’s card check bill and the DREAM Act.
Obama assumed the presidency at a moment when much of the nation seemed ready to confront the unwelcome fact that the American project had derailed. Before he died, Norman Mailer took to lamenting that the American culture was corroding from a bad conscience. The country was warping under the psychic weight of years of illegal wars, torture, official greed, religious prudishness, government surveillance, unsatisfying Viagra-supplemented sex, bland genetically engineered food, crappy jobs, dismal movies, and infantile, corporatized music–all scrolling by in an infinite montage of annoying Tweets. Even the virtual commons of cyberspace had gone solipsistic.
Corporate capitalism just wasn’t delivering the goods anymore. Not for the bottom 80 percent, any way. The economy was in ruins, mired in what appeared to be a permanent recession. The manufacturing sector had been killed from the inside-out, with millions of well-paying jobs outsourced and nothing but dreary service-sector positions to take their place. Chronic long-term unemployment hovered at more than 10 percent, worse, much worse, in black America. Those who clung to their jobs had seen their wages stagnate, their home values shrivel and were suffocating under merciless mounds of debt. Meanwhile, capital moved in ever-tightening circles among a new odious breed of super-rich, making sweat-free billions from the facile movement of money.
By 2008, the wistfulness seemed to have evaporated from the American spirit. The country had seen its own government repeatedly prey on its citizens’ fear of the future. Paranoia had become the last growth industry. From the High Sierras to the Blue Ridge, the political landscape was sour and spiteful, the perfect seed-ground for the sprouting of the Tea Party and even ranker and more venomous movements on the American right. These were not the ideological descendents of the fiery libertarian Barry Goldwater. The tea-baggers lacked Goldwater’s western innocence and naive idealism. These suburban populists, by and large, were white, unhappy and aging. Animated by the grim nostalgia for a pre-Lapsarian fantasyland called the Reagan administration, many sensed their station in society slipping inexorably away. They wanted their country back. But back from whom?
Instead of blaming corporate outsourcers or predatory bankers, they directed their vindictive impulse toward immigrants and blacks, government workers and teachers, scientists and homosexuals. There’s something profoundly pathetic about the political fatalism of this new species of Know-Nothings. But, it must be said, their wrath was mostly pure. This strange consortium of discontent seethed with an inchoate sense of alienation, an acidic despair at the diminished potentialities of life in post-industrial America.
No, these were not fanatical idealists or even ante-bellum utopians. They were levelers, of a sort, splenetic and dread-fuelled levelers, conspiratorialists with a Nixonian appetite for political destruction. Primed into a frenzy by the cynical rantings of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, mass gatherings of Tea Partiers across the summer of 2009 showed signs of a collective psychopathy, as if the enervating madness from decades of confinement in the hothouse of the American suburbs had finally ruptured in primetime for all the world to watch over-and-over again on YouTube with mounting mortification. Right there on the National Mall could be heard the vapid gibberish of Michele Bachmann and the new American preterite, those lost and bitter souls who felt their culture had left them far behind.
With his sunny disposition and Prospero-like aptitude for mystification, Obama should have been able to convert them or, at least, to roll over them. Instead, they kicked his ass. How?
Obama is a master of gesture politics, but he tends to flinch in nearly every pitched battle, even when the odds and the public are behind him. His political instincts drive him to seek cover in the middle ground. He is a reflexive compromiser, more Rodney “Can’t We All Just Get Along” King than Reverend King. Even when confronted by bumbling hacks like John Boehner and Eric Cantor, Obama tends to wilt.
Perhaps Obama had never before been confronted with quite this level of toxic hostility. After all, he’d lived something of a charmed life, the life of a star-child, coddled and pampered, encouraged and adulated, from Indonesia to Harvard. Obama was the physical and psychic embodiment of the new multiculturalism: lean, affable, assured, non-threatening. His vaguely liberal political ideology remained opaque at the core. Instead of an over-arching agenda, Obama delivered facile jingoisms proclaiming a post-racial and post-partisan America. Instead of radical change, Obama offered simply managerial competence. This, naturally, the Berserkers of the Right interpreted as hubris and arrogance and such hollow homilies served only to exacerbate their rage. The virulent right had profiled Obama and found him to be the perfect target for their accreted animus. And, even better, they had zeroed-in on an enemy so innately conflict-averse that even when pummeled with racist slurs he wouldn’t punch back.
Of course, Obama’s most grievous political wounds were self-inflicted, starting even before his election when he rushed back to Washington to help rescue Bush’s Wall Street bailout. This was perhaps the first real indication that the luminous campaign speeches about generational and systemic change masked the servile psyche of a man who was desperately yearning to be embraced by the nation’s political and financial elites. Instead of meeting with the victims of Wall Street predators or their advocates, like Elizabeth Warren and Ralph Nader, Obama fist-bumped with the brain trust of Goldman Sachs and schmoozed with the creme de la creme of K Street corporate lobbyists. In the end, Obama helped salvage some of the most venal and corrupt enterprises on Wall Street, agreed to shield their executives from prosecution for their financial crimes and, predictably, later got repaid with their scorn.
Thus the Obama revolution was over before it started, guttered by the politician’s overweening desire to prove himself to the grandees of the establishment. From there on, other promises, from confronting climate change to closing Gitmo, from ending torture to initiating a nationalized health care system, proved even easier to break.
Take the issue that had so vivified his campaign: ending the war on Iraq. Within weeks of taking office, Obama had been taken to the woodshed by Robert Gates and General David Petreaus and had returned to the White House bruised and humbled. The withdrawal would slowly proceed, but a sinister force would remain behind indefinitely, a lethal contingent of some 50,000 or so CIA operatives, special forces units, hunter-killer squads and ruthless private security details. Bush’s overt war quietly became a black op under Obama. Out of sight, out of mind.
By the fall of 2009 even the most calloused Washington hands had grown weary over how deeply entangled the US occupation of Afghanistan had become. The savage rhythms of the war there had backfired. Too many broken promises, too many bombed weddings and assassinations, too many dead and mutilated children, too much cowardice and corruption in the puppet satrapy in Kabul. The tide had irrevocably turned against the US and its squalid policies. Far from being terminally crippled, the Taliban was now stronger than it had been at any time since 2001. But instead of capitalizing on this tectonic shift of sentiment by drawing down American troops, Obama, in a cynical ploy to prove his martial meddle, journeyed to West Point and announced in a somber speech that he was raising the stakes in Afghanistan by injecting a Petreaus-sanctioned surge of forces into the country and unleashing a new campaign of lethal operations that would track and target suspected insurgents across the Hindu Kush and into Pakistan.
That night Obama spoke in a stern cadence, studded with imperious pauses, as if to suggest that he, unlike the fickle George W. Bush, was going to wage the Afghan war until it was won. But he knew better. And so did his high command–even Stanley McChrystal and David Petreaus, who had trademarked the counter-insurgency strategy. There was nothing to win in Afghanistan. Out on that distant rim of the world, there weren’t even any standards to gauge military success. This was meant to be a punitive war, pure and simple, designed to draw as much blood as possible, an obscene war fought largely by remote-controlled drones attacking peasant villages with murderous indiscretion.
Afterwards, the American peace movement could only bray in impotent outrage. But as Obama’s wars spread from Afghanistan and Iraq to Pakistan and Yemen, Somalia and Libya, outside of the redoubtable Catholic Workers and Quakers and a few Code Pinkers–the last flickering moral lights in the nation–even those empty yawps of protest dissipated into whispered lamentations, hushed murmurs of disillusionment. Could it be that the American Left had gone extinct as any kind of potent political force and it took the presidency of Barack Obama to prove it?
And what of Obama’s spellbound followers, those youthful crusaders who saw him illumined in the sacral glow of his ethereal rhetoric and cleaved to him during the hard slog of two campaigns with a near-religious devotion? What was running through their minds when the mists finally parted to reveal that Obama was implementing cunning tracings of Bush-era policies on everything from the indefinite detention of uncharged prisoners in the war on terror to raids on medical marijuana distributors in states where medical pot has been legalized? What, indeed.
Illusions die hard, especially when shattered by cruise missiles.
This essay is adapted from Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.