Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Obama’s Special Purpose

Robert Scheer has written a nice commentary on Obama, “Hope Burning.”  In it he identifies Obama’s complicity and extension of many of the most abhorrent policies of the Bush Administration.  Obama has gone even further, ordering drone strikes of U.S. citizens abroad, with no trial, judge, or jury required:

So now we have Rambo Obama, a steely warrior who, according to a lengthy leaked insider account in The New York Times, hurls death-dealing drones at anyone who threatens the good old USA. Including children.

Obama as the cool triggerman is an image useful to White House operatives as they buff the president’s persona for the coming election. But what it reveals is the mindset of a political cynic whose seductive words cloak the moral indifference of a methodical executioner. Forget Harry Truman, who obliterated the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or Lyndon Johnson, who carpet-bombed millions in Vietnam. The Democrats have got themselves another killer, one whose techniques are as devastatingly effective, but brilliantly refined.

[Quoting the N.Y. Times] Without showing his hand, Mr. Obama had preserved three major policies—rendition, military commissions and indefinite detention—that have been targets of human rights groups since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

I have earlier speculated why Obama was brought seemingly out of nowhere to win the 2008 election.  Why Obama, when either Clinton or McCain would serve quite well those in power?  Why was it necessary to rush Obama out years before his time, when Clinton was primed for this role, and would certainly have won?  My thoughts are contained here.

From my earlier post:

As only Nixon could go to China, it seems to me only Obama could do what was desired: Only Obama had the track record (or lack thereof) to defy the democratic base and continue the wars. Only Obama could extend the Patriot Act and sign NDAA into law. Yes, Clinton too is a democrat, but had nowhere near the anti-war / pro-civil liberty credibility that Obama had. Clinton had too much baggage – even with the democratic base – to carry into office. Clinton was a known entity, and already came with very strong negatives. She was not trusted by many, including some on her own side.

Returning to the piece by Scheer, he identifies this betrayal of the left; Obama as the bait-and-switch candidate (not unlike FDR):

This is clearly not the Obama whom many voted for in the hope that he would stick by his word, including the pledge he made on his second day in office to ban brutal interrogation and close the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Scheer goes on to identify the N.Y. Times as complicit in this act, behaving as the government’s public relations arm, reporting administrations statements uncritically, removing the “alleged” before the executed “terrorist”, etc.

And how does the Obama Administration justify this policy?  The 21st century version of due-process in America:

The Obama answer to those human rights groups is the same as that offered by George W. Bush: Get the Justice Department to say that anything goes.

Finally, Scheer quotes Michael Hayden, a director of the CIA under Bush and now an adviser to presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney:

This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president, and that’s not sustainable. I have lived the life of someone taking action on the basis of secret O.L.C. memos, and it ain’t a good life.

Want to bet that if Romney wins, Michael Hayden will have no problem aiding Romney in enjoying the same life?

Scheer concludes with the recognition that such is not the behavior of political leaders in a democracy – democracies do not make war this way:

But imperial plutocracies do.

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