I Wish I Were In Paris

From war to peace and politics to gossip, if we have an opinion on something we'll share it here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama's Berlin Speech And His Trip To The Middle East

In answer to the gaunlet tossed down by John McCain, Barack Obama recently decided to go on a whirlwind tour of Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel (but not Palestine, not really) and then Europe.

On his hop-skip-and-jump vacation, he met with soldiers and did his usual schtick about how we're "taking our eye off the ball" in Afghanistan. I wonder how many of the men and women in Iraq will be happy for a change of scenery in the next for years. Instead of watching men, women and children getting slaughtered in Iraq, they can watch it happen in Afghanistan, many of them participating in said slaughter. Cheer on, faithful soldier, cheer on.

By the time he got to Israel, Obama had decided that the plight of the Palestinian people (something, it is said, that he knew all about and commiserated with back when he was just an Illinois Senator) didn't matter all the much anymore.

Ali Abunimah can say it better than me.

"In recent months, Obama has sought to allay persistent concerns from pro-Israel groups by recasting himself as a stalwart backer of Israel and tacking ever closer to positions espoused by the powerful, hardline, pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. He distanced himself from mainstream advisers because pro-Israel groups objected to their calls for even-handedness.

"Like his Republican rival, Senator John McCain, Obama gave staunch backing to Israel's 2006 bombing of Lebanon, which killed over 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the blockade and bombardment of the Gaza Strip, calling them 'self-defense'.

"Every aspect of Obama's visit to Palestine-Israel this week has seemed designed to further appease pro-Israel groups. Typically for an American aspirant to high office, he visited the Israeli Holocaust memorial and the Western Wall. He met the full spectrum of Israeli Jewish (though not Israeli Arab) political leaders. He travelled to the Israeli Jewish town of Sderot, which until last month's ceasefire, frequently experienced rockets from the Gaza Strip. At every step, Obama warmly professed his support for Israel and condemned Palestinian violence.

"Other than a cursory 45 minute visit to occupied Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians got little. According to an Abbas aide, Obama provided assurances that he would be 'a constructive partner in the peace process'. Some observers took comfort in his promise that he would get engaged 'starting from the minute I'm sworn into office'. Obama remained silent on the issue of Jerusalem, after boldly promising the 'undivided' city to Israel as its capital in a speech to AIPAC last month, and then appearing to backtrack amid a wave of outrage across the Arab world. But Obama missed the opportunity to visit Palestinian refugee camps, schools and even shopping malls to witness first-hand the devastation caused by the Israeli army and settlers, or to see how Palestinians cope under what many call apartheid. This year alone, almost 500 Palestinians, including over 70 children, have been killed by the Israeli army - exceeding the total for 2007 and dwarfing the two-dozen Israelis killed in conflict-related violence. Obama said nothing about Israel's relentless expansion of colonies on occupied land. Nor did he follow the courageous lead of former President Jimmy Carter and meet with the democratically elected Hamas leaders, even though Israel negotiated a ceasefire with them. That such steps are inconceivable shows how off-balance is the US debate on Palestine."

And there's more. You can read it all here.

There are actually people, mostly McCain sycophants, out there that say that Obama's going to sit down with Hamas and he's going to destroy Israel and...and...and...

The funny thing is, I thought that Israel had to be destroyed in order for Christ to come back so you'd think these whacked-out Republicans would be all over Obama, wouldn't you?

The unfunny thing is, Obama, like all of his predecessors, couldn't care less about the Palestinian people, will not be sitting down with Hamas and Israel will be just fine, continuing to ply their genocide against the Palestinian people with a wink, a nod and $30 billion from the Obama White House.

So, the deed almost completely done, he then travelled on to Europe and Berlin to be more specific, where he had wanted to use the Brandenburg Gate as a backdrop but was refused access by the German government when he arrogantly thought that he didn't need to tell them why he wanted to use the site.

Instead, he was surrounded by two hundred thousand duped Kool-Aid-drinking fools, who would have elected him King Of The World if they could have.

They didn't even bother listening to his speech and neither did I. But unlike these fools, I actually went looking for it afterwards.

Paul Street was listening very closely and, if you want to read the speech, you can find it here.

As always, Obama pretends to know history when he's actually worse than a novice. Either that or he thinks that there no one out here that actually knows what happened and they're not going to refute him. In any case, he did it again in Berlin.

Paul Street:

"Speaking of Europe in the aftermath of World War Two, Obama recalled how 'the Soviet shadow had swept across Europe, while in the West, America, Britain and France took stock of most of their losses and pondered how the world might be remade.'

"This comment suggested that the U.S. had wartime losses that could be remotely compared with those of Europe (it didn't) and that America's Allied partners had remotely equal influence with the U.S. on the postwar world system (they didn't). It deleted the fact that U.S. imperial architects consciously exploited WWII as a great opportunity for an 'American Century'. They made sure that 'the world' was 'remade' in such a way as to guarantee U.S. hegemony and built up the supposed Soviet menace to further that agenda. (For what it's worth, those nasty Soviets did more than any other nation to defeat the Nazis, losing 25 million lives in the struggle with the Third Reich)."

Obama continued this myth of the Hydra/Soviet threat in Berlin. And, as I've said in the past, this is nothing new coming from the Obama camp. After all, one of his top advisers is Zbigniew Brzezinski, who has such a hard-on for Russia and seeing its demise is something he has a bloodlust for. With this in mind, it should be no surprise that Obama would continue to remind Europe of their place in the world: to be our proxy against an entity that doesn't exist anymore (the U.S.S.R.).

Street again:

"After the collapse of the Berlin Wall (of 'communism'), Obama told Berlin, 'the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity.'"

I don't know about you but doesn't this all sound so fucking easy? It's like SUDDENLY, the sky turned blue and all was right with the world.

Says Street:

"No exactly. U.S.-imposed capitalist 'shock therapy' devastated Eastern populations, leading to shocking levels of poverty, inequality and corruption in the former Soviet Union and much of the former Eastern bloc. The spread of 'markets' meant the expanded reach and power of multinational corporations and capital, forces that are deeply subversive of democracy. Inequality sharpened around the world and at home too, consistent with the anti-egalitarian character of the profits system. Basic social supports and protections were blown away in the formerly socialist world. South Africa got rid of apartheid but fell under the savage yoke of neoliberal capitalism along with much of the rest of the world (see Mike Davis, Planet of Slums [London: Verso, 2006])."

Obama then turned to the indignant role, shaking his finger and his head at Europe.

"In Europe," Obama claimed, "the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in the world...has become all too common."

Oh, no! Jesus, save them for they know not what they think!

This is a continuation of the same old, same old from Barack Obama. In his narrow mind, the US cannot possibly have ever done harm to anyone. Ever. The bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq, the slaughter and subjugation of its people, is, to Obama, a "mistake", one that we should never apologize for, as he told CNN's Candy Crowley a day after his speech.


"In praising Europeans for 'taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world,' Obama said that 'our country still sacrifices greatly for freedom around the globe.'

"Here is a useful translation for his phrase 'taking more responsibility': 'doing more to help the U.S. illegally attack and occupy defenseless sovereign states to otherwise support our self-interested definition of world order.'"

Me again.

I wish I could ask Obama whose "freedom" he's speaking of. Since I can't, I hope one of his fanatics can fill me in. Is he talking about "freedom" for people around the globe or corporations? Help me out here.


"Obama's supposedly 'freedom'-spreading government homeland's power elite has tried to overthrow the democratically elected government of oil-rich, Left-led Venezuela. It is the protector of Israel's racist occupation of Palestine and of the oil-rich neo-feudal arch-sexist Saudi kingdom, possibly the most reactionary state on Earth."

I might remind the fanatic that would write me to explain this "freedom" that Obama keeps touting that Obama doesn't believe that the Bush regime has done anything wrong. As he explained to Candy Crowley, "But, you know, hindsight is 20/20, and I'm much more interested in looking forward rather than looking backwards."

This applies to everything that the US has ever done. Tried to overthrow Hugo Chavez? So what? Bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Necessary. Tried to exterminate the native population of this country? And? Enslaved millions of Africans? Come on! We had to do that.

Where does Obama draw the line? Nowhere.

Where do you, Obama supporter, draw the line? I'd love to know.


"Obama said that cooperation across the Atlantic is the only way for the U.S. and Europe 'to advance our common humanity.' Does Obama think America models 'humanity' by murdering, maiming and uprooting millions in Southwest Asia in the name of 'freedom'? A U.S. Senator who has repeatedly voted funds paying for the mass killing of Iraqi and Afghani children and who reflexively defends Israel's right to bomb civilians and who vows readiness to level any Pakistani village thought to contain top al Qaeda operatives and who refuses to take a first nuclear strike on Iran 'off the table' has no business lecturing anyone on 'common humanity'. Ask the parents of 'liberated' Afghani children who have lost limbs to U.S. bombs about American 'humanity'.

"Earlier this month, the U.S. killed 64 civilians when it bombed a wedding party in the eastern Afghanistan. It's the fourth wedding pary that the U.S.-led 'coalition' has blown up in Afghanistan since the beginning of its invasion of that country - a war that Obama badly wants to expand. Obama, who recently told CNN that the U.S. has done nothing in the world that merits apology over the last seven and a half years, should ask the survivors of these wedding attacks what they think of U.S. and British 'humanity'."


"'No one,' Obama intoned in Berlin, 'welcomes war.'

"Wouldn't that be nice? Sadly, it's not true: Boeing and Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and Blackwater Worldwide and many other military (so-called 'defense') contractors welcome U.S. colonial 'war'. Obama's longstanding campaign finance patron Henry Crown Investments is a leading war profiteer. The oil majors have done very nicely with recent 'wars' (the one-sided imperial assaults on Iraq and Afghanistan) and are looking to cash in nicely with Iraqi oil profits gained through 'war'. There are a large number of evangelical Christian U.S. fascists who crave 'war' in the Middle East. There was a whole cabal of strategically placed elites within the George W. Bush administration who welcomed 9/11 as an opportunity to wage a long-sought war of petro-colonial conquest on Iraq and there are still plenty of powerful U.S. neoconservatives (many have collected around the John McCain candidacy) who like 'war' a great deal.

"Obama appears to have great affection for the U.S. war on Afghanistan, an action that he has repeatedly praised. He also retrospectively welcomes the first U.S. war on Iraq (1991), an especially noxious exercise in one-sided imperial butchery for which Obama has repeatedly stated his admiration."

Mr. Obama, you talk like a politician. Not like a new breed of politician but like the old class of politician.

No one welcomes war.

Bullshit. Why have such an institution such as the Pentagon then? The office of Secretary Of Defense used to be known as the office of Secretary Of War until it, war, couldn't be sold to the general populace as policy so the powers that be changed the word to Defense. Who can argue with defense? After all, if you don't defend yourself, harm can come to you.

I would remind every fanatic of this motherfucker that they, at one time, were questioning of people that said shit like "No one welcomes war". In fact, if you go back, I'll bet you can find sixty, seventy, a hundred clips of George W. Bush saying the exact same four words and following them with another, the word "but".

I haven't read the entire Berlin speech. I'm not going to say that Obama followed "No one welcomes war" with the word "but". I won't say it. No one welcomes war is enough for me.


"'We should support the millions of Iraqis,' Obama told Berlin, 'who seek to rebuild their lives even as we pass on responsibility to the Iraqi government.'

"'Rebuild their lives' from exactly what, pray tell? Senator Obama did not elaborate on the two U.S. military attacks, the decade plus of murderous 'economic sanctions' (which killed more than half a million children - a cost that the current Obama adviser and supporter Madeleine Albright called a 'price worth paying'), and the ongoing invasion of Iraq. Obama will continue the occupation as president, as is known by those who care to read between the lines of his populace-pleasing campaign rhetoric.

"Here is a word that Imperial Obama will never utter for what the U.S. owes Iraq: REPARATIONS. American cannot pass on to a devastated Iraq's government America's responsibility to do what it can to repair the monumental damage it has arch-criminally inflicted during a falsely 'preventive' attack that would have made one-time Berlin resident Adolph Hitler proud...

"Obama reserves the right to change his squishy 'withdrawal' plans in accord with the advice of imperial commanders 'on the ground'. He refuses to support legislation that would ban Blackwater and other private security contractors from Iraq, something that suggests he would increase the already massive U.S. mercenary presence in Mesopotamia while he shifts some of the Empire's soldiers from Iraqi to Afghan killing fields."

In a recent interview with Larry King, Obama praised General David Petraeus, commandant of the entire Middle East, as agreed upon in the U.S. Congress, saying, "And I think, for example, General Petraeus has done a terrific job with the cards that have been dealt to him."

I really would have loved to be a fly on the wall of one of the sycophants at MoveOn.org when he said this. Did they choke on what they were drinking? Perhaps spit it across the room? Or did they, as I suspect and as the deafening sound of silence suggests, just nod and, pun intended, move on?

A couple of days ago, Petraeus said that he didn't believe in a timetable for withdrawal. Bet you anything that Barack Obama will soon be saying the exact same thing, telling you to scrub your mind that he ever said anything such as this.


"'Will we welcome immigrants from different lands?' Obama asked Berlin.

"He should ask himself the same question, keeping in mind the stupid and offensive wall he supports on the southern border of his 'magical' United States."

Perhaps someone ought to put a wall up on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to keep Obama's Americans out.


"'I know my country has not perfected itself,' Obama said in Berlin. 'At times,' he added, 'we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people.'

"That was a remarkable bit of understatement. The U.S. has the most unequal distribution of wealth in the industrialized world. It is the only modern industrial (formal) 'democracy' that does not guarantee health care to all of its citizens. The top 1 percent of Americans owns 40 percent of the nation's wealth and a larger portion of its politicians and officeholders, including the explicitly corporate-neoliberal Barack (Goldman Sachs-Exelon-UBS-Sidley-Austin-Morgan Stanley) Obama. Median black American household wealth is equivalent to 7 cents on the median white American household dollar.

"As for not always keeping liberty and equality alive for 'all our people', yes, there have been some difficulties. The shortcomings include two and a half centuries of black chattel slavery (Obama opposed reparations for that supposedly ancient crime), followed by many decades of Jim Crow and black disenfranchisement and a continuing deep and unacknowledged legacy and practice of harsh institutional racism. The supposedly 'freedom'-exporting U.S. is the world's leading mass incarceration state and nearly half of its more than 2 million prisoners are African-American. In Obama's own Chicago metropolitan area at the peak of the Clinton boom, more than a third of black children live in poverty, compared to just 5 percent of the white kids. Of Chicago's 15 poorest neighborhoods, with poverty measures ranging from 32 to 56 percent, all but one was disproportionately black and eleven were at least 94 percent black. Sixteen percent of his home city's blacks lived in what researchers call 'deep poverty' - at less than half of the federal government's notoriously low and inadequate poverty level. Only a tiny percentage of whites lived at that terrible level of extreme poverty...

"'We will not be able to sustain [economic] growth,' Obama told the 200,000, 'if it favors the few, and not the many.'

"Okay, but as Obama has made abundantly clear on numerous occasions, he believes strongly in capitalism and thus in its own particular definition of growth and development. Capitalism is quite explicitly about the concentration of wealth (and power) - the advance of the Few over and against the lower - and working-class Many."

I think I'll leave it here and let Obama's words speak for themselves.


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