Obama Is a Truly Democratic Expansionist

June 13, 2008
Obama Is a Truly Democratic Expansionist
by John Pilger

In 1941, the editor Edward Dowling wrote: “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.” What has changed? The terror of the rich is greater than ever, and the poor have passed on their delusion to those who believe that when George W Bush finally steps down next January, his numerous threats to the rest of humanity will diminish.

The nomination of Barack Obama, which, according to one breathless commentator, “marks a truly exciting and historic moment in US history”, is a product of the new delusion. Actually, it just seems new. Truly exciting and historic moments have been fabricated around US presidential campaigns for as long as I can recall, generating what can only be described as bullsh*t on a grand scale. Race, gender, appearance, body language, rictal spouses and offspring, even bursts of tragic grandeur, are all subsumed by marketing and “image-making” , now magnified by “virtual” technology. Thanks to an undemocratic electoral college system (or, in Bush’s case, tampered voting machines) only those who both control and obey the system can win. This has been the case since the truly historic and exciting victory of Harry Truman, the liberal Democrat said to be a humble man of the people, who went on to show how tough he was by obliterating two cities with the atomic bomb.

Understanding Obama as a likely president of the United States is not possible without understanding the demands of an essentially unchanged system of power: in effect a great media game. For example, since I compared Obama with Robert Kennedy in these pages, he has made two important statements, the implications of which have not been allowed to intrude on the celebrations. The first was at the conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Zionist lobby, which, as Ian Williams has pointed out, “will get you accused of anti-Semitism if you quote its own website about its power”. Obama had already offered his genuflection, but on 4 June went further. He promised to support an “undivided Jerusalem” as Israel’s capital. Not a single government on earth supports the Israeli annexation of all of Jerusalem, including the Bush regime, which recognises the UN resolution designating Jerusalem an international city.

His second statement, largely ignored, was made in Miami on 23 May. Speaking to the expatriate Cuban community – which over the years has faithfully produced terrorists, assassins and drug runners for US administrations – Obama promised to continue a 47-year crippling embargo on Cuba that has been declared illegal by the UN year after year.

Again, Obama went further than Bush. He said the United States had “lost Latin America”. He described the democratically elected governments in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua as a “vacuum” to be filled. He raised the nonsense of Iranian influence in Latin America, and he endorsed Colombia’s “right to strike terrorists who seek safe-havens across its borders”. Translated, this means the “right” of a regime, whose president and leading politicians are linked to death squads, to invade its neighbours on behalf of Washington. He also endorsed the so-called Merida Initiative, which Amnesty International and others have condemned as the US bringing the “Colombian solution” to Mexico. He did not stop there. “We must press further south as well,” he said. Not even Bush has said that.

It is time the wishful-thinkers grew up politically and debated the world of great power as it is, not as they hope it will be. Like all serious presidential candidates, past and present, Obama is a hawk and an expansionist. He comes from an unbroken Democratic tradition, as the war-making of presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton demonstrates. Obama’s difference may be that he feels an even greater need to show how tough he is. However much the colour of his skin draws out both racists and supporters, it is otherwise irrelevant to the great power game. The “truly exciting and historic moment in US history” will only occur when the game itself is challenged

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DEADLY ‘DIPLOMACY’

June 13, 2008
Deadly ‘Diplomacy’
by Norman Solomon

With 223 days left in his presidency, George W. Bush laid more flagstones along a path to war on Iran. There was the usual declaration that “all options are on the table” – and, just as ominously, much talk of diplomacy.

Three times on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports, Bush “called a diplomatic solution ‘my first choice,’ implying there are others. He said ‘we’ll give diplomacy a chance to work,’ meaning it might not.”

That’s how Bush talks when he’s grooving along in his Orwellian comfort zone, eager to order a military attack.

“We seek peace,” Bush said in the State of the Union address on January 28, 2003. “We strive for peace.”

In that speech, less than two months before the invasion of Iraq began, Bush foreshadowed the climax of his administration’ s diplomatic pantomime. “The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq’s ongoing defiance of the world,” the president said. “Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraqi’s legal – Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, its attempt to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups.”

A week after that drum roll, Colin Powell made his now-infamous presentation to the U.N. Security Council. At the time, it served as ideal “diplomacy” for war – filled with authoritative charges and riddled with deceptions.

We should never forget the raptures of media praise for Powell’s crucial mendacity. A key bellwether was the New York Times.

The front page of the Times had been plying administration lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction for a long time. Now the newspaper’s editorial stance, ostensibly antiwar, swooned into line – rejoicing that “Mr. Powell’s presentation was all the more convincing because he dispensed with apocalyptic invocations of a struggle of good and evil and focused on shaping a sober, factual case against Mr. Hussein’s regime.”

The Times editorialized that Powell “presented the United Nations and a global television audience yesterday with the most powerful case to date that Saddam Hussein stands in defiance of Security Council resolutions and has no intention of revealing or surrendering whatever unconventional weapons he may have.” By sending Powell to address the Security Council, the Times claimed, President Bush “showed a wise concern for international opinion.”

Bush had implemented the kind of “diplomacy” advocated by a wide range of war enthusiasts. For instance, Fareed Zakaria, a former managing editor of the elite-flavored journal Foreign Affairs, had recommended PR prudence in the quest for a confrontation that could facilitate an invasion of Iraq. “Even if the inspections do not produce the perfect crisis,” Zakaria wrote the previous summer, “Washington will still be better off for having tried because it would be seen to have made every effort to avoid war.”

A few months later, on November 13, 2002, Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that “in the world of a single, dominant superpower, the U.N. Security Council becomes even more important, not less.” And he was pleased with the progress of groundwork for war, writing enthusiastically: “The Bush team discovered that the best way to legitimize its overwhelming might – in a war of choice – was not by simply imposing it, but by channeling it through the U.N.”

Its highly influential reporting, combined with an editorial position that wavered under pressure, made the New York Times extremely useful to the Bush administration’ s propaganda strategy for launching war on Iraq. The paper played along with the diplomatic ruse in much the same way that it promoted lies about weapons of mass destruction.

But to read the present-day revisionist history from the New York Times, the problem with the run-up to the Iraq invasion was simply misconduct by the Bush administration (ignobly assisted by pliable cable news networks).

Recently, when the Times came out with an editorial headlined “The Truth About the War” on June 6, the newspaper assessed the implications of a new report by the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The report shows clearly that President Bush should have known that important claims he made about Iraq did not conform with intelligence reports,” the Times editorialized. “In other cases, he could have learned the truth if he had asked better questions or encouraged more honest answers.”

Unfortunately, changing just a few words – substituting “the New York Times” for “President Bush” – renders an equally accurate assessment of what a factual report would clearly show: “The New York Times should have known that important claims it made about Iraq did not conform with intelligence reports. In other cases, the Times could have learned the truth if it had asked better questions or encouraged more honest answers.”

Now, as agenda-setting for an air attack on Iran moves into higher gear, the mainline U.S. news media – with the New York Times playing its influential part – are engaged in coverage that does little more than provide stenographic services for the Bush administration.

http://www.antiwar. com/solomon/ ?articleid= 12982

Suharto, the Model Killer, and His Friends in High Places

Suharto, the Model Killer, and His Friends in High Places

by John Pilger

In my film Death of a Nation, there is a sequence filmed on board an Australian aircraft flying over the island of Timor. A party is in progress, and two men in suits are toasting each other in champagne. “This is an historically unique moment,” says one of them, “that is truly uniquely historical.” This is Gareth Evans, Australia’s foreign minister. The other man is Ali Alatas, principal mouthpiece of the Indonesian dictator, Gen. Suharto. It is 1989, and the two are making a grotesquely symbolic flight to celebrate the signing of a treaty that allowed Australia and the international oil and gas companies to exploit the seabed off East Timor, then illegally and viciously occupied by Suharto. The prize, according to Evans, was “zillions of dollars.”

Beneath them lay a land of crosses: great black crosses etched against the sky, crosses on peaks, crosses in tiers on the hillsides. Filming clandestinely in East Timor, I would walk into the scrub and there were the crosses. They littered the earth and crowded the eye. In 1993, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Parliament reported that “at least 200,000” had died under Indonesia’s occupation: almost a third of the population. And yet East Timor’s horror, which was foretold and nurtured by the U.S., Britain, and Australia, was actually a sequel. “No single American action in the period after 1945,” wrote the historian Gabriel Kolko, “was as bloodthirsty as its role in Indonesia, for it tried to initiate the massacre.” He was referring to Suharto’s seizure of power in 1965-1966, which caused the violent deaths of up to a million people.

To understand the significance of Suharto, who died on Sunday, is to look beneath the surface of the current world order: the so-called global economy and the ruthless cynicism of those who run it. Suharto was our model mass murderer – “our” is used here advisedly. “One of our very best and most valuable friends,” Thatcher called him, speaking for the West. For three decades, the Australian, U.S., and British governments worked tirelessly to minimize the crimes of Suharto’s Gestapo, known as Kopassus, who were trained by the Australian SAS and the British army and who gunned down people with British-supplied Heckler and Koch machine guns from British-supplied Tactica “riot control” vehicles. Prevented by Congress from supplying arms directly, U.S. administrations from Gerald Ford to Bill Clinton provided logistic support through the back door and commercial preferences. In one year, the British Department of Trade provided almost a billion pounds worth of so-called soft loans, which allowed Suharto to buy Hawk fighter-bombers. The British taxpayer paid the bill for aircraft that dive-bombed East Timorese villages, and the arms industry reaped the profits. However, the Australians distinguished themselves as the most obsequious. In an infamous cable to Canberra, Richard Woolcott, Australia’s ambassador to Jakarta, who had been forewarned about Suharto’s invasion of East Timor, wrote: “What Indonesia now looks to from Australia … is some understanding of their attitude and possible action to assist public understanding in Australia….” Covering up Suharto’s crimes became a career for those like Woolcott, while “understanding” the mass murderer came in buckets. This left an indelible stain on the reformist government of Gough Whitlam following the cold-blooded killing of two Australian TV crews by Suharto’s troops during the invasion of East Timor. “We know your people love you,” Bob Hawke told the dictator. His successor, Paul Keating, famously regarded the tyrant as a father figure. When Indonesian troops slaughtered at least 200 people in the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor, and Australian mourners planted crosses outside the Indonesian embassy in Canberra, foreign minister Gareth Evans ordered them destroyed. To Evans, ever-effusive in his support for the regime, the massacre was merely an “aberration. ” This was the view of much of the Australian press, especially that controlled by Rupert Murdoch, whose local retainer, Paul Kelly, led a group of leading newspaper editors to Jakarta, fawn before the dictator.

Here lies a clue as to why Suharto, unlike Saddam Hussein, died not on the gallows but surrounded by the finest medical team his secret billions could buy. Ralph McGehee, a senior CIA operations officer in the 1960s, describes the terror of Suharto’s takeover of Indonesia as “the model operation” for the American-backed coup that got rid of Salvador Allende in Chile seven years later. “The CIA forged a document purporting to reveal a leftist plot to murder Chilean military leaders,” he wrote, “[just like] what happened in Indonesia in 1965.” The U.S. embassy in Jakarta supplied Suharto with a “zap list” of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and crossed off the names when they were killed or captured. Roland Challis, the BBC’s south east Asia correspondent at the time, told me how the British government was secretly involved in this slaughter. “British warships escorted a ship full of Indonesian troops down the Malacca Straits so they could take part in the terrible holocaust,” he said. “I and other correspondents were unaware of this at the time…. There was a deal, you see.”

The deal was that Indonesia under Suharto would offer up what Richard Nixon had called “the richest hoard of natural resources, the greatest prize in southeast Asia.” In November 1967, the greatest prize was handed out at a remarkable three-day conference sponsored by the Time-Life Corporation in Geneva. Led by David Rockefeller, all the corporate giants were represented: the major oil companies and banks, General Motors, Imperial Chemical Industries, British American Tobacco, Siemens, U.S. Steel, and many others. Across the table sat Suharto’s U.S.-trained economists who agreed to the corporate takeover of their country, sector by sector. The Freeport company got a mountain of copper in West Papua. A U.S./ European consortium got the nickel. The giant Alcoa company got the biggest slice of Indonesia’s bauxite. America, Japanese, and French companies got the tropical forests of Sumatra. When the plunder was complete, President Lyndon Johnson sent his congratulations on “a magnificent story of opportunity seen and promise awakened.” Thirty years later, with the genocide in East Timor also complete, the World Bank described the Suharto dictatorship as a “model pupil.”

Shortly before he died, I interviewed Alan Clark, who under Thatcher was Britain’s minister responsible for supplying Suharto with most of his weapons. I asked him, “Did it bother you personally that you were causing such mayhem and human suffering?”

“No, not in the slightest,” he replied. “It never entered my head.”

“I ask the question because I read you are a vegetarian and are seriously concerned with the way animals are killed.”

“Yeah?”

“Doesn’t that concern extend to humans?”

“Curiously not.”

Source: http://www.antiwar. com/pilger/ ?articleid= 12279 January 28, 2008