Monday, September 29, 2014

the emperor president


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

September 29, 2014


“America leads.  We are the indispensable nation,” President Barack Obama, CBS News “Sixty Minutes,” September 28, 2014


                To support his claim, the president first outlined the global military supremacy of the US, then claimed that we also were primary responders to the cyclone in the Philippines, and the hurricane in Haiti (no mention of UN forces, Doctors Without Borders, etc.)  And so it falls to the US, the greatest military power in the history of the world, inter alia, to bomb Syria.

                In Iraq, the president expressed the hope that the new government will be more inclusive of Sunnis than Al-Maliki, who had to go.  In general, the president seemed oblivious to recent US history there.  De-Ba’athification was Order 1, May 16, 2003, by the US Administrator for the Coalition Provisional Authority, Paul Bremer, installed by President Bush in the wake of the US occupation.  In the Iraqi government that Bremer created, no former Ba’ath Party members could hold any public employment or office.  No Iraqi made that exclusion.  So now the US forced a new president on the country, claiming it this latest US creature’s responsibility to clean up the sectarian mess.

                Later in the interview, asked whether he had said, “We have to get rid of Assad,” President Obama answered, simply, “Yes.”  Then asked whether there wasn’t a contradiction between getting rid of Assad and destroying ISIL, he replied, “There is a more immediate concern that must be dealt with.”  As the Syrian government observes, the so-called collateral damage of US bombing is creating more recruits for US enemies there, now including a group the US government calls Corazon (heart in Spanish?), which The Intercept reports to be an invention of US government imagination.

                What’s wrong about ISIL?  President Obama tells us that they kill “people who don’t worship the same God,” as though his Christian God is not the God of Islam, echoing President Bush II’s proclamation that the US is engaging in a Crusade against what he termed an “axis of evil.”

                It is both sad and distressing that today’s US president, who promised in 1968 to end US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan if elected, appears so unaware of US military history, in denial that he has combat troops on the ground back in Iraq, authorized today by the new Afghan president to continue to station 10,000 troops there with immunity from Afghan prosecution, and now promises to fight on in Syria for 5, 10, who knows how many years.  We may be said to be living in a post-colonial age, but President Obama has proclaimed himself commander-in-chief of the world’s greatest military empire.  That is his legacy.  He could hardly make a plainer claim to world moral superiority and cultural, historical ignorance.  It is bad enough that Republicans in Congress, in the Supreme Court, and in state governments have so blocked and curtailed the domestic initiatives of our first black president.  He will also leave office as a historically supreme global warmaker, and an internationally ignorant one at that.

                The loss is more than personal.  It leaves the US, and by extension the people he represents, more widely, deeply, hated, mistrusted and morally bankrupt than ever.  I wish it weren’t so.  Love and peace, hal

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