Thursday, 28 October 2010

More Hype than Hope-Tariq Ali on President Obama.

Tariq Ali has opined on President Obama ( Obama hope was all hype ),

The hope of 2008 soon morphed into hype. Admirers in the liberal media who had linked Obama vicariously to the civil rights movement sounded increasingly ridiculous; claiming the mantle of Martin Luther King for their man was an extravagance that had to be rapidly discarded.

In one of his last big speeches, a year before he was assassinated, King had argued "that if our nation can spend $35bn a year to fight an unjust, evil war in Vietnam, and $20bn to put a man on the moon, it can spend billions of dollars to put God's children on their own two feet right here on earth".

What had any of this to do with a seasoned machine politician from Chicago?As a candidate, Obama projected himself as a new Reagan, above narrow party politics. He wanted to please all, but has ended up annoying many.
Contrary to what Ali thinks, and as with his hero Trotsky it is always self serving, Obama is in many ways the embodiment of 1960s identity politics made convenient for the world of corporate capitalism and admass society. Identity politics, economic self interest and public relations can flow seamlessly.

In any case, at what exact stage did "hope" morph into "hype" and who created that ? Partly Obama's political choreographers but also all those people who voted for him for progressive reasons, not least deluded US blacks, a chorus of approval mirrored across the Atlantic here in Britain.

Obviously, Obama is a PR creation , a visual embodiment of "The American Dream" that was meant to rebrand the image of the US against those in more soppily liberal countries that he was some kind of amalgam of Martin Luther King and JFK against the image of "stupid white men" like Bush II.

Obama thus did not project himself as the "new Reagan" at all. Ali assumes that because he has to link the explicit ideology of neoliberal capitalism with the 1980s and not as one outcome of 1960s identity politics with 1980s economics. The political myth of Obama is pure 1960s. And it was kitsch.

Anyway, to get to the nitty gritty, Obama was always going to disappoint on foreign policy because it was not really so different from Bush II's from the outset, a point that Ali at least, unlike numerous others at the time of Obama's election, seems to have been able to grasp.

Obama may have opposed the Iraq War but he did so only because it was a strategic mistake and because Afghanistan should take preference and was always the "war of choice" that represented "The Good War", an opinion shared by his foreign policy advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Not only did Obama vote in Congress for the Patriot Act and suspending the liberties enshrined in habeas corpus, that Bush initiated as part of the 'war on terror', but he also outlined a foreign policy vision that had many neoconservatives quite content that their legacy would not be reversed.

In April 2007 Obama delivered a speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in which he declared that,

"America must....lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good....We have heard much over the last six years about how America's larger purpose in the world is to promote the spread of freedom. I agree".

Yet how imposing democracy and human rights through war and conventional military force on a nation such as Afghanistan has never been clearly outlined by 'liberal imperialists' or 'humanitarian interventionists'. Then again, the war there became evermore clearly about the ensuring the construction of the TAPI pipeline.

Obama made it clear he wanted to increase defence spending and to add 65,000 troops to the Army and recruit 27,000 more Marines so that the US military could"stay on the offence, from Djibouti to Kandahar" as "the ability to put boots on the ground will be critical in eliminating the shadowy terrorist networks we now face."

That was a statement that yet again conflated global terrorism of the Al Qaida variety with rogue states in which the pre-emptive use of force was legitimate, without concerning itself with the UN. As with Iraq, a 'mistake', Obama maintained,

"no president should ever hesitate to use force -- unilaterally if protect ourselves . . . when we are attacked".

When the USA's "vital interests" were "imminently threatened" then it could invade other nations as it deemed fit. And those who know anything about the USA's "vital interests" now that this has been defined at least since the 1980 Carter Doctrine as protecting the USA's oil supply.

With regards Afghanistan, the war now remains centrally concerned with getting the TAPI pipeline built as this will, it is thought, block off the rival IPI pipeline, contribute towards isolating and encircling Iran and integrate the regional economies under US protection and power.

On a lighter note, it is amusing to note all those offering spasms of pseudo-orgasmic ecstasy back in 2008, some of which I could not resist collecting at the time for future reference, if only to show the utter bollocks spouted by columnists whose job it is to genuglect before power instead of offering critical commentary.

First, Niall Stanage offered this tripe It's America's time Monday 1 December 2008,

There was a moment, early on, when I realised he had something special.Back in February, I went to hear Barack Obama speak in Baltimore, Maryland.

I had seen Obama in person plenty of times before, and the rally was, on its face, unexceptional. It took place the day before the Maryland primary, a contest that elicited little media excitement because Obama was expected to win with ease (which he duly did).

That campaign restored a faith in politics that most of us thought we had lost. On an unseasonably mild Chicago night last month, when a disembodied voice announced the next first family of the United States, and Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama strode into the lights, it restored a faith in the United States too.

America was, once again, a place where astounding things could happen.

People get paid to write this.Another piece of idiocy was offered by Michael Paulin who wanted to make the following very clear,

It is unfortunate that this needs to be said but, for the avoidance of doubt: Barack Hussein Obama is black. Yet he is also mixed-race. Perhaps more important, he is a black, mixed-race intellectual.

If that was not idiotic enough, Jonathan Freedman wrote this in a column 'America has not lost its talent for renewal, even redemption'. It was drivel then and it looks no less fundamentally deluded and stupid now,

For the last eight years, it's been hard to keep the flame alive. ...But on Tuesday night I stood in Grant Park and watched a crowd of 200,000 erupt as they saw Barack Obama become America's next president..... From now on, admiration for the US will no longer need to be whispered nor weighed down with a thousand qualifiers....

It was obvious that the emoting was forced, an attempt to try and feel some "change in the air" in opposition to that boring thing called reality. But that was not the best of the worst.

A supreme Obamagasm came from the almost satirical piece written by Johnathan Raban. who chimed in with this,

On Tuesday, dodging the hubbub of election parties, I watched the results come in with two close friends and my teenage daughter. We might have been patients showing up at a hospital for a surgical procedure, nervously joking over the early returns from Vermont (predictably, Barack Obama) and Kentucky (predictably, John McCain).

When, at 8:01pm, Pacific time, CNN called the race for Obama, we collapsed in one another's arms. Even my dry tear ducts did their job, and, for a few moments, the room swam out of focus. The champagne, whose presence in the fridge I had thought to be ominously bad karma, was opened. No toast. Just "Thank God, thank God, thank God", spoken by four devout atheists.

This sounds like the sort of totalitarian political kitsch that could have been offered in favour of Stalin, Mao, Castro and numerous others. Even so, it was unintentionally very amusing.

Yet the scale of the stream of arrant drivel issuing out from the liberal-left commentariat surely came from the banal and witless Polly Toynbee,

There has never been a day like it for Britain's postwar generations. As that inauguration speech echoes out, the globe itself seems to inhale a mighty, collective intake of breath, frighteningly audacious in its hope.A BBC World Service poll shows a tidal wave of optimism about what Obama will do, spread out across a rainbow of nations.

Here is the world's wish list: first save global finance from ruin; next get out of Iraq; then fix the climate and bring peace to the Middle East. Yes he can, is the world's expectation.How does the man's arrival feel here? A day like no other, in a time of multiple crisis like none other.

In Gaza, the horror of so many dead Palestinian children is a monstrous challenge to greet Obama. If ever the world needed saving, it's now.So here comes the man who says he can.

It's an American mystery that this great pool of genius has usually thrown such minnows into the White House. But the monumental present danger has summoned forth a man who promises the intellect, character and power of persuasion to match the hour.

And such windbags often get indignant at why so many people get cynical at politicians and journalists.

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