In the week Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, he ordered bombing attacks on Yemen, killing a reported 63 people, 28 of them children. When Obama recently announced he supported same-sex marriage, American planes had not long blown 14 Afghan civilians to bits. In both cases, the mass murder was barely news. What mattered were the cynical vacuities of a political celebrity, the product of a zeitgeist driven by the forces of consumerism and the media with the aim of diverting the struggle for social and economic justice.
The width of a cigarette paper separates the Democratic and Republican parties on economic and foreign policies. Both represent the super rich and the impoverishment of a nation from which trillions of tax dollars have been transferred to a permanent war industry and banks that are little more than criminal enterprises. Obama is as reactionary and violent as George W. Bush, and in some ways he is worse. His personal speciality is the use of Hellfire missile-armed drones against defenceless people. Under cover of a partial withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, he has sent US special forces to 120 countries where death squads are trained. He has revived the old cold war on two fronts: against China in Asia and with a "shield" of missiles aimed at Russia. The first black president has presided over the incarceration and surveillance of greater numbers of black people than were enslaved in 1850. He has prosecuted more whistleblowers - truth-tellers - than any of his predecessors. His vice-president, Joe Biden, a zealous warmonger, has called WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange a "hi-tech terrorist". Biden has also converted to the cause of gay marriage.
One of America's true heroes is the gay soldier Bradley Manning, the whistleblower alleged to have provided WikiLeaks with the epic evidence of American carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the Obama administration that smeared his homosexuality as weird, and it was Obama himself who declared a man convicted of no crime to be guilty.
Who among the fawners and luvvies at Clooney's Hollywood moneyfest shouted, "Remember Bradley Manning"? To my knowledge, no prominent spokesperson for gay rights has spoken against Obama's and Biden's hypocrisy in claiming to support same-sex marriage while terrorising a gay man whose courage should be an inspiration to all, regardless of sexual preference.
Obama's historic achievement as president of the United States has been to silence the anti-war and social justice movement associated with the Democratic Party. Such deference to an extremism disguised by and embodied in a clever, amoral operator, betrays the rich tradition of popular protest in the US.
Pilger is not happy with the deathly silence from the left regarding the unnecessary wars - ever since Obama has been elected. It is difficult not to be cynical while people are being killed left, right and centre.
Think about it. No prosecutions for torture. No prosecutions for illegal wars. No prosecutions for financial fraud. No prosecutions for the Gulf Oil spill (Obama even made an announcement saying the Gulf was safe). Yet we see more wars, prosecutions against whistleblowers, the continuation of signing executive statements, opaque government, the hiring of insiders and lobbyists, a continuation of the Patriot Act, the enabling of the draconian NDAA Laws etc etc.
[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, May 21st, 2012.]