Thursday, April 29, 2010

Obama: war monger with a difference!

If there is one unmistakable difference between Bush's wars and Obama's wars it boils down to this: we now have a president who can almost perfectly pronounce the names of the cities and villages US troops will occupy and bomb. We just can't call it occupation. It's "enlightened self-interest" as Obama emphasized during that same Nobel speech.
"Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. ... We have borne this burden, not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest."
Should we be surprised? Although Obama was the anti-war candidate compared to hawkish Hillary Clinton and John "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" McCain, he was no pacifist. Right from the start of the presidential campaign in 2008, Obama pledged to expand the war in Afghanistan and into neighboring Pakistan. And talking to a crowd at an anti-war rally in October 2002 organized by Chicagoans Against War in Iraq the young state Senator was clear about where he stood:
"I'm not opposed to all wars, I'm opposed to dumb wars. That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics."
If we go further back in history Obama begins to sound more and more like every US president before him trying to justify American imperial overreach, cloaking it in the seductive language of liberation. And not very different from those old colonial powers Americans try so hard to distinguish themselves from. To turn to just one example—for history is littered with such empty words—this is what Lt. Gen. Sir Stanley Maude said to the people of Baghdad when British forces entered the city in March of 1917:
"Since the days of Halaka, your city and your lands have been subject to the tyranny of strangers, your palaces have fallen into ruins, your gardens have sunk in desolation and your forefathers and yourselves have groaned in bondage... our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators."
Domination masquerading as liberation is an old propaganda tactic of empires but it rarely works among the populations subjugated by this type of emancipation.

From Anjali Kamat's essay The Audacity of Empire.
 Courtesy : Samar - south asian magazine for action and reflection

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