Going backwards under Obama

Not a good day as the world seems to be devolving back to the 1980s in Latin America dn to the immediate period post 9/11 in the Middle East.

In Latin America the Obama adminstration (I wrote regime inadvertently – but it reveals my unease) is sending unmistakable signals that it is prepared to go back to the murderous period of the 1980s when it comes to opposing governments it doesn’t like – that is, as under Reagan, governments that challenge corporate power and US interests.

There could scarcely be a clearer test of  Obama’s pledge to “re-engage with Latin America” on the basis of mutual understanding and equality. The growing police violence against demonstrators in Honduras – that is, those demonstrating in favour of democracy and the ousted President Manuel Zelaya – has been utterly ignored by Obama. Even is reaction to the coup has been timid and tepid – calling for “negotiations” with the illegal and repressive regime. No demand that Zelaya be returned to his rightful place and no criticism of those who did the deed.

Every hour that goes by and the US does and says nothing, the coup leaders (and those who would mimic them in other countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and even Nicaragua) are emboldened. They take from Washington’s silence the correct message: we cannot endorse you, we will slap you on the wrist and then we will ignore what you do.

This is an appalling stance for Obama to take and one that reinforces the growing conclusion of many that Obama is, in fact, a creature of the US imperial status-quo – a kinder, softer face to the ruthless objectives of the US empire.

Obama’s dramatic intervention on Iran today demonstrates the same unnerving attitude. The notion that Iran is a “threat to the world” is so preposterous a notion that it is hard to credit anyone but George Bush and the Prime Minister of Israel repeating it. Israel has 200 nuclear weapons and could vaporize every Arab country in the Middle and Near East in single minute – and many can easily imagine Israel using its nukes. They are an Apartheid regime, implementing a vicious occupation of virtually defenceless Palestinians – all given the tacit o.k. by Obama when he declared, just after he took office, that he would not use his government’s multi-billion aid to Israel to pressure it to change. He knows that nothing else will work, so he means that he will not pressure Israel in any effective way at all.

No one observing the President of Iran can wish for anything other than a different regime in that country. His denial of the Holocaust  is both outrageous and bizarre. But the notion that he – a died in the wool Iranian nationalist – would voluntarily invite nuclear annihilation by ever using a nuclear weapon against Israel (or anyone else) is sheer idiocy. But it is an idiocy pumped and hyped by every news outlet in the West.

Iran has always been and inward-looking nation and (unlike Iraq) has shown no aggression to any neighbour. But if Iran is developing a weapon (the level of uranium enrichment they are involved in is not the level required for a weapon; the best CIA analysis says they are 5 – 10 years away from a weapon – that’s ONE weapon) why do you think they might be doing that? They witness that other member of the “axis of evil,” North Korea, and can hardly help but notice that no one is bullying them or threatening to invade. Because they have the bomb.

While Obama is on the face of things using his “revelation” (Iran revealed it earlier in the week to the International Atomic Energy Agency) to increases the diplomatic pressure for a change in attitude, his aggressive stance plays into the hands of Israel which is itching to launch an attack before the end of the year. Obama says he does not support such an attack – but his administration itself has not taken the attack option off the table.  With a man like Benjamin Netanyahu with his finger on the button in Tel Aviv, sending anything but clear messages regarding an attack on Iran is brinkmanship. Does Obama actually know what he is doing? I don’t know which answer is scarier – that he does or he doesn’t.

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