Obama’s Legacy In Africa: Terrorism, Civil War & Military Expansion

January 18, 2017 at 12:50 PM

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NEW YORK — (Opinion) The corporate media is predictably churning out nauseating retrospectives of Obama’s presidency, gently soothing Americans to sleep with fairy tales about the progressive accomplishments of President Hope and Change.

But amid the selective memory and doublethink which passes for sophisticated punditry within the controlled media matrix, let us not forget that in Africa the name Barack Obama is now synonymous with destabilization, death, and destruction.

The collective gasps of liberals grow to a deafening roar at the mere suggestion that Obama is more sinner than saint, but perhaps it would be useful to review the facts and the record rather than the carefully constructed mythos being shoehorned into history books under the broad heading of “Legacy.”

‘Africa’s future is up to Africans’

In the summer of 2009, little more than six months after being inaugurated, President Obama stood before the Ghanaian Parliament to deliver a speech intended to set the tone for his administration’s Africa policy. In addressing a crowd of hundreds in the Ghanaian capital, he was, in fact, speaking directly to millions of Africans all over the continent and throughout the diaspora. For if Obama represented Hope and Change for the people of the United States, that was doubly true for African people.

In that mostly forgettable speech, Obama declared:

“We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans … the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants.”

Building prosperity, shedding corruption and tyranny, and taking on poverty and disease, he said
“can only be done if you take responsibility for your future. And it won’t be easy. It will take time and effort. There will be suffering and setbacks. But I can promise you this: America will be with you every step of the way, as a partner, as a friend.”

Despite being the First Black President, Obama’s words and deeds with respect to Africa perfectly embody “the White Man’s Burden” — that desire to help those poor, lowly wretches whose poverty, corruption, disease, and violence must be the product of some natural deficiency. Surely, five centuries of colonialism, combined with Obama-style imperial arrogance, had nothing to do with it.

But let us take Obama’s words at face value and evaluate whether Obama was able to live up to those high-minded and idealistic goals throughout his two terms in office.

Obama repeatedly stressed African agency, arguing that the United States and the West cannot solve Africa’s problems for her. Instead, he argued that the United States will be a “partner” and a “friend.” And yet, within two years of the pledge to let Africans resolve their own problems, U.S.-NATO jets were dropping bombs on Libya in support of al-Qaida-linked terrorists who would topple and brutally assassinate Moammar Gadhafi, perhaps the single strongest voice for African independence and self-sufficiency.

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Was the US Election Stolen…Yet Again?

December 15, 2016 at 10:49 AM

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(published Nov. 18, 2016 – TeleSur)

A look at the data reveals a much different story than the one the corporate media is telling.

Amid all the media prattle about the white working class, the rejection of the status quo, and the great divide in the US, there remains one simple, but exceedingly dangerous, truth which none dare speak: the US election was stolen.

Now, before temporal arteries start bulging with rage, allow me to make clear that this assertion is in no way an attempt to promote the criminal warmonger Hillary Clinton or make a case for her taking a seat in the Oval Office.  Indeed, were one to need evidence of my loathing for Clinton, see any of the more than dozen articles I wrote this election season slamming her for a laundry list of crimes ranging from corruption to wholesale mass murder (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and many others).

Instead, bringing into the open the fact that the election was stolen is an attempt to highlight the illegitimacy of the incoming Trump Administration which, like the Bush Administration before it, will have taken power based on a massive fraud perpetrated against the American people, and will pursue an extreme right wing agenda with no legal right to govern.

This is directly relevant to immigrants and other minority groups that will be targeted by Trump who, in recent days, vowed to deport 2-3 million immigrants, many of whom are legal residents. It is directly relevant to the poor who, despite being hoodwinked into following the Mussolini of Midtown, will pay the price for his economic policies which amount to extreme trickle-down economics that make Reagan look like Mother Teresa (Trump’s tax plan would give nearly $3 trillion in tax cuts to the top one percent).  It is directly relevant to the entire planet as Trump moves to reinvigorate the coal and fracking industries, two of the dirtiest technologies which will poison the water, pollute the air, and accelerate climate change.

And, on an intangible level, the stealing of the election is relevant because the claim to democracy is, in essence, America’s claim to global leadership, to the righteousness of its own hegemony.  To call the democratic façade into question is to undermine the very notion of “American Exceptionalism” which both Wall Street parties so ignominiously proselytize as gospel.

The Data Screams Fraud, But No One is Listening

It is interesting to note how many people dismiss the notion of election fraud out of hand, without ever having even scrutinized the data. This sort of blind spurning of the claim of fraud is akin to the scornful rejection of anything labeled as “conspiracy theory.” Indeed, this is precisely the argumentation many have used to reject the thesis of a stolen election. But sound analysis and investigation requires an examination of data and facts, not the feelings and emotions so raw in these post-election days. And a look at the data reveals a much different story than the one the corporate media is telling.

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CounterPunch Radio – Mark Crispin Miller

October 11, 2016 at 1:34 PM

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Listen to CounterPunch Radio (Ep. 56) with Mark Crispin Miller

This week Eric sits down with author and academic Mark Crispin Miller to discuss the controlled corporate media and its grip on discourse in the United States, conspiracy theories versus conspiracy facts, US elections as both farce and illusion, and much more. Eric and Mark begin with a discussion of the history of media propaganda, and how the corporate media we know and loathe came to be the monolithic servant of power it is today. The conversation then turns to the issue of conspiracy theories and the importance of nuanced analysis that is skeptical of power but also avoids the pitfalls, and outright fascism, of the online conspiracy world. The final part of the program shifts into vote fraud and the controlled and manipulated election system in the US which, Eric and Mark both argue, simply cannot be trusted. So much ground is covered in this wide-ranging discussion on CounterPunch Radio.

Also, check out the Forbidden Bookshelf series edited by Mark Crispin Miller.

Stop Trump! Stop Clinton! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Off)!

September 27, 2016 at 1:34 PM

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“That’s the real issue this time,” he said. “Beating Nixon.  It’s hard to even guess how much damage those bastards will do if they get in for another four years.”

The argument was familiar, I had even made it myself, here and there, but I was beginning to sense something very depressing about it.  How many more of these goddamn elections are we going to have to write off as lame, but “regrettably necessary” holding actions?  And how many more of these stinking double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?

Now with another one of these big bogus showdowns looming down on us, I can already pick up the stench of another bummer.  I understand, along with a lot of other people, that the big thing this year is Beating Nixon.  But that was also the big thing, as I recall, twelve years ago in 1960 – and as far as I can tell, we’ve gone from bad to worse to rotten since then, and the outlook is for more of the same.

—Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

 

Another bummer indeed. It’s been nearly four and a half decades since His Majesty, Dr. Gonzo, wrote those words…and my oh my has the rot turned putrid, the stench overwhelming.

Were it only the fact that a corporate imperialist sociopath and a raving pseudo-fascist gasbag are competing to become the Murderer-in-Chief, one could simply retreat to the friendly confines of the Hobson’s Choice Inn.  There, among the carpets and curtains carrying the stains of elections past, one would watch the political circus in peace while doing the work of organizing against both Tweedle Bum and Tweedle Bummer.

But this time, there’s something even more sinister afoot, something far worse than mere cardboard cutouts in formal dress. No, this time it’s the pompous arrogance and vacuous prattling of “leftists,” “anti-imperialists,” and other assorted mental contortionists doing their damnedest to browbeat everyone within earshot (eyeshot?) that THIS TIME it’s important!

“How can you sit aside so smug and allow the fascist Trump to win? You’re being irresponsible,” they chirp.

“How can you attack Trump and let the Warmongering Witch of the West become President? You know what she’ll do,” they drone.

And the response to the denizens of both camps remains the same: If you’re not opposing both Janus faces of Dillary Crump while working to guillotine the many-headed hydra of the ruling class, then what the hell are you really doing?  Oh, right, I forgot – this is all “strategic,” it’s about avoiding a calamity by accepting a disaster.  I’m sure the children of Libya or Muslim-American and Mexican-American immigrants will understand as they are crushed under the bus beneath which they were thrown by a “progressive left” so quick to speak for them.

But perhaps it might be useful for the Left, of which I consider myself a part, to reflect on just what the sort of ‘sophisticated’ and ‘pragmatic’ politics of lesser evilism hath wrought: the continued evisceration of the working class by both the red team and blue team of the single ruling party, perpetual war for profit and Empire, an immutable rightward drift that makes Richard Nixon look like Eugene Debs, and a parasitical ruling class of finance capital whose greatest trick has been convincing the people that it doesn’t rule them.

And where are the victories?  What can we point to as the great breakthrough justifying the tactical vote?  [crickets]…[a single tumbleweed rolls along an empty desert landscape]

Have we seen anything but an acceleration of the worst aspects of imperialism and capitalism?  The climate is in crisis and we’re told by leftist royalty like the great Noam Chomsky that we should vote for Clinton because she at least recognizes the peril of climate change while Trump wants to put a lump of coal in Pachamama’s stockings.  But the obvious question then becomes: so what?

So what Clinton pays lip service to the global threat? She was an ardent supporter of the “All of the above” energy policy of Obama while promoting fracking around the world, taking massive campaign donations from energy industry lobbyists, and tacitly supporting the construction and expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline until it became politically untenable (thanks in no small part to the Bernie Sanders campaign).  And, of course, who could forget the votes she cast in support for expanded offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a shameful vote which directly contributed to the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.

I suppose the question should be asked of Chomsky: Is a begrudging vote for Hillary to be cast solely on the grounds of her having appropriately progressive and focus-grouped talking points?  It seems that’s just about the size of it. So then the inevitable follow-up question would be: Why f*cking bother rewarding her for knowing the importance of lying well?

And how about that pesky little World War III problem?  I can almost hear the “Oh, don’t exaggerate…Hillary doesn’t want to start a war with nuclear-armed Russia” cries from the tastemakers of the liberal unintelligentsia.  Well, let’s allow the Queen of Chaos to speak for herself.  In a raving, Strangelovian speech given before the mouth-breathing jingos of the American Legion, Clinton explained:

We need to respond to evolving threats, from states like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea…We need a military that is ready and agile so that it can meet the full range of threats — and operate on short notice across every domain — not just land, sea, air, and space, but also cyber space…You’ve seen reports — Russia has hacked into a lot of things, China has hacked into a lot of things — Russia even hacked into the Democratic National Committee! Maybe even some state election systems, so we’ve gotta step up our game…Make sure we are well defended and able to take the fight to those who go after us. As president I will make it clear that we will treat cyberattacks just like any other attack…We will be ready with serious political, economic, and military responses.

Did anyone else feel a shiver run down their spine, as I did?  Clinton literally advocates for war with Russia, arguing that a cyberattack which may, or may not, have originated in Russia be treated as an act of war.  Nuclear-armed Russia should expect a military response from the United States over allegations of hacking?  It’s sort of a pot calling the kettle black and trying to smash it with a goddamn sledgehammer kind of situation.

Now, of course, there are plenty of good people on the Left – Adolph Reed, Noam Chomsky, Arun Gupta, and many others – arguing that Clinton is a necessary evil to block Trump from bringing to fruition a full-fledged fascist movement that would have dire ramifications for social justice movements.  And there is undeniably an element of truth in that.

However, the wisdom of the logic relies on a false premise: Trump represents an existential threat while Hillary does not.  This basic assumption is undeniably flawed as global war with countries like Russia and China is indeed one of the great threats to humanity; this is precisely what Clinton’s belligerent foreign policy leads toward.  And there was a time when anti-war still was synonymous with Left activism.  What happened that we are now told that the pro-war position is necessary in order to stop, er, um, fascism?  How far we’ve fallen.

Trump: The Fascist “Anti-Imperialist”

In the unending search for the most imbecilic political logic, one comes across that rare breed of obtuse ignoramus who suggests that Trump is the anti-imperialist’s choice.  If that word has any meaning left today – something that is very much open for debate given recent developments – its application to Donald Trump is about as appropriate as referring to Clinton as the anti-fascist’s choice.

Trump doesn’t mean no more imperial wars; he simply means no more pretending our wars aren’t imperial.  He’s not for ending the wars, but rather fighting them with the nakedly neo-colonial intentions made overt that Clinton would only secretly share over candlelit dinners with Huma Abedin, Madeleine Albright, and Mephistopheles.  With people like Walid Phares, Michael Flynn, and Keith Kellogg as advisers, Trump will retain a pro-Israel imperial policy in the Middle East while advocating for NATO’s expanded mission of counter-terrorism.  Oh, excuse me, Trump wants Denmark to pay “it’s fair share” of NATO costs – pardon me while I release to the heavens a flight of doves in his honor.

What anti-imperialist isn’t enamored with a candidate who calls for a full military invasion of Syria and Iraq? And, of course, there’s no connection whatever between imperialism, colonialism and white supremacy, right?  Trump can spout the most virulently racist filth heard in US politics since George Wallace and Barry Goldwater went on a Tinder date to the Old Ebbitt Grill, and yet these anti-imperial mannequins swear up and down that Trump is an enemy of the Empire.  Even his complimentary reach-around to Bibi Netanyahu isn’t enough to shake the cobwebs from the faux anti-imperial noodleheads of the commentariat. Sigh.

And so, where does this leave us on the Left?  Everyone wants to bludgeon leftists into supporting Clinton to stop Trump using the familiar cudgel of “necessary evil”, while offering little to no additional direction other than “once the election is over we will…”  Yeaaaaaah, that’s worked out well for us thus far.

Others secretly root for Trump to upset the apple cart and open a space for the Left, conveniently forgetting that the Left remains a fractured and disunited bloc while the fascist right grows in strength and organization every day.  And commentators of the Left rush to tell their readers and fellow travelers that THIS or THAT is what they should do.

I’ve got an idea. How about we take a breath, drink/smoke/snort something nice and strong, close our eyes and listen close to hear the echoes of Dr. Gonzo reverberating off the walls of the Left echo chamber:

Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.

Or, if that’s just too droll:

In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.

If Hillary’s Not Able, There’s Always Kaine

September 16, 2016 at 2:43 PM

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If internet speculation is to be believed, Hillary Clinton is suffering from everything from epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease to adverse reactions to chemotherapy and Zika-West Nile-SARS-swine flu. The problem is that, like bellybuttons, everyone’s got a theory; and, again like bellybuttons, most theories are useless. Whatever the case may be with Hillary’s health, the fact is that she remains the likely winner of the presidential election, which means that a potentially sick woman will become the Commander-in-Chief.

So that raises an obvious question: what next? Put another way, the American people deserve to know who the hell Tim Kaine is, and what he would do as president. Because, after the initial “Tim who?” round of questions, citizens will want to understand who this underwhelming ex-Governor and Democratic Party hack is, and what sort of policies he’d pursue.

So boys and girls, break out the crystal balls and glimpse a future with President Kaine. It may seem like some Quaalude-induced waking nightmare to envision this scenario – Clinton and Trump presidencies are, of course, already the ultimate bad acid trips – but this bitter reality must at least be considered, if not prepared for.

President Kaine: Chronicle of Many Deaths Foretold

Despite the Madison Avenue fustian about Hillary’s running mate being a “capable” and “adequate” future vice president – anyone who has ever been called “adequate” knows the implication of that back-handed insult – Kaine is, in fact, a typical Democratic Party apparatchik: self-serving, corrupt, and a liberal imperialist with all the humanitarian trimmings. And the question before millions of Americans is whether or not the country, and indeed the world, can survive another imperial presidency fronted by leaders for whom mass killing is a matter of focus groups and electoral demographic research.

History has shown the danger of mush-headed vice presidents serving under ailing presidents. When Franklin Roosevelt died and the racist mass murderer Harry Truman inherited the presidency, the door was permanently shut to peaceful cooperation with the Soviet Union and the expansion of New Deal-era economic rights, to say nothing of the death sentence for millions of innocent Japanese annihilated by atomic bombs solely to send a message to Moscow. In other words, Roosevelt’s death put in power a man who had no business running a dirt farm, let alone the most powerful country in the world. Similarly, Americans must consider just what President Kaine would do.

On the question of foreign policy – a focal point for Kaine who has served on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees – Kaine aligns perfectly with the war hawk Clinton and her neoconservative imperialist brethren. In Syria, Kaine has advocated forcefully for No Fly Zones and “safe zones” (as if there’s a difference) which would signify a de facto declaration of war by the US in Syria. He has cheered for regime change against the Assad government, and pressed for a full declaration of war against the Islamic State. One shudders to think of the staggering level of pompous ignorance required to advocate for what would amount to the rekindling of Bush’s disastrous and criminal open-ended “War on Terror.”

In what amounts to a running theme with the Clinton-Kaine campaign, the Democratic ticket has essentially embraced every single foreign policy position of the neocon movement. As I noted previously, this Clinton-Kaine administration would be the imperial frankenstein, Obama’s head on Bush’s body. No HopeTM. No ChangeTM. But more and bigger wars.

Of course, Kaine doesn’t limit himself to warmongering on Syria alone. In Ukraine, Kaine has come out as a vocal supporter of the Kiev Government and the fascist death squads and paramilitaries under its control. He was rather hawkish on the issue in 2014 when the Senate approved a massive aid package to Ukraine. He was also rather blunt in his condemnation of Russia as an aggressor in Ukraine, despite a massive outpouring of support for Russia and anti-Kiev activism that took place in Eastern Ukraine after the coup in February 2014. He also made no mention of how he would react if he were president and half his navy were under threat from a hostile putsch government backed by a superpower.

But the critical, and very worrying, fact is that a President Kaine would have to deal with a Kremlin that may forgive but certainly never forgets. And, considering the danger of the moment, with a potential world war looming on the horizon, the danger of escalating a crisis due to pig-headed political point scoring is very real. Never underestimate the power of a Clintonista to make a bad situation disastrous.

But perhaps nothing illustrates Kaine’s neocolonial mentality in all its blood-soaked glory better than his position, or lack thereof, on Honduras. Considering the fact that he spent an extended period of time as a Jesuit missionary in Honduras in the midst of US-sponsored death squad wars in Central America, and has never bothered to comment about it, is certainly suspicious. Moreover, he now is the wing-man for the woman directly responsible for the bloodshed and political repression now a daily norm in Honduras after the Clinton-managed coup in 2009 removed the Chavista former president Manuel Zelaya. As President, Kaine would need to account for his actions in Honduras, and apologize on behalf of himself, his colleagues, and the rest of the Democratic Party for backing a right wing dictatorship committing war crimes every single day. I won’t be holding my breath for that.

Crooked Clinton, Krooked Kaine

Aside from the apocalyptic vision of a foreign policy that speaks like an asshole and carries a big stick of dynamite, Americans should also consider the fact that Kaine has a long track record of Washington corruption: yet another subject of comradeship with Saint Hillary that likely makes for fascinating dinner conversation.

Kaine and Clinton might laugh over dinner and drinks when discussing the fact that, as Governor, Kaine accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from high-powered lobbyists. You can almost see Hillary, shrimp cocktail dangling from her mouth, as she cackles at the paltry sum that Kaine could be bought for. “Timmy my boy,” she might say, “It’s time for you to step up to the big leagues…maybe you should consider giving some Wall Street pep talks…or starting a foundation.”

And the retort would undoubtedly please the Goldman-Sachs girl as Timmy Two-Face would remind Hillary that he’s a banker’s boy through and through. He might recall how, as noted by The Intercept, in 2016 he:

“Signed onto two letters, one to federal banking regulators and the other to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, urging them to loosen regulations on certain financial players…In the letters, Kaine is offering to support community banks, credit unions, and even large regional banks. While separate from the Wall Street mega-banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, these financial institutions often partner with the larger industry to fight regulations and can be hostile to government efforts to safeguard the public, especially if it crimps their profits. They also represent a key source of donor funds, one that has trended away from Democrats.”

And just in case any liberal navel-gazers care to pretend that Kaine was simply defending the “little guy” banks, consider the fact that the second of the two letters was aimed at helping, “major firms including Capital One, PNC Bank and U.S. Bank, all of which control hundreds of billions of dollars in assets,” as noted by Huffington Post and Common Dreams. In other words, Kaine swore his oath of fealty to Wall Street and its junior partners in order to show his allegiance to Hillary and Bill, the svengalis of finance capital’s political vaudeville act.

Many Americans undoubtedly feel that Clinton’s health issues might just mean that the country could dodge a bullet for the next four or eight years. And while that sentiment is understandable given her track record of coming, seeing, and murdering, it is a false hope – a mirage distorting the vision of anti-war, anti-Wall Street crusaders.

Because, right behind Hillary is Tim Kaine, the man whose politics and ethics were made in Her image.