Obama Is a Truly Democratic Expansionist

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In 1941, the
editor Edward Dowling wrote: "The two greatest obstacles to
democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion
among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic
terror among the rich, lest we get it." What has changed? The
terror of the rich is greater than ever, and the poor have passed
on their delusion to those who believe that when George W Bush finally
steps down next January, his numerous threats to the rest of humanity
will diminish.

The nomination
of Barack Obama, which, according to one breathless commentator,
"marks a truly exciting and historic moment in US history",
is a product of the new delusion. Actually, it just seems new. Truly
exciting and historic moments have been fabricated around US presidential
campaigns for as long as I can recall, generating what can only
be described as bullshit on a grand scale. Race, gender, appearance,
body language, rictal spouses and offspring, even bursts of tragic
grandeur, are all subsumed by marketing and "image-making",
now magnified by "virtual" technology. Thanks to an undemocratic
Electoral College system (or, in Bush’s case, tampered voting machines)
only those who both control and obey the system can win. This has
been the case since the truly historic and exciting victory of Harry
Truman, the liberal Democrat said to be a humble man of the people,
had already proved how tough he was by obliterating two cities.

Obama as a likely president of the United States is not possible
without understanding the demands of an essentially unchanged system
of power: in effect a great media game. For example, since I compared
Obama with Robert Kennedy in these pages, he has made two important
statements, the implications of which have not been allowed to intrude
on the celebrations. The first was at the conference of the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the Zionist lobby, which,
as Ian Williams has pointed out, "will get you accused of anti-Semitism
if you quote its own website about its power". Obama had already
offered his genuflection, but on 4 June went further. He promised
to support an "undivided Jerusalem" as Israel’s capital.
Not a single government on earth supports the Israeli annexation
of all of Jerusalem, including the Bush regime, which recognises
the UN resolution designating Jerusalem an international city.

His second
statement, largely ignored, was made in Miami on 23 May. Speaking
to the expatriate Cuban community — which over the years has
faithfully produced terrorists, assassins and drug runners for US
administrations — Obama promised to continue a 47-year crippling
embargo on Cuba that has been declared illegal by the UN year after

Obama went further than Bush. He said the United States had "lost
Latin America". He described the democratically elected governments
in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua as a "vacuum" to be
filled. He raised the nonsense of Iranian influence in Latin America,
and he endorsed Colombia’s "right to strike terrorists who
seek safe-havens across its borders". Translated, this means
the "right" of a regime, whose president and leading politicians
are linked to death squads, to invade its neighbours on behalf of
Washington. He also endorsed the so-called Merida Initiative, which
Amnesty International and others have condemned as the US bringing
the "Colombian solution" to Mexico. He did not stop there.
"We must press further south as well," he said. Not even
Bush has said that.

It is time
the wishful-thinkers grew up politically and debated the world of
great power as it is, not as they hope it will be. Like all serious
presidential candidates, past and present, Obama is a hawk and an
expansionist. He comes from an unbroken Democratic tradition, as
the war-making of presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and
Clinton demonstrates. Obama’s difference may be that he feels an
even greater need to show how tough he is. However much the colour
of his skin draws out both racists and supporters, it is otherwise
irrelevant to the great power game. The "truly exciting and
historic moment in US history" will only occur when the game
itself is challenged.

13, 2008

was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been
a war correspondent, filmmaker and playwright. Based in London,
he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism’s
highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his
work in Vietnam and Cambodia. His new book, Tell
Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and Its Triumphs
, is
published by Jonathan Cape in June.

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