War Is Peace. Ignorance Is Strength

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Barack Obama,
winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, is planning another war to
add to his impressive record. In Afghanistan, his agents routinely
extinguish wedding parties, farmers and construction workers with
weapons such as the innovative Hellfire missile, which sucks the
air out of your lungs. According to the UN, 338,000 Afghan infants
are dying under the Obama-led alliance, which permits only $29 per
head annually to be spent on medical care.

Within weeks
of his inauguration, Obama started a new war in Pakistan, causing
more than a million people to flee their homes. In threatening Iran
— which his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said she was prepared
to "obliterate" — Obama lied that the Iranians were covering
up a "secret nuclear facility," knowing that it had already
been reported to the International Atomic Energy Authority. In colluding
with the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, he bribed
the Palestinian Authority to suppress a UN judgment that Israel
had committed crimes against humanity in its assault on Gaza — crimes
made possible with US weapons whose shipment Obama secretly approved
before his inauguration.

At home, the
man of peace has approved a military budget exceeding that of any
year since the end of the Second World War while presiding over
a new kind of domestic repression. During the recent G20 meeting
in Pittsburgh, hosted by Obama, militarized police attacked peaceful
protesters with something called the Long-Range Acoustic Device,
not seen before on US streets. Mounted in the turret of a small
tank, it blasted a piercing noise as tear gas and pepper gas were
fired indiscriminately. It is part of a new arsenal of "crowd-control
munitions" supplied by military contractors such as Raytheon.
In Obama’s Pentagon-controlled "national security state,"
the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, which he promised to close,
remains open, and "rendition," secret assassinations and
torture continue.

The Nobel
Peace Prize—winner’s latest war is largely secret. On 15 July,
Washington finalized a deal with Colombia that gives the US seven
giant military bases. "The idea," reported the Associated
Press, "is to make Colombia a regional hub for Pentagon operations
. . . nearly half the continent can be covered by a C-17 [military
transport] without refueling," which "helps achieve the
regional engagement strategy."

Translated,
this means Obama is planning a "rollback" of the independence
and democracy that the people of Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and
Paraguay have achieved against the odds, along with a historic regional
cooperation that rejects the notion of a US "sphere of influence."
The Colombian regime, which backs death squads and has the continent’s
worst human rights record, has received US military support second
in scale only to Israel. Britain provides military training. Guided
by US military satellites, Colombian paramilitaries now infiltrate
Venezuela with the goal of overthrowing the democratic government
of Hugo Chávez, which George W Bush failed to do in 2002.

Obama’s war
on peace and democracy in Latin America follows a style he has demonstrated
since the coup against the democratic president of Honduras, Manuel
Zelaya, in June. Zelaya had increased the minimum wage, granted
subsidies to small farmers, cut back interest rates and reduced
poverty. He planned to break a US pharmaceutical monopoly and manufacture
cheap generic drugs. Although Obama has called for Zelaya’s reinstatement,
he refuses to condemn the coup-makers and to recall the US ambassador
or the US troops who train the Honduran forces determined to crush
a popular resistance. Zelaya has been repeatedly refused a meeting
with Obama, who has approved an IMF loan of $164m to the illegal
regime. The message is clear and familiar: thugs can act with impunity
on behalf of the US.

Obama, the
smooth operator from Chicago via Harvard, was enlisted to restore
what he calls "leadership" throughout the world. The Nobel
Prize committee’s decision is the kind of cloying reverse racism
that has beatified the man for no reason other than he is a member
of a minority and attractive to liberal sensibilities, if not to
the Afghan children he kills. This is the Call of Obama. It is not
unlike a dog whistle: inaudible to most, irresistible to the besotted
and boneheaded. "When Obama walks into a room," gushed
George Clooney, "you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere."

The great
voice of black liberation Frantz Fanon understood this. In The
Wretched of the Earth
, he described the "intermediary
[whose] mission has nothing to do with transforming the nation:
it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between
the nation and a capitalism, rampant though camouflaged." Because
political debate has become so debased in our media monoculture
— Blair or Brown; Brown or Cameron — race, gender and class can
be used as seductive tools of propaganda and diversion. In Obama’s
case, what matters, as Fanon pointed out in an earlier era, is not
the intermediary’s "historic" elevation, but the class
he serves. After all, Bush’s inner circle was probably the most
multiracial in presidential history. There was Condoleezza Rice,
Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, all dutifully serving an extreme
and dangerous power.

Britain has
seen its own Obama-like mysticism. The day after Blair was elected
in 1997, the Observer predicted that he would create "new worldwide
rules on human rights" while the Guardian rejoiced at
the "breathless pace [as] the floodgates of change burst open."
When Obama was elected last November, Denis MacShane MP, a devotee
of Blair’s bloodbaths, unwittingly warned us: "I shut my eyes
when I listen to this guy and it could be Tony. He is doing the
same thing that we did in 1997."

October
16, 2009

John
Pilger
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 latest book is Freedom
Next Time: Resisting the Empire
.

John
Pilger Archives

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