Obama Shocks Arab World, Touts Imperialist Credentials
Released by RAIM-Denver, 6/12/08
Hours after he secured the Democratic Party nomination, U.S. presidential contender Barack Obama spoke before the Amerikan Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). “We will never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security… Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and must remain undivided,” he said, receiving standing ovations before the influential lobbying group’s annual meeting.
Israel captured and occupied 85% of the city of Jerusalem during the 1948 war. After successive years of forced relocations of Palestinian residents, Israel seized the remainder of the city, East Jerusalem, in the 1967 war. Israel continues to this day to push Palestinians into an ever-shrinking, un-occupied territory. Palestinians recently recognized the sixtieth anniversary of the 1948 event, which they call al-Nakba, or the Catastrophe.
Although Obama has thus far received much attention because of his proclaimed message of change, recent comments have left many puzzled and angry. Mahmoud Abbas, the pro-Western leader of the Palestinian Fatah Party, rejected Obama’s pro-Israel pandering stating, “We will not accept an independent Palestinian state without [East] Jerusalem as its capital.” “That should be clear,” he continued. (1)
Obama described the bond between Israel and the U.S. as “unbreakable today, unbreakable tomorrow, unbreakable forever… Those who threaten Israel threaten us.” Saying he would bring an “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,” he promised to ensure Israel’s “qualitative military advantage” over its neighbors.
Israel has long been the largest recipient of U.S. direct foreign aid. Obama, if elected, said he will increase the amount to 3 billion dollars per year over the next decade. He highlighted the hegemonic imperialist aspect of such aid by summarizing it as “investments to Israel’s security that will not be tied to any other nation.” (2)
In the First World, the ‘green’ movement is rather large. The Democratic Party has announced that this year’s Democratic National Convention will be the first green convention of its kind. Speaking to the Zionist crowd, Obama tied his environmentalism directly to Israel and Amerika’s security and proposed joint green ventures: “We must free ourselves from the tyranny of oil. The price of a barrel of oil is one of the most dangerous weapons in the world. Petrodollars pay for weapons that kill Amerikan troops and Israeli citizens… It’s time for the United States to take real steps to end our addiction to oil. And we can join with Israel, building on last year’s U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act, to deepen our partnership in developing alternative sources of energy by increasing scientific collaboration and joint research and development.” ‘Progressive’ indeed.
Obama vowed to continue George Bush’s policy towards Hamas: “We must isolate Hamas… There is no room for terrorists at the negotiating table.” In early 2006, Hamas, an anti-Western Palestinian liberation movement, won a large majority in Palestinian parliamentary elections. The Bush Administration refused to recognize the new government, retained communications only with the comprador Fatah Party and placed sanctions on Hamas-controlled areas of Palestine. Reacting to Obama’s speech, a Hamas spokesperson remarked, “These recent statements slash any hope of any change to U.S. foreign policy.” (3) (4)
Obama singled out Iran as the greatest threat in the region. “There is no greater threat to Israel or to the peace and stability of the region than Iran… the danger from Iran is grave, it is real and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.” He promised to use “aggressive, principled diplomacy… backed by real leverage.” Elaborating he said, “I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel.” One can only assume that there are numerous regional threats which Obama feels should be dealt with in the same manner. (5)
Adding weight to Obama’s threats towards Iran were hints that U.S. military involvement in the Muslim world would not be ending anytime soon. Earlier in the evening during his acceptance speech for the Democratic Party nomination, Obama said that leaving our troops in Iraq was not an option, “especially at a time when our military is overstretched, our nation is isolated, and nearly every other threat to America is being ignored.” (6) At the Zionist AIPAC assembly later in the evening, Obama proposed a “phased redeployment” of the troops “from Iraq.” (7) In the past, Obama has stated that more troops are needed in Afghanistan and that incursions into Pakistan are possible. ( 8 )
Despite his hawkish language, the anti-war movement has largely rallied around Obama. Much of his campaign thus far has been focused on “change” and a “new way of doing things.” Obama has stated he is against the war in Iraq and thinks of it as a failure. Likewise, throughout his campaign he has promised to enhance the role of dialogue in foreign policy while also making token statements about issues dear to ‘progressive’ Amerikans: the environment, healthcare, education and the Amerikan economy. For these reasons, Obama has picked up the support of many anti-war progressives and even so-called radicals.
But what kind of change is Barack Obama really about? Does Barack Obama really want to create a new world based on equality and mutuality of interest, or would his presidency merely herald in years of marginally different tactics towards the same end? What is the actual change Obama wants to bring?
From Obama’s AIPAC speech: “Contrary to the claims of some, I have no interest in sitting down with our adversaries just for the sake of talking. But as president of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leader at a time and place of my choosing — if, and only if, it can advance the interests of the United States.”
On Iran, Obama continued his diatribe about ‘dialogue,’ “We will present a clear choice. If you abandon your dangerous nuclear program, support for terror, and threats to Israel, there will be meaningful incentives… If you refuse, we will ratchet up the pressure.” As earlier referenced, Obama pledged to keep the threat of military intervention on the negotiating table.
What becomes clear is that Obama remains faithful to the paradigm of bullying nations into subordination, and that he maintains the right to use military force against those who resist. The change that Obama will bring is merely a difference in how to pursue such an imperialist imperative.
Particularly, Obama declares that he will find the “appropriate leaders” to talk to. While the tactic of splitting movements and nations through selective diplomacy and incentives is not new, it has not been widely or as effectively used by the Bush Administration.
Going further into the issue, Obama says he was against holding Palestinian elections in 2006, “with Hamas on the ballot.” Obama stated, “I will strongly urge Arab governments… to fulfill their responsibility to pressure extremists and provide real support for President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.” He also said he would urge Israel to improve conditions in the Fatah-controlled West Bank as a way of further isolating Hamas.
While clearly stating he is not opposed to the most aggressive of actions, Obama presents himself as making Amerika stronger through such one-sided, bullish ‘dialogue.’ In terms of foreign policy, Obama is simply promising to be a better imperialist.
Speaking again before AIPAC he himself summed it up, “My presidency will strengthen our hand… [I will bring] change that restores America’s power and influence.” Such a message, combined with his token ‘progressive’ promises about further improving conditions for the parasitic Amerikan “working” and “middle” classes, has made Obama a candidate who garners support from both hawkish Zionists as well as Amerikan so-called anti-war ‘leftists.’ (9)
It is our sincerest hopes that those who truly seek radical humanist change will recognize and reject Obama and what he represents. Instead of embracing promises of a more effective, ‘peaceful’ imperialism, with presumably a more equitable distribution of the profits within Amerikan borders, we urge real progressives and radicals to make a complete break with imperialist politics. We urge people seeking true change to instead embrace the struggles of those actively resisting U.S. imperialism and working to build a new world. Only through the destruction of imperialism and similarly oppressive and exploitative structures can a world of true equality, mutuality and peace exist.