18 February 2012

What of Obama now that he lost his word-suit?

[This was written more than a year ago.  Dayan Jayatilleka (quoted here) himself has since lost some of his wide-eyedness about the West, happily.  Unhappily, however, the world has not changed much and hence this re-post]

About a year ago, Dayan Jayatilleka, in an interview with the tv station DERANA, waxed eloquent about Barack Obama.  He insisted that Obama was not George W Bush. He said that Obama was respected the world over and had established friendly relations with China, Russia and India. He said (and this is not surprising) that even Fidel Castro said nice things about the US President.

If there was optimism about Obama being a different kind of US President during his election campaign and in his first days in office, it all evaporated during the sessions of the UN General Assembly in New York last week.  Barack Obama demonstrated that there is only one difference between himself and his predecessor when it comes to US foreign policy: words.  Obama has words, Bush did not; Obama is articulate, Bush was incoherent; Obama could cover his nudity with word-cloth, Bush didn’t have a thread to hang himself with. 

Obama chided Iran about being obstinately secretive about its nuclear programme.  The very next moment, the USA team was lobbying nations to stymie an Arab initiative censuring Israel’s continued secrecy about her nuclear programme.  Obama said he was open to discussions but the moment Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the Iranian President uttered some home truths, called for a zero tolerance of nuclear energy for military purposes, Obama’s team turned heel and left the building. 

When Obama appeared on the US political firmament, he seemed fresh and quite un-Washington like.  This is perhaps why Castro said nice things about him (which sentiments Dayan has to echo, naturally).  Time has passed.  The man was given a Man of the Match before coin-toss and he quickly proved that the people who administer the Nobel were indeed in an indecent hurry when they gave him the Peace Prize. Some people make a lot about his ‘withdrawal’ from Iraq, but say nothing of the fact that he’s run out of options and anyway has essentially endorsed his predecessor’s policy of securing access to oil resources and effected control over that country’s economic and political affairs. You can’t make a virtue out of necessity anyway.

Obama’s policy regarding the excesses of US troops, incidence of torture and covering up of evidence not to mention complete and scandalous silence about the court decision effectively sanctioning the ‘off-shoring’ of torture, has seriously compromised his image as a different face of the USA. 

Dayan paints himself as a ‘realist’ and advocates tip-toe language when criticizing powerful nations and personalities.  He thinks that if India is cautious we ought to be too.  I guess he has the right to define his brand of radicalism in ways he thinks are appropriate. I think it is a bit much to look the other way when a thug wants to be seen as benefactor of victim even as he bludgeons the poor unarmed sot with a club.  Then again, Dayan is a person with some experience in diplomatic circles (beginning with his well-known flirtation with the Indians before, during and after the Indo-Lanka Accord fiasco) and I am not.  Dayan is a kiss-the-hand-you-can’t-bite type and so Obama is hook-off as far as he’s concerned.  Let me for a moment shut up and let someone else speak, someone who has more than Obamaesque credentials (meaning, the Nobel Prize – after the toss and after the match!): Harold Pinter. 

This was in 2005 and it is still very valid and if Obama objects he could at least, in the name of decency acknowledge (or refute) Pinter’s claims.  Pinter, accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature said a lot about the USA.  Here are some choice words.

“As every single person here knows, the justification for the invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein possessed a highly dangerous body of weapons of mass destruction, some of which could be fired in 45 minutes, bringing about appalling devastation. We were assured that was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq had a relationship with Al Quaeda and shared responsibility for the atrocity in New York of September 11th 2001. We were assured that this was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq threatened the security of the world. We were assured it was true. It was not true.”

What does Barack Obama have to say to this and what Patricia Butenis?

The United States now occupies 702 military installations throughout the world in 132 countries, with the honourable exception of Sweden, of course. We don’t quite know how they got there but they are there all right. The United States possesses 8,000 active and operational nuclear warheads. Two thousand are on hair trigger alert, ready to be launched with 15 minutes warning. It is developing new systems of nuclear force, known as bunker busters. The British, ever cooperative, are intending to replace their own nuclear missile, Trident. Who, I wonder, are they aiming at? Osama bin Laden? You? Me? Joe Dokes? China? Paris? Who knows? What we do know is that this infantile insanity – the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons - is at the heart of present American political philosophy. We must remind ourselves that the United States is on a permanent military footing and shows no sign of relaxing it.

What does Barack Obama have to say to this and what Patricia Butenis?

Pinter states that in countries the USA has ‘helped’ out of the alleged goodness of heart, hundreds of thousands died (this is excluding Iraq and Afghanistan by the way).  Pinter has some questions:

“Did they (the deaths) take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.  It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Pinter was right.  The US was word-smart.  That was in 2005. This is 2010.  We are post-‘Wikileaks’ and finger-doing in Afghanistan, flip-flopping on Guantanamo Bay, shielding tortures and sanctioning torture not mention bailing out crooks back home in the USA. 

Obama wears a word-suit.  Wore.  Past tense.  Not a pretty sight. 


Walter Rajaratne said...

Read then. Reading now again. As fresh as then because the crime against the whole universe by the US hypocrisy is in continous tense. Dayan the diplomat got to a problem with job security thus his words.

Shaik Ahamath said...

It should be apparent that when it comes to US Foreign policy and actions in the Middle-east, they do nothing without the tacit approval of the Israel Lobby. In the book by Cynthia McKinney, the former Congresswoman, she clearly illustrates how the Israel Lobby channels the fundings to political parties in return for their pledge to support them when elected. Given the massive amounts of money needed to fight elections (the recent Florida primary cost Mitt Romney $20 million on TV ads alone)I could understand why almost every politician appear to have signed the pledge. Incidentally, Cynthia McKinney apparently did not sign the pledge, which might explain why she is now a former Congresswoman.

Jani Bee said...

Seriously you are so extremist and pessimistic about this guy I reckon! Every miserable fellow who opts to heat his seat is kind of bound to dance on the palms of certain concealed bodies in that person's regime in USA... So Obama is just doing his job and taking both the kudos and shit which are thrown at him I guess.... Nor those middle eastern folks are saints right?... No need to mention their covert plans to get to grips with global power strongholds. They have oil to rule and when they have nukes also, just tell me what they can't do other than keeping world peace?
Israel of course is a money laundering bitch in the scene... and whatever said and done, u know better that their religion is at the bottom of it all!

Raj said...

If one is offered a nobel price he/she should be embarrased. Twenty eight years ago I rermember what my research supervisor said, 'nothing will change no matter who becomes the US president'. Presidency is just a title, which represents corporatocracy. Google: john perkins to see what most people don't know.

G. de Silva said...

Not just in the US but in all Western countries the leaders are appointed by the silent wealthy group of people. The leader himself/herself is just a puppet elected to deceive the masses - to fool them into thinking that they have elected someone to look after their wellbeing. Fortunately, the word is spreading fast (thanks to the Internet) and their smoke and mirror show will come to an end soon...

fayaz said...

beautiful incisive article....pure journalism untainted by the hypnosis the us of A and Little Britain..!well done..