EDITORIAL, 16 June 2008
#12 | Johan Galtung
He held his cards close to his breast, this Barack Obama. Rather than talking program he talked Change and Together, and his incredible charisma did the rest. Now a nominee.
But cards must be shown. Democracy is about transparency, including of what the candidates stand for. He is surrounded by advisors, there are leaks, and he is invited, meaning summoned, to very focused groups to tell them where he stands.
Onesuch group is AIPAC, the American-Israeli Political Action Committee,also known as “the Jewish lobby”. And what Obama told them and other American Jewish groups is very far from Change and very close to conventional Together.
If anywhere a change is needed it is in the USA-Israel connection. That Obama promises to stand by Israel militarily is understandable. A situation can arise where the viability, the very survival, is at stake. Alliances are for that purpose.
Quite another matter is to back key political positions of the Israeli leadership, including “Undivided Jerusalem, Capital of Israel for all Eternity”. It is not. East Jerusalem is the seat of the Haram-al-Sharif with Mosque No. 3 in importance in the Muslim world,and home to Palestinians.
Israel is the child of a biblical myth of the Promised Land for aChosen People, in 1620 copied by the Mayflower Pilgrims settling in today’s Massachusetts and set US policy on a track parallel to that of Israel with the same, compatible interests.
Israel is also the child of a distant past reality, mainly under occupation, and of the Zionist dream of becoming a home for Jews everywhere. Today’s Israel of May 1948 does not have UN Security Council legitimacy, but the result of a unilateral declaration of independence, followed by an ethnic cleansing of 711,000 Palestinians,85% of the Palestinians in that Israel.
The Zionist program stands today at 41% of world Jewry, and settlement and housing expansion continues. The present Prime Minister, Olmert, a follower of that evil genius Yabotinsky, their spiritual-political father, stands by the Zionist dream.
Obama’s declaration draws no line, shows no new opening, no future beyond more of the same. And that was the end of the support form him in the Arab/Muslim constituency, crucial for one who is de facto alsorunning for the world presidency.
Savvy people volunteer their wisdom, don’t you se, he has to say that to win the elections, he cannot incur the risk of having the AIPAC machine mobilized against him, as effective as that other key lobby,the NRA (National Rifle Association), derailing candidates, unseating incumbents. Once in power, the wisdom goes, he’ll show his real cards. Nothing to worry about.
Maybe. But also maybe not. Once said about Hitler, he won, and stuck to his words. True, FDR himself, Roosevelt, played this game, took the USA into the war he, like Wilson one world war before him, wanted to win in spite of his promise never to do so “unless we are attacked”. Then that attack was provoked, 7 December 1941 on Pearl Harbor, a Day of Infamy, but also a Day of Deceit, The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor, the title of the book by Robert B. Stinnett, telling the story.
Can Obama play anything similar to such games and get away with it? No, he is too much outside the general mold, too vulnerable. Roosevelt was arch-American, Obama is a deviant American now leaning over backwards to prove his normalcy.
But there is still worse in his foreign policy. McCain wants a League of democracies, of like-minded nations that can respond to crises unimpeded by UN Security Council vetoes. An expanded NATO in other words, not crippling but killing the UN. This is what we would expect from McCain. But the idea has been supported by such key Obama foreign policy advisors as Ivo Daalder and Anthony Lake. Shashi Tharoor, a former UN under-secretary general warns very strongly against the idea in an article in The Guardian. Nothing is gained by isolating Russia and China, maybe also India, and the members and observers in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in general. The UN should be strengthened, not killed, and it may also be that those countries have important arguments. Why not listen, discuss, learn, teach, work together?
But, a third point, the idea would fit with Obama’s oft-repeated idea of more war on terror, including the possibility of strikes inside Pakistan not asking Islamabad. Like for the Middle East there is nothing from Obama of analysis of the roots of the conflict underlying”terrorism” and what could possibly be done to solve it. One senses that what he has against the war in Iraq is that the USA does not win,whereupon he goes for something even more unwinnable.
Then Charles Mercieca (email@example.com), President of the International association of Educators for World Peace, has better ideas about what President Obama could do: “instead of having the military using huge ships and aircraft carriers to carry lethal equipment that is used to destroy the infrastructure of nations and kill millions of innocent people, the same military ships could be changed into floating hospitals for the needy and the poor.” “He is intelligent enough”.
Yes, he is. But maybe he is also American enough? Maybe his mind-set is exactly that, set by the deep culture in which he is embedded? Let us still hope for liberation of that mind.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 16 June 2008.
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