EDITORIAL, 7 Feb 2010
#99 | Johan Galtung
Consider this. Obama promised change we can believe in and delivered non-change we certainly believe in, betraying those who voted for him. His deeds do not match his rhetoric, so he will lose badly at the mid-term elections. A one-term president? Worse, maybe his lame duck presidency is over. Not even one term.
Take the missile shield in Poland-Czech: “canceled”, they had found something better. Poland is in again, in a very anti-Russian deployment, Rumania is added, SALT goes nowhere. He has antagonized Russia unnecessarily, the Prague talk notwithstanding.
He has antagonized the Muslim world by absence of positive deeds and presence of escalating the wars on Afghanistan, sending 40,000 more to bribe, fight and die for Karzai and UNOCAL. The wars on “terrorism” and Iraq are going nowhere; the Cairo talk notwithstanding. And China, with the sales to Taiwan. And Japan.
He has antagonized most of Latin America with his support for the coup in Honduras, his knee-reflex hostility to Cuba, his Bush Katrina approach to seismically devastated Haiti, in 1804 the first independent country in the Americas after the USA, but not recognized by them till 60 years later, and often occupied.
When asked what they wanted to do when they grew up 80% of children 9 to 11 in Gaza and Iraq answered kill Americans. But not a word about Israel-Palestine in the state-of-the-union address; probably because he had nothing to say. But Netanyahu has this: “Israel will hold settlements forever” (IHT 25-01-10). For the zionist myth, Robert Sands, The Invention of the Jewish People.
Why did the Obama episode end so badly? In Obama-centered theories he is naive rather than tricky; in structure-centered theories lobbies etc., tricky rather than naive. How about a USA-centered theory: neither of them has any alternatives to offer.
They do not even know what a sustainable conflict solution might look like, used as they are to prevailing by force, to arm-twisting, preaching, self-serving trade. Solutions, negotiation, dialogue, equitable trade are all unknowns, not part of the US tradition, neither to the right wing, nor to Obama “above wing”.
On the other side there is Sarah Palin. She did not fare so well as vice-presidential candidate but has now already passed McCain in the polls. She is certainly not Columbia-Harvard like Obama, but has something much more appealing to Main Street America, to TeaParty America: America itself, just as it is. She should not be underestimated. If a black can make it so can a woman and they both fulfill some basic requirements: young, attractive, athletic. But the woman from Wasilla has something Obama cannot match. She is as mainstream as mainstream can be. She does not have to present anything new. Her life is her message, very competitive, victorious, very close to the American way of life. Her basic message for the world is that the USA is No 1, better for the world to learn from, and to respect. If they do not they run a huge risk: the USA will not worry about them but leave them to their communism and extremism.
Imagine her as president no. 45, what will happen? There will be little or no change inside the USA along the four power dimensions: wealth will be converted to more wealth and those who have nothing will suffer, the military will run much of society through the secret services, the politicians will be instrumental for that, and one nation under God will be a threat to the life of everybody with arms inside and outside the country, the only safe place being in the mother’s womb, as unborn. They might intervene less and do less nation-building as godless abortionists around the world reject America and do not merit help.
Sarah Palin does not want any change except backward “by arresting critics of Washington’s immoral foreign and domestic policies, and she will complete the destruction of America’s reputation abroad” (Paul Craig Roberts, “Information Clearing House”, December 1 2009). America will probably become one of the least safe places in the world, by their own arms, by the walking landmines of traumatized veterans, by revenge from wherever they have been killing, killing, killing.
And thus America is consumed by its own success. In two, three decades the majority is no longer white. The empire is gone. The world is overtaking USA rapidly. The EU is already the biggest economy when members not (yet) using the euro are counted, USA is No. 2 and China No. 3, doomed to pass the USA, maybe. But that is only economics. One day European academics will wake up and discover how they have been duped americanizing precious academic traditions to become more competitive (= exploitative). And soon not only Switzerland but NATO allies will check out of Afghanistan, a tomb not only for empires, but even for alliances.
“President Obama can order the Guantanamo torture chamber closed and kidnapping and rendition and torture to be halted, but no one carries out the order” (Roberts, same place). And new troops are sent in to die for Karzai and UNOCAL profits.
Challenges are met with non-response. The rest will soon be history, in spite of the desperate efforts by client states like Norway and Denmark. The former converted the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to a Movie and Drama Academy giving a movie prize to a former Vice-president and an actor prize to the present one; and the latter organized a climate conference around an Obama speech which turned out to be the usual bla-bla well delivered.
Is there a solution anywhere?
Theoretically yes, and it could happen. Americans have so much talent for local initiatives. They could work at the level of 2,500 municipalities in the USA, leave Washington to Washington, and make the real economy bloom through local investment, savings banks (not casino) and much solidarity. They could do domestically what Mayors for Peace do internationally, and they have now 3,104 cities in 134 countries and regions (Peace Culture, Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, December 2009).
TIME published some years ago (March 30, 1987) “The Public’s Agenda” a survey of what the public wants–and so many surveys point in the same direction. Nothing extremist, but progressive:
78% want more focus on the elderly, 73% more on the environment, 71% on aid to the homeless, 71% on health services for the poor–as against only 33% for the space program, 31% for the military, 23% on Star Wars. Obama’s rhetoric was in this direction, and he betrayed them. Palin’s rhetoric is in the opposite direction and she can probably be trusted not to turn progressive.
It is now up to the Americans. Do all this locally, you will be loved by the whole world, and America will no longer be poor.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Feb 2010.
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