Call me cynical if you like but I can’t get enthusiastic about Barrack Obama.
We’ve heard and seen so much of his soaring rhetoric, his message of hope and his appealing charm that half the world seems mesmerised. Some of the attraction is simply that he’s not George Bush and coupled with his sentimental appeal as the first black American to get to the white house and people hang on his every word.
We all want to believe that decency, integrity and respect for democracy will win out against the deadly decay personified by George Bush so I’d love to be a believer but it just won’t work for me.
I’m afraid the old saying that actions speak louder than words will catch up with Obama. Not because peoples’ expectations are higher than he can possibly deliver but because he is so enmeshed with corporate America and its political elite that his options to act are hopelessly constrained.
I’m afraid it will all end in tears. I’d love to be proved wrong but there is nothing I’ve seen or heard to make me think he will make much difference within the US or internationally to improve the lives of our human citizens on planet earth.
Just like every President before him, Obama is heavily beholden to corporate America because winning an election requires huge financial backing. Obama’s team will tell us the small $5 and $10 donations from ordinary Americans across the country got him to the White House but it isn’t true. Big money makes the difference and I’ve seen nothing to contradict the claim Obama received more corporate financial backing than any presidential candidate in the history of the US.
Big capitalists backed Obama because he was someone who could deliver the message of change people wanted to hear while preserving the economic status quo, albeit with a few more regulations to control the financial sector.
A look at his policies on any of the major issues he faces and it’s a change of style rather than substance when compared to George Bush.
The crisis in Gaza for example has been the number one international issue this past month. The world has watched while the Israeli military bombed and brutalised their way through Gaza killing more than 1300 people and laying waste to the territory.
Appeals to Obama to speak out fell on deaf ears. His supporters said he wasn’t yet the US leader and didn’t want to compromise his ability to work for peace before he got his feet under the presidents’ desk. This argument doesn’t wash. Obama’s silence gave unreserved support for the racist policies of Israel just as has every US president before him these past 61 years. And what did he do on his first day as president? He phoned the leaders of middle-east countries to say he was determined to work with them as partners for peace. He phoned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Egypt’s corrupt dictator Hosni Mubarak but he did not phone the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people.
Instead he phoned Mahmoud Abbas, the discredited leader of the Fatah party which was defeated by Hamas in the 2006 election for the Palestinian National Assembly by 74 seats to 45.
It’s the same old US story. Obama will preach democracy provided people vote for US approved leaders. For its part Hamas has repeatedly called for a 10-year ceasefire and a negotiated settlement based on Israel withdrawing from Palestinian land to its 1967 borders. Israel however wants Palestinian land more than it wants peace and Obama will do whatever it takes to back them.
In his earlier days Barrack Obama was a strong supporter of the Palestinian struggle for nationhood. He had to give that up to be considered a presidential candidate such is the fear of US politicians being labelled anti-semitic or worse if they don’t give unconditional backing to Israel.
With the financial crisis Obama again mirrors George Bush. During the presidential election campaign he went to Washington to give unequivocal backing to the Bush bailout of the financial sector. There was no question of a plan to support the victims. The first priority was to protect the perpetrators of the crisis.
There were brief moments in his inaugural address when he pointed obliquely to the culprits. He talked about the US economy having been badly weakened by “greed and irresponsibility on the part of some” and that “a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous”.
As well as an epic understatement these comments are designed as a sop to working Americans who create the country’s wealth. Obama will not seriously challenge those who backed him get into the White House.
The face at the top of the US has changed and let’s say that’s a relief but the key policies are heading in the same direction. So no – I’m not an Obamaite.