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Barack Obama: "It Is Our Time"

Posted by Fredsvenn den november 13, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama: «It Is Our Time»

Obamania, the Factory of illusions …

The victory of Obama in the US presidential elections echoed all over the world through the mass media, which tried to convince us that the most relevant single event in 2 millions of years of human existence had just happened. In the meantime, the delirious public opinion, all over the world, celebrated Obama’s victory in such a way they would not have celebrated a new government in their own countries -something barely surprising, if we take into account that decisions taking by the rulers of Washington DC are a heavy load of consequences carried on the shoulders of millions in five continents. In the eyes of the hallucinated mass, Obama represents a «dream» come true -what type of a dream exactly is something no one has been able to describe yet. The nightmare of Bush seems to have reached an end.

What’s Left After Obama

All this talk of change may amount to little more than a fantasy.

Obama’s victory marks a symbolically powerful moment in American history, defined as it is by the stain of slavery and the fact of racism. It will have hugely beneficial consequences for how the United States is seen throughout the world. His victory was also strategically brilliant and his campaign transformed those disillusioned with and disenfranchised by the Bush administration into a highly motivated and organized popular force. But I dispute that Obama’s victory is about change in any significant sense.

Reborn America

Wednesday 12 November 2008

This is a memoir of sorts, the kind that many of us in America are telling days after the election of Barack Obama, who is soon, we all hope soon enough, to be the 44th president of the United States of America. We’re not used to this of late, this being the emergence of our stories, our narratives, each one jubilant, provoked to the page and the air waves by our tears, for many of us our tears of joy and relief, tears of disbelief. We, many of us, have awakened from a nightmare. And that nightmare, for each of us, is different.” …

By Donna Marsh O’Connor, Truthout

Amerika – Hva nå?

Bush administrasjonen er borte og folk feirer, men det er også tid for å spørre seg, slik Howard Zinn, Mike Davis, Sharon Smith, Tariq Ali, Ken Riley, Donna Smith, Camilo Mejía og Anthony Arnove gjør, – Hva nå? Hva slags endringer vil en Obama administrasjon føre til?

David Rovics, singer/songwriter, socialist based in Portland, Oregon:

For filmsnutter – HER: David Rovics – Musikk

I had just gone there to hear the music, but it turned into a spontaneous Obama party, at that pub and at pubs and sidewalks and streets in cities all across the US, and apparently in other parts of the world as well. I remember being near the front of a march of tens of thousands of people back in 1985 or so, seeing Jesse Jackson at the front of the march with many of his volunteers lining the marchers, all wearing football-style shirts that read ”88” on them, for his next Presidential campaign effort. I remember seeing on the faces and the placards of this mostly white crowd of marchers, an admiration and affection for the man at the front of the march, and I was wishing the whole country could be more like this crowd. And I feel so gratified that all the people talking about the so-called Bradley effect were wrong, that a majority of our eligible voters (not counting those millions of ineligible felons) would really end up voting for Obama.

There was one black-clad young man from Olympia who happened to be at the crowded pub, which was more crowded than I had ever seen it before. He bummed a light from me and started to talk. ”This is great, you know, but I just can’t help but think, ‘meanwhile, in Afghanistan…”

Every party needs a spoiler, and here he was. Too cynical to be entirely swept up in the moment, he was worried about the possibility that Obama might actually follow through with his campaign promises and send more troops to Afghanistan. And then over the past few days, the news gets more and more grim. Rahm Emanuel, a zealous supporter of Israeli Apartheid for Secretary of State. Larry Summers, Clinton’s chief advocate for the World Trade Organization and deregulation of the financial sector, is being suggested as an economic advisor. Joe Biden, who voted for the war in Iraq, is already his VP.

Obama is surrounding himself with folks from Bill Clinton’s administration. I remember those eight years well, I was protesting his policies the whole time. Welfare was reformed and social spending was gutted even more. The prisons became even more crowded with nonviolent drug offenders. The sanctions and ongoing bombing campaign in Iraq that happened on Clinton’s watch killed hundreds of thousands of children, and his Secretary of State said the price was worth it. NAFTA was passed and then the WTO was formed, all with Clinton’s blessings. These trade deals that Clinton and most of his party supported plunged millions of people around the world into poverty and an early death. Yugoslavia and Iraq will glow for thousands of years because of the nuclear waste littering the land that fell during the Clinton years.

Of course, Clinton inherited the mess in Iraq, and Clinton certainly did not invent neoliberal economics, nor did Clinton start the process of the de-industrialization of the US, the growth of Mexican sweatshops, or the support of the death squad regime in Colombia. But he embraced all of that and much, much more.

Several days ago I was exchanging email messages about the state of the world with my good friend Terry Flynn, a professor of economics and the social sciences at Western Connecticut State University. In one email he wrote, «a damn interesting time. The hegemon is rocked. I’m sure we’re witnessing a re-configuration of the global order on par with the post-WW2 period.» I asked what kind of reconfiguration did he see happening, and this was his eloquent reply:

It’s a shift from one hegemonic era to another. The U.S. took over from the U.K. after the war. But our time is up. Don’t know which country or alliance will dominate in the next cycle. The major contenders are China and India. But Russia is working very hard to leverage its massive geopolitical presence, natural resources, and techno-military culture, despite huge demographic deficits in comparison with the former countries. Russia has Europe by the balls due to, e.g., Germany’s utter dependency on Russian natural gas. And it’s far superior to India and China in many important ways. It’s still a fucking wreck in terms of law and economic and social policies. But this whole transition is probably a 20 year affair. I just think that the catastrophic U.S. response to 9/11 and the current financial crisis push the regime change hard against the U.S.

If Obama wins the election, he might very well be a fine negotiator for the new, diminished role for this country. He can sell it as enlightened internationalism, not the decline of the American Empire. Of course, the patriots here will insist on waving the flag and encouraging the barbarians to bring it on. They won’t go down without a fight. However, the U.S. simply can’t afford to sustain its customary role. And there’s no reason that China will continue to lend money for us to do so.

Anyway, that’s a taste of my thinking on this matter. Oh, by the way, I don’t for one minute expect that the new regime will be any kinder to the working classes. They’ll still be global capitalists with a lust for power. In principle, no better or worse than the present crew. But as our country is diminished we might start talking seriously about peace and environmental degradation, etc. That could be ironic.

The Democrats have gotten more corporate donations than the Republicans in this last election cycle. The corporate elite has mostly decided that the Dems are better for business now. Better to send them in to clean up the mess. Obama is most definitely his own man, and an extremely intelligent, eloquent, youthful, good-looking and well-organized one at that. He has a brilliant background in community organizing and a first-hand familiarity with reality, the realities, for starters, of poverty, racism and US foreign policy — those realities that, among others, so desperately need to be changed. Not only is he his own man, but he’s the man of the people, of so many people, who so enthusiastically have supported his campaign, going door to door as part of his well-oiled campaign machine, giving him hundreds of millions of dollars in small donations, packing stadiums around the country and around the world, and waiting in line for hours to vote for him in the polls.

But he is also the man of the corporations, of the banks, of the insurance industry, who have funded his campaign massively, and are expecting a dividend for their investments. And they’re getting it already, in the form of the appointment of those «liberals» (whatever that means) who supported Clinton’s wars, sanctions and neoliberal economic reforms.

Obama has promised to raise taxes on the rich back to what they were under Clinton. I haven’t carefully studied the numbers, but I believe we are talking about increasing the income tax on anything above $100,000 from 35% to 38%. Nobody is talking about returning it to what it was when the Progressive Income Tax was formed — 90%. He is talking about taking soldiers out of Iraq and sending them to Afghanistan — not bringing them all home and cutting military spending by 90%, in line with international norms, and doing away with this rapacious empire. He is talking about the middle class, and sure, he had to do that to get elected, but when does he ever talk about the poor, the imprisoned millions, the thousands of homeless walking cadavers haunting the streets of every major American city? Every politician talks about building schools, but what about free education through graduate school like they have in most European countries?

No, the scope of debate is far more limited than that. It is a scope defined by that increasingly narrow grey area in between «conservative» and «liberal.» There are distinctions, some of them important. That 3% tax increase will do good things for many people, I hope. Perhaps we won’t start any new wars, I don’t know. Perhaps we’ll withdraw from Iraq, but I’ll bet no reparations for what we’ve done there will be forthcoming. Perhaps there will be no new wars on our civil liberties in the next few years, but I’ll bet the prison population will not get much smaller.

I hope I’m wrong. But if I am to be proven wrong and there are to be serious changes in the welfare of people in the US and around the world, it will only be as a result of a popular uprising of people calling for a real New Deal for the 21st century, an end to the empire, housing, health care and education for all, and so on. Because even if Obama secretly wants all of these things, as so many of us would desperately like to believe, he’s going to need plenty of popular pressure to point to if any of these things are going to become reality. If he really is the socialist wealth redistributor his opponents said he is, he’s going to need massive popular support just to avoid being impeached for treason by those corporate stooges who dominate both parties in the Congress.

And if, on the other hand, he really believes his own campaign promises of meager tax increases for the rich, raising the salaries of teachers a bit, fighting terrorism, passing more free trade agreements, being Israel’s best friend, and so on, then what we have in store is another Democratic administration. Different kind of like Starbucks is different from McDonald’s — they both pay poverty wages and feed you shit, but Starbucks includes health insurance.

Thoughts on Obama

Jeg beundrer fortsatt Obama sterkt for hans dyktighet:

Men det er virkelig problematisk med Europas ukritisk hyllest til hans politikk. Jeg synes en belgier skriver mye godt om det. Han skriver bl.a. at for høyresiden i Europa er det flott at USA har større sosiale forskjeller, svake fagforeninger og færre rettigheter for arbeidstakere. Obama-feberen tillater dem påny å stå fram som sterke tilhengere av USA.

Han har valgt en stabssjef fra Demokratenes ytterste høyre. Utenrikspolitisk er han en sterk tilhenger av Irak-krigen. Han er tidligere israelsk statsborger og ekstremt aggressiv sionist (faren var medlem av Irgun). Han drev gjennom NAFTA, som har tillatt så mange amerikanske fabrikker å flagge ut.

Juan Cole påpeker i sin blogg 8.11 at når Obama nå påstår uten forbehold at Iran har et atomvåpenprogram, er det i strid med et National Intelligence Estimate som sier det motsatte (Cole oppgir link på nettet). Når Obama uten forbehold påstår at Iran støtter terrorisme, må det bygge på støtten til Hizbollah, som ved et tverrpolitisk vedtak i Libanon er tildelt ansvaret for å forsvare det sørlige Libanon mot Israel. Bare USA, ikke EU, har ført opp Hizbollah på lista over terroristorganisasjoner. Se Juan Cole.

Det er farlig at beundringen for personen Obama lett slår over i en ukritisk akseptering av hans politikk.

Hans Olav Fekjær

Det er umulig å ikke bli grepet av feststemningen over Obamas seier. Fordi han regnes som svart, er valget selvsagt historisk. Og hans taler gir entusiastisk håp hos noen hver.

Egentlig er han ikke så veldig svart. Han vokste opp i en hvit familie og har ikke fått stort mer impulser fra de svartes kultur enn de norske adoptivbarna som er kommet som småbarn fra fjerne land. Det er hans ytre mer enn hans indre – hudfargen og det mørke krusete håret – som gjør at han likevel oppfattes som svart. Og kanskje hans vakre kone, som er en ekte svart amerikaner.

Seieren var klar nok, men McCain fikk faktisk høyere stemmetall enn Bush noen gang gjorde. Når republikanerne både har ansvaret for håpløse kriger og en katastrofal økonomi, er det egentlig skremmende at de øker sitt stemmetall. McCain ble slått av en “svart mann” med mye “hvit mann” inni seg, og som er en fenomenal, fantastisk taler. Jeg mener han er enda bedre taler enn Kennedy var. I dag har jeg, her i Oxford hvor jeg er nå, kjøpt en bok som analyserer teknikkene han bruker når han taler. Teknikkene er ikke revolusjonerende, men han bruker så mange velkjente teknikker og så godt at summen blir utrolig. Boka er veldig interessant og vil nok bli lest av svært mange ærgjerrige unge politikere.

Mange kommentatorer sier i dag at hans tilhengere vil bli skuffet, og det er nok riktig. Økonomien vil gjøre det meget vanskelig å lage en god helsereform. Obama vil flytte styrker fra Irak til den andre håpløse krigen, hvor krigføringen skaffer dem flere fiender enn venner. Og han har sagt han vil øke antall soldater og marinesoldater med mange titusener.

Disse krigerske utsagnene er kanskje noe han har følt seg presset til under valgkampen for å virke tøff. Det forteller hvor lite spillerom amerikanske presidenter har. Jeg tror gjerne Clinton også hadde hjertet lenger til venstre enn den politikken han kunne gjennomføre. Men i praksis blir det politikken som teller mest.

Meningsmålingene før valget viste en voldsom entusiasme for Obama rundt i verden. Og han vil ha mere dialog og multilateralism enn Bush. Men USA har ikke vært fredelig i noen periode etter 2. verdenskrig – selv den snille Carter hadde svin på skogen.

Jeg kan ikke unngå å like og beundre Obama som person, og tror han kan være “god på bunnen”. Likevel  lurer jeg på:  Vil ikke en littegrann bedre, men fortsatt skadelig innenriks- og utenrikspolitikk nå vil bli mer kritikkløst akseptert av ledende politikere i andre land? Vil Obama i hovedsak representere kapitalisme/imperialisme “med et menneskelig ansikt”? Ville det alt i alt ha vært bedre for verden å få en ny arrogant og krigersk amerikansk president som ville isolert USA ytterligere fra sine tradisjonelle alliansepartnere? Jeg vet sannelig ikke.

Hans Olav Fekjær


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