Posts tagged Barack Obama

War is not a weapon you can aim

. . . In June, I deployed several hundred American servicemembers to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi security forces. Now that those teams have completed their work –- and Iraq has formed a government –- we will send an additional 475 servicemembers to Iraq. As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission –- we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment. We’ll also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL’s control.

— Barack Obama, remarks on ISIL/ISIS and war on Syria and Iraq, 10 September 2014

This is a promise that is foolish to make. Maybe he’s right that the proxy wars on the ground and the U.S. war in the air won’t end up dragging U.S. forces deeper into a quagmire on the ground. But there is no way he can confidently promise this. War is not a weapon that you can aim, not even if you are President of the United States, and expect that you’ll hit exactly what you hoped to, with no complications or unexpected results. Modern wars are always conducted on the basis of classified information, secret strategic interests that are not disclosed to the public, half-accurate information and politically-filtered intelligence. They operate away from any possibility of informed consent by ordinary people, who don’t have access to the information government keeps secret, and indeed even away from the possibility of informed decisions by that government, which finds itself blundering through the fog of its own secrecy, errors, self-deception and political rationales. Wars develop a logic of their own and they always involve both deception of the public about the likely outcomes, and also consequences unintended or unforeseen even by their architects. It wouldn’t be the first time that U.S. military advisors got drawn into a land war in Asia. It wouldn’t even be the first time that U.S. build-up was really only a prelude to a wider war in Iraq.

Certainly, it has already proven a prelude to bringing the U.S. war power into a wider regional war.

The pacifist is roundly scolded for refusing to face the facts, and for retiring into his own world of sentimental desire. But is the realist, who refuses to challenge or to criticise facts, entitled to any more credit than that which comes from following the line of least resistance? The realist thinks he at least can control events by linking himself to the forces that are moving. Perhaps he can. But if it is a question of controlling war, it is difficult to see how the child on the back of a mad elephant is to be any more effective in stopping the beast than is the child who tries to stop him from the ground.

The ex-humanitarian, turned realist, sneers at the snobbish neutrality, colossal conceit, crooked thinking, dazed sensibilities, of those who are still unable to find any balm of consolation for this war. We manufacture consolations here in America while there are probably not a dozen men fighting in Europe who did not long ago give up every reason for their being there except that nobody knew how to get them away.

— Randolph Bourne, War and the Intellectuals ¶ 12
Seven Arts (June, 1917).

End all war, immediately, completely, and forever.

War Speech

It’s maddening to reflect that literally every single president of my lifetime has been involved in a war in Iraq.[1] For more than 20 years of my life, U.S. presidents have been continuously at war against Iraq in some way or another. George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama, every one of them, started a new assault on Iraq at some point in their presidency, whether in the form of cruise missile strikes and aerial bombing, or lethal sanctions, or for the third time now a ground invasion. The only president of my lifetime who did not start a new war against Iraq was Ronald Reagan; and that’s only because he was too busy helping the Iraqi government get chemical weapons so they could fight a bloody proxy war for him against Iran.

The U.S. government’s two decades of continuous war and blockades in Iraq has killed over a million people, most of them civilians and children, in the name of national policy. The details of the policies always shift, every enemy turns out to be unique in their brutality, but the means of enacting them always remain the same: more missiles, more bombs, more soldiers, and more dead children in Iraq. And now the president speaks of humanitarian missions.

Yesterday night, President Obama gave a speech announcing that he would escalate the U.S.’s third war against Iraq, and that he would widen the war into Syria as well. I can’t say that the speech is extraordinarily belligerent; but only because what is outrageous in the speech is so ordinary, after all these years so deeply familiar with year after year of war in Iraq. The language is as shopworn as it is mendacious. In his speech, the President said:

. . . Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy. First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense. Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven. . . . And our own safety — our own security — depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation, and uphold the values that we stand for — timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth. May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.

— Barack Obama, remarks on ISIL/ISIS and war on Syria and Iraq, 10 September 2014

These words — these exact words, without any change, could have been uttered by George W. Bush. They sound like him, full of hunting down terrorists and If you threaten America…. They could have been spoken, just as they are, by William Jefferson Clinton. They read exactly like every war speech that George H. W. Bush ever gave.

The dates and the names change, but the war rhetoric is always the same. Every President is a war President, and in war, every President talks in the same voice, from the same mouth, with the same lies, for the same ultimate purpose: to legitimize politically-organized mass murder. If you elect a liberal President who marched against the Vietnam War, what you’ll get in the end is a President. If you elect a humble foreign policy conservative, then he will govern as a President anyway. If you elect a Progressive President, then the fact that he is President will always turn out to be far more relevant than the fact that he is a Progressive. Electing presidents or changing political parties will never end war: No matter who you voted for, the winner always becomes the Government.

For war is essentially the health of the State.

See also.

  1. [1] I was born in 1981.

Progressive Politics

Shared Article from The Huffington Post

Obama Delays Immigration Action Until After Election

WASHINGTON (AP) — Abandoning his pledge to act by the end of summer, President Barack Obama has decided to delay any executive action on immigration…

huffingtonpost.com


Of course, this is a shameful move from Barack Obama. Immigrants’ lives and families are being sacrificed, yet again, over and over and again, to opportunism and to crass political calculation. The careers of Democratic politicians are not more important than people’s lives and livelihoods. What makes it worse is that this move is as completely predictable as it is morally grotesque.

Progressive electoral politics is like building a vast, extraordinarily expensive, Rouge River-scale machine plant to build cars. Then, after the ribbon is cut, the plant opens to great fanfare, billions of dollars are spent, and a couple of go-karts are rolled off the line as a test, the manager up tells you that there won’t be any more cars for the time being — because all the wear and tear on the machines would destroy their ability to make more cars, some day in the future. So until then you’ll have to wait. All the while the machine whirs along, drawing more power and costing more money all the time, but no more cars ever come off the line, because every time there might have been some output, it was sacrificed to make sure that the machine itself would keep idling smoothly. But it is so perfectly polished.

Alabama Sin Miedo / Alabama Unafraid

The immigrant justice movement is a freedom struggle. This is exactly what is needed. More confrontation. More direct action. Not one more deportation.

Shared Article from inthesetimes.com

The Immigration Movement’s Left Turn

Advocates are moving away from the “pathway-to-citizenship” compromise—and are demanding a moratorium on deportations.

inthesetimes.com


#Not1More #BordersAreStupid #ShutDownICE

Shared by Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice.

Who will be the Obama administration’s two-millionth deportee? The question haunts neighborhoods, schools and workplaces from Phoenix to Philadelphia.

And as the Obama administration continues its en masse removal of undocumented immigrants, that unlucky distinction could go to any of the roughly 11 million undocumented people who call the U.S. home—a carwash worker nabbed for a broken taillight; a field laborer who has overstayed her work visa; or a youth donning a cap and gown, deliberately crossing the path of the border patrol in a show of civil disobedience.

Deportations are expected to reach the 2 million mark in early April, and activists are campaigning fiercely at the gates of detention centers, border checkpoints and congressional offices to show the White House they will not let the Obama administration’s reach that milestone without a fight.

Last month in Alabama, immigrant rights advocates organized one such action by forming a human chain outside the Etowah County Detention Center, chanting “not one more”—the rallying cry of a wave of anti-deportation actions that have swept the nation over the past year, gaining political currency as a social media campaign, a slogan at street demonstrations, and more recently, a political salvo in Washington, where more conciliatory policy demands from inside the Beltway have sputtered.

One protester at the Etowah rally, Gwendolyn Ferreti Manjarrez, declared, “I am tired of living with the fear that my family or any family can be torn apart at the seams for living our everyday life.”

— Michelle Chen, The Immigration Movement’s Left Turn,
from In These Times (1 April 2014)

No higher law

At a recent grandstanding speech on immigration reform, in which Barack Obama attempted to pass himself off as a supporter of immigrants while presiding over the unprecedented, relentless deportation of two million, immigrant families and activists confronted him over his record. He responded by passing the buck, and insisting that he was powerless.

Our families are separated, a young man yelled during remarks in San Francisco at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center. Mr. President, please use your executive authority to halt [deportations]. We agree that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but at the same time, you have the power to stop deportations.

Actually, I don’t,[1] the president replied, and that’s why we’re here.

Other people in the crowd began to yell as well: Stop deportations. Yes, we can.

. . . What you need to know, when I’m speaking as president of the United States and I come to this community, is that if in fact I could solve all of these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so,[2] he said. But we’re [sic] also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition.

So the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our [sic] laws, he continued.

— Elise Foley, Obama Confronts Hecklers At Immigration Speech, in the Huffington Post (25 November 2013)

If laws command injustice, then those laws ought to be violation. A nation of laws is nothing more than a rigid structure of power; and when that power is turned against innocent families, it deserves no respect, and no loyalty. Those who administer that power inflict real evil on helpless victims, and when they excuse themselves for responsibility by pointing to the laws, by pointing to political etiquette, by pointing to the demands of their office, they are doing nothing less, and nothing more, than saying that their political ambitions and political interests are more important to them than the rights of innocent people.

A law that commands injustice should be treated as no law at all. There is no office that can nullify a man’s conscience, no order that erases moral responsibility. There is no higher law than human rights or common decency. We have here the most privileged man on the face of the earth lecturing disenfranchised immigrant families about how powerless he supposedly is to stop — the most privileged man on the face of the earth begging that he is supposedly powerless over detention and deportation quotas that he set; begging that he is supposedly powerless to restrain the force of agencies directly responsible to him and his appointees; defending his own political cowardice, and tossing around contemptuous lines about easy ways out, delivered to the victims of his own detestable politically-driven assaults on immigrants.

Barack Obama’s record on immigration has been shameful. And his endless political excuse-making for record mass deportations, is despicable.

Also.

  1. [1] This is, of course, a lie. Obama has repeatedly used executive power to unilaterally halt enforcement and to halt legal proceedings when he found it in his political interest to do so.
  2. [2] This is, of course, a lie.