Commander in chief Obama

This week’s stunning new from Los Angeles Times (www. about American military personnel apparently posing for ‘zombie’ photos with the body parts of dead Afghan insurgents is part of a sad pattern. That being the consistent abuse of power by various branches of the American military and intelligence community under Obama’s watch.

In the summer of 2010, Rolling Stone exposed the weirdly derisive and even disloyal behaviour of then American commander in Afghanistan Stanley McChrystal. That cost McChrystal his job and ended his military career after a brief, unpleasant tete a tete with the President.

In the last number of months, there have been further stories of American military and intelligence malfeasance: urinating on bodies and burning Korans in Afghanistan…Secret Service types allegedly caught with prostitutes in Colombia.

Barack Obama has striven mightily to counter the false perception that his Democrats are soft on foreign policy and America’s military stance. A 30,000 person surge in Afghanistan, a massive expansion of drone attacks on ‘terrorist hideouts’ as well as the killing of Osama bin Laden in allied Pakistan all attest to that. However, what is striking, and perhaps harmful to Obama’s on-going re-election campaign, is this disturbing pattern of misbehavior.  One wonders if it is causing some long nights and misgivings among Obama’s campaign team.


The War On Drugs - a very bad idea

As the body count rises in Jamaica (73 civilians according to BBC at the time I update this post); as Barack Obama sends troops to the Mexican border; as NATO troops ‘eradicate’ poppy production in Afghanistan, the undeniable truth slaps one in the face: The War On Drugs Has Failed.

Most experts agree that up to 24,000 Mexicans have been killed since President Felipe Calderon decided to get tough on the drug lords of Chihuahua, Guerrero, Sinaloa and Sonora. Be-headings, attacks on school children, murderous reprisals against honest cops and journalists have become common in places like Acapulco and Ciudad Juarez.

Poppy eradication, supposedly in the hands of the taliban is a cornerstone of NATO’s war in Afghanistan. Yet, it is hard to argue for the success of NATO’s neo-colonial Afghanistan policy, although the mainstream press will do all in its power to find it. As I have argued on other occasions, Barack Obama has been largely given a free ride for a policy that is to the right of his predecessor.

In Jamaica, some ordinary citizens have rallied to the cause of a drug dealer and accused murderer that the United States wants to put on trial. The dealer’s paramilitary is engaged in a firefight with police and army that has raged for days. But it’s not the streets of Manhattan that have been turned into a war zone, it’s the slums of Kingston.

As in Mexico, where ordinary people pay the price of the drug war with their lives, Jamaicans are suffering because of the drug habits of comparatively wealthy Americans and Canadians.

One would think that alcohol prohibition would have taught us something. Drug use cannot be stopped. It can be managed. It’s a pity that the likes of Calderon, Obama and the thoroughly comprised government of Jamaica, will spend countless billions of dollars and watch as the body counts rise, pretending otherwise.


Obama veers to the right

Wow! If the Obama-maniacs were expecting their leader to become a reborn social democrat in wake of his health care reform, they were in for a rude surprise. Mind you the drugs they seem to collectively imbibe apparently inure them to Barack’s foibles.

Let’s review:  First, a surprise visit to Afghanistan where the Imperial Barack pledged His and His nation’s support for the heroic efforts of American women and men in uniform there. In sum, it was extremely good optics and a clever manoeuver to keep Fox News off His case over the `socialistic’ health care reform.

Today, with Bush-like panache, Obama announced that restrictions would be lifted on off-shore drilling for hydrocarbons along significant expanses of the coastlines of the United States. This flies in the face of the received environmental wisdom that Democrats had observed for many years. America is once again open for business; and Americans will damn well drive their cars no matter what price the Arab nations try to put on oil!  Hey Obama-maniacs, how do you spell G-e-o-r-g-e- W. B-u-s–h? Drill baby, drill!!!!!

That leaves us with ObamaSecState Hillary’s odd visit to the northern frontier.  Let’s see… Americans as defenders of indigenous rights?  Sweet… ’nuff said. Freedom of choice and equal access to abortions?  Apparently the Canadian media is not aware that the same rights are clearly circumscribed in His health insurance reform (sic).

As far as Afghanistan goes, in the guise of Hillary, head office has clearly indicated its wish for Canadians to continue serving up the donuts in Kandahar. To his credit Harper immediately said ‘No thanks.’ Please forgive me, but I am cynical/wordly enough to suspect that Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals may yet find a way to the right of Harper to argue that Canadian troops should stand beside Americans in Afghanistan after 2011. But what do I know?

An Open Letter to Obama Supporters

Since January 2008 I have maintained that Barack Obama is nothing more and nothing less than a classic Chicago Democrat: a hard nosed, sophisticated politico with a Hallmark Card gift of the gab. Peel away the prettiness and what’s revealed is a slightly softer (and browner) face on American imperialism. With a total of 50,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, Obama is following in the footsteps of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and both Bushes in his determination that America must set the tone in world affairs…by force of arms when necessary. With historically crippling debt; high levels of unemployment; an unresolved Iraq;  Guantanamo still open; Mexican migrants outrageously victimized at the border; health care hanging precariously in congress (btw it’s hard not to see this foreign ploy as a means to rally right-centre support for health care), Barack Obama has chosen to play the classic American foreign policy card: more war.

Following his election I was stunned to find so many otherwise intelligent people who were blissfully unaware of his plans for Afghanistan. If you believe ratcheting up the war there is good policy, Obama’s your man. If you expected a legitimate alternative to Bush-ism, I hope you will reconsider your hitherto unconditional support for America’s latest risky adventure. If the British and Soviet experience is anything to go on, America has just guaranteed itself  a world of pain even with a planned pull-out of 2011.

Obama takes Kabul Pt.II

Wow. The straight press (see Page 1 The Globe and Mail 24.08.09) reports that Messiah Obama will be urged by his military commanders to send an additional 20,000 troops to Afghanistan. Listen up kids – that’s on top of the 21,000 grunts who have been sent to Afghanistan since Barack was inaugurated!

Imagine my surprise. I’ve been in journalism for more than 25 years. Never in my career have I witnessed a collective suspension of judgment to rival the euphoric, oceanic embrace the mass media bestowed on Obama in the 2008 Democratic leadership campaign and the subsequent non-contest against John McCain and Ms. Sarah Palin. All the while, Obama declared his intention to expand the war in Afghanistan – a policy TO THE RIGHT OF BUSH!

In 2008-9, I observed grown journalistic adults write laudatory poetry about Obama; another colleague, also a journalist, told me that he habitually drove around Toronto listening to a download of Obama’s inaugural address.

Predictably enough, in practice, Obama’s foreign policies are just more simple-minded American imperialism.  Don’t even get me started about the wall between the USofA and Mexico which Obama has not lifted a finger to arrest. In Afghanistan, Obama – like the British, like the Soviets – believes his will can be imposed on the people of Afghanistan. Democrats must prove they have cojones, so they expand wars. Forget the Camelot myth and look at what JFK actually did in Viet Nam!

I predict tough, tough sledding ahead. The same knee-jerk mainstream media that created Messiah Obama soon might turn on him, declaring Afghanistan a symbol of failed promise. In fact, he’s only being true to the convictions he campaigned on that the same media failed to challenge. Of course, that was because Barack was so cool…hell, supporting him was almost as hip, trendy and cool as being embedded in a Humvee racing towards the ‘liberation’ of Baghdad in 2003!

Tom Friedman and the USA will save the world!

Thomas L. Friedman’s columns in The New York Times are thought-provoking. His concerns about the environment and social justice are laudable. However,  his analysis often suffers from an insistence of putting himself into every story and for an almost naive belief in America’s moral duty to lead the world.
Today’s column (Sun. NYT 19.07.09) on education in Afghanistan “Teacher, Can We Leave Now? No.” is noteworthy for its embrace of ‘soft’ imperialism (now backed by Obama’s big guns) and its transparent Orientalism. Having swooped into a remote village school by helicopter with a top American military commander,  Friedman describes a heroic effort to educate Afghani girls. Once again, that’s a laudable goal. What’s surprising is the  lack of context and scepticism in Friedman’s argument.

Friedman’s column and American policy in Afghanistan are part of an old story that usually ends in tears – the USA, Great Britain and other NATO countries (including Canada) probably face the same prospects for success in Afghhanistan as the British and Soviet empires did.

Obama takes Kabul

The coverage of the new AMERICAN president continues to baffle me. I know folks are fascinated by Michelle’s arms and the Obama family canine. Such “Gainesburgers” (in the words of former Reagan adviser Michael Deaver) routinely divert media and public alike. BUT there is this war thing happening.

Earlier this month, on the cusp of the Christian Easter holiday, Obama sought another $83 billion plus in funding for the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. This on top of the more than $800 billion already dedicated to those conflicts. (source: NYT 09.04.09) Add this sum to the minimum 20,000 additional troops Obama plans to send to Afghanistan in the next year. So far this Democrat in the White House means more war, not less.

I fear this has the makings of a colassal distaster. Just as John Fitzgerald Kennedy blundered his way into Viet Nam, Obama risks ensnaring the United States in a doomed struggle in Afghanistan. This is where I think the Camelot comparison actually takes traction: an inexperienced newcomer adored by a fawning media ramps up foreign misadventures.