MR
09.11.09
Monthly Review Press

The Political Economy of Media
THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF MEDIA:
Enduring Issues, Emerging Dilemmas by Robert W. McChesney

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Censorship, Inc.
CENSORSHIP, INC.: The Corporate Threat to Free Speech in the United States by Lawrence Soley
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The Language of Empire
THE LANGUAGE OF EMPIRE: Abu Ghraib and the American Media by Lila Rajiva
READ EXCERPT
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Imperialism without Colonies
IMPERIALISM WITHOUT COLONIES by Harry Magdoff
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Humanitarian Imperialism
HUMANITARIAN IMPERIALISM: Using Human Rights to Sell War by Jean Bricmont
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Fool's Crusade
FOOLS’ CRUSADE: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions by Diana Johnstone
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Bush versus Chávez
BUSH VERSUS CHÁVEZ: Washington's War on Venezuela
by Eva Golinger

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Naked Imperialism
NAKED IMPERIALISM: The U.S. Pursuit of Global Dominance by John Bellamy Foster
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Pox Americana
POX AMERICANA: Exposing the American Empire edited by John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney
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Behind the Invasion of Iraq
BEHIND THE INVASION OF IRAQ by The Research Unit for Political Economy
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Toward an Open Tomb
TOWARD AN OPEN TOMB:
The Crisis of Israeli Society
by Michel Warschawski

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Eastern Cauldron
EASTERN CAULDRON: Islam, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq
in a Marxist Mirror
by Gilbert Achcar

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The Disinherited
THE DISINHERITED: Journal of a Palestinian Exile by Fawaz Turki
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Inside Lebanon
INSIDE LEBANON: Journey to a Shattered Land with Noam and Carol Chomsky (Ed. Assaf Kfoury)
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The Liberal Virus
THE LIBERAL VIRUS: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World by Samir Amin
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The Cold War and the New Imperialism
THE COLD WAR AND THE NEW IMPERIALISM: A Global History, 1945–2005
by Henry Heller

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Photobucket
THE MYTHOLOGY OF IMPERIALISM: A Revolutionary Critique of British Literature and Society in the Modern Age by Jonah Raskin (preface by Bruce Robbins)
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Law and the Rise of Capitalism
LAW AND THE RISE OF CAPITALISM by Michael E. Tigar
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The ABCs of the Economic Crisis: What Working People Need to Know
THE ABCS OF THE ECONOMIC CRISIS: What Working People Need to Know by Fred Magdoff and Michael D. Yates
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The Great Financial Crisis
THE GREAT FINANCIAL CRISIS: Causes and Consequences
by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff

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The Irreversible Crisis
THE IRREVERSIBLE CRISIS by Harry Magdoff and Paul M. Sweezy
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Stagnation and the Financial Explosion
STAGNATION AND THE FINANCIAL EXPLOSION by Harry Magdoff, Paul M. Sweezy
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Labor and Monopoly Capital
LABOR AND MONOPOLY CAPITAL: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century by Harry Braverman
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Monopoly Capital
MONOPOLY CAPITAL: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order by Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy
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Naming the System
NAMING THE SYSTEM: Inequality and Work in the Global Economy by Michael D. Yates
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LISTEN TO MICHAEL D. YATES ON THE TAVIS SMILEY SHOW
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The Amoral Elephant
THE AMORAL ELEPHANT: Globalization and the Struggle for Social Justice in the Twenty-First Century by William K. Tabb
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Railroading Economics
RAILROADING ECONOMICS: The Creation of the Free Market Mythology by Michael Perelman
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More Unequal
MORE UNEQUAL: Aspects of Class in the United States (Ed. Michael D. Yates)
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Open Veins of Latin America
OPEN VEINS OF LATIN AMERICA; Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Eduardo Galeano
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Days and Nights of Love and War
DAYS AND NIGHTS OF LOVE AND WAR by Eduardo Galeano
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The World We Wish to See
THE WORLD WE WISH TO SEE: Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty First Century by Samir Amin
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Build It Now
BUILD IT NOW: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century by Michael A. Lebowitz
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The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time
THE CHALLENGE AND BURDEN OF HISTORICAL TIME: Socialism in the Twenty-First Century by István Mészáros (foreword by John Bellamy Foster)
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Beyond Capital
BEYOND CAPITAL: Toward a Theory of Transition by István Mészáros
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Che Guevara: His Revolutionary Legacy
CHE GUEVARA: His Revolutionary Legacy by Olivier Besancenot and Michael Löwy
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Che Guevara
REMINISCENCES OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION-
ARY WAR by Che Guevara

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Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution
UNDERSTAND-
ING THE VENEZUELAN REVOLUTION: Hugo Chavez Talks to Marta Harnecker by Hugo Chavez and Marta Harnecker

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"Obama's Foreign Policy Report Card": Juan Cole Grades His President -- and Very Positively 
by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson

Juan Cole's very positive report card for President Barack Obama's foreign policy is a bit shocking, given his knowledge and frequent enlightening comments.  ("Obama's Foreign Policy Report Card," Salon, October 27, 2009.1)  "[Obama] receives his lowest grade for his failure to force America's chattering classes to take notice," Cole judges -- policy issues resolve into matters of perception, and can be remedied by better PR, or fewer negative attacks from the right.  But on his accomplishments, it's another story.  Obama "has already set in motion significant change on several [foreign policy] fronts," Cole avers, so much so that Cole believes we are now living in a "different world."

Cole gives Obama the grade of "B" for his policy toward Iraq, "A" for Iran, and "B" for Pakistan.  Cole writes that "[Obama] can be faulted for not working closely enough with the Nouri al-Malaki government [in Iraq] to ease the transition, hence a grade of B instead of A."  As regards Pakistan, Cole adds that, "If not for [Obama's] insensitivity to Pakistani popular opinion, he might deserve an A."

So, in Juan Cole's judgment, the only thing holding back Barack Obama from receiving straight As for his Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan policies is a kind of regrettable, Washington-based insensitivity towards the feelings of the locals.  On two other foreign policy fronts, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Afghanistan, Obama rates "incompletes" for having made "little progress" on the first, and no decisive determination about how to handle the second.

We strongly disagree with both the grades and the scope of Cole's report card.

For some strange reason, Cole's report card ignores the Western Hemisphere, where Obama's performance has been abysmal.  First, there is the matter of the June 28 coup in Honduras, which followed conferences with U.S. officials and used a U.S. military base in that country, clearly with the tacit approval of U.S. officials.  U.S. State Department officials stonewalled the diplomatic efforts of other states to pressure the coup government to reinstate the ousted President Manuel Zelaya, and Washington insiders with strong ties to administration officials lobbied against his reinstatement.2  "Washington has" -- and in fact always has had -- "the ability to force the coup regime to comply," as Mark Weisbrot observes, but the "Obama administration never used the effective tools at its disposal."3  The so-called Tegucigalpa-San José Accord4 of October 30 was very weak and in crucial sections codified the objectives of the coup, rather than reversed them; it may very well have been nothing more than a U.S.-staged publicity stunt, a "hoax," as the Council on Hemispheric Affairs described it, "never meant to be implemented."5  The accord did not penalize the coup leaders or alter the institutional structures that supported the coup.  Nor did it reschedule the non-binding referendum cancelled the very day of the coup that might have led to re-opening the Honduran Constitution for revision, with possible implications for the role of the military in Honduras, and the presence of the U.S. military there as well.  Instead, the accord's section 2 "rules out any 'direct or indirect' appeals for the convening of a Constituent Assembly, and any attempt to 'promote or support any popular consultation with the aim of reforming the constitution'," the "immediate reason for the oligarchy to organize the coup," as Jorge Martín observes.6  In promoting the accord, the Obama administration had sought to reduce the crisis atmosphere that gripped Honduras for four months, and to bury news about Honduras even deeper in the back pages.  But the accord collapsed by its November 5 implementation date, with the New York Times admitting that the "accord had nothing to back it up," and Zelaya himself announcing over Radio Globo, "The accord is dead." 7  Whether national elections occur on November 29 as once scheduled, and whether Zelaya's reinstatement ever occurs at all, none of this bodes well for the future of the vast majority of Hondurans.  The Obama policy response gave the Honduran coup regime all the breathing room that it needed to survive.  It has been worthy of Bush-Cheney, and represents a major setback to democracy in Latin America.

Similarly, Cole does not mention the plan to expand U.S. military bases in Colombia, described as a "need to strengthen the strategic security relationship between the Parties," as well as the "interoperability of the Armed Forces of Colombia" with those of the United States. 8  This firming of the alliance with the rightwing Alvaro Uribe and his reactionary allies in Colombia, on top of the already massive $6 billion in U.S. military aid under Plan Colombia this decade alone, "has raised concerns around Latin America of an increased U.S. presence in the region," the Christian Science Monitor reported.9  One critic of the new agreement told the Monitor that, "based on what is known publicly, it appears to be 'an agreement without borders'," and "to give the U.S. military authority to conduct operations beyond Colombia" -- a clear threat to neighboring Venezuela and the left and democracy in Latin America.

Then there is Obama's policy towards Cuba, with its minor lifting of travel restrictions more than offset by its continuation of the notorious economic blockade.  First implemented by the U.S. Government as early as 1960 as the "only foreseeable means of alienating internal support" for the revolution, which enjoyed overwhelming popularity among the Cuban people, the blockade's goal was and remains to sow "disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship," in the words of the State Department in 1960, by "denying money and supplies to Cuba, . . . decreas[ing] monetary and real wages, [and] bring[ing] about hunger, desperation, and overthrow of government."10  Greatly strengthened by the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act and the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (better known as the Helms-Burton Act),11 the blockade cost the island's economy some $89 billion between 1962 and 2007, in Cuba's estimate.12  On the day in October of this year when the UN General Assembly voted 187 to 3 in favor of the United States' lifting the blockade,13 with only the United States, Israel, and Palau voting to keep the embargo intact, and the Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstaining, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice explained the Obama administration's reason for maintaining it: "[T]he United States . . . has the sovereign right to conduct its economic relationship with another country as it sees fit."14

Of course, the use of this sovereign right may injure many innocent people.  The American Association for World Health in 1997 emphasized that the "stringent nature" of this blockade "included the outright ban on the sale of food" and "life-saving medicines to ordinary citizens," and "appears to violate the most basic international charters and conventions governing human rights," as a "relatively sophisticated and comprehensive public health system is being systematically stripped of essential resources."15  It also encroaches on the rights of other countries to conduct business with Cuba as they see fit, extending the enforcement of U.S. laws beyond U.S. borders (or extraterritorially), thereby interfering with the sovereignty of other states -- a point against which the UN General Assembly has protested annually since 1992.  In fact, both of the blockade-strengthening "democracy" acts of 1992 and 1996 violate international law at several levels, with their common goal being to inflict pain and suffering on ordinary Cubans so as to drive them towards regime-change-type submission.  As one commentator noted: "In September, Obama followed in the footsteps of George Bush by signing the annual renewal of Cuban sanctions in defiance of world opinion and intense lobbying by Latin American heads of state.  By taking this step he has assumed authorship -- it is now in effect Obama's trade blockade."16

We would give this set of backward-looking and regressive policies towards the hemisphere the grade of F.

In another serious omission, Cole doesn't mention Obama's continuation of the Bush-era bullying of Russia, with more military training exercises and arms supply to Georgia, the site of a possibly U.S.-sponsored war in August 2008, continued or even intensified plans and efforts to bring Georgia and the Ukraine into NATO, fear-mongering and militarizing plans extending to Finland and Sweden as well as the Baltic and Balkans, and replacing plans for anti-missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic with even more widely dispersed mobile missile systems.  With this growing threat of encirclement and aggressive militarization and technical advancement of Western (mainly U.S.) weaponry proceeding apace, Russia has moved to an openly greater reliance on tactical and other nuclear weapons.17  On these areas, Obama once again represents continuity rather than change.  Once more we give him a flunking grade.

On Israel-Palestine, Cole speaks of "little progress," when in fact there has been no progress whatsoever, and humiliating backtracking as the Obama administration has been unable or unwilling to halt Israeli settlement growth and aggressive ethnic cleansing actions in East Jerusalem,18 has reaffirmed Israel's rogue status as a nuclear weapons state beyond the reach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty,19 and has even rejected the findings of the Goldstone Commission as "unbalanced" and "deeply flawed."20  Admittedly, with the entire Democratic Party establishment and the U.S. media groveling before the pro-Israel lobby, there was not much Obama could do, but he has not fought back very hard and has failed to do anything useful.  Another failing grade.

Cole does deal with Obama's policies on Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  He gives Obama excellent grades overall, but Cole's standards are low -- one of them: "it's already apparent he's outperforming his predecessor."

As regards Iraq, it is ultra-clear that the U.S. invasion-occupation was a war of aggression and major violation of the UN Charter, and that the million or more Iraqi deaths since March 2003, the creation of 4 million or more refugees, and the devastation of the country (on top of "sanctions of mass destruction" that ran from 1990 into 2003), obligates a maximally speedy U.S. exit and massive reparations, and prosecution for major war crimes -- beginning with the "supreme international crime."  But Cole takes the U.S. invasion-occupation as a given, not as involving serious crimes for which accountability under domestic and international laws ought to follow.  Instead, Cole would have us judge Obama's performance simply by whether he withdraws U.S. combat troops as quickly as he promised during his presidential campaign, and whether his withdrawal is consistent with a reduction in civilian deaths and an improved security situation.

He assures us that Obama is meeting his withdrawal commitments, with troop levels down from 142,000 to 120,000 and expenses also reduced.  But he doesn't mention corporate mercenary troop numbers, and while uniformed U.S. military personnel levels fell by 15.5% (taking Cole's numbers), private contractors employed by the U.S. military increased by 23% in the second-quarter of 2009, and constituted 47% of U.S. forces in Iraq by the end of June 2009.21  Cole also fails to mention plans for "Iraqization" and the extent of exits from bases.  There is no way he can know that the U.S. withdrawal will ever be completed and genuine Iraqi sovereignty prevail.  He notes the recent surge in killings in Iraq, but dismisses this as a temporary blip in a successful exit process, not as something allocable to the invasion-occupation, in accord with Nuremberg principles, where "To initiate a war of aggression . . . is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."  Once again, we believe Obama deserves a failing grade.

Cole also lauds Obama's movement on Iran policy, where Obama is willing to "jawbone," which helped get an IAEA inspection team visiting the newly announced enrichment facility at Qom.22  But Cole fails to mention that Obama announced the "discovery" of the Qom facility in a dishonest and fear-mongering way, hijacking the attention focused on the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh to stage the announcement at the very outset of the summit,23 and that his administration has put enormous weight on containing Iran's non-existent "threat" and continues to keep all options "on the table" to meet it.  Cole doesn't suggest that the threat is phony or mention that Israel and the United States are the real nuclear threats, already wreaking havoc with their massive conventional forces, while leaning on their nuclear supremacy as backups.  Obama flunks again here, and so does Cole.

On Afghanistan and Pakistan, many of us feel that the United States, with its NATO puppets in tow, has had no business invading and continuing to attack these countries.  Indeed, at the time the United States and Britain launched this now 8-year-old war on Afghanistan, Gallup International had just reported that, in 34 of the 37 countries it surveyed, majorities opposed a military attack on Afghanistan, preferring that the events of 9-11 be treated as crimes rather than as reasons for war, with extradition and trial for the alleged culprits.  The three countries where opinion ran in the opposite direction from the global majority were the United States (54%), India (72%), and Israel (77%); otherwise, significant and sometimes overwhelming majorities of the world's population were opposed to the U.S.-U.K. resort to war.24  Yet, as with Iraq, Cole takes our right to be there as a given, once again makes no mention of the scope of corporate mercenaries employed in Afghanistan (57% of the U.S. war effort at the end of June25), and he makes no mention of the fact that Obama's promise to get the United States out of Iraq was closely tied to his parallel promise to escalate the U.S. war in Afghanistan -- and that, since his promise to escalate, Obama has been mulling over just what our purpose in fighting in that theater might be!

Moreover, there is a revealing contrast between Cole's treatment of the June 12 presidential election in Iran, where the official results favored the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by a 2 to 1 margin over his closest rival Mir Hossein Mousavi, and were greeted with immediate ridicule in the West, and Cole's treatment of the August 20 presidential election in Afghanistan, including allegations of vote fraud within both U.S. and UN ranks, the hasty scheduling of a runoff election to sort out the mess caused by the revelations of the first round of rigging, and this runoff's cancellation, with the presidency awarded to the incumbent, the U.S.-puppet Hamid Karzai.  Like the rest of Western commentators, Cole treated the Iranian results very critically, with details on the alleged "ballot fraud" and "hard-liner coup"26 (a "hard-line slow motion coup," as he later described Iranian politics27), and harsh criticism of the repression of the street demonstrators and political dissidents that followed.28  But as regards the ultimate in rigged outcomes, the "demonstration election" that was staged in Afghanistan on August 20 to re-elect the incumbent and boost the legitimacy of the U.S. military occupation, followed by the re-staging of a runoff election and its cancellation (i.e., one candidate, no election, and the U.S. puppet the declared victor), Cole is sparing in details, and nowhere near as outraged as he was about Iran's presidential election.  The decision of the Afghan challenger Abdullah Abdullah to withdraw from the runoff merely "puts Washington in an awkward position," Cole lamented: "Abdullah's withdrawal puts paid to the idea that there is a plausible Afghan government partner for U.S. counter-insurgency.  There is not."29  In contrast to events inside Iran, Cole is far less concerned with fraud or violations of democratic rights, not to mention the violence of the U.S.-occupying power in Afghanistan, than he is with how the anointment of Karzai will affect the U.S. pacification campaign.  Whether in his treatment of Afghanistan, Iraq, or Iran, Cole's starting point is thus not fundamentally different from that of U.S. policymakers.  The Iranian state's violent repression of its own people merits expressions of outrage from Cole.  But the U.S. military's considerably more violent campaigns against foreign resistance do not.  Instead, these call for more "plausible government partners" to help the United States to better carry them out.

Cole is also remarkably blasé about our right to invade, bomb, and manipulate the Pakistani government and army to do our bidding.  The use of remote-controlled drones to strike at targets doesn't much bother him: Cole doesn't mention U.S. CIA expert David Kilcullen's estimate that, from 2006 into the spring of 2009, 14 al-Qaeda leaders had been killed by these weapons systems, at the expense of 700 civilian deaths -- "a hit rate of two per cent on 98 per cent collateral," as Kilcullen told the Financial Times, and "not moral."30  Might Cole even agree with Obama Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's answer to the questioner from Peshawar University as to whether she thinks attacks that kill innocent civilians constitute terrorism -- a "violation of international law," as one earlier questioner put it, the "execution of people without a trial"?

Questioner: What is actually terrorism in U.S. eyes?  Is it the killing of innocent people in, let's say, drone attacks?  Or is it, again, the killing of -- a vengeful killing of innocent people in different parts of Pakistan, like the bomb blast in Peshawar two days ago?  Which one is terrorism, do you think?

Hillary Clinton: I only heard your second one about the –

Moderator: Okay, basically the question was that victims of drone attacks, is that terrorism, or people being killed in a marketplace in Peshawar, is that terrorism?  In the United States -- do you perceive both victims as victims of terrorism?

Hillary Clinton: No, I do not.  I do not.31

As Justin Raimondo observes: "The audience of Pakistani women sat there in stunned, horrified silence."32

Two million refugees (at minimum) created in the U.S.-Pakistani assault on the Swat Valley in the northern part of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas33 also doesn't affect Juan Cole's grading, nor does the expansion of the U.S. targets list to include Indian separatists as well as Uzbeks,34 especially given Cole's claim that the Pakistanis are happy about decimating al-Qaeda and the Taliban.  But Cole ignores the important Al Jazeera-Gallup Pakistan poll in late July showing that the United States is hated far more in Pakistan than are the Taliban: Asked who they "think is the greatest threat for Pakistan?" 59% of Pakistanis named the United States, 18% said India, and only 11% said the Pakistani Taliban.  No fewer than 67% of Pakistanis said they "oppose drone attacks by the United States against Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan."35  Cole also ignores similar findings throughout predominantly Muslim countries, where majorities express agreement with the goal of pushing the "U.S. to remove its bases and its military forces from all Islamic countries," approve of "attacks on U.S. military troops," and distrust the declared U.S. goals throughout the region, with the greatest majorities believing that the real U.S. goals are to "weaken and divide the Islamic world," and to "maintain control over the oil resources of the Middle East."36

Because of Obama's deepening of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and his expansion of this same war to ever-larger regions of Pakistan and beyond, all under the propaganda framework of the "War on Terror," we give Obama another grade of F.

Concluding Note

Rather than representing a break with the old world of Bush-Cheney (and earlier incarnations of the U.S. presidency), Obama administration policies such as those reviewed here reveal a fundamental continuity with it, and we ought to understand and judged them accordingly.

Juan Cole may be right that they are an improvement over his immediate predecessor's.  But Barack Obama's policies are disappointing to those who had taken his promises and orations at face value.  More important, they are repugnant to anyone who recognizes the urgent need for a sharp break with the past: demilitarization and an end to the permanent World War led by the United States and its closest allies, the overturning of the global system of Haves and Have-Nots that is protected by this state of permanent war, and the steering of the U.S. policy away from catastrophe or worse by reallocating its scarce moral but abundant material resources towards the real problems of our shared world.

On such a test, the Obama administration is a failure -- a painful truth that both realists and idealists should acknowledge.

 

Endnotes

1  Juan Cole, "Obama's Foreign Policy Report Card," Salon, October 27, 2009.

2  See Robert Lovato, "Our Man in Honduras," American Prospect (online), July 22, 2009; James Hodge and Linda Cooper, "U.S. Continues to Train Honduran Soldiers,", National Catholic Reporter, July 14, 2009; and Philip J. Crowley, "Daily Press Briefing," U.S. Department of State, July 20, 2009.  In the last of these, Crowley explained that "if we were choosing a model government and a model leader for countries of the region to follow, that the current leadership in Venezuela would not be a particular model.  If that is the lesson that President Zelaya has learned from this episode, that would be a good lesson."

3  Mark Weisbrot, "Deal or No Deal in Honduras?" The Guardian, November 4, 2009.

4  See the Tegucigalpa-San José Accord (as posted to the Honduras News website), October 30, 2009. 

5  Ethan Katz, "Cunning Micheletti Determined to Outfox Zelaya,", Council on Hemispheric Affairs, November 6, 2009.

6  Jorge Martín, "Honduras: Agreement or Farce?" In Defence of Marxism, November 4, 2009.  On the once-hoped-for referendums, see Joe Emersberger, "Criminalizing Democracy in Honduras," ZNet, July 21, 2009.  On the permanent cancellation of the constitutional convention, see Greg Grandin, "Honduras: Solution or Stall?" The Nation, October 30, 2009.

7  Elisabeth Malkin, "Despite Deal, No Progress on Standoff in Honduras," New York Times, November 6, 2009; Juan Zamorano, "US-brokered Pact for Honduras Crisis Fails,", Associated press, November 6, 2009.  At the time of this writing, Honduras is still scheduled to hold a presidential election on November 29, though the likelihood that it will be held appears small.

8  See Supplemental Agreement for Cooperation and Technical Assistance in Defense and Security Between the Governments of The United States of America and the Republic of Colombia, as posted to the Just the Facts website, November 3, 2009.  Also see "U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement,", Press Release, U.S. Department of State, October 30, 2009.

9  Sibylla Brodzinsky, "US and Colombia Sign Accord for US to Access Military Bases," Christian Science Monitor, October 30, 2009.

10  Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mallory) to the Assistant Secretary of State of Inter-Americans Affairs (Rubottom), April 6, 1960, in Cuba, 885-886, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Vol. VI, U.S. Department of State, University of Wisconsin Digital Collections (Homepage).  For a critique of the U.S. blockade, see Jane Franklin, "From Neocolony to State of Siege: The History of US Policy toward Cuba," Resist Newsletter, July/August, 2001 (as posted to the Third World Traveler website)

11  For the relevant texts, see the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 (also known as the Torricelli Act), and the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (better known as the Helms-Burton Act).

12  See Bill Weissert, "Cuba: US Embargo Has Cost Over $89 Billion," Associated Press, September 18, 2007; and "U.S. Embargo Has Cost Cuba 89 Billion Dollars: FM," Xinhua News Agency, September 19, 2007.

13  See Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba, UN General Assembly Resolution 6 (A/RES/64/6), October 28, 2009.  Also see the verbatim record of this session (A/64/PV.27), as well as the accompanying UN press release  (GA/10877).

14  "Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Susan E. Rice," United States Mission to the United Nations, October 28, 2009.

15  Denial of Food and Medicine: The Impact of the U.S. Embargo on the Health and Nutrition in Cuba, American Association for World Health Report, March 1997, "Summary of Findings," and Ch. 9, "International Law, Human Rights, and the Embargo," 295-301.  Also see The U.S. Embargo Against Cuba: Its Impact on Economic and Social Rights, Amnesty International, September 2009.  "[T]he export of medicines and medical equipment continues to be severely limited," AI reports (15).  But the "impact of economic sanctions on health and health services is not limited to difficulties in the supply of medicine.  Health and health services depend on functioning water and sanitation infrastructure, on electricity and other functioning equipment such as X-ray facilities or refrigerators to store vaccines.  The financial burden and commercial barriers have led to shortages or intermittent availability of drugs, medicines, equipment and spare parts. It has also hindered the renovation of hospitals, clinics and care centres for the elderly" (19).

16  Tom Fawthrop, "'New Beginning' on Cuba Is a Dead End," The Guardian, October 28, 2009.

17  See, e.g., Rick Rozoff, "ABC of West's Global Military Network: Afghanistan, Baltics, Caucasus," Stop NATO, October 28, 2009.

18  According to data gathered by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Israel demolished at least 55 Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem from the January 20 date of Barack Obama's inauguration through November 2, 2009, displacing some 242 people.  (Personal communication with the ICAHD, November 4, 2009.)

19  See Eli Lake, "Obama Agrees to Keep Israel's Nukes Secret," Washington Times, October 2, 2009.

20  See "Why No Justice in Gaza?  Israel Is Different, and So . . . ," Human Rights Watch, October 1, 2009.

21  See Jeremy Scahill, "Obama Has 250,000 Contractors in Iraq and Afghan Wars, Increases Number of Mercenaries," Rebel Reports, June 1, 2009.  Also see Moshe Schwartz, Department of Defense Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Background and Analysis, Congressional Research Service, September 21, 2009 (as posted to the website of the Federation of American Scientists), especially "Number and Roles of Contractors in the Central Command Region," 4-11; Peter Grier, "US Use of Private Contractors in War Hits Record High," Christian Science Monitor, September 1, 2009; and James Glantz, "Contractors Outnumber U.S. Troops in Afghanistan," New York Times, September 2, 2009, as well as the accompanying Chart.

22  For an analysis of Iran's nuclear program and Western policy towards it, see Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, "The Iran Versus U.S.-Israeli-NATO Threats," MRZine, October 21, 2009.

23  See "Statements by Obama, Brown and Sarkozy," New York Times, September 26, 2009.

24  See "Gallup International Poll on Terrorism in the U.S. (Figures)," Gallup International, late September, 2001.  Also see Abid Aslam, "Polls Question Global Support for Military Campaign," Inter Press Service, October 8, 2001; and David Miller, "World Opinion Opposed the Attack on Afghanistan," Sterling Media Research Center, Scotland, November 21, 2001 (as posted to the Religion-Online website).  Miller noted that "When polling companies do ask about alternatives [to the war-option], support for war falls away."  Hence, he added, this was the reason why so much news media coverage systematically distorts the facts away from informing people about real alternatives and the real impact of the war on Afghanistan.  In Pakistan, a case with great resonance today, a Gallup International poll sponsored by Newsweek in the early days after the start of the U.S. war found that "Eighty-three percent of Pakistanis surveyed say they side with the Taliban, with a mere 3 percent expressing support for the United States."  (""Shifting Sympathies," Newsweek Web Exclusive, October 18, 2001.)

25  Schwartz, Department of Defense Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Background and Analysis, 9-10; Grier, "US use of private contractors in war hits record high;" and Glantz, "Contractors Outnumber U.S. Troops in Afghanistan."

26  Juan Cole, "Ahmadinejad Reelected under Cloud of Fraud," Salon, June 13, 2009.

27  Juan Cole, "Mass Protests in Iran Crushed for Now," Salon, June 29, 2009.

28  For Cole's extensive criticisms of Iran's June 12 presidential election and the repression that followed, see his Informed Comment blog, beginning with "Stealing the Iranian Election," June 13, 2009.

29  Juan Cole, "Abdullah Withdraws from Afghan Presidential Race," Salon, November 2, 2009.

30  See James Blitz et al., "Swat Outlook 'Pretty Bleak' for Pakistan," Financial Times, May 13, 2009; and David Kilcullen and Andrew McDonald Exum, "Death From Above, Outrage Down Below," New York Times, May 17, 2009.  On the greatly increased use of remote-controlled drones in all theaters living under the threat of U.S. aerial attacks, see Jane Mayer, "The Predator War: What Are the Risks of the C.I.A.'s Covert Drone Program?" New Yorker, October 26, 2009.

31  "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Participates in 'Townterview' with Prominent Women Journalists," Islamabad, Pakistan, U.S. Department of State, October 30, 2009.

32  Justin Raimondo, "Hillary's Ill-Will Tour," Antiwar.com, November 2, 2009.

33  See Kathy Kelly, "A Weaver's Welcome to Pakistan," CounterPunch, June 3, 2009; Kathy Kelly, "Visitors and Hosts in Pakistan," CounterPunch, June 10, 2009; Kathy Kelly and Dan Pearson, "Down and Out in Shah Mansoor," CounterPunch, June 11, 2009; Kathy Kelly, "Now We See You, Now We Don't," CounterPunch, June 25, 2009; and Dan Pearson and Kathy Kelly, "The Rotten Fruits of War," CounterPunch, October 22, 2009.

34  See, e.g., Chidanand Rajghatta, "US Predator Strike Kills Militant Kashmiri,"," The Times of India, September 18, 2009.

35 See "Exclusive: Al Jazeera-Gallup Pakistan Survey," especially the question "On the threat from the Taliban vs. the USA and India," and the question "On drone attacks," Al Jazeera, August 13, 2009.  Also see Owen Fay, "Pakistanis See US as Biggest Threat," Al Jazeera, August 13, 2009; and Saeed Shah, "Anti-Americanism Rises in Pakistan over U.S. Motives." McClatchy Newspapers, September 7, 2009.

36  See Steven Kull et al., Public Opinion in the Islamic World about Terrorism, al Qaeda, and U.S. Policies, PIPA-World Public Opinion.org, February 25, 2009; and the accompanying Questionnaire, July 28 - September 6, 2008.  The relevant questions were Q26; Q42, Q43, and Q44; and Q15 and Q11.


Edward S. Herman is professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and has written extensively on economics, political economy, and the media. Among his books are Corporate Control, Corporate Power (Cambridge University Press, 1981), The Real Terror Network (South End Press, 1982), and, with Noam Chomsky, The Political Economy of Human Rights (South End Press, 1979), and Manufacturing Consent (Pantheon, 2002).  David Peterson is an independent journalist and researcher based in Chicago.
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