By Alan Hart
Last Saturday in his radio address to his own people and over the internet to those around the world who still think he is worth listening to, President Obama said, “This week we had two powerful reminders of how we’ve renewed American leadership in the world.” That made me wonder which of the two d’s should be applied to him – duplicitous or deluded. (I won’t argue with any readers who might say that he is both because being duplicitous eventually makes you delusional. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is best proof of that).
According to Obama the two powerful reminders were the death of Muammar Gaddafi and the end of the war in Iraq. The day before his Saturday show the president declared the killing of the Libyan leader to be “momentous”; and he told his fellow Americans that the long and costly war in Iraq will be over by the end of the year and that all 40,000 U.S. servicemen and women still there “will definitely be home for the holidays.”
It could be that I am missing something but I can’t see how the killing of Gaddafi was one of two powerful reminders of renewed American leadership in the world. That said, one possible implication of Obama’s rhetoric is that CIA agents and their Libyan assets played a major role in bringing the Libyan pot to boiling point for regime change. If that was so, Obama’s unspoken message to his fellow Americans last Saturday was something like: “Trust me. I’m not a soft touch. I am more ready and willing than any of my recent predecessors to authorise whatever actions are necessary to destroy those who stand in the way of our foreign policy objectives.” (No doubt some of those who advise Obama are hoping that Iran will be the next target).
The only reason why all American servicemen and women will be leaving Iraq is Obama’s failure to persuade the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to keep US bases and several thousand troops there indefinitely on America’s terms. They were that American troops would not be subject to Iraqi law. (In each of the many countries country where American forces are based, the US insists on legal immunity for them, refuses to let them be tried by foreigners).
As Jonathan Steele pointed out in an article for The Guardian, the issue of legal immunity for American forces was especially sensitive in Iraq “after numerous US murders of civilians and the Abu Ghraib scandal in which Iraqi prisoners were sexually humiliated.”
The same article delivered what I think is a very sound judgement of America’s achievement in Iraq. Steele wrote:
“The final troop withdrawal marks a complete defeat for Bush’s Iraq project. The neocons’ grand plan to use the 2003 invasion to turn the country into a secure pro-Western democracy and a garrison for US bases that could put pressure on Syria and Iran lies in tatters… Their hopes of making Iraq a democratic model for the Middle East have been tipped on their head. The instability and bloodshed which the US unleashed in Iraq were the example that Arabs sought to avoid, not emulate… But the neocons’ biggest defeat is that, thanks to Bush’s toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iran’s greatest enemy, Tehran’s influence in Iraq is much stronger today than is America’s.”
How that contributes to renewing America’s leadership in the world is beyond my comprehension.
In his radio address Obama the master of rhetoric also said, “After a decade of war, we’re turning the page and moving forward with strength and confidence.”
I found myself wondering what his confidence is based on.
America is bankrupt (as are most if not all the nations of the Western world).
According to the latest polls, Obama’s job approval rating is somewhere between 36 and 42 percent, and likely to fall to an historic low if there is not significant progress on reducing unemployment (or at least halting its rise) and home ownership foreclosures.
And according to a CNN/ORC International poll, only 15 (repeat 15!) percent of Americans asked said that they trust the federal government to do the right thing most of the time.
On the foreign policy front the only two things America leads the world in are support for the Zionist (not Jewish) state of Israel right or wrong and targeted assassinations
I am also wondering if Obama has any real grasp of the fact that largely because of his support for Israel right or wrong, America is becoming as isolated in the world as it is.
I’ll conclude by saying that it gives me no pleasure to write about Obama in the way I am now doing. I was among the many who were initially inspired by his rhetoric and dared to invest some hope in the view that he would change America and the world for the better. I now think he was never going to be a president who could give substance to his soaring rhetoric because he was too inexperienced and too naive for the job.
So with regret my own answer to the headline question is “Yes”, he has become a joke.
As I write one of the questions I am asking myself is this. Is it possible that supporters of Hillary Clinton will seek to prevail upon Obama not to run for a second term, to clear the way for them draft her, to give the Democrats what they will believe to be a better chance of preventing the Republican Mitt Romney being the next occupant of the White House? Much might depend on how much of a boost Obama gets in the polls for bringing the servicemen and women home from Iraq. But obviously all bets will be off if the American and perhaps even the whole global economy crashes between now and the end of the year.