Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

Chomsky: The U.S. behaves nothing like a democracy

August 18, 2013

The MIT professor lays out how the majority of U.S. policies are opposed to what wide swaths of the public want

Chomsky: The U.S. behaves nothing like a democracyNoam Chomsky (Credit: AP/Nader Daoud)
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The following is a transcript of a recent speech delivered Noam Chomsky in Bonn, Germany, at DW Global Media Forum, Bonn, Germany. It was previously published at Alternet.

I’d like to comment on topics that I think should regularly be on the front pages but are not — and in many crucial cases are scarcely mentioned at all or are presented in ways that seem to me deceptive because they’re framed almost reflexively in terms of doctrines of the powerful.

In these comments I’ll focus primarily on the United States for several reasons: One, it’s the most important country in terms of its power and influence. Second, it’s the most advanced – not in its inherent character, but in the sense that because of its power, other societies tend to move in that direction. The third reason is just that I know it better. But I think what I say generalizes much more widely – at least to my knowledge, obviously there are some variations. So I’ll be concerned then with tendencies in American society and what they portend for the world, given American power.

American power is diminishing, as it has been in fact since its peak in 1945, but it’s still incomparable. And it’s dangerous. Obama’s remarkable global terror campaign and the limited, pathetic reaction to it in the West is one shocking example. And it is a campaign of international terrorism – by far the most extreme in the world. Those who harbor any doubts on that should read the report issued by Stanford University and New York University, and actually I’ll return to even more serious examples than international terrorism.

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Pentagon’s Christmas Present: Largest Military Budget Since World War II

December 26, 2010

By Rick Rozoff, opednews.com, Dec 23, 2010

On December 22 both houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a bill authorizing $725 billion for next year’s Defense Department budget.

The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, was approved by all 100 senators as required and by a voice vote in the House.

The House had approved the bill, now sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law, five days earlier in a 341-48 roll call, but needed to vote on it again after the Senate altered it in the interim.

The proposed figure for the Pentagon’s 2011 war chest includes, in addition to the base budget, $158.7 billion for what are now euphemistically referred to as overseas contingency operations: The military occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

The $725 billion figure, although $17 billion more than the White House had requested, is not the final word on the subject, however, as supplements could be demanded as early as the beginning of next year, especially in regard to the Afghan war that will then be in its eleventh calendar year.

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Please Mr. President! Some Truth About Afghanistan

December 23, 2010

Eric Margolis, The Huffington Post, Dec 20, 2010

After nine years of war in Afghanistan, costing over $100 billion in taxpayer money and 700 American lives, the full truth about this murky conflict remains elusive.

The government and media have colluded to paint the picture of a noble, heroic, flag-waving American enterprise in Afghanistan that is, alas, very far from reality. As the cynic Ambrose Bierce pointedly observed of patriots — “the dupe of statesmen; the tool of conquerors.”

Three interesting reports about Afghanistan emerged in Washington last week.

First, a political whitewash issued by the Obama White House claiming the war was going well and some US troops might be withdrawn next year. This ‘don’t worry be happy’ summary was trumpeted by the pro-war New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other members of the government-friendly US media.

US generals spoke of “progress” in Afghanistan, whatever that means, as US forces conducted a brutal campaign around Kandahar to crush resistance to the occupation and punish communities that supported Taliban.

Second, the Red Cross issued a grim report showing that Afghans were suffering widespread malnutrition and serious health problems after nearly a decade of Western occupation. So much for US-led nation-building.

Third, there were leaks about a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), the combined findings of all 16 US intelligence agencies. This key intelligence report is explosive and may not be fully revealed.

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Nuclear Carriers on the Move

August 10, 2010

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

By Arno J. Mayer, Counterpunch, August 9, 2010

Dear Mr. President:

As Commander-in-Chief you have ordered the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier U.S.S. George Washington to carry out major naval exercises off the coast of Japan and the Korean Peninsula before proceeding, most likely, to other exercises in the Yellow Sea, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula to the east. One of the world’s largest warships, the George Washington is accompanied by some 20 armed vessels and submarines, scores of aircraft and helicopters along with thousands of naval, ground, and air personnel.

You have also ordered the deployment of the nuclear-powered U.S.S. Dwight Eisenhower and U.S.S. Harry Truman to cruise or patrol in an open-ended theater of naval operations in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. Both these carriers likewise are hubs of large strike forces consisting of numerous warships, military aircraft, units of the armed services, including special commandos and amphibious landing craft.

Given the scale and reach of this projection of raw military power—reminiscent of the comparatively paltry gunboat diplomacy of a not-so-distant past—I was wondering, Mr. President, whether it wouldn’t be wise for you to give the American people, the United Nations, and the rest of the world a reasoned statement of the need for such an oceanic display of America’s naval, air, soldierly, and electronic might at a time when the United States seems bent on continuing to act as a global policeman in the four corners of the world.

Should you clarify the objectives of American policy it might also be helpful if you could indicate how your policies are in harmony with the letter and spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for your “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” which you humbly accepted. Such a reflection would stave off the question as to when and on which of America’s 12 nuclear-powered super-carriers you expect to declare “Mission Accomplished.”

Respectfully yours,
Arno J. Mayer

Arno J Mayer is emeritus professor of history at Princeton University. He is the author of The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions.and Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel (Verso).

Three Things You Missed in Rolling Stone’s McChrystal Profile

June 24, 2010

by Tom Andrews, CommonDreams.org, June 23, 2010

Unfortunately, President Obama missed an opportunity today to not only replace an out-of-control general but an out-of-control and failing strategy in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, mainstream media continue to miss the most serious story contained in the now famous Rolling Stone profile.

Michael Hastings’ piece is about more than an adolescent general and his buddies’ school-yard shenanigans in Kabul and Paris. It was about a failing strategy in Afghanistan and the disconnect between how the administration portrays the war in public and the reality of how the war is actually being waged.

Here are three points in the Rolling Stone article that contradict what the White House has presented to Congress and the American people about the war in Afghanistan:

“Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further.” A senior military official stationed in Afghanistan told Hastings: “There’s a possibility we could ask for another surge of US forces next summer if we see success here.”

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Mearsheimer: Israel’s fated bleak future as an apartheid state

May 10, 2010

By John J. Mearsheimer, Chicago Tribune, May 9, 2010

President Barack Obama has finally coaxed Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. He and most Americans hope that the talks will lead to the creation of a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank. Regrettably, that is not going to happen. Instead, those territories are almost certain to be incorporated into a “Greater Israel,” which will then be an apartheid state bearing a marked resemblance to white-ruled South Africa.

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Will Obama Say Yes to Afghan Peace Talks?

May 8, 2010

Robert Naiman, The Huffington Post, May 7, 2010

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is coming to Washington next week to meet with President Obama. Afghan government officials have said that their top priority for these talks is to get President Obama to agree that the U.S. will fully back efforts of the Afghan government to reconcile with senior leaders of the Afghan Taliban insurgency in order to end the war.

On the merits, saying yes to the Afghan government’s request for US support for peace talks would seem like a no-brainer.

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Obama’s Record On Guantanamo Just As Shoddy As Bush’s

April 16, 2010

By Lt. Col. Barry Wingard,  The Public Record, April 14, 2010

During his 2008 campaign, President Obama promised the country “change we can believe in.” Yet, more than a year into his administration, he has delivered “more of the same” on issues pertaining to Guantanamo Bay. The island prison is still open, detainees still await trials, and officials have recommended the worst of George W. Bush’s policies — indefinite detention.

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Don’t Stand By as the Wars ‘Drone’ On

March 19, 2010

by Ann Wright, CommonDreams.org, March 19, 2010

Seven years ago today I resigned from the U.S. government in opposition to the Bush administration’s war on Iraq.

I had worked for the State Department for sixteen years and had been in the Army and Army Reserves for 29 years.  I was one of three U.S. diplomats who resigned over the Bush administration’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq and one of tens if not hundreds of thousands of government employees that knew the war on Iraq would jeopardize our national security, not improve it.

While I was in the process of making my decision to resign, millions of Americans and tens of millions of people from around the world took to the streets to protest the pending invasion and occupation of Iraq and the inevitable deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Tomorrow I will be marching in Washington, DC and will join with hundreds of thousands of Americans all over our country to protest the continuation of Bush’s wars on Iraq and Afghanistan by the Obama administration.

Seven years in Afghanistan

Looking our country’s history of invasions and occupations, I guess I should not be surprised that seven years later, over 100,000 U.S. military and 100,000 U.S. contractors would remain in Iraq and that a new president, elected by many to end the wars, would be following lockstep the old president’s blueprint on the wars and on so many other issues.

President Obama, who professed to having been opposed to the Iraq war, has not speeded up the removal of U.S. military forces from Iraq.  Bush’s plan for leaving a force of 50,000 U.S. military until the end of 2011 is being implemented with little variation by Obama.  These “non-combat” 50,000 forces will actually be combat troops renamed as trainers and advisors to Iraqi security forces and quick reaction forces to continue to combat operations when needed.

No one of the Obama administration will state how many private security contractors will remain in Iraq.  Private security contractors serve as extensions of combat military forces and, if any administration was honest about in counting U.S. combat power, should be added to the military numbers.

By the Bush-Obama timetable, all U.S. military troops are to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, but whether the 100,000 U.S. contractors will remain is conveniently unclear.

If you thought this Iraq timetable was too long under Bush, then one would hope that you think it is too long under Obama also.

Eight and one-half years in Afghanistan

This month marks eight and one-half years the U.S. military has been an occupying force in Afghanistan.  Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama has increased dramatically U.S. military operations in Afghanistan with an increase of 30,000 troops.  Now over 100,000 U.S. military are in Afghanistan with the number of U.S. contractors topping 75,000 and scheduled to increase even further.

The Obama administration has increased enormously the use of assassination drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan with a major increase in civilian deaths from drone attacks. Large scale combat operations in sparsely populated areas of Afghanistan are underway.  We are told the operations are for clearing Taliban, but in reality they seem to be consolidating power in the area for Afghan President Karzai’s brother Walid who is reported by many to be involved in Afghanistan’s huge drug trade and extending U.S. military occupation of greater regions of the country.

Show your concerns tomorrow and every day-jobs, schools, healthcare-not more war and other criminal acts by our own government!

There are many reasons to be on the streets tomorrow. Protesting wars of aggression, accountability for government officials violating our own laws as well as domestic laws, is another reason.

Despite claims that he would close Guantanamo within his first year, President Obama continues the imprisonment policies of Bush and looks like he will fold to right-wing Republican pressure to continue to use the tainted military commissions to try prisoners with “evidence” obtained by torture.

Ominously, the Obama administration is refusing to hold accountable key officials in the Bush administration who violated U.S. and international law which makes torture illegal.  The names of these officials are well-known–John Yoo, Jay Bybee (now a federal court judge), Alberto Gonzalez, David Addington.  And former Vice-President Cheney still makes public statements that torture is fine and that water boarding is appropriate and legal.

Many citizens believe that there must be accountability for the Bush administration otherwise future administrations, including the Obama administration, may attempt to conduct criminal action while in office with impunity.  Today I join hundreds who will protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, John Yoo’s freedom while he sentenced thousands to be tortured by his legal opinions under as justification for torture by the Bush administration.

Greed from huge corporate war profits and from financial system profits that miraculously rebounded in record time with our tax bailout while millions of Americans are out of work, schools in America close and healthcare costs skyrocket should move millions of us to be visibly and vocally challenging both political parties who share the blame in the dangerous situation America is in.

After spending most of my adult life in either the U.S. military or the U.S. diplomatic corps, I strongly believe we must let our officials know of our displeasure and anger, and I hope you will join your friends and neighbors on the streets tomorrow, March 20, to challenge war and business as usual in America.

Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.  She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia.  In December, 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.  She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”  (www.voicesofconscience.com)

Exit Strategies for Afghanistan and Iraq

March 10, 2010

By Tom Hayden, ZNet, March 10, 2010

Source: The Nation

Tom Hayden’s ZSpace Page

It’s been a long winter for the peace movement. Waiting for Obama has proved fruitless. The Great Recession has strengthened Wall Street and diverted attention from the wars. The debate over healthcare still won’t go away and has demoralized progressive advocates. Given a chance to exit from Afghanistan when the Karzai election proved to be stolen, President Obama escalated anyway, but also promised to “begin” exiting almost before an opposition could mobilize at home.

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