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Obama

Obama delivers -- when it comes to war

By Billy Wharton

December 4, 2009 -- When US President Barack Obama announced his plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan by sending 30,000 more troops to the war-torn country, he delivered on two campaign promises. The first was a campaign trail pledge to re-focus US military power on the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. This was mostly ignored by enthralled voters. The second was made more quietly to his many campaign donors in the defence industry. This promise was happily recognised by war hawks throughout Washington. The resulting troop surge into an already war-ravaged Afghanistan will lead to more of the same -- further Afghan civilian casualties, more dead US soldiers and the continuance of a military campaign in an unwinnable war. Good news for military contractors, bad news for the rest of us.

A hawk in dove’s clothing

Labour Party Pakistan condemns Obama's Afghanistan policy

Obama's policy means ``more bombs, more drone attacks and more bloodshed in the region''.

By Farooq Tariq

December 4, 2009 -- The Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) condemns US President Barack Obama's Afghanistan policy and demands that all NATO forces immediately withdraw from Afghanistan and stop drone attacks on Pakistan. The Labour Party Pakistan has decided to protest against this new escalation of the war effort in the region. The first protest took place on December 4 in front of US consulate in Lahore. There will be more demonstrations in different parts of Pakistan.

United States: Where's the socialism? The good, the bad and the ugly of health-care reform

By Billy Wharton

November 9, 2009 -- Where is the socialism now? Frenetic right-wingers spent a good part of the US summer shouting about the “government takeover of health care” or the “stealth socialist health-care plan”. Now that the Affordable Healthcare for America Act has been passed by a slim margin in the US House of Representatives, on November 8, there are few traces of anything even resembling socialism. Instead, Americans will find the good, the bad and the ugly of health-care reform all contained within the 1990-page bill.

Review of `Renegade: The Making of Barack Obama'

Renegade: The Making of Barack Obama
By Richard Wolfe, Virgin Books, London 2009

Review by Jeff Richards

October 14, 2009 – Whatever your views are about Barack Obama, there is no doubt that his campaign for the US presidency was a major milestone in the history of electoral politics in the United States. How did a senatorial rookie who was black, with an alien name and a background in community organising get to the centre of the system of power? It was both a matter of circumstance (the crises and failure of neoconservative project) and the remarkable political skills of Obama and the campaign team led by David Axelrod.

United States: `Birthers', `deathers' and haters -- Right-wing populism and liberal retreat

 

By Malik Miah, San Francisco

October 11, 2009 — The heat is on the administration of US President Barack Obama. The energised conservative base has taken over town hall meetings on health care. There are “birthers” (those who claim Obama is not a US citizen and ineligible to be president), “deathers” (those who claim Obama’s health care reform is a plan to kill old people) and just pure haters. Obama has been personally attacked as a racist, socialist, communist, Stalinist, fascist, Nazi, Pol Potist, foreigner and every other name the right finds in its vocabulary.

When Obama led the US delegation to Copenhagen to get his home town of Chicago the 2016 Olympics — and failed — he was attacked as “out of touch” by the right. When Chicago was knocked out in the first round of voting, the right gleefully cheered! The “country first” crowd forgot that a Chicago Olympics would be in the United States, not “Obama Land”.

United States: Race and class -- African Americans in a sick system

By Malik Miah

August 2009 -- The critical lack of quality and affordable health care is devastating for African Americans. Twice as likely as whites to go without health insurance, African Americans suffer chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes at an escalating rate. The root of the problem is not inferior Black — or better white — health care. It is first and foremost a class issue, exacerbated for Blacks and Latinos because of the institutional racism that still permeates society.

Only the wealthy can afford “the best medical care in the world”. Everyone else’s care is rationed by the employer or private plans that each can afford to buy, or if uninsured, by the use of “free” clinics and emergency rooms. The debate over the broken US health-care system and what to do about it is one of life and death.

Stubborn facts

United States: Industry-backed opponents of healthcare reform react with racism, violence


Elston McCowan. Photo by Don Fitz.

By Don Fitz

August 14, 2009 -- St. Louis -- Did you hear about the town hall meeting in St. Louis on August 6, where union thugs attacked a black conservative and sent him to the hospital with multiple injuries? Well, it didn’t happen exactly like that. In fact, events were the opposite of what talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly broadcast and what the corporate media relayed across the US.

The right-wing Tea Party group announced to the world that their supporter Kenneth Gladney was assaulted by Elston McCowan, who is an organiser for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Earlier this year I worked closely with McCowan, a black minister, when he ran for mayor of St. Louis on the Green Party ticket. Since nothing that I heard fit the McCowan I know, I interviewed him about the August 6 incident.

How Obama pardons capitalism for its misdeeds in Africa

By Emilie Tamadaho Atchaca (Benin), Solange Koné (Ivory Coast), Jean Victor Lemvo (Congo Brazzaville), Damien Millet (France), Luc Mukendi and Victor Nzuzi (Congo Kinshasa), Sophie Perchellet (France), Aminata Barry Touré (Mali), Eric Toussaint (Belgium), Ibrahim Yacouba (Niger)[1]. Translated by Maria Gatti

July 20, 2009 -- After the G8 summit in Italy, US President Barack Obama flew off to Africa with a so-called gift: an envelope of US$20 billion to distribute over three years, so that “generous” donors in the rich countries could “help” reduce world hunger. While the promise to eradicate hunger has been made on a regular basis since 1970, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) published a report last month indicating that the number of undernourished people has passed the 1 billion point, that is 100 million more than the year before. At the same time, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) sounded the alarm bell and announced that it had to cut

Lipstick on a pig: The failure of Obama’s health-care reform

By Billy Wharton

July 19, 2009 -- Consider it a symptom of a larger disease. A fervent commitment to defend the profit margins of private industry seems to be a national religion for politicians in the United States. No matter how deeply the private sector mucks up society, some senator or representative or, if things get really out of control, president will appear to rescue the day for the corporations all in the name of justice for the citizens of the US. Like any religion, this process has highly crafted rituals. First a confession, then march the sinners around at one hearing or another, then mete out acceptable penance and then all is forgiven.

How the West exploits Africa

Ghana's elected President Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a US-backed coup in 1966.

By Tony Iltis

July 18, 2009 -- US President Barack Obama used his African heritage in his July 11 speech to the Ghanaian parliament in Accra as justification for proceeding to blame Africa’s problems on its own people. 

He acknowledged historical Western crimes, but denied that ongoing suffering is caused by the current policies of the West. Western aggression and exploitation, Obama claims, are things of the past. A July 15 Los Angeles Times editorial said: “It was the same message about good governance they’d heard from presidents [Bill] Clinton and George W. Bush. No new programs or initiatives for Africa. But just because the message is old doesn't mean it's not worth repeating.”

Obama played up his own ancestry to appeal to his audience. He referred to the indignities his grandfather suffered under British colonial rule in Kenya, including being briefly imprisoned during the independence struggle of the 1950s and ’60s.

Obama in Ghana: The speech he should have made

By Firoze Manji

July 16, 2009 -- The internet and wires have been burning with anger and disappointment at the speech made by US President Barack Obama on July 11 at the start of his visit to Ghana. Below is a speech Obama might have -- or should have -- made during his second visit to the continent in the space of a few weeks.

* * *

Good morning. It is an honour for me to be in Accra, and to speak to the representatives of the people of Ghana. I am deeply grateful for the welcome that I've received, as are Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama. Ghana's history is rich, the ties between our two countries are strong, and I am proud that this is my second visit to Africa as president of the United States.

Tariq Ali on Obama: Imperialism with a human face

Obama visits US troops in Afghanistan during the 2008 presidential campaign.

February 14, 2009 -- With US President Barack Obama to visit Ottawa, Canada, on February 19, renowned writer and anti-war campaigner Tariq Ali shares his thoughts on the new administration's foreign policy. In his recently published book, The Duel, Tariq Ali argues that expanding the war in Afghanistan will only sow more destruction in that long-suffering Central Asian country, and aggravate the already volatile situation in Pakistan.

In this interview, which first appeared at the progressive Canadian website rabble.ca, Ali discusses with rabble's editor Derrick O'Keefe the war, prospects for Palestine under Obama's watch and the rising left-wing tide in Uncle Sam's backyard. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with O'Keefe's permission.

* * *

Fidel Castro: Contradictions between Obama’s politics and ethics

By Fidel Castro Ruz

February 4, 2009 -- A few days ago I referred to some of Obama’s ideas which point to his role in a system that denies every principle of justice.

Some throw their hands up in horror if anything is said to criticise the important personality, even if it is done with decency and respect. This is usually accompanied by subtle and not so subtle darts from those with the means to throw and transform them into the elements of media terror imposed on the peoples to sustain the unsustainable.

Every criticism I make is always construed as an attack, an accusation and other similar qualifiers reflecting callousness and discourtesy towards the person involved.

This time I’d rather address some questions of many that could be raised and that the new President of the United States should answer.

The following for example:

What does Obama mean for the world?

By Barry Sheppard, San Francisco

January 23, 2009 -- More than 1 million people gathered in bitter cold in Washington DC to witness the historical inauguration of an African American as president.

The crowd was disproportionately Black, but majority white — and jubilant. Celebrations were held in Black communities throughout the country, and in other sectors of the population.

He was sworn in by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, itself historic. In the aftermath of the election, he enjoys overwhelming support according to polls, far higher than his margin of votes. This indicates a large swing of whites among those who voted for the Republican candidate John McCain.

Hopes are running high that he will do something to turn around the accelerating downturn in the economy. On “inauguration day”, it appeared that the crisis in the banks and other financial institutions was once again critical.

With rising unemployment, rising home foreclosures, falling wages, failing retail chains and US$1 trillion poured down what one economist called a bottomless pothole to apparently no avail, the working and middle classes have experienced a massive shock.

The “free markets will solve all” ideology is a dead duck. US people are demanding that the government take action. Obama has promised to do just that.

Obama and the change the world demands

[Kavita Krishnan will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

By Kavita Krishnan

The United States – and the world – has just witnessed Bush's exit from and Barack Obama's entry into the White House. The mood at Obama's inauguration – an event replete with symbolic resonances, situating the Obama presidency in the history of the civil rights movement against racism in the US – indicates the endurance of that groundswell of popular hope in the US which powered Obama's election campaign. For a US people reeling from financial crisis and the highly unpopular Bush presidency, Obama has offered a promise of ``change''.

Black president in the White House: Not the `same old white supremacy' but …

Barack Obama delivers his inaugural address after being sworn in as president of the United States. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

By Mike Ely

For literally millions of people, for many of a new generation, the awakening to politics starts in these moments. This is the world, the arguments, the summations, the claims, the promises that they hear and that they will see unfold in the days ahead. We need to understand this moment, we need to also inhabit this world that they are seeing — in order to craft from among them a revolutionary force that can actually connect with and represent their highest hopes.

`What we expect from President Obama on Palestine' (+COSATU solidarity message to the people of Gaza)

Joint statement by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions

January 20, 2009 -- In a few hours, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as president of the United States of America, the largest and most powerful empire in recorded history. His inauguration comes at the end of a long and hard election campaign which rode on his campaign promise of ``Change'', a promise which captured the imagination of his voters and of people across the world. The change that Obama promised -- for the people of the United States and for the rest of the world -- is welcomed for the break that it suggests with the depraved capital-centred and imperialist policies of the George Bush administration.

We are confident that Obama will make some changes. We welcome his commitment to closing down Guantanamo Bay prison, an institution which makes a mockery of international law and human rights, and his commitment to eliminate torture techniques as a form of interrogation. We welcome his commitment to withdrawing troops from Iraq. We welcome his commitment to ensuring that the state, in the US, improves the health care provisions to its people. Our concern, however, is about those things that Obama is determined not to change.

What won't change?

Obama's intention to increase military personnel in Afghanistan and continue the military occupation of the country reflects both a commitment to sustaining an imperial agenda and a disrespect for the lives and choices of people in the Global South.

Good riddance, Dubya!



Poster of President George W. Bush outside the US Consulate in Montreal, Canada. US President George W. Bush and shoes are now synonymous. People around the world were inspired by Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi. Source: Flickr. Thanks to http://osocio.org/message/bye_bye_dubya_and_thank_you/.

Fidel Castro on `Team Obama'

By Fidel Castro Ruz 

December 4, 2008 -- Following Barack Obama’s speech, on May 23, 2008, to the Cuban American National Foundation established by Ronald Reagan, I wrote a reflection entitled ``The empire’s hypocritical policy''.

In that reflection I quoted his exact words to the Miami annexationists: “[…] together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba; this is my word and my commitment […] It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime. […] I will maintain the embargo.”

I then offered several arguments and unethical examples of the general behaviour of the presidents who preceded the one who would be elected to that position in the November 4 elections. I wrote:

I find myself forced to raise various sensitive questions:

1. Is it right for the President of the United States to order the assassination of any one person in the world, whatever the pretext may be?

2. Is it ethical for the President of the United States to order the torture of other human beings?

Team Obama: Channelling Clinton, extending Bush

By Patrick Bond

December 4, 2008 -- Barack Obama was elected on a platform of change. Yet, his actions are pointing to more and more of the same. The question of whether Obama can possibly replace Bush as a danger to world peace is worth considering.

The president-elect’s turn to the Zionist, militarist wing of the US ruling class in recent weeks negates the interest and support he showed for the Palestinian cause while a Chicago community organiser during the 1990s and to the anti-war movement when Bush attacked Iraq five and a half years ago.

To counteract ongoing their economic and cultural decline, it appears that US imperialist managers have adopted two strategies: political revitalisation via Obama’s carefully crafted image as a non-imperialist politician with roots in African-American, Kenyan and even Indonesian traditions; and the activism anticipated through his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, a firm supporter of the US war against Iraq.

In reaction to election campaign allegations that he is a peacenik, Obama himself uttered that the ``surge'' of US troops in Iraq ``succeeded beyond our wildest dreams''.

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