Fidel on Obama: The empire's hypocritical politics

By Fidel Castro Ruz

May 25, 2008 -- It would be dishonest of me to remain silent after hearing the speech Barack Obama delivered on the afternoon of May 23, 2008, at the Cuban American National Foundation, created by Ronald Reagan. I listened to his speech, as I did [John] McCain's and Bush's. I feel no resentment towards Obama, for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity. Were I to defend him, I would do his adversaries an enormous favour. I have therefore no reservations about criticising him and about expressing my points of view on his words frankly.

What were Obama's statements?

``Throughout my entire life, there has been injustice and repression in Cuba. Never, in my lifetime, have the people of Cuba known freedom. Never, in the lives of two generations of Cubans, have the people of Cuba known democracy... This is the terrible and tragic status quo that we have known for half a century –- of elections that are anything but free or fair ... I won't stand for this injustice, you won't stand for this injustice, and together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba'', he told the annexationists, adding: ``It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime... I will maintain the embargo.''

The content of these declarations by this strong candidate for the US presidency spares me the work of having to explain the reason for this reflection.

José Hernandez, one of the Cuban American National Foundation directors who Obama praised in his speech, was none other than the owner of the 50-calibre automatic rifle, equipped with telescopic and infrared sights, which was confiscated, by chance, along with other deadly weapons while being transported by sea to Venezuela, where the foundation had planned to assassinate the writer of these lines at an international meeting held in Margarita, in the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta.

Pepe Hernández' group wanted to renegotiate a former pact with Clinton, betrayed by Mas Canosa's clan, who secured Bush's electoral victory in 2000 through fraud, because the latter had promised to assassinate Castro, something they all happily embraced. These are the kinds of political tricks inherent to the United States' decadent and contradictory system.

Presidential candidate Obama's speech may be formulated as follows: hunger for the nation, remittances as charitable hand outs and visits to Cuba as propaganda for consumerism and the unsustainable way of life behind it.

Global crises

How does he plan to address the extremely serious problem of the global food crisis? The world's grains must be distributed among human beings. Fish, [the supplies of which] become smaller every year and more scarce in the seas that have been over-exploited by the large trawlers which no international organisation could get in the way of. Producing meat from gas and oil is no easy feat. Even Obama overestimates technology's potential in the fight against climate change, though he is more conscious of the risks and the limited margin of time than Bush. He could seek the advice of [former US vice-president Al] Gore, who is also a Democrat and is no longer a candidate, as he is aware of the accelerated pace at which global warming is advancing. His close political rival Bill Clinton, who is not running for the presidency, an expert on extra-territorial laws like the Helms-Burton and Torricelli Acts, can advise him on an issue like the blockade, which he promised to lift and never did.

What did he say in his speech in Miami, this man who is doubtless, from the social and human points of view, the most progressive candidate to the US presidency? ``For two hundred years'', he said, ``the United States has made it clear that we won't stand for foreign intervention in our hemisphere. But every day, all across the Americas, there is a different kind of struggle -- not against foreign armies, but against the deadly threat of hunger and thirst, disease and despair. That is not a future that we have to accept -- not for the child in Port au Prince or the family in the highlands of Peru. We can do better. We must do better... We cannot ignore suffering to our south, nor stand for the globalisation of the empty stomach.'' A magnificent description of imperialist globalisation: the globalisation of empty stomachs! We ought to thank him for it.

But, 200 years ago, Simon Bolivar fought for Latin American unity and, more than 100 years ago, Jose Martí gave his life in the struggle against the annexation of Cuba by the United States. What is the difference between what [US President James] Monroe [who in 1823] proclaimed [the Americas were the USA's domain] and what Obama proclaims and resuscitates in his speech two centuries later?

* * * *

Finding this article thought-provoking and useful?

Please subscribe free at

Help Links stay afloat. Donate what you can by clicking here.

* * * *

``I will reinstate a Special Envoy for the Americas in my White House who will work with my full support. But we'll also expand the Foreign Service, and open more consulates in the neglected regions of the Americas. We'll expand the Peace Corps, and ask more young Americans to go abroad to deepen the trust and the ties among our people'', he said near the end, adding: ``Together, we can choose the future over the past.'' A beautiful phrase, for it attests to the idea, or at least the fear, that history makes figures what they are and not [the other] way around.

Today, the United States has nothing of the spirit behind the Philadelphia declaration of principles formulated by the 13 colonies that rebelled against English colonialism. Today, they are a gigantic empire undreamed of by the country's founders at the time. Nothing, however, was to change for the natives and the slaves. The former were exterminated as the nation expanded; the latter continued to be auctioned at the marketplace —- men, women and children -— for nearly a century, despite the fact that ``all men are born free and equal'', as the Declaration of Independence affirms. The world's objective conditions favoured the development of that system.

US blockade

In his speech, Obama portrays the Cuban Revolution as anti-democratic and lacking in respect for freedom and human rights. It is the exact same argument which, almost without exception, US administrations have used again and again to justify their crimes against our country. The blockade, in and of itself, is an act of genocide. I don't want to see US children inculcated with those shameful values.

An armed revolution in our country might not have been needed without the military interventions, the Platt Amendment [which in 1901 made Cuba a virtual colony of the US] and the economic colonialism it visited upon Cuba.

The revolution was the result of imperial domination. We cannot be accused of having imposed it upon the country. The true changes could have and ought to have been brought about in the United States. Its own workers, more than a century ago, voiced the demand for an eight-hour work shift, which stemmed from the development of productive forces.

The first thing the leaders of the Cuban Revolution learned from Martí was to believe in and act on behalf of an organisation founded for the purposes of bringing about a revolution. We were always bound by previous forms of power and, following the institutionalisation of this organisation, we were elected by more than 90 per cent of voters, as has become customary in Cuba, a process which does not in the least resemble the ridiculous levels of electoral participation which, many a time, as in the case of the United States, stay short of 50 per cent of the voters. No small and blockaded country like ours would have been able to hold its ground for so long on the basis of ambition, vanity, deceit or the abuse of power, the kind of power its neighbour has. To state otherwise is an insult to the intelligence of our heroic people.

Delicate questions for Obama

I am not questioning Obama's great intelligence, his debating skills or his work ethic. He is a talented orator and is ahead of his rivals in the electoral race. I feel sympathy for his wife and little girls, who accompany him and give him encouragement every Tuesday. It is indeed a touching human spectacle. Nevertheless, I am obliged to raise a number of delicate questions. I do not expect answers; I wish only to raise them for the record.

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?

3. Should state terrorism be used by a country as powerful as the United States as an instrument to bring about peace on the planet?

4. Is the Cuban Adjustment Act [which grants permanent residence in the US to Cubans who flee Cuba], applied as punishment on only one country, Cuba, in order to destabilise it, good and honourable, even when it costs innocent children and mothers their lives? If it is good, why is this right not automatically granted to Haitians, Dominicans and other peoples of the Caribbean, and why isn't the same Act applied to Mexicans and people from Central and South America, who die like flies against the Mexican border wall or in the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific?

5. Can the United States do without immigrants, who grow vegetables, fruits, almonds and other delicacies for US citizens? Who would sweep their streets, work as servants in their homes or do the worst and lowest-paid jobs?

6. Are crackdowns on illegal residents fair, even as they affect children born in the United States?

7. Are the brain drain and the continuous theft of the best scientific and intellectual minds in poor countries moral and justifiable?

8. You state, as I pointed out at the beginning of this reflection, that your country had long ago warned European powers that it would not tolerate any intervention in the hemisphere, reiterating that this right be respected while demanding the right to intervene anywhere in the world with the aid of hundreds of military bases and naval, air and ground forces distributed across the planet. I ask: Is that the way in which the United States expresses its respect for freedom, democracy and human rights?

9. Is it fair to stage pre-emptive attacks on 60 or more ``dark corners'' of the world, as Bush calls them, whatever the pretext may be?

10. Is it honourable and sound to invest [trillions] of dollars in the military industrial complex, to produce weapons that can destroy life on Earth several times over?

Before judging our country, you should know that Cuba, with its education, health, sports, culture and science programs, implemented not only in its own territory but also in other poor countries around the world, and the blood that has been shed in acts of solidarity towards other peoples, in spite of the economic and financial blockade and the aggression of your powerful country, is proof that much can be done with very little. Not even our closest ally, the Soviet Union, was able to achieve what we have.

The only form of cooperation the United States can offer other nations consists in the sending of military professionals to those countries. It cannot offer anything else, for it lacks a sufficient number of people willing to sacrifice themselves for others and offer substantial aid to a country in need (though Cuba has known and relied on the cooperation of excellent US doctors). They are not to blame for this, for US society does not inculcate such values in them on a massive scale.

We have never subordinated cooperation with other countries to ideological requirements. We offered the United States our help when hurricane Katrina lashed the city of New Orleans. Our internationalist medical brigade bears the glorious name of Henry Reeve, a young man, born in the United States, who fought and died for Cuba's sovereignty in our first war of independence.

Our revolution can mobilise tens of thousands of doctors and health technicians. It can mobilise an equally vast number of teachers and citizens, who are willing to travel to any corner of the world to fulfill any noble purpose, not to usurp people's rights or take possession of raw materials.

The good will and determination of the people constitute limitless resources that cannot be kept and would not fit in a bank's vault. They cannot spring from the hypocritical politics of an empire.…

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

One of the great ironies of the current campaign season, is the assumption by so many Black voters that by supporting Barack Obama for president, they are making a real contribution to African American self-determination. Nothing could be further from the truth. The candidate, himself, is mightily opposed to the principle of African American self-determination, as he revealed in great detail and beyond doubt in rejecting Rev. Jeremiah Wright's narrative on America's origins. Obama also has no more respect than other corporate politicians for principles of international law and the sovereignty of nations. Should he win the presidency, U.S. militarization of African will continue, as will American bullying of its Latin American neighbors.

Barack Obama versus Black Self-Determination
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

"Obama has repeatedly telegraphed his contempt for any worldview that fails to glorify the U.S. rise to global dominance."
Obama-ism - a thoroughly corporate political concoction soaked with banalities and wrapped in fraudulent brown packaging - presents a clear and present danger to perhaps the greatest legacy of the Black Freedom Movement: African Americans' embrace of their right to self-determination. Although African American yearnings for self-determination are evident in all previous eras, the general and dramatic emergence of this fundamental understanding among Blacks of their distinct "peoplehood" and inherent right to shape their own collective destiny, free of veto by or need for validation from dominant whites, marks the Sixties as a transformational period in African American history.

Barack Obama, whose disdain for what he calls the "excesses of the 1960s and 1970s" is palpable, seeks to eradicate all vestiges of Black self-determination, root and branch. The Senator has never made a secret of his intentions, dating from his 2004 Democratic National Convention declaration that "there is no Black America," to his categoricalrejection of the Black counter-narrative of American history, as preached by Rev. Jeremiah Wright and understood by most African Americans.

Obama has revealed himself as a rabid nationalist of the standard, white America variety. "I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country," says Obama - which pretty much says it all. The candidate has repeatedly telegraphed his contempt for any worldview that fails to glorify the U.S. rise to global dominance - a ritual that collides instantly with truth as it actually exists, with history as Black people have known it, and with Black aspirations to make their own way in the world unencumbered by the burden of white lies. Obama promises that he will oppose, with all the powers of his office, those who, like Rev. Wright, "use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike." (Philadelphia"Race" speech, March 18.)

If Obama were already president, dissidents would have cause to shop for a safehouse or foreign getaway.

Victims as Perpetrators

Clearly, if the United States is inherently good, then Black people and Native Americans must have done something catastrophically wrong to bring down upon themselves such suffering at the hands of the U.S. government - not to mention the sins committed by Vietnamese, Nicaraguans, Angolans and all the other peoples that have gotten in the way of white American Manifest Destiny.

President Obama will wage war against the heresies of deviant worldviews that dare to question America's moral superiority - as exemplified by Rev. Wright's "profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America."

If racism is merely an aberration in American life, as Obama believes - and which is the greatest concession that general white society is prepared to make to Blacks - then all the fuss about institutional racism, endemic police brutality and such are insults to the "national honor." Certainly, Obama behaves as if he thinks so. Every manifestation of Black entitlement to self-determination - that is, the right to rely on one's own people's collective memory and sense of the truth - must, from Obama's standpoint, be resisted, denounced and suppressed as "divisive" and, in general, against the national interest.

In order for Obama's vision of America to be true, most of Black America must be liars, Black self-determination equals treason, and the Sixties era was the Mother of Corruption.

Sixties Transformation

A half-century ago, in a veritable end-of-marathon sprint to self-emancipation, Black Americans not only achieved full legal citizenship within barely the space of a decade, but in the process threw off the chains of subservience to the oppressor's national historical narrative, the legitimizing mythology of white American Manifest Destiny. Inevitably, and in the glare of a global anti-colonial firestorm, African Americans finally perceived en masse the true nature of the centuries-old crime still-in-progress - that distinct and peculiar monstrosity, U.S. imperialism. Born of the Middle Passage and Pilgrims making bonfires of Pequot Indian women and children, 20th Century U.S. aggression against mainly non-white peoples abroad was inextricably linked to chain gangs and street cop justice at home. African Americans focused their "third eye" that could see across oceans and centuries, a political optic that discerned not just blood kin on The Continent, but peoples on other, distant shores, also victims of Euro-American predation, and equally deserving of Black solidarity.
"U.S. aggression against mainly non-white peoples abroad was inextricably linked to chain gangs and street cop justice at home."
African American solidarity with continental Africans - and with Vietnamese who "never called me nigger" - grew in tandem with the Black domestic struggle for self-determination: the fight for political rights with which to defend, control and shape the futures of Black communities. It is a truism that those who are engaged in struggle for their own people's self-determination are most sincerely empathetic towards others seeking liberation - especially when it is understood that the two peoples share a common antagonist. The period loosely defined as The Sixties saw not only unprecedented popular mobilization on domestic issues (10,000 separate demonstrations in 1965, alone, the vast bulk of them "civil rights" related), but soaring Black identification with liberation movements elsewhere in the world. African Americans were preparing themselves to become full fledged citizens of the planet, not just the United States.

The language of self-determination, always a strong current in historical Black political thought, entered the popular Black vocabulary through Malcolm X. "We assert that we Afro-Americans have the right to direct and control our lives, our history, and our future rather than to have our destinies determined by American racists," declared Malcolm's Organization of African-American Unity (OAAU), in a document scheduled for release on the day of his assassination, February 21, 1965. "[W]e are determined to rediscover our true African culture, which was crushed and hidden for over four hundred years in order to enslave us and keep us enslaved up to today...."

Self-determination was item number one of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense Ten-Point Program, promulgated in 1966:

"We Want Freedom. We Want Power To Determine The Destiny Of Our Black Community. We believe that Black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny."

Two years later, 100 Black nationalists in Detroit declared the founding of the Republic of New Africa (RNA), to further Blacks' entitlement to the full rights of a nation. Following the Nation of Islam's ideological lead and citing Malcolm X as the "Father of the Black Nation," the RNA identified five southern states - Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina - as the "Promised Land" for Black Americans.

The embrace of self-determination was not limited to the Black Left and land-seeking nationalists, but resonated throughout Black society, from Black capitalists to Marxists and everyone in between. There can be no doubt that the people who Dr. Martin Luther King was certain would "get to the promised land" were on a conscious, mass journey of self-determination. It was up to Black people to decide precisely where the ultimate destination might be - a question over which Dr. King agonized during the last years of his life. "I think we'll be integrating into aburning house," King told entertainer/activist Harry Belafonte, in 1968 - a clear acknowledgement that African Americans were not simply a darker variety of citizens, but a distinct people within the United States. King imagined that Blacks would play the role of firemen in the "American" house - but at any rate, that would be their choice to make.
"The call to self-determination was not limited to the Black Left and land-seeking nationalists, but resonated throughout Black society."
By definition, the right to self-determination is independent of minority or majority status - otherwise, no such right can exist in the face of white majority power. Therefore, self-determination transcends simple one-man, one-vote rule which, in the United States, affords historically hostile white majorities a permanent veto over Black aspirations. U.S. history has provided ample proof that electoral "democracy" is no cure for institutionalized suppression of racial minorities. With Voting Rights legislation secured by the mid-Sixties and understanding the limits of winner-take-all ballots, African Americans, including Dr. King, insisted on the right of Blacks to exercise effective power over their own lives as Blacks.. Naturally, such rights would obtain in the growing number of localities in which Blacks were emerging as majorities. However, the principles of self-determination, as interpreted at the time, demanded that Blacks and others claiming "peoplehood" be entitled to control those resources necessary for the development of their group independent of the majority's wishes - "rather than to have our destinies determined by American racists," as Malcolm's organization put it.

The domestic Black American application of self-determination principles were adapted fromUnited Nations language that states: "All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development."

The UN's International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Economic Rights fit the Black liberationist sentiments of The Sixties to a tee. Just as small nations have rights that powerful nations are required to respect, so the Black minority in the United States has the right to speak and act for itself, and to claim a share of the national treasure for itself, regardless of majority claims and sentiments. In a world of evolving standards of civilization, true "democracy" does not allow the big to lord it over the small.

Although there was not to be a land-based Black "nation" within U.S. borders, the core principles of Black self-determination have been largely incorporated into the political outlook and expectations of African Americans, and grudgingly acquiesced to by most whites. Blacks and, later, other minority groupings in white institutions, most notably academia, demanded and received resources based on their standing as Blacks within the larger body. The autonomy of Black political sentiment has, until recently, been at least paid lip-service by whites throughout U.S. society. Indeed, much of what some whites mean-spiritedly call "playing the race card" is simply Black assertion of group rights and prerequisites that should not be curbed by white majorities. Television programs produced by and for Blacks, now nearly extinct, were responses to demands that Black people be allowed to speak for themselves - a right under the umbrella of self-determination. In Democratic Party circles, at least, "the Blacks" cannot appear to be left out of decision making exercises, which usually require the (cosmetic) presence of trustworthy African Americans as a semblance for Black group inclusion. The moral authority of Black caucuses (including that which has been frittered away by the Congressional Black Caucus) is derived from the larger authority of self-determination principles.


The 1960s Black embrace of political self-determination freed African Americans from the burdensome inheritance of United States' enemies. As Muhammad Ali is said to have declared in 1966, "No Vietnamese ever called me nigger." Self-determination meant the right to declare solidarity with whomever one chooses, to side with African kin in the struggle for decolonization of the continent while the U.S. thwarted true liberation at every turn; and to identify as friends those who shared status as designated enemies of the U.S. government, abroad.
"International law is treated as a dead letter, by corporate Democrats as well as Republicans."
During the Sixties, it was discovered that African Americans, whose foreign policy opinions had previously been only sporadically surveyed, were more opposed to American military adventures abroad than any other U.S. ethnic group. The basis of Black anti-war sentiment was rooted in, not some vague group pacifism, but the conclusion that Washington is a bully who revels in abusing persons of color (and gets rich doing it).

African Americans had amassed centuries of experience as victims of U.S. government policy, treated as foreigners in their own land. Blacks, therefore, harbor the healthiest skepticism about U.S. motives, especially regarding non-white peoples. The right of self-determination, as African Americans understood it, liberated Blacks from any obligation to support Washington's depredations around the world. Moreover, bonds of solidarity with Africa required active opposition to U.S. foreign policy.

For many Blacks, the "newfound" knowledge of self-determination principles meant, literally, the right to enjoy freedom of speech for the first time! African Americans had always understood that Washington cared as little for the interests of foreign non-whites as it did for "colored" folks at home. Now, they could shout it, without fear of being branded traitors - at least, not by other Black people. By 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King found his true voice and began speaking in what was essentially solidarity with the Vietnamese people.

Two generations later, the contradictions of ailing U.S. imperialism become ever more acute. The United States challenges as never before the rights of smaller nations to manage their own resources and political affairs as they see fit. International law is treated as a dead letter, by corporate Democrats as well as Republicans. Barack Obama is no different - except in the imaginations of his fans.

Obama plans to leave 60-80,000 U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely, retain the services of many of the 140,000 private mercenaries (contractors) currently in the country, and add 92,000 additional soldiers and Marines to overall U.S. force structures - the same number the Bush regime requested from Congress. Far from being a peace candidate, Obama favors a huge increase in U.S. war-making capacity, in order to fight yet a third war while still mired in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Washington will have no problem finding locations for its new war(s).

Outside of the Middle East, the fault lines run through Africa and Latin America. George Bush has already begun the occupation of the Horn of African under the ruse of "anti-terror," with Ethiopia's brutal dictatorship acting as U.S. surrogate. Backed by every military resource of the United States, including the huge American base in Djibouti, the might of U.S. Indian Ocean naval and air power, and with U.S. Special Operations "advisors" deployed down to the company level, Ethiopia in late 2006 crushed the only stable government Somalia has had since 1994. TheU.S.-Ethiopian aggression created what United Nations officials describe as the "worst humanitarian situation in Africa" - worse than Darfur.

Barack Obama has had nothing to say about Somalia except to express outrage at his opponents posting pictures of himself dressed up in the garb of a Somali elder, during a visit to neighboring Kenya (Obama's father's homeland) several years ago. Suppression of Somali resistance to occupation threatens to destabilize Kenya, with its large Somali population, and Ethiopia, itself, where ethnic Somalis and others are in rebellion against the dictatorship.

It is fair to say that Somalia is the first African war to be tackled by the new American military command, Africom. So widespread is public opposition on the continent, fearing an attempt to re-colonize the region, no country has agreed to host the Africom. But BarackObama fully supports the robust U.S. military presence. "There will be situations that require the United States to work with its partners in Africa to fight terrorism with lethal force," said Obama. "Having a unified command operating in Africa will facilitate this action."
Obama's enthusiasm for swamping Africa in an ever-expanding "war on terror," is obvious.

On the western shores of the continent, Obama was rumored in early May to have proposed acease fire in the guerilla war over oil resources in Nigeria's Niger River delta. The insurgents, who claim the central government excludes delta residents from the benefits of oil production, have also asked former President Jimmy Carter tomediate the dispute. Whether anything comes of either request, it is certain that Nigeria, Africa's number one oil producer, will always be a leading candidate for Africom intervention. The presence of guerillas in the delta is all the Americans - including, based on his own words, Obama - will need to invoke the terror threat.
"Far from being a peace candidate, Obama favors a huge increase in U.S. war-making capacity."
Venezuela claims that recent explorations confirm that the South American nation has surpassed Saudi Arabia in oil reserves. Barack Obama is nearly as bellicose as John McCain when it comes to Venezuela's "rogue" leader, President Hugo Chavez - a hugely popular politician who was fairly elected three times under the watchful eyes of international observers. But democratic credentials don't matter to American politicians anxious to prove they can warmonger with the meanest blowhards in the pack. His predictable yet perilous mix of anti-American rhetoric, authoritarian government, and checkbook diplomacy offers the same false promise as the tried and failed ideologies of the past.

Obama growls about bringing sanctions against Venezuela for allegedly undermining its neighbor, Columbia, Washington's narco-death squad-client-state. With the U.S. guzzling down 60 percent of Venezuela's oil exports, and plenty of other customers willing to take America's place, the sanctions threat is just plain silly. But Obama's hostility to Chavez (who does not return the insult, even when Obama derides Chavez's "predictable yet perilous mix of anti-American rhetoric, authoritarian government, and checkbook diplomacy") is a bad omen for peace in the region.

The U.S. supports secessionist efforts by the moneyed classes in Venezuela and its two closest allies, Ecuador and Bolivia. Not coincidentally, all three plots are centered in the countries' main oil or gas-producing regions. Another coincidence: after 60 years deactivation, the U.S. Navy this month revived its Fourth Fleet, with responsibility for South and Central America. Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, called it "the Fourth Fleet of intervention."

The spark can come any time the Americans decide to set off a regional conflict. Barack Obama, the phony peace candidate, is already providing warlike rhetoric, vowing to support Colombia if it repeats incursions into neighboring Ecuador or Venezuela in search of FARC "terrorists."

"We will support Colombia's right to strike terrorists who seek safe-haven across its borders," Obama promised Cuban exiles and their progeny in Miami. "And we will shine a light on any support for the FARC that comes from neighboring governments. This behavior must be exposed to international condemnation, regional isolation and - if need be - strong sanctions. It must not stand."

The Southern Color Line

The renewed American threats to Latin American sovereignty occur when Black, brown and indigenous (Indian) populations throughout the region are in the midst of a political awakening, a deep social transformation in which Venezuela's Chavez, Bolivia's President Evo Morales and Ecuador's President Rafael Correa are major players. The non-whites of Latin America are asserting their rights to self-determination - that is, their rights as Indians, or as persons of African descent, regardless of majority or minority status in society. Where they are majorities, non-whites are seizing political power.

Long retarded by the fiction that Latin America has no racial problem, people of color are finally confronting the racial dimensions of Latin American poverty (disproportionately non-white) and oligarchy (always white).
As usual, the U.S. is on the white oligarchy's side. So is Barack Obama, whose support for the oligarchic, super-corrupt Colombian regime amounts to backing a barbaric, color-coded caste system. One need not be fluent in Spanish to understand the meaning of political cartoons in the newspapers of the rich that portray Hugo Chavez as a monkey.

African Americans and Solidarity

Wider war is coming to South American and Africa, an inevitability given the Democrats' failure to choose a real alternative to the Republicans. There is absolutely no indication that Barack Obama (or his fading political twin, Hillary) will disassemble the U.S. foreign policy elements that were put in place specifically as tripwires for and facilitators of wars. Quite the opposite. Obama will maintain over one hundred thousand military and civilian personnel in Iraq, with others "over the horizon"; step up the militarization of Africa through Africom, continue backing the Ethiopian occupation of Somalia, and possibly draw neighboring Eritrea into a larger conflict; attempt to destabilize Hugo Chavez and other progressive leaders of mostly non-white constituencies in Latin America, with the aim of seizing control of fossil fuel resources.
"We have still not forgotten our self-determination right to declare solidarity as Black people with whomever we choose."
African Americans, despite their relative quiescence compared to the roiling Sixties, will respond to these aggressions through solidarity with Washington's victims on both continents. After 40-plus years, we have still not forgotten our self-determination right to declare solidarity as Black people with whomever we choose. We can confidently predict that President Obama will overreact to dissent, especially to significant Black protest. He already revealed his character and core worldview in the confrontation with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Let us revisit the incident:

Barack Obama's denunciation of Rev. Wright's narrative on American society's genesis in genocide and slavery - a narrative with which the vast majority of Blacks are in general agreement - was in fact a demand that Blacks cease telling their own story, in deference to white opinion and the foreign policy interests of the United States.

In framing Rev. Wright's critique of the United States as "not only wrong but divisive," Obama came perilously close to charging the minister and those who think like him with something resembling "un-American" activities. Wright's worldview, said Obama, is "divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems - two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all."

In short, Blacks of Wright's political persuasion are culpable for more crimes against the planet than Hitler's propagandists blamed on the Jews. If any of this were even half-true, most people would agree that all those who sympathize with Rev. Wright should be silenced and imprisoned, for the sake of humanity!

Barack Obama is not yet president, or even the Democratic nominee, but he has already made it clear that he believes African Americans are obligated to uphold the honor and reputation of the United States under any and all circumstances, refrain from actions or statements that might create "division," and avoid agitation for either their own rights to self-determination or anybody else's.

I think I smell a thug.


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScri


I have always favoured Obama, and support most of his policies, but have always been disappointed with his stance on Cuba. I am, however, pleased to see an article from Fidel Castro, who is an intelligent and genuine socialist hero.



Change is good. I change my socks every couple of months and my shirt at least once a fortnight when it’s hot. Barack Obama has got himself selected as a candidate for next commander in chief of the US armed forces and chief jailer at Guantanamo by using the “c” word a lot. One thing he has decided not to change, should he get the job, is US imperialism’s attitude to Palestine and the Israeli state. The IDF can continue slaughtering Palestinians and the Israeli state’s government can carry on blockading them back to the Stone Age.

Obama-Surf Every single word of what follows is lifted from his website and is extracted from his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. You can provide your own indignant commentary. To paraphrase Trotsky on Lloyd George - “arsehole”.

He’s not Bush but how did anyone get the idea that there is anything supportable about this character?

We know that the establishment of Israel was just and necessary, rooted in centuries of struggle, and decades of patient work. But 60 years later, we know that we cannot relent, we cannot yield, and as President I will never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.

Flying in an IDF helicopter, I saw a narrow and beautiful strip of land nestled against the Mediterranean.

I have been proud to be a part of a strong, bi-partisan consensus that has stood by Israel in the face of all threats.

Those who threaten Israel threaten us.  Israel has always faced these threats on the front lines. And I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security. 

That starts with ensuring Israel’s qualitative military advantage. I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat – from Gaza to Tehran. Defense cooperation between the United States and Israel is a model of success, and must be deepened. As President, I will implement a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade – investments to Israel’s security that will not be tied to any other nation.  First, we must approve the foreign aid request for 2009. Going forward, we can enhance our cooperation on missile defense. We should export military equipment to our ally Israel under the same guidelines as NATO. And I will always stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself in the United Nations and around the world.

I opposed holding elections in 2006 with Hamas on the ballot.

Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.

Syria has taken dangerous steps in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, which is why Israeli action was justified to end that threat.

I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

With the final primaries in Montana and South Dakota, Barack Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, bringing him a step closer to becoming the first African American president in a nation founded on slavery.

One of the most important reason for his success is the belief among millions of supporters that he alone among the major candidates is committed to stopping the war on Iraq and charting a radically different course for U.S. foreign policy. But is Obama really the anti-warrior he is made out to be?

Anthony Arnove is the author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, an essential book for all antiwar activists, and coauthor with Howard Zinn of Voices of a People’s History of the United States. He answered's questions about Obama's stands on war, imperialism and U.S. foreign policy.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

BARACK OBAMA presents himself as a candidate who will end the U.S. war on Iraq. Knowing the details of what he proposes, is it accurate to say that he'll end the war?

PEOPLE WHO believe Barack Obama will end the occupation of Iraq are likely in for a rude awakening. Despite talking about withdrawal from Iraq, his plan would keep troops in the country for years to come, likely well beyond his potential first term.

Obama has also left open the possibility that if he reduces the overall troop levels in Iraq--something that from a military standpoint is very likely, given how overstretched the United States is now--he would increase the number of mercenaries in Iraq.

Writing in the Nation magazine, journalist Jeremy Scahill reported, "A senior foreign policy adviser to leading Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has told the Nation that if elected Obama will not 'rule out' using private security companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq."

Obama says that he will "have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months." But "combat brigades" only make up about half the troops in Iraq.

In addition to the mercenaries and private contractors, that would leave tens of thousands of troops involved in so-called counterinsurgency operations. That's the same rationale the Bush administration uses for keeping troops in Iraq. Other troops would stay for "training" operations. This, too, is the Bush argument: we'll stand down as the Iraqis stand up.

But there's no way the Iraqi police or security forces will ever have any legitimacy as long as they are seen as collaborating with an unwanted foreign occupation. That's why "Iraqization" of the conflict is leading in the same direction that "Vietnamization" led during the U.S. war against Vietnam: prolonging the disaster.

Other troops will remain for "force protection." That's a complete oxymoron. If the U.S. wasn't in Iraq as an occupying power, if it didn't have military bases, if it wasn't building in Baghdad the largest embassy of any government in the world, there would be no need for such troops.

This is also the reasoning given for why we need so many mercenaries in Iraq--and may need more. As Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary of state for management, told James Risen of the New York Times, "If the contractors were removed, we would have to leave Iraq."

Other troops are likely to be involved in air operations over Iraq, whether or not they are based formally in Iraq, or are based regionally.

The Washington Post reported May 23 that "pilots have dramatically increased their use of helicopter-fired missiles against enemy fighters, often in densely populated areas. Since late March, the military has fired more than 200 Hellfire missiles in the capital, compared with just six missiles fired in the previous three months."

Obama also talks about the need to "refocus our attention on the broader Middle East" and "finishing the fight in Afghanistan." So we are likely to see some troops now in Iraq shifted toward the occupation of Afghanistan, and also toward possible new interventions in the region.

That is, we are likely to see an adjustment in the tactics of the war, perhaps even the strategy, but not an end to the war. Not an end to the politics of seeking to dominate and control the Middle East and Western and Central Asia, its people and its resources.

WHAT DO you say to people who want the war to end, but think that Obama's plan is acceptable?

I THINK that many people who hold this belief think that Obama, once elected, will move to the left--that he's not talking about a complete withdrawal because he can't do that and get elected (even though public opinion polls point in the other direction).

I think many of Obama's supporters would be surprised to learn that he's not for a complete withdrawal, and that he hasn't ruled out using more mercenaries in Iraq.

Either way, I think there's a degree of wishful thinking here. It's understandable. After eight years of Bush and eight years of Clinton, people are rightly desperate for some alternative--and hopeful that Obama will bring about a significant turn in U.S. foreign policy.

But in the absence of a large, independent antiwar movement putting pressure on Obama and the Democrats, I think we're likely to see the opposite: that Obama will govern to the right of the positions of his supporters.

That to me is the key question: Will there be that pressure on Obama if he's elected? Or will people in the antiwar movement succumb to the pressure to "give him time" and not to "rock the boat."

The experience after the 2006 mid-term elections is not encouraging. Democrats took over the House and Senate, yet continued to fund and prolong the occupation of Iraq. Many groups in the antiwar movement, rather than build large demonstrations to challenge the Democrats, have started to campaign for them for 2008. This is leading to an infinitely receding horizon of when the troops will ever leave.

OBAMA ARGUES that Iraq has been a distraction from the war the U.S. should be fighting. He supports a surge of U.S. troops to Afghanistan similar to what the Bush administration stands for. Should we look at the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan differently?

THE IDEA that Afghanistan is the "good" occupation or the "right fight" is completely misguided, in my view.

In Afghanistan, Washington claimed to be targeting terrorists who had attacked the United States, but instead, it targeted the civilian population of the country. The idea behind the U.S. invasion in 2001 was to make the people of Afghanistan suffer, hoping that would help bring down the Taliban regime, make an example of Afghanistan and pave the way for attacking Iraq.

Of course, there was also an element of seeking revenge--no matter that the people being killed by U.S. attacks had nothing to do with planning or carrying out the attacks of 9/11.

All of this has nothing to do with fighting terrorism, making the world safer or protecting people in the United States from attack. In fact, we have destabilized the region, made it more violent, killed thousands of civilians, escalated tensions between Afghanistan and its neighbors, and made the United States more isolated and hated, and therefore more likely to be the target of attacks.

DO YOU think Obama differs on the aims of U.S. foreign policy, or on the tactics and strategies needed to achieve those aims?

I THINK he differs on the tactics and strategies, not the aims or principles. After eight years of inept and counterproductive foreign policy decision-making, which has led even top generals and Republican advisers to defect from the Bush camp, we're bound to see a readjustment in U.S. policy, regardless of who becomes president.

Aggressive unilateralism is likely to be replaced with a slightly more collaborative approach to foreign policy decisions, with the understanding that, at the end of the day, Washington will always reserve the right to go it alone. What that means is not a renunciation of the Bush doctrine of preventive war, but an adjustment in how it is applied.

But the goal remains the same for Obama: preserve and extend what's called "American leadership" in the world. What that means is preserve and extend American empire. And in turn, that means using military force and the blunt instruments of economic control in Washington's hands.

Sure, we may see more so-called soft power. A little better packaging and advertising of our policies. Less needless alienation of "allies." But not a reversal of decades of bipartisan support for the U.S. imperial project, with all the disastrous consequences that have flown from that.

As two British conservatives, Timothy Lynch and Robert Singh, wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "Regardless of who wins in November, the current foreign policy will live on in the next White House. None of the main candidates has disavowed the war on terror. Each has called Mr. Bush tactically deficient. But the debate over the war on terror is over how, where and when. The candidates have all argued that they would do a better job of fighting it."

OBAMA ADVISERS like Samantha Powers are associated with talk about "humanitarian intervention" by the U.S. Is that an idea the antiwar movement should support?

IT WAS interesting when Powers was kicked to the curb (or "thrown under the bus," as it's been called) for having a few fairly uncontroversial harsh words for Hillary Clinton.

Over the same period, Powers was at pains to explain that Obama would not pull out of Iraq completely, and that he would have to evaluate even his position about withdrawing combat troops within 16 months, based on developments on the ground that he couldn't foresee as a candidate.

But that wasn't an issue. The issue was whether or not Powers had trashed Clinton.

Still, the influence of Powers and a group of like-minded advisers to Obama does seem to signal that we are likely to see more rhetoric about humanitarian intervention, especially in the Darfur region of Sudan and elsewhere in Africa.

On the one hand, this may feel a bit like a return to Bill Clinton-era policies. But we should keep two things in mind: the first is that Bill Clinton's rhetoric about humanitarian intervention helped lay the basis for the overwhelmingly bipartisan support for invading Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. The other is that U.S. imperialism has always cloaked itself in humanitarian justifications. This didn't start with Clinton.

So our challenge is to make the case that the issue is not the "mismanagement" of the Iraq occupation or that the U.S. focused on Iraq, instead of Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iran or North Korea.

The issue is that U.S. foreign policy is driven by interests, especially corporate interests, that are destroying the planet, that are destroying the lives of people around the globe and at home.

Take the issue of troop levels. Obama's Web site says, "Obama will increase the size of ground forces, adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines." What do we imagine the purpose of those troops will be? To provide housing for homeless people? To teach children who are illiterate? To wipe out malaria and easy preventable diseases that kill millions of children ever year?

No, those troops will be charged with protecting U.S. corporate interests globally, preserving "stability," protecting and training dictators aligned with the United States, and suppressing any struggles that threaten the interests of U.S. rulers and elites.

THE DEMOCRATS are generally considered less likely to get the U.S. into wars, and less brutal in carrying them out, than Republicans. Is that a fair reading of the Democrats' record in office?

VIETNAM WAS started by Democrats and ended by a Republican. The First and Second World War began under Democrats.

John F. Kennedy, who is idealized today, was a Democrat who presided over the massive expansion of U.S. covert and overt aggression in Latin America--and beyond--supporting coups, funding death squads and backing dictatorships in pursuit of a vicious Cold War anticommunism.

The policy we now see being vigorously pursued in Iraq and the Middle East is the Carter Doctrine, named after Democrat Jimmy Carter. In 1980, Carter explained, "Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

"The last great liberal hope to win the White House--Bill Clinton--committed more troops to more parts of the globe than any president since World War II," Lynch and Singh wrote in the Journal. "Since the end of the Cold War, America has undertaken at least nine military interventions overseas, under three presidents of both parties in two distinct historical eras (pre- and post-9/11). This history suggests that the next great liberal hope--Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton--would probably continue the trend.

So the key question is not whether or not we have a Democrat in office. It's whether we have any opposition, any struggle in the streets, any movements for change that work outside the narrow channels of electoral politics.

It is a question not of waiting for elected officials to give us reforms, but of fighting for them, against all the forces in our society that want to preserve the power and privilege of the few against the needs and interests of the many. Our job today is to build the opposition, whoever is in power in 2009, and to build an independent antiwar movement that can fight for its own demands--including, crucially, immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Iraq.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =