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Obama's Dishonesty, Trump's Demagogy

by Berry Friesen (December 7, 2015)

In his nationally televised speech last evening, President Obama spoke reassuringly of a 65-nation, US-led coalition that will defeat Daesh.  He rejected the commitment of US troops to a new land war, saying such a response would only enhance Daesh’s reputation and recruitment efforts.  He promoted gun control and improved border procedures and asked us to remember that the vast majority of Muslims have nothing at all to do with terrorism.

In the wake of the December 2nd terrorism in San Bernardino, it’s easy to imagine a US President giving a worse speech.

Yet it was a deeply dishonest speech that failed to address the questions people are feeling.

People know intuitively that the growing frequency of terrorism is related to the bully role the US is playing in the world.  The US intervenes in the affairs of other nations to bring them into line with imperial purposes.  Toward that end, it engages in terrorism (e.g., drone attacks on civilians) and supports insurgent fighters that use terrorism to destabilize their targets (e.g., Libya, Ukraine, Syria).

It even supports terrorist organizations (e.g., al-Nusra and Daesh), though it also is careful to attack them too.

William Blum lists a few of the many uncomfortable questions the President is avoiding. Have a look for yourself.

Veteran reporter Robert Perry says Obama “suffers from the worst ‘credibility gap’ among the American people since Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon on the Vietnam War or at least since George W. Bush on the Iraq War.”  Perry states:  “Increasingly, almost no one outside Official Washington believes what senior U.S. officials say about nearly anything – and that loss of trust is exacerbating a wide range of dangers, from demagogy on the 2016 campaign trail to terrorism recruitment in the Middle East and in the West.”

That’s right, President Obama’s dishonesty is fueling support for Donald Trump. Obama’s dishonesty and Trump’s demagogy work hand-in-hand.

Alas, it’s a mistake to pretend this is mainly about domestic politics. The people of Syria are suffering through their fifth year of continuous war. As Mel Lehman puts it at Common Humanity, “Has it occurred to anyone to ask the Syrian people what they want in the midst of the current horrors which are consuming that bedeviled country?”

Lehman goes on:  “Instead of helping us to look at Syria from the Syrian people’s perspective, our news media is telling the story from our perspective . . . It’s as if our Syria policy is one giant ‘selfie’ photo, with our large American face in the foreground and the millions of miserable and homeless people of Syria barely visible in the background.”

Meanwhile, the confrontation between the empire and Russia seems to be moving into Iraq.  This past weekend, without any advance communication with Iraq, Turkey moved troops and heavy military equipment (including tanks) to a location just outside Daesh-controlled Mosul in Iraqi-Kurdistan.  Of course, Turkey claims this is part of its war on terror, but that’s laughable given its generous support for Daesh in Syria over the past three years.  More likely, Turkey has invaded Iraq to protect Daesh.

Iraq has objected and said it will take the matter to the United Nations if Turkey doesn’t promptly withdraw its troops.  The US has indicated it has no problem with Turkey’s actions; indeed, the US is likely to have given Turkey the green light.  The prevailing view in Russia, on the other hand, is convinced the empire eventually will use Daesh against Russia.  This makes Russia determined to eliminate Daesh wherever it may be, before it reaches Russia’s borders.

President Obama has repeatedly promised Russia that Syria will be its “quagmire.” Increasingly, it appears that dire prediction may fit all parties involved.