“Keep talking,” William Hurt says to Kathleen Turner in “Body Heat,” the brilliant film noir by Lawrence Kasden, “experience has shown that I can be convinced of anything.”
So, will it work, this long-delayed happy horse shit, this rhetorical tour de farce?
The nation, no doubt, pretended to watch. The media, evidently, pretended to parse it. The words and phrases are being examined for nuance, shading, emphasis.
It may even be that a large portion of the public, repeatedly lied to for five years now, will swallow once again the mellifluous cadence, the paternalistic patter, the slick packaging. Why not? Experience has shown that we can be convinced of anything.
For nearly four-and-a-half years, Barack Obama has been conducting the most bloodthirsty, belligerent, cold-hearted foreign policy in American history. You think I’m exaggerating, perhaps wildly exaggerating. After all, there’s Nixon to consider, and Lyndon Baines Johnson. If you want to go back in time, one might even make a case for Andrew Jackson, if you consider his genocidal war against Native Americans to be a foreign policy.
George Bush, the younger, was certainly bloodthirsty, belligerent, and cold-hearted, and if he ever faltered there were the creeps around him, Darth Vader and Wolfie, and little Elliot Abrams, the Prince of Darkness.
But Obama does his work with a dancer’s moves. He does not lurch around like Johnson, speeding through Texas in a Cadillac throwing beer cans out the window. He does not rant about the Jews, like Nixon, and throw in some Christmas bombing of hospitals just to prove his understanding of Jesus. He’s not showy, just ruthlessly efficient.
During his reign, America has hit more countries with missiles than at any other time in our history. We have also dispatched black ops characters, CIA killers and SEALS creeps, to murder local leaders in more territories and on every continent. We have done plenty of killing by remote control, obviating the need for risking the lives of Americans, which has kept the public sleeping and the press stupid, or maybe that should be the other way ‘round.
Obama is the first American President to personally write a death list, a list of human beings, none of whom he knows, to be assassinated on his orders. He probably doesn’t care for the term, though. ‘Death list’ sounds so much like Augusto Pinochet, doesn’t it? He calls it instead a ‘disposition matrix.’
There have been thousands of completely innocent people targeted and murdered by drones on his orders. We don’t have exact numbers because until today the United States has not even admitted we were doing it. And despite Obama’s speech, which one of his predecessors, Richard Nixon, would have called a limited, modified, hangout, we still don’t know.
The President told America that while he regretted having to kill people by remote control, the alternatives were morally worse. I’ve heard this argument from others, the claim that drones kill fewer people than, say a bombing run. “Neither conventional military action nor waiting for attacks to occur, offers moral safe harbor,” he said. I may be out of line here, but I’d say that anyone who blows the limbs off children by raining Hellfire missiles on their villages does not get to talk about morality. Not to me, not ever.
Then Obama explained that the wanton, psychopathic murder of thousands of innocents has been bothering him. He wants us to feel sorry for him. “For me, and for those in the chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live.” Yes, I’m sure they will. I’m sure that as he watches the NBA finals his enjoyment will be tarnished by images of death and destruction, of parents weeping over their dead children. Probably ruin the half-time show.
On Thursday, the administration released the names of four Americans Obama has killed, trying to soften the blow a little bit, get that out of the way first. One of these, the only one Obama admits to ordering murdered, was a man who spoke frequently about the need for a holy war against America. Under the new rules of Obama, the post-911 rules, the highly convenient new rules, we can kill people for talking if they say the wrong things.
Then we killed the man’s 16-year-old son, a strike Obama eerily claims was an accident. The odds of this being an accident are, well, equal to my odds of winning the U.S. Open this year.
Missing from Obama’s speech was any reference to the repeated use of what are called “double taps,” the targeting of not just a funeral procession or wedding, something numerous international reporters have documented as American practice, but hitting the first responders with another strike. This brutality, this particular use of calculated violence is against international law, which we claim to respect and follow, and is universally condemned.
The President got around to Guantanamo, too. Thing has become an embarrassment, all those inmates, maybe a hundred by now, on a hunger strike, and Obama’s decision to torture them further by force-feeding, jamming tubes down their throats. The process has been described in foreign media but not on MSNBC, where despite the occasional criticism the fake ‘left’ media is still kissing his ass.
It’s the fault of those damned Republicans, you know, who just wouldn’t let him close the place, except that he didn’t get into the details, how what he asked for was permission to bring them to a maximum security installation in Illinois. He promised to close the place on the campaign trail but evidently only to shift the prisoners to a different facility.
More than a hundred innocent men have been held for more than a decade, all of them tortured in violation of treaties to which the United States is a signatory, and Obama neglects to mention that these people have been adjudged innocent not only by the International Red Cross but by the Pentagon’s own investigation. The problem with releasing them is that he can’t figure out where to send them, and there are, according to an article in the Guardian UK, “classification concerns, security concerns, (and) the use of torture in interrogations.”
Recent public opinion surveys suggest that Obama can pull the tongues out of Guantanamo prisoners and a majority of Americans won’t give a damn. Nor are they interested in drones. So long as America’s wars are fought against people in other lands, Americans don’t much care. Right now, according to the Gallup Poll, only a third want to close Guantanamo and most never think about it.
A majority apparently buy Obama’s transparently false rationale that if we weren’t raining terror on people from the skies, we’d have to invade their countries or bomb them indiscriminately. Nowhere is anybody wondering whether we have the right to do any of this. Yemen has not attacked us, nor Somalia, nor Mali, nor Pakistan, nor Afghanistan.
Shifting the death lists from the CIA to the Pentagon is not exactly a reform, though we’re told that it is. Nor should we be becalmed by the soothing promises of transparency and no permanent war. We’ve heard these things before. They’re likely as true now as ever.
This President talks about terrorists but is himself responsible for more innocent deaths than any ‘terrorist’ leader whose name appears on his ‘disposition matrix.’ That is without serious dispute. Yet, as he more than once points to the flag and speaks of its meaning and enduring legacy, it never dawns on him, nor on the mass media, nor on the vast majority of people in America, that to anyone whose country, whose village or township, whose church or wedding reception or funeral procession, whose school is leveled by fire from the sky, it America which is the terrorist, America whom the rest of the world fears.
Obama is far too intelligent to believe what he’s preaching. He knows that America is not defending itself overseas, nor freedom, nor self-determination. He knows that we are sending troops to dozens of countries in Africa and the Middle East to secure oil reserves and natural gas pipelines, steal resources, establish military forward bases, and scare everybody into complying with our will. He knows this.
He made reference, briefly, to Mali. Mali is a country where there is a civil war. Much of that war is the product of an oppressive regime which ousted a democratic government and which is now fighting rebels who include people forced out of Libya by America’s bloody overthrow of Moammar Ghaddafi, which was itself done to get rid of a strong pan-African voice and a highly-successful economy in preparation for our own move into Africa. Obama knows this. Yet, he says that in Mali we are assisting the fight against al-Qaida, and not only do nearly all Americans listening to him believe it but nearly all journalists will report this uncritically.
One more thing. The President told us that “the future of terrorism” is homegrown, not elsewhere. Homegrown ‘extremists’ are the most dangerous threat we now face, he said, pointing to the Marathon bombing in Boston. This statement is the most alarming thing he said.
Placed in the context of all the other domestic changes Obama has overseen, from total electronic surveillance of the population to the construction of ‘detention centers,’ from the militarization of urban police forces to the inexplicably enormous purchases of bullets by Homeland Security, from the ‘new’ policy in which the military has authority inside the country in place of civilian authority to the NDAA and the assertion by Obama that the government may lock up without trial or even charges, indefinitely, any person deemed to be an ‘imminent threat,’ the definition of which is not only missing but possessed of a totalitarian vagueness, the 'future of terrorism' remark is chilling. He's bringing it all back home, folks.
We have heard for more than a year from crazy Senators such as Lindsey Graham saying that ‘the homeland is now part of the battlefield,’ which, when combined with the claims the government makes about what it has the right to do on any such ‘battlefield,’ ought to make any patriot’s blood run cold.
We are in trouble here, and Obama’s carefully prepared bullshit presentation scares me more than ever. And it ought to scare you, too.