Thursday, August 07, 2008

It is at least comforting that left wing voices here in Canada are calling for a more realistic view of the views of Barack Obama, despite the followship that he has gained amongst the American "left". To say the least Obama's views, insofar as they have not been expressed via the bullshit of vague rhetoric, have been very much "in tune" with the preservation of the American Empire, despite their occasional expession of dissent from the adventurist policies of the present administration. It's too bad that leftists can't read history despite their frequent claims to such pribveleged knowledge.
Molly has expressed her own preference for an Obama victory before, in the sense of a "long term" reformation of the American left which is trapped in identity politics and will never escape such a trap and reach out in a broadly populist way unless it gets "a shock". A black president of presumably (cough,cough) left wing"views would be such a "shock", and would hopefully draw the American left to a more realistic view of politics. I have been criticized by at least one left communist on this point. His opinion was that the "American left" was just too congenitally stupid to recognize the obvious. I hope that he was wrong, but he may be right. So...we'll see what history presents, as leftists "pray" for an Obama victory.
Here's an opinion piece from Linda McQuaid from the Straight Goods site. Excuse us Canadians for pointing out the obvious. The following vfery much concentrates on impliucations for Canada.
Behind Obama's rhetoric
His main attraction is the notion that he is going to bring about real change.
by Linda McQuaig
What's not to like about Barack Obama?

He's personable, smart, well-spoken — and black, making his likely ascendancy to the most powerful job in the world a stunning breakthrough for one of the world's most oppressed minorities.

Anyone with a taste for seeing the underdog triumph finds it hard to resist this archetypal narrative. Had Hollywood come up with this, it might have seemed too sappy.

His muscular approach to Afghanistan will unfortunately give new energy to the combat-oriented stance of the Harper government.

But what has enthralled millions of people — including, I suspect, most of the 200,000 who turned out to cheer him in Berlin last week — is the notion that he's also going to bring about real change.

Certainly, he's stoked that dream. Going beyond merely pledging to withdraw troops from Iraq, he said in the January 31 Democratic presidential debate: "I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place."

Is it possible that someone within reach of the Oval Office sees that the "war on terror" is rooted in a Washington mindset, which has more to do with extending US military and economic power than with protecting America from actual threats?

Sadly, however, most of the time, Obama is resolutely in sync with the existing script prepared by Washington power brokers, not even veering far from the Bush White House.

It's good that Obama opposes torture. But it's a reminder of how low the bar has been set that this seems impressive, rather than just an indication he's not subhuman.

On keeping his options open to bomb Iran, he's just as warmongering as Bush.

On the Israeli-Palestine conflict, he's just as one-sided, keeping all the focus on Israel's right to security, while not mentioning the Palestinian right to be free of military occupation.

Even Obama's much-vaunted opposition to the war in Iraq has morphed into a call to retain a residual force there "to protect our bases", and to redeploy troops to Afghanistan.

Indeed, Obama's enthusiasm for beefing up the fight against the Taliban is a key part of the "change" he wants to bring about — and it has important implications for Canada.

His muscular approach to Afghanistan will unfortunately give new energy to the combat-oriented stance of the Harper government, which is now floating the idea of adding another 200 troops to the Canadian mission.

This is at odds with a more diplomatic approach focused on peace and national reconciliation — one favoured by virtually everyone knowledgeable about Afghanistan, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has repeatedly pleaded for an end to NATO bombings and the start of peace talks.

The need to strengthen the diplomatic track is well articulated in a thoughtful report on Canada's role in Afghanistan released earlier this month by Parliament's foreign affairs committee. The report, from which the Conservatives on the committee dissented, was virtually ignored by the media.

Ironically, there may be only a brief window for advancing that more peace-oriented agenda before Obama reaches the White House with his plan to move the centre of the "war on terror" into Afghanistan.

Paul Dewar, NDP foreign affairs critic, argues that Canada is actually well positioned to push the international debate on Afghanistan toward the diplomatic agenda.

So if we want a stirring rehash of Bush's "war on terror", we'd do well to listen to Obama's soaring oratory. But if we want to actually change the "mindset" of war, we'd be better to heed the less melodious but more insightful words of our own parliamentary committee.
Journalist and best-selling author Linda McQuaig has developed a reputation for challenging the establishment. As a reporter for The Globe and Mail, she won a National Newspaper Award in 1989 for writing a series of articles, which sparked a public inquiry into the activities of Ontario political lobbyist Patti Starr, and eventually led to Starr's imprisonment. In 1991, she was awarded an Atkinson Fellowship for Journalism in Public Policy to study the social welfare systems in Europe and North America.

She is author of seven books on politics and economics — all national bestsellers — including Shooting the Hippo (short-listed for the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction), The Cult of Impotence, All You Can Eat and It's the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet. Her most recent book is Holding the Bully's Coat: Canada and the US Empire.

Since 2002, McQuaig has written an op-ed column for the Toronto Star. This article, which appears here with permission, previously appeared in The Star.


PG said...

If you define "left" in Democratic Party terms (as most Faux News viewers would) then American "leftists" are praying for an Obama win. However, that's not really fair to the American left. Check out any number of articles on the topic at, for example, and you'll quickly see that left-wing illusions about Obama are few and far between.

The folks who post at Counterpunch seem to have figured out that a vote for Obama is still a vote for imperialism.

mollymew said...

In one way I hope what you are saying is true because it would indicate a great maturity on the part of the American left. On the other hand I hope it is wrong beacuse the ills of the American left extend far beyond its willingness to jump on a bandwagon of image politics. I hope that the election of a black man as President would act as "shock therapy" to make the American left question its adherance to identity politics AND NOT JUST THAT OF RACE. Maybe that is actually happening now or maybe I am totally off base in my estimate of the American left's ability to recognize cognitive dissonence. One left communist poster on this blog said very much the same thing some time back. Maybe his pessimistic view was right.
But another question comes to mind. Could there ever be a SERIOUS candidate for US President who was not "in favour of imperialism" ? Probably not.