June 08, 2009

Obama's Obscene Speech in Cairo: Lies in the Service of Death

The world has always offered certain apparent pleasures that are best enjoyed under particular conditions: a mind that deliberately and systematically avoids every difficult question of fact, just as it rejects inquiry into all instances of divergence and contradiction between proclaimed intentions and continuing patterns of action; a willingness to succumb to the easy, sentimental allure of contentless phrases and slogans, provided one joins the pretense that pretty-sounding utterances carry nobility and significance; an approach to analysis that voluntarily restricts itself to the familiar, the conventional, and the comfortable. In a passage from The March of Folly excerpted here, Barbara Tuchman quotes George Orwell on the general nature of this refusal to engage in serious thought:
Refusal to draw inference from negative signs, which under the rubric "wooden-headedness" has played so large a part in these pages, was recognized in the most pessimistic work of modern times, George Orwell's 1984, as what the author called "Crimestop." "Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments ... and of being bored and repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity."
Most of Barack Obama's pronouncements require Crimestop as the indispensable analytic tool -- if, that is, one wishes to invest those pronouncements with importance, originality and courage.

This is never more true than on the occasion of a major policy address by Obama. It was certainly true of Obama's heralded speech on race in America. At the beginning of a detailed consideration of that speech, I quoted several especially dreadful examples of what ought to be regarded as embarrassingly Crimestopped "appreciations" of what we were told was Obama's soaring and inspiring rhetoric. Some commentators have perfected this approach to The Wonder of Obama; see the third example here. Our stupefyingly trivial and ignorant political culture is happy to provide plentiful rewards for one's willingness to emit such gurglings on a regular basis. If you enthusiastically associate your name with phrases such as "the triumph of word over flesh," you may be provided a major platform at the Washington Post. O glory unexcelled!

The task of analyzing one of Obama's major speeches is likely to deter many of those who would undertake the work of deconstruction. The reason is simple, and terrible: the lies are so numerous and comprehensive that one hardly knows where to begin. I suspect some might decide not to begin at all. In this manner, the strength of the lies increases, as the truth recedes always farther into the mists of distance. Toward the end of "Obama's Whitewash," after setting forth many of the reasons for my conclusion (although certainly not all of them), I wrote:
Almost every politician lies, and most politicians lie repeatedly. Yet in one sense, Obama's speech is exceptional, rare and unique -- but not for any of the reasons offered by Obama's uncritical, mindless adulators. It is exceptional for this reason: it is rare that a candidate will announce in such stark, comprehensive terms that he will lie about every fact of moment, about every aspect of our history that affects the crises of today and that has led to them, about everything that might challenge the mythological view of America. But that is what Obama achieved with this speech. It may be a remarkable achievement -- a remarkable and detestable one, and one that promises endless destruction in the future, both here and abroad.
All of this applies with equal force to Obama's speech in Cairo last week. Time and space prohibit a detailed examination of all the lies told by Obama. We will focus only on some of the more critical ones.

As a broad, preliminary matter, consider this statement from Obama last week, identifying the overall perspective that serves as the foundation for United States foreign policy:
Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.
This passage is nearly identical to one offered by Obama two years ago in another major foreign policy address; I discussed that earlier speech in detail, in "Songs of Death." I characterized the following as "the diseased heart of Obama's address"; note the similarity and continuity of Obama's views, which are also those of America's ruling class and the foreign policy establishment:
In today’s globalized world, the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people. When narco-trafficking and corruption threaten democracy in Latin America, it’s America’s problem too. When poor villagers in Indonesia have no choice but to send chickens to market infected with avian flu, it cannot be seen as a distant concern. When religious schools in Pakistan teach hatred to young children, our children are threatened as well.

Whether it’s global terrorism or pandemic disease, dramatic climate change or the proliferation of weapons of mass annihilation, the threats we face at the dawn of the 21st century can no longer be contained by borders and boundaries.

The horrific attacks on that clear September day awakened us to this new reality. And after 9/11, millions around the world were ready to stand with us. They were willing to rally to our cause because it was their cause too – because they knew that if America led the world toward a new era of global cooperation, it would advance the security of people in our nation and all nations.
My remarks concerning Obama's speech in 2007 can also be applied to President Obama's latest proclamations:
While I do not minimize the (possibly) serious dangers of avian flu, it must be acknowledged that this is a novel justification of the notion that the U.S. must continue to maintain the greatest military in the history of the world, as Obama goes on to insist. It appears we must be able to invade, nuke or otherwise coerce every nation on earth into doing our bidding -- so that the world will be safe for healthy chickens. And here I had thought the Marx Brothers all were dead.

This is the Open Door world carried to impossible, entirely unrealizable and ridiculous extremes. The door is not only open: the door and the entire structure in which it had been installed have been obliterated. The United States must be the global hegemon so that every human being eats well, is properly educated, and has a good job, until every society and culture is thriving and properly "democratic" in the form we alone will dictate, and until there is a (healthy) chicken in every pot.
I also noted that this perspective seeks to "justify almost any intervention, anywhere, any time." Given the realities of our world at present, especially when coupled with the boundless, murderous determination of the U.S. ruling class, you can leave out "almost" from that phrase, and you will never need to apologize for the omission. For our governing class, the "right" of the United States to force everyone else to do our bidding, using whatever means they deem necessary regardless of how many people must die, is absolute -- for, as Obama and every other national politician who wields power regularly declare, "America is the last, best hope of Earth." And on Earth: "America is God. God's Will be done."

Too many people still fail to appreciate that Obama and the ruling class in general believe this as sincerely as they believe anything. Moreover, they mean it -- and they will do whatever it takes to achieve their aims. You disbelieve these basic truths at your great peril, as millions of people around the world have tragically come to understand.

Imagine that the person who proclaims himself to be your devoted lover tightly embraces you, so fixedly that you can barely breathe. Imagine that he gently murmurs in your ear that he adores you, that he seeks only that which will bring you fulfillment, that he wishes to do nothing except what will make you happy. As he hypnotically intones these soothing phrases over and over, while his embrace continually constricts your ability to move until you finally cannot move at all, he slowly and methodically stabs you in the back. He interprets your agonized gasps of protest as recognitions of his love and devotion. Indeed, he must so interpret them, for he has convinced himself of the genuineness and nobility of his intentions. Since he regards the sincerity of his proclaimed intentions as an absolute beyond all question, he thinks you must view him as he himself does. How could anyone fail to believe he means what he says?

As your life inexorably drains away, you confront the horrifying, final recognition: that your lover has repeated this precise pattern countless times, over more than a hundred years. You are only the latest in a long, bloody series of victims. Your last moments of consciousness fill with the pain and horror of the knowledge that you cannot be saved any longer -- that, in any event, there is no one to save you. Your lover cannot be stopped, until there are no victims left.

How would you characterize a person who would act in this manner, who would commit endless murders while always being convinced of his own superiority, of his "right" to dispose of the lives of others, even when those lives number in the millions? Perhaps you would say that he is a brutal serial murderer, without conscience or remorse, without even the smallest appreciation of the unique value of a single human life. You would be entirely justified in describing such behavior as obscene -- just as the foreign policy of the United States is obscene, just as Obama's speech last week was obscene in its overall perspective, as well as in many particulars.

To understand this, it is necessary to appreciate some of the central lies told by Obama. That will be our first task. Once we have performed that duty, we will examine certain dualities, and how those dualities serve as a foundational element in Western thought. This traditional emphasis on dualities -- and the dichotomy between intentions and actions is only one example -- needs to be understood so that we can grasp why so many people offer so much undeserved praise to Obama.

Most of us only listen to the words, and we view the words as of much greater importance than the actions of the person who utters them. But in my imagined scenario, what do you think is ultimately of greater significance to the person who is murdered by her lover? His proclamations of undying devotion, or the fact that he has murdered her? You may wish to believe that, as she dies, her final thought is, "Ah, but the words were so beautiful..."

That certainly would not be my last thought. Would it be yours? Was it the last thought of over a million murdered Iraqis, or of the growing number of people now dying in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Lies are the weapon of those who would destroy us. Lies convince us to lower our defenses, and to open ourselves to the murderer's embrace. As we expire from our fatal wounds, we finally realize that lies will not save us.

But lies helped to kill us -- as they have killed so many in the past, as they will kill again.

(To be continued.)