Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Historic Moment: The Election of the Greatest Con-Man in Recent History

by James Petras

"I have a vision of Americans in their 80's being wheeled to their offices and factories having lost their legs in imperial wars and their pensions to Wall Street speculators and with bitter memories of voting for a President who promised change, prosperity and peace and then appointed financial swindlers and war mongers." An itinerant Minister 2008


The entire political spectrum ranging from the 'libertarian' left, through the progressive editors of the Nation to the entire far right neo-con/Zionist war party and free market Berkeley, Chicago, Harvard academics, with a single voice, hailed the election of Barack Obama as a 'historic moment', a 'turning point in American history and other such histrionics.

For reasons completely foreign to the emotional ejaculations of his boosters, it is a historic moment: witness the abysmal gap between his 'populist' campaign demagoguery and his long-standing and deepening carnal relations with the most retrograde political figures, power brokers and billionaire real estate and financial backers.

What was evident from even a cursory analysis of his key campaign advisers and public commitments to Wall Street speculators, civilian militarists, zealous Zionists and corporate lawyers was hidden from the electorate, by Obama's people friendly imagery and smooth, eloquent deliverance of a message of 'hope'.

Obama effectively gained the confidence, dollars and votes of tens of millions of voters by promising change' (implying higher taxes for the rich, ending the Iraq war and national health care reform) when in fact his campaign advisers (and subsequent strategic appointments) pointed to a continuation of the economic and military policies of the Bush Administration.

Within 3 weeks of his election he appointed all the political dregs who brought on the unending wars of the past two decades, the economic policy makers responsible for the financial crash and the deepening recession castigating tens of millions of Americans today and for the foreseeable future.

We can affirm that the election of Obama does indeed mark a historic moment in American history: The victory of the greatest con man and his accomplices and backers in recent history. Obama spoke to the workers and worked for their financial overlords.

Obama flashed his color to minorities while obliterating any mention of their socio-economic grievances. He promised peace in the Middle East to the majority of young Americans and slavishly swears undying allegiance to the War Party of American Zionists serving a foreign colonial power (Israel).

Obama, on a bigger stage, is the perfect incarnation of Melville's Confidence Man. He catches your eye while he picks your pocket. He gives thanks as he packs you off to fight wars in the Middle East on behalf of a foreign country.

Obama solemnly mouths vacuous pieties while he empties your Social Security funds to bail out the arch financiers who swindled your pension investments. He appoints and praises the architects of collapsed pyramid schemes to high office while promising you that better days are ahead.

Yes, indeed, "our greatest intellectual critics", our 'libertarian' leftists and academic anarchists, used their 5-figure speaking engagements as platforms to promote the con man's candidacy: They described the con man's political pitch as "meeting the deeply felt needs of our people". They praised the con man when he spoke of 'change' and 'turning the country around' 180 degrees.

Indeed, Obama went one step further: he turned 360 degrees, bringing us back to the policies and policy makers who were the architects of our current political-economic disaster.

The Con Man's Self-Opiated Progressive Camp Followers

The contrast between Obama's campaign rhetoric and his political activities was clear, public and evident to any but the mesmerized masses and the self-opiated 'progressives' who concocted arguments in his favor.

Indeed even after Obama's election and after he appointed every Clintonite-Wall Street shill into all the top economic policy positions, and Clinton's and Bush's architects of prolonged imperial wars (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates), the 'progressive true believers' found reasons to dog along with the charade.

Many progressives argued that Obama's appointments of war mongers and swindlers was a 'ploy' to gain time now in order to move 'left' later.

Never ones to publicly admit their 'historic' errors, the same progressives turned to writing 'open letters to the President' pleading the 'cause of the people'. Their epistles, of course, may succeed in passing through the shredder in the Office of the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.

The conjurer who spoke of 'change' now speaks of 'experience' in appointing to every key and minor position the same political hacks who rotate seamlessly between Wall Street and Washington, the Fed and Academia.

Instead of 'change' there is the utmost continuity of policy makers, policies and above all ever deepening ties between militarists, Wall Street and the Obama appointments.

True believer-progressives, facing their total debacle, grab for any straw. Forced to admit that all of Obama's appointments represent the dregs of the bloody and corrupt past, they hope and pray that 'current dire circumstances' may force these unrepentant warmongers and life long supporters of finance capital to become supporters and advocates of a revived Keynesian welfare state.

On the contrary, Obama and each and everyone of his foreign policy appointments to the Pentagon, State and Justice Departments, Intelligence and Security agencies are calling for vast increases in military spending, troop commitments and domestic militarization to recover the lost fortunes of a declining empire.

Obama and his appointees plan to vigorously pursue Clinton-Bush's global war against national resistance movements in the Middle East. His most intimate and trusted 'Israel-First' advisers have targeted Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Palestine and Iraq.

Obama's Economic Con Game

Then there is the contrast between the trillions Obama will shower on the financial swindlers (and any other 'too big to fail' private capitalist enterprise) and his zero compensation for the 100 million heads of families swindled of $5 trillion dollars in savings and pensions by his cohort appointees and bailout beneficiaries. Not a cent is allocated for the long term unemployed.

Not a single household threatened with eviction will be bailed out. Obama is the trademark name of a network of confidence people. They are a well-organized gang of prominent political operative, money raisers, mass media hustlers, real estate moguls and academic pimps. They are joined and abetted by the elected officials and hacks of the Democratic Party.

Like the virtuoso performer, Obama projected the image and followed the script. But the funding and the entire 'populist' show was constructed by the hard-nosed, hard-line free marketeers, Jewish and Gentile 'Israel Firsters', Washington war mongers and a host of multi-millionaire 'trade union' bureaucrats.

The electoral scam served several purposes above and beyond merely propelling a dozen strategic con artists into high office and the White House.

First and foremost, the Obama con-gang deflected the rage and anger of tens of millions of economically skewered and war drained Americans from turning their hostility against a discredited presidency, congress and the grotesque one-party two factions political system and into direct action or at least toward a new political movement.

Secondly the Obama image provided a temporary cover for the return and continuity of all that was so detested by the American people – the arrogant untouchable swindlers, growing unemployment and economic uncertainty, the loss of life savings and homes and the endless, ever-expanding imperial wars.

Featuring Paul Volker, 'Larry' Summers, Robert Gates, the Clintons, Geithner, Holder and General ('You drink your kool-aid while I sit on Boeings' Board of Directors') Jim Jones USMC, Obama treats us to a re-run of military surges and war crimes, Wall Street banditry, Abu Ghraib, AIPAC hustlers and all the sundry old crap.

Our Harvard-minted Gunga Din purports to speak for all the colonial subjects but acts in the interest of the empire, its financial vampires, its war criminals and its Middle East leaches from the Land of the Chosen.

The Two Faces of Obama

Like the Janus face found on the coins of the early Roman Republic, Obama and his intimate cronies cynically joked about 'which is the real face of Barack', conscious of the con-job they were perpetrating during the campaign.

In reality, there is only one face - a very committed, very consequential and very up front Obama, who demonstrated in every single one of his appointments the face of an empire builder.

Obama is an open militarist, intent by every means possible to re-construct a tattered US empire. The President-Elect is an unabashed Wall Street Firster – one who has placed the recuperation of the biggest banks and investment houses as his highest priority.

Obama's nominees for all the top economic positions (Treasury, Chief White House economic advisers) are eminently qualified, (with long-term service to the financial oligarchy), to pursue Obama's pro-Wall Street agenda.

There is not a single member of his economic team, down to the lowest level of appointees, who represents or has defended the interests of the wage or salaried classes (or for that matter the large and small manufacturers from the devastated 'productive' industrial economy).

The Obama propagandists claim his appointments reflect his preference for 'experience' – which is true: his team members have plenty of 'experience' through their long and lucrative careers maximizing profits, buyouts and speculation favoring the financial sector.

Obama does not want to have any young, untested appointees who have no long established records of serving Big Finance, whose interests are too central to Obama's deepest and most strongly held core beliefs. Obama wanted reliable economic functionaries who recognize that re-financing billionaire financiers is the central task of his regime.

The appointments of the Summers, Rubins, Geithners and Volkers fit perfectly with his ideology: They are the best choices to pursue his economic goals.Critics of these nominations write of the 'failures' of these economists and their role in 'bringing about the collapse of the financial system'.

These critics fail to recognize that it is not their 'failures', which are the relevant criteria, but their unwavering commitment to the interests of Wall Street and their willingness to demand trillions of dollars more from US taxpayers to bolster their colleagues on Wall Street.

Under Clinton and Bush, in the run up to the financial collapse, they facilitated ('deregulated') the practice of swindling one hundred million Americans of trillions in private savings and pension funds. In the current crisis period with Obama they are just the right people to swindle the US Treasury of trillions of dollars in bailout funds to refinance their fellow oligarchs.

The White President (Bush) leaves steaming financial turds all over the White House rugs and Wall Street summons the 'historic' Negro President Obama to organize the cleanup crew to scoop them out of public view.

Obama, the Militarist, Outdoes His Predecessor

What makes Obama a much more audacious militarist and Wall Streeter than Bush is that he intends to pursue military policies, which have already greatly harmed the US people with appointed officials who have already been discredited in the context of failed imperial wars and with a domestic economy in collapse.

While Bush launched his wars after the US public had their accustomed peace shattered by an orchestrated fear-mongering after 9/11, Obama intends to launch his escalation of military spending in the context of a generalized public disenchantment with the ongoing wars, with monumental fiscal deficits, bloated military budgets and after 100,000 US soldiers have been killed, wounded or psychologically destroyed.

Obama's appointments of Clinton, General Jim Jones, dual Israeli citizen Rahm Emanuel and super-Zionist Dennis Ross, among others, fit perfectly with his imperial-militarist agenda of escalating military aggression. His short list of intelligence candidates, likewise, fits perfectly with his all-out effort to "regain US world leadership" (reconstruct US imperial networks).

All the media blather about Obama's efforts at 'bipartisanship', 'experience' and 'competence' obscures the most fundamental questions: The specific nominees chosen from both parties are totally committed to military-driven empire-building.

All are in favor of "a new effort to renew America's standing in the world" (read 'America's imperial dominance in the world'), as Obama's Secretary of State-to-be, Hillary Clinton, declared. General James Jones, Obama's choice for National Security Advisor,presided over US military operations during the entire Abu Ghraib /Guantanemo period.

Jones was a fervent supporter of the 'troop surge' in Iraq and is a powerful advocate for a huge increase in military spending, the expansion of the military by over 100,000 troops and the expanded militarization of American domestic society (not to mention his personal financial ties to the military industrial complex).

Robert Gates, continuing as Obama's Secretary of Defense, is a staunch supporter of unilateral, unlimited and universal imperial warfare.

As the number of US-allied countries with troops in Iraq declines from 35 to only 5 by January 1, 2009 and even the Iraqi puppet regime calls for a withdrawal of all US troops by 2012, Gates, the intransigent, insists on a permanent military presence.

The issue of 'experience' revolves around two questions: (a) experience related to what past political practices? (b) experience relevant to pursue what future policies? All the nominees' past experiences are related to imperial wars, colonial conquests and the construction of client states.

Hiliary Clinton's 'experience' was through her support for the bombing of Yugoslavia and the Nato invasion of Kosova, her promotion of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an internationally recognized terrorist-criminal organization as well as the unrelenting bombings of Iraq in the 1990s, Bush's criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003, Israel's murderous bombing of civilian centers in Lebanon…and now full-throated calls for the 'total obliteration of Iran’.

Clinton, Gates and Jones have never in their mature political careers proposed the peaceful settlement of disputes with any adversary of the US or Israel. In other words, their vaunted 'experience' is based solely on theirone-dimensional militarist approach to foreign relations.'Competence', as an attribute again depends on the issue of competence to do what'?

In general terms, 'The Three' (Clinton, Gates and Jones), have demonstrated the greatest incompetence in extricating the US from prolonged, costly and lost colonial wars. They lack the minimum capacity to recognize that military-driven empire-building in the context of independent states is no longer feasible, that its costs can ruin an imperial economy and that prolonged wars erode their legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens.

Even within the framework of imperial geo-political strategic thinking, their positions exhibit the most dense incompetence: They blindly back a small, highly militarized and ideologically fanatical colonial state (Israel) against 1.5 billion Muslims living in oil and mineral resource-rich nations with lucrative markets and investment potential and situated in the strategic center of the world.

They promote total wars against whole populations, as is occurring in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia and, which, by all historical experience, cannot be won. They are truly 'Masters of Defeat'.

The point of the matter is that Obama appointed the 'Big Three' for their experience, competence and bipartisan support in the pursuit of imperial wars. He overlooked their glaring failures, their gross violations of the basic norms of civilization (of the human rights of tens of millions civilians in sovereign nations) because of their willingness to pursue the illusions of a US-dominated new world order.


Nothing speaks to Obama's deep and abiding commitment to become the savior of the US empire as clearly as his willingness to appoint to the highest position of policy making the most mediocre failed politicians and generals merely because of their demonstrated willingness to pursue the course of military-driven empire building even in the midst of a collapsing domestic economy and ever more impoverished and drained citizenry.

Just as Obama's electoral campaign and subsequent victory will go into the annals as the political con-job of the new millennium, his economic and political appointments will mark another 'historic' moment: The nomination of corrupt and failed speculators and warmongers.

Let us join the inaugural celebration of our 'First Afro-American' Imperial President, who wins by con and rules by guns! A Historic Moment:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Black “Insiders” and the Obama Administration

By Lawrence Porter

Last Thursday, the Wall Street Journal published a prominent article entitled, "Black Power Brokers Ready to Rise in Tandem with New President." The article is valuable in that it provides a sense of the social layer from which Barack Obama emerged and the deep social gulf dividing this extremely privileged stratum from the vast majority of working people whose votes swept him into office.

"For more than a decade," the article states, "Mr. Obama has cultivated ties with a growing circle of black power brokers who are poised—and eager—to wield greater national influence. Some of these insiders stand to gain new status in an Obama administration, and many more in law firms, big corporations and Wall Street.

They believe that their proximity to the president-elect will burnish their reputations, much in the way white elites always have leveraged connections in business and politics."

As cheerleaders of the outgoing Bush administration and defenders of the most rapacious layers of the financial establishment, the Wall Street Journal is no doubt bitter at the fate of the Republicans. Nevertheless, it clearly recognizes political operatives on the make when it sees them.

"These black executives see a window of opportunity for themselves," Peniel Joseph, an African American political professor from Brandeis University, told the paper. "Obama being president shatters the glass ceiling."

Obama has collected supporters among the black elite throughout his career—from the close-knit black Harvard law school alumni, his connections with the administration of Harold Washington (the first black mayor of Chicago) during his days as a community organizer, and among national politicians in the recent period. "In many ways their careers mirror that of the candidate himself," states the Journal.

"They are graduates of Ivy League and prestigious colleges and law schools. They ascended the ranks of mainstream corporate America, often accumulating great wealth in the process. They've been adept at navigating elite white precincts while retaining ties to the black community.

They are also bound by the intricate social web that operates largely out of sight from whites: family connections, black law-school alumni organizations, black fraternities and sororities, as well as popular vacation spots for affluent African Americans like Martha's Vineyard."

Many are hoping for a ripple effect in career opportunities for black professionals once Obama enters the White House. "You'll see changes in Washington, D.C. where people are making decisions about who is running a news bureau, who is heading up a lobbying shop," stated Cassandra Butts, one of Obama's top advisors and a fellow black classmate at Harvard Law school.

Butts is a Democratic Party insider who worked as a senior advisor to Representative Richard Gephardt of Missouri, the former Democratic minority leader in the House.

The Obama presidential campaign carefully cultivated the illusion that an African American president would prove sympathetic to the plight of average working people. However, the social layers that Obama represents have different class interests; far from being sympathetic to the conditions of the working class or the poor, they have used their connections to take advantage of the very people they claim to defend.

Not surprisingly, some of these supporters have been exposed as petty opportunists, people who know how to game the system by helping themselves to government subsidies in various shady practices.

This social layer is the product of affirmative action, using racial politics as a path to privilege and to secure the advantage of government largess. In a healthier society, many of them would be facing criminal charges rather than reaping millions of dollars in government contracts.

According to an investigative report in the Boston Globe, "Grim proving ground for Obama's housing policy," Obama has close ties to several real estate developers in Chicago, some of whom are black attorneys. All have been major fund-raisers for the Obama campaign. All of them made handsome profits from government-subsidized and privately owned low-income housing, while the tenants lived in squalor.

Government-subsidized privately owned apartment complexes have been a major means to riches for this layer, which received the continued support of Obama while he was both a state legislator in Illinois and a US senator.

The Globe reported that Obama as a state senator co-authored an Illinois law that created a new pool of tax credits for developers. And as a US senator, he pressed for increased federal subsidies. During his presidential campaign, the article states, he promised "to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that could give developers an estimated $500 million a year."

While he was running for president, Obama's campaign told the Globe that the candidate supported public-private partnerships as an alternative to public housing. The campaign said that Obama has "consistently fought to make livable, affordable housing in mixed-income neighborhoods available to all."

One of those who has greatly benefited from such public-private partnerships is Obama's closest advisor, Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett, who was co-chairwoman of Obama's transition team, was named Friday as senior White House advisor. She has been called the other side of Obama's brain, because he reportedly never makes a major decision without her consultation.

Jarrett is the CEO of The Habitat Company, one of Chicago's largest real estate development firms. Through ties with the Daley administration, she manages the infamous Grove Parc Plaza, a squalid housing development for the poor that is privately run but government-subsidized, making enormous riches for the owners.

"Government is just not as good at owning and managing as the private sector because the incentives are not there," said Jarrett to the Globe. Based on these "incentives"—i.e., private profit—Jarrett manages 23,000 apartments in the Chicago area. "I would argue that someone living in a poor neighborhood that isn't 100 percent public is by definition better off."

Despite Jarrett's claims, the Grove Parc Plaza project, located in a predominantly black working class district that was a part of Obama's constituency when he was a state senator, had to demolish one fifth of the units because they were uninhabitable due to a lack of maintenance.

The Globe article states: "About 99 units are vacant, many rendered uninhabitable by unfixed problems such as unfixed roofs and fire damage. Mice scamper through the halls.... Sewage backs up in the kitchen sinks. In 2006 federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale."

Another lawyer with close to ties to Obama is Allison Davis, identified in the Boston Globe article as Obama's former law firm boss and a participant in the Grove Parc Plaza development. Through ties with Obama and the Daley administration, Davis received more than $100 million in subsidies to refurbish 1,500 apartments in Chicago.

In one of Davis's North Side buildings, city inspectors cited Davis after chronic plumbing problems that resulted in raw sewage spilling into several buildings. The worst case exposed in the article was the housing development known as Lawndale Restoration, a collection of more than 1,200 apartments in 97 buildings spread out over 300 blocks.

It is Chicago's largest subsidized housing development. The company is owned by Cecil Butler, an attorney who claims to have been a civil rights activist but is reviled as a slumlord in the Chicago region.

Lawndale Restoration was founded in the early 1980s when the federal government granted Butler a $22 million loan to take over and redevelop the buildings. In 1995, Butler received an additional $51 million for renovations. In 2000, Butler brought in Jarrett's company, Habitat, to help manage the complex. However, the housing complex continued to degenerate.

In 2006, city inspectors found 1,800 code violations in the units, including leaky roofs, exposed electrical wiring and pools of sewage in the buildings. Another Obama supporter and public-private housing developer was Tony Rezko, a Syrian-born developer who is now in jail for fraud and bribery.

Rezko founded a real estate company named Rezmar. He received $87 million over nine years in government grants, loans and tax credits to renovate 1,000 apartments in 30 different buildings. The conditions in these units were similar to those at Parc Grove and Lawndale Restoration.

Rezko became an early supporter of Obama in 1995 when he first ran for the state senate. Several of his buildings were in Obama's district where the residents regularly complained about the rats in the buildings and the lack of insulation for heat.

These conditions and Obama's close ties to the developers sparked a protest against the candidate when he was running for the US Senate. The Boston Globe asked Paul Johnson, who organized the protest, if Obama knew about the problems.

"How didn't he know?" stated Johnson. "Of course he knew. He just didn't care." Butler's role in Lawndale Restoration is a potent illustration of the class interests of the layer of black businessmen who formed a key base for Obama. In a 2004 article on North Lawndale, the Chicago Tribune exposed how Butler amassed a personal bonanza as the housing unit deteriorated, resulting in unlivable conditions for many of the residents.

Of the $51 million Butler received in 1995, court papers reviewed by the Chicago Tribune revealed, barely one-third went to repairs, "$14.7 million to attorneys, accountants, underwriters reserves and closing costs. The rest paid off previous debt to the buildings."

The article went on to state that the bond the state issued for the housing development was a benefit for ChevronTexaco and Butler. The oil company paid $20.6 million in cash for the bond and in exchange received $27 million in government-authorized tax write-offs.

"About $9.5 million of the cash the oil company invested went to a real estate company Butler owns as a fee for its services and reimbursement of its expenses," the Chicago Tribune reported.
Ironically, Martin Luther King briefly lived in the North Lawndale area in 1966 in an effort to expose "slum-lordism" and expose the conditions that it imposed upon masses of black workers in the North.

Both race and the constant refrain of "helping the middle class" have been used in this election campaign to obscure the real class divisions in society. The layers of the black elite around Obama are in fact part of a grasping bourgeoisie, which defends the capitalist system and the drive for wealth, many at the expense of the black workers they claim to defend.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A who's who guide to the people poised to shape Obama's foreign policy.

By Jeremy Schahill

As news breaks and speculation abounds about cabinet appointments, here are 20people to watch as Obama builds the team who will shape U.S. foreign policy forat least four years:

Joe Biden

There was no stronger sign that Obama's foreign policy would follow the hawkishtradition of the Democratic foreign policy establishment than his selection ofSen. Joe Biden as his running mate. Much has been written on Biden's tenure ashead of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but his role in the invasionand occupation of Iraq stands out.

Biden is not just one more Democraticlawmaker who now calls his vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq"mistaken;" Biden was actually an important facilitator of the war.In the summer of 2002, when the United States was "debating" a potential attackon Iraq, Biden presided over hearings whose ostensible purpose was to weigh allexisting options.

But instead of calling on experts whose testimony couldchallenge the case for war -- Iraq's alleged WMD possession and its supposedties to al-Qaida -- Biden's hearings treated the invasion as a foregoneconclusion. His refusal to call on two individuals in particular ensured thattestimony that could have proven invaluable to an actual debate was neverheard:

Former Chief United Nations Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter and Hans vonSponeck, a 32-year veteran diplomat and the former head of the U.N.'s Iraqprogram.Both men say they made it clear to Biden's office that they were ready andwilling to testify; Ritter knew more about the dismantling of Iraq's WMDprogram than perhaps any other U.S. citizen and would have been in primeposition to debunk the misinformation and outright lies being peddled by theWhite House.

Meanwhile, von Sponeck had just returned from Iraq, where he hadobserved Ansar al Islam rebels in the north of Iraq -- the so-called al-Qaidaconnection -- and could have testified that, rather than colluding withSaddam's regime, they were in a battle against it.

Moreover, he would havepointed out that they were operating in the U.S.-enforced safe haven of IraqiKurdistan. "Evidence of al-Qaida/lraq collaboration does not exist, neither inthe training of operatives nor in support to Ansar-al-Islam," von Sponeck wrotein an Op-Ed published shortly before the July 2002 hearings.

"The U.S.Department of Defense and the CIA know perfectly well that today's Iraq posesno threat to anyone in the region, let alone in the United States. To argueotherwise is dishonest."With both men barred from testifying, rather than eliciting an array ofinformed opinions, Biden's committee whitewashed Bush's lies and helped leadthe country to war.

Biden himself promoted the administration's false claimsthat were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, declaring on the Senate floor,"[Saddam Hussein] possesses chemical and biological weapons and is seekingnuclear weapons."With the war underway, Biden was then the genius who passionately promoted theridiculous plan to partition Iraq into three areas based on religion andethnicity, attempting to Balkanize one of the strongest Arab states in theworld.

"He's a part of the old Democratic establishment," says retired Army Col. AnnWright, the State Department diplomat who reopened the U.S. embassy in Kabul in2002. Biden, she says, has "had a long history with foreign affairs, [but] it'snot the type of foreign affairs that I want."

Rahm Emanuel

Obama's appointment of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff is aclear sign that Clinton-era neoliberal hawks will be well-represented at 1600Pennsylvania Ave. A former senior Clinton advisor, Emanuel is a hard-linesupporter of Israel's "targeted assassination" policy and actually volunteeredto work with the Israeli Army during the 1991 Gulf War.

He is close to theright-wing Democratic Leadership Council and was the only member of theIllinois Democratic delegation in the Congress to vote for the invasion ofIraq. Unlike many of his colleagues, Emanuel still defends his vote. As chairof the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, Emanuel promotedthe campaigns of 22 candidates, only one of who supported a swift withdrawalfrom Iraq, and denied crucial Party funding to anti-war candidates.

"As forIraq policy, at the right time, we will have a position," he said in December2005. As Philip Giraldi recently pointed out on, Emanuel "advocatesincreasing the size of the U.S. Army by 100,000 soldiers and creating adomestic spying organization like Britain's MI5.

More recently, he hassupported mandatory paramilitary national service for all Americans between theages of 18 and 25."While Obama has at times been critical of Clinton-era free trade agreements,Emanuel was one of the key people in the Clinton White House who brokered thesuccessful passage of NAFTA.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

For all the buzz and speculation about the possibility that Sen. Clinton may benamed Secretary of State, most media coverage has focused on her rivalry withObama during the primary, along with the prospect of her husband having to facethe intense personal, financial and political vetting process required tosecure a job in the new administration.

But the question of how Clinton wouldlead the operations at Foggy Bottom calls for scrutiny of her positionsvis-a-vis Obama's stated foreign-policy goals.Clinton was an ardent defender of her husband's economic and military waragainst Iraq throughout the 1990s, including the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998,which ultimately laid the path for President George W. Bush's invasion.

Later,as a U.S. senator, she not only voted to authorize the war, but aided the Bushadministration's propaganda campaign in the lead-up to the invasion. "SaddamHussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, hismissile-delivery capability and his nuclear program," Clinton said when risingto support the measure in October 2002.

"He has also given aid, comfort andsanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members … I want to insure thatSaddam Hussein makes no mistake about our national unity and for our supportfor the president's efforts to wage America's war against terrorists andweapons of mass destruction."

"The man who vowed to deliver us from 28 years of Bushes and Clintons has beenstocking up on Clintonites," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recentlywrote. "How, one may ask, can he put Hillary -- who voted to authorize the Iraqwar without even reading the intelligence assessment -- in charge of patchingup a foreign policy and a world riven by that war?"

Beyond Iraq, Clinton shocked many and sparked official protests by Tehran atthe United Nations when asked during the presidential campaign what she woulddo as president if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons. "I want theIranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," she declared."

In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching anattack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."Clinton has not shied away from supporting offensive foreign policy tactics inthe past.

Recalling her husband's weighing the decision of whether to attackYugoslavia, she said in 1999, "I urged him to bomb. … You cannot let this goon at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. Whatdo we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?"

Madeleine Albright

While Obama's house is flush with Clintonian officials like former Secretary ofState Warren Christopher, Defense Secretary William Perry, Director of theState Department Office of Policy Planning Greg Craig (who was officially namedObama's White House Counsel) and Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, perhaps mostinfluential is Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's former Secretary of State andU.N. ambassador.

Albright recently served as a proxy for Obama, representinghim at the G-20 summit earlier this month. Whether or not she is awarded anofficial role in the administration, Albright will be a major force in shapingObama's foreign policy.

"It will take time to convince skeptics that the promotion of democracy is nota mask for imperialism or a recipe for the kind of chaos we have seen in thePersian Gulf," Albright recently wrote. "And it will take time to establish theright identity for America in a world that has grown suspicious of all whoclaim a monopoly on virtue and that has become reluctant to follow the lead ofany one country."Albright should know. She was one of the key architects in the dismantling ofYugoslavia during the 1990s.

In the lead-up to the 1999 "Kosovo war," sheoversaw the U.S. attempt to coerce the Yugoslav government to deny its ownsovereignty in return for not being bombed. Albright demanded that the Yugoslavgovernment sign a document that would have been unacceptable to any sovereignnation.

Known as the Rambouillet Accord, it included a provision that wouldhave guaranteed U.S. and NATO forces "free and unrestricted passage andunimpeded access throughout" all of Yugoslavia -- not just Kosovo -- while alsoseeking to immunize those occupation forces "from any form of arrest,investigation or detention by the authorities in [Yugoslavia]."

Moreover, itwould have granted the occupiers "the use of airports, roads, rails and portswithout payment." Similar to Bush's Iraq plan years later, the RambouilletAccord mandated that the economy of Kosovo "shall function in accordance withfree-market principles.

"When Yugoslavia refused to sign the document, Albright and others in theClinton administration unleashed the 78-day NATO bombing of Serbia, whichtargeted civilian infrastructure. (Prior to the attack, Albright said the U.S.government felt "the Serbs need a little bombing.") She and the Clintonadministration also supported the rise to power in Kosovo of a terrorist mafiathat carried out its own ethnic-cleansing campaign against the province'sminorities.

Perhaps Albright's most notorious moment came with her enthusiastic support ofthe economic war against the civilian population of Iraq. When confronted byLesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” that the sanctions were responsible for thedeaths of "a half-million children … more children than died in Hiroshima,"Albright responded, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- wethink the price is worth it." (While defending the policy, Albright latercalled her choice of words "a terrible mistake, hasty, clumsy, and wrong.")

Richard Holbrooke

Like Albright, Holbrooke will have major sway over U.S. policy, whether or nothe gets an official job. A career diplomat since the Vietnam War, Holbrooke'smost recent government post was as President Clinton's ambassador to the U.N.Among the many violent policies he helped implement and enforce was theU.S.-backed Indonesian genocide in East Timor.

Holbrooke was an AssistantSecretary of State in the late 1970s at the height of the slaughter and was thepoint man on East Timor for the Carter Administration.According to Brad Simpson, director of the Indonesia and East TimorDocumentation Project at the National Security Archive at George WashingtonUniversity, "It was Holbrooke and Zbigniew Brzezinski [another top Obamaadvisor], both now leading lights in the Democratic Party, who played point intrying to frustrate the efforts of congressional human-rights activists to tryand condition or stop U.S. military assistance to Indonesia, and in factaccelerated the flow of weapons to Indonesia at the height of the genocide."Holbrooke, too, was a major player in the dismantling of Yugoslavia and praisedthe bombing of Serb Television, which killed 16 media workers, as a significantvictory.

(The man who ordered that bombing, now-retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark,is another Obama foreign policy insider who could end up in his cabinet. WhileClark is known for being relatively progressive on social issues, as SupremeAllied Commander of NATO, he ordered bombings and attacks that AmnestyInternational labeled war crimes.)Like many in Obama's foreign policy circle, Holbrooke also supported the Iraqwar.

In early 2003, shortly after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's speechto the UN, where he presented the administration's fraud-laden case for war tothe UN (a speech Powell has since called a "blot" on his reputation), Holbrookesaid: "It was a masterful job of diplomacy by Colin Powell and his colleagues,and it does not require a second vote to go to war. …

Saddam is the mostdangerous government leader in the world today, he poses a threat to theregion, he could pose a larger threat if he got weapons of mass destructiondeployed, and we have a legitimate right to take action."

Dennis Ross

Middle East envoy for both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Ross was one ofthe primary authors of Obama's aforementioned speech before AIPAC this summer.He cut his teeth working under famed neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz at thePentagon in the 1970s and worked closely with the Project for the New AmericanCentury.

Ross has been a staunch supporter of Israel and has fanned the flamesfor a more hostile stance toward Iran. As the lead U.S. negotiator betweenIsrael and numerous Arab nations under Clinton, Ross' team acted, in the wordsof one U.S. official who worked under him, as "Israel's lawyer.""The 'no surprises' policy, under which we had to run everything by Israelfirst, stripped our policy of the independence and flexibility required forserious peacemaking," wrote U.S. diplomat Aaron David Miller in 2005.

"If wecouldn't put proposals on the table without checking with the Israelis first,and refused to push back when they said no, how effective could our mediationbe? Far too often, particularly when it came to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy,our departure point was not what was needed to reach an agreement acceptable toboth sides but what would pass with only one -- Israel."

After the ClintonWhite House, Ross worked for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, ahawkish pro-Israel think tank, and for FOX News, where he repeatedly pressedfor war against Iraq.

Martin Indyk

Founder of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Indyk spent yearsworking for AIPAC and served as Clinton's ambassador to Israel and AssistantSecretary of State for Near East Affairs, while also playing a major role indeveloping U.S. policy toward Iraq and Iran.

In addition to his work for theU.S. government, he has worked for the Israeli government and with PNAC."Barack Obama has painted himself into a corner by appealing to the mosthard-line, pro-Israel elements in this country," Ali Abunimah, founder, recently told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, describingIndyk and Dennis Ross as "two of the most pro-Israel officials from the Clintonera, who are totally distrusted by Palestinians and others across the MiddleEast, because they're seen as lifelong advocates for Israeli positions."

Anthony Lake

Clinton's former National Security Advisor was an early supporter of Obama andone of the few top Clintonites to initially back the president-elect. Lakebegan his foreign policy work in the U.S. Foreign Service during Vietnam,working with Henry Kissinger on the "September Group," a secret team taskedwith developing a military strategy to deliver a "savage, decisive blow againstNorth Vietnam.

"Decades later, after working for various administrations, Lake "was the mainforce behind the U.S. invasion of Haiti in the mid-Clinton years," according toveteran journalist Allan Nairn, whose groundbreaking reporting revealed for Haitian death squads in the 1990s.

"They brought back Aristideessentially in political chains, pledged to support a World Bank/IMF overhaulof the economy, which resulted in an increase in malnutrition deaths amongHaitians, and set the stage for the current ongoing political disaster inHaiti." Clinton nominated Lake as CIA Director, but he failed to win Senateconfirmation.

Lee Hamilton

Hamilton is a former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and wasco-chairman of both the Iraq Study Group and 9/11 Commission. Robert Parry, whohas covered Hamilton's career extensively, recently ran a piece on ConsortiumNews that characterized him this way:

"Whenever the Republicans have a touchynational-security scandal to put to rest, their favorite Democraticinvestigator is Lee Hamilton. … Hamilton's carefully honed skill forbalancing truth against political comity has elevated him to the status of aWashington Wise Man."

Susan Rice

Former Assistant Secretary of Sate Susan Rice, who served on Bill Clinton'sNational Security Council, is a potential candidate for the post of ambassadorto the U.N. or as a deputy national security advisor. She, too, promoted themyth that Saddam had WMDs. "It's clear that Iraq poses a major threat," shesaid in 2002.

"It's clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealtwith forcefully, and that's the path we're on." (After the invasion, discussingSaddam's alleged possession of WMDs, she said, "I don't think many informedpeople doubted that.")Rice has also been a passionate advocate for a U.S. military attack againstSudan over the Darfur crisis.

In an op-ed co-authored with Anthony Lake, shewrote, "The United States, preferably with NATO involvement and Africanpolitical support, would strike Sudanese airfields, aircraft and other militaryassets. It could blockade Port Sudan, through which Sudan's oil exports flow.Then U.N. troops would deploy -- by force, if necessary, with U.S. and NATObacking."

John Brennan

A longtime CIA official and former head of the National CounterterrorismCenter, Brennan is one of the coordinators of Obama's intelligence transitionteam and a top contender for either CIA Director or Director of NationalIntelligence. He was also recently described by Glenn Greenwald as "an ardentsupporter of torture and one of the most emphatic advocates of FISA expansionsand telecom immunity."

While claiming to oppose waterboarding, labeling it"inconsistent with American values" and "something that should be prohibited,"Brennan has simultaneously praised the results achieved by "enhancedinterrogation" techniques. "There has been a lot of information that has comeout from these interrogation procedures that the agency has, in fact, usedagainst the real hard-core terrorists," Brennan said in a 2007 interview. "Ithas saved lives.

And let's not forget, these are hardened terrorists who havebeen responsible for 9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the death of3,000 innocents."Brennan has described the CIA's extraordinary rendition program -- thegovernment-run kidnap-and-torture program enacted under Clinton -- as anabsolutely vital tool.

"I have been intimately familiar now over the pastdecade with the cases of rendition that the U.S. Government has been involvedin," he said in a December 2005 interview. "And I can say without a doubt thatit has been very successful as far as producing intelligence that has savedlives."Brennan is currently the head of Analysis Corporation, a private intelligencecompany that was recently implicated in the breach of Obama and Sen. JohnMcCain's passport records.

He is also the current chairman of the Intelligenceand National Security Alliance (INSA), a trade association of privateintelligence contractors who have dramatically increased their role insensitive U.S. national security operations. (Current Director of NationalIntelligence Mike McConnell is former chairman of the INSA.)

Jami Miscik

Miscik, who works alongside Brennan on Obama's transitional team, was the CIA'sDeputy Director for Intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. She was one ofthe key officials responsible for sidelining intel that contradicted theofficial line on WMD, while promoting intel that backed it up.

"When the administration insisted on an intelligence assessment of SaddamHussein's relationship to al-Qaida, Miscik blocked the skeptics (who were latervindicated) within the CIA's Mideast analytical directorate and instructed theless-skeptical counterterrorism analysts to 'stretch to the maximum theevidence you had,' " journalist Spencer Ackerman recently wrote in theWashington Independent.

"It's hard to think of a more egregious case ofsacrificing sound intelligence analysis in order to accommodate the strategicfantasies of an administration. … The idea that Miscik is helping staffObama's top intelligence picks is most certainly not change we can believe in."What's more, she went on to a lucrative post as the Global Head of SovereignRisk for the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers.

John Kerry and Bill Richardson

Both Sen. Kerry and Gov. Richardson have been identified as possible contendersfor Secretary of State. While neither is likely to be as hawkish as HillaryClinton, both have taken pro-war positions. Kerry promoted the WMD lie andvoted to invade Iraq. "Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclearweapons when most nations don't even try?"

Kerry asked on the Senate floor inOctober 2002. "According to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biologicalweapons … Iraq is developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of deliveringchemical and biological warfare agents."Richardson, whose Iraq plan during his 2008 presidential campaign was moreprogressive and far-reaching than Obama's, served as Bill Clinton's ambassadorto the UN.

In this capacity, he supported Clinton's December 1998 bombing ofBaghdad and the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq. "We think this man is a threatto the international community, and he threatens a lot of the neighbors in hisregion and future generations there with anthrax and VX," Richardson told aninterviewer in February 1998.

While Clinton's Secretary of Energy, Richardson publicly named Wen Ho Lee, ascientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, as a target in an espionageinvestigation. Lee was accused of passing nuclear secrets to the Chinesegovernment. Lee was later cleared of those charges and won a settlement againstthe U.S. government.

Robert Gates

Washington consensus is that Obama will likely keep Robert Gates, George W.Bush's Defense Secretary, as his own Secretary of Defense. While Gates hasoccasionally proved to be a stark contrast to former Secretary of DefenseDonald Rumsfeld, he would hardly represent a break from the policies of theBush administration. Quite the opposite; according to the Washington Post, inthe interest of a "smooth transition," Gates "has ordered hundreds of politicalappointees at the Pentagon canvassed to see whether they wish to stay on in thenew administration, has streamlined policy briefings and has set up suites forPresident-elect Barack Obama's transition team just down the hall from his ownE-ring office."

The Post reports that Gates could stay on for a brief periodand then be replaced by Richard Danzig, who was Clinton's Secretary of theNavy. Other names currently being tossed around are Democratic Sen. Jack Reed,Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (a critic of the Iraq occupation) and RepublicanSen. Richard Lugar, who served alongside Biden on the Senate Foreign RelationsCommittee.

Ivo H. Daalder

Daalder was National Security Council Director for European Affairs underPresident Clinton. Like other Obama advisors, he has worked with the Projectfor the New American Century and signed a 2005 letter from PNAC toCongressional leaders, calling for an increase in U.S. ground troops in Iraqand beyond.

Sarah Sewall

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and HumanitarianAssistance during the Clinton administration, Sewall served as a top advisor toObama during the campaign and is almost certain to be selected for a post inhis administration.

In 2007, Sewall worked with the U.S. military and Army Gen.David Petraeus, writing the introduction to the University of Chicago editionof the Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. She was criticized forthis collaboration by Tom Hayden, who wrote, "the Petraeus plan drawsintellectual legitimacy from Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy,whose director, Sarah Sewall, proudly embraces an 'unprecedented collaboration[as] a human rights center partnered with the armed forces.'”

"Humanitarians often avoid wading into the conduct of war for fear of becomingcomplicit in its purpose," she wrote in the introduction. "'The field manualrequires engagement precisely from those who fear that its words lack meaning."

Michele Flournoy

Flournoy and former Clinton Deputy Defense Secretary John White are co-headingObama's defense transition team. Flournoy was a senior Clinton appointee at thePentagon. She currently runs the Center for a New American Security, acenter-right think-tank. There is speculation that Obama could eventually nameher as the first woman to serve as defense secretary.

As the Wall StreetJournal recently reported: "While at CNAS, Flournoy helped to write a reportthat called for reducing the open-ended American military commitment in Iraqand replacing it with a policy of 'conditional engagement' there.Significantly, the paper rejected the idea of withdrawing troops according tothe sort of a fixed timeline that Obama espoused during the presidentialcampaign.

Obama has in recent weeks signaled that he was willing to shelve theidea, bringing him more in line with Flournoy's thinking." Flournoy has alsoworked with the neoconservative Project for the New American Century.

Wendy Sherman and Tom Donilon

Currently employed at Madeline Albright's consulting firm, the Albright Group,Sherman worked under Albright at the State Department, coordinating U.S. policyon North Korea. She is now coordinating the State Department transition teamfor Obama.

Tom Donilon, her co-coordinator, was Assistant Secretary of Statefor Public Affairs and Chief of Staff at the State Department under Clinton.Interestingly, Sherman and Donilon both have ties to Fannie Mae that didn'tmake it onto their official bios on Obama's website.

"Donilon wasFannie's general counsel and executive vice president for law and policy from1999 until the spring of 2005, a period during which the company was rocked byaccounting problems," reports the Wall Street Journal.

While many of the figures at the center of Obama's foreign policy team arewell-known, two of its most important members have never held national electedoffice or a high-profile government position. While they cannot becharacterized as Clinton-era hawks, it will be important to watch DenisMcDonough and Mark Lippert, co-coordinators of the Obama foreign policy team.

From 2000 to 2005, McDonough served as foreign policy advisor to SenateDemocratic Leader Tom Daschle and worked extensively on the use-of-forceauthorizations for the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which Daschlesupported.

From 1996 to 1999, McDonough was a professional staff member of theHouse International Relations Committee during the debate over the bombing ofYugoslavia. More recently, he was at the Center for American Progress workingunder John Podesta, Clinton's former chief of staff and the current head of theObama transition.

Mark Lippert is a close personal friend of Obama's. He has worked for VermontSen. Patrick Leahy, as well as the Senate Appropriations Committee and theDemocratic Policy Committee. He is a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve and spent ayear in Iraq working intelligence for the Navy SEALs.

"According to those who've worked closely with Lippert," Robert Dreyfuss recently wrote in The Nation, "he is a conservative, cautious centrist who often pulled Obama to the right on Iraq, Iran and the Middle East and who has been a consistent advocatefor increased military spending.

'Even before Obama announced for thepresidency, Lippert wanted Obama to be seen as tough on Iran,' says a lobbyistwho's worked the Iran issue on Capitol Hill, 'He's clearly more hawkish thanthe senator.' "Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to bring change to Washington. "I don'twant to just end the war," he said early this year. "

I want to end the mindsetthat got us into war." That is going to be very difficult if Obama employs aforeign policy team that was central to creating that mindset, before andduring the presidency of George W. Bush."Twenty-three senators and 133 House members who voted against the war -- andcountless other notable individuals who spoke out against it and the dubiousclaims leading to war -- are apparently not even being considered for thesecrucial positions," observes Sam Husseini of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

This includes dozens of former military and intelligence officials who spokeout forcefully against the war and continue to oppose militaristic policy, aswell as credible national security experts who have articulated their visionsfor a foreign policy based on justice. Obama does have a chance to change the mindset that got us into war.

More significantly, he has a popular mandate to forcefully challenge themilitaristic, hawkish tradition of modern U.S. foreign policy. But that workwould begin by bringing on board people who would challenge this tradition, notthose who have been complicit in creating it and are bound to continueadvancing it.

This Is Change? Clintonites and Neocons in Obama's White House

By Jeremy Scahill

A who's who guide to the people poised to shape Obama's foreign policy. U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith peopleplace in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will be fruit ofa tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and views, thedisastrous realities his administration will inherit, and, of course,unpredictable future crises.

But the best immediate indicator of what an Obama administration might look like can be found in the people he surrounds himself with and who he appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly, when it comes to foreign policy, it is not looking good.Obama has a momentous opportunity to do what he repeatedly promised over thecourse of his campaign: bring actual change.

But the more we learn about whoObama is considering for top positions in his administration, the more hisinner circle resembles a staff reunion of President Bill Clinton's White House.

Although Obama brought some progressives on board early in his campaign, hisforeign policy team is now dominated by the hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the1990s. This has been particularly true since Hillary Clinton conceded defeat inthe Democratic primary, freeing many of her top advisors to join Obama's team.

"What happened to all this talk about change?" a member of the Clinton foreignpolicy team recently asked the Washington Post. "This isn't lightly flavoredwith Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time."Amid the euphoria over Obama's election and the end of the Bush era, it iscritical to recall what 1990s U.S. foreign policy actually looked like. BillClinton's boiled down to a one-two punch from the hidden hand of the freemarket, backed up by the iron fist of U.S. militarism.

Clinton took office and almost immediately bombed Iraq (ostensibly in retaliation for an alleged plot by Saddam Hussein to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush). Hepresided over a ruthless regime of economic sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and under the guise of the so-called No-Fly Zones in northern and southern Iraq, authorized the longest sustained U.S. bombing campaign since Vietnam.

Under Clinton, Yugoslavia was bombed and dismantled as part of what NoamChomsky described as the "New Military Humanism." Sudan and Afghanistan wereattacked, Haiti was destabilized and "free trade" deals like the North AmericaFree Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade radicallyescalated the spread of corporate-dominated globalization that hurt U.S.workers and devastated developing countries.

Clinton accelerated themilitarization of the so-called War on Drugs in Central and Latin America andsupported privatization of U.S. military operations, giving lucrative contractsto Halliburton and other war contractors. Meanwhile, U.S. weapons sales tocountries like Turkey and Indonesia aided genocidal campaigns against the Kurdsand the East Timorese.The prospect of Obama's foreign policy being, at least in part, an extension ofthe Clinton Doctrine is real.

Even more disturbing, several of the individualsat the center of Obama's transition and emerging foreign policy teams were topplayers in creating and implementing foreign policies that would pave the wayfor projects eventually carried out under the Bush/Cheney administration. Withtheir assistance, Obama has already charted out several hawkish stances.

Amongthem:-- His plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan;-- An Iraq plan that could turn into a downsized and rebranded occupation thatkeeps U.S. forces in Iraq for the foreseeable future;-- His labeling of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist organization;"-- His pledge to use unilateral force inside of Pakistan to defend U.S.interests;-- His position, presented before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee(AIPAC), that Jerusalem "must remain undivided" -- a remark that infuriatedPalestinian officials and which he later attempted to reframe;-- His plan to continue the War on Drugs, a backdoor U.S. counterinsurgencycampaign in Central and Latin America;-- His refusal to "rule out" using Blackwater and other armed private forces inU.S. war zones, despite previously introducing legislation to regulate thesecompanies and bring them under U.S. law.

Obama did not arrive at these positions in a vacuum. They were carefullycrafted in consultation with his foreign policy team. While the verdict isstill out on a few people, many members of his inner foreign policy circle --including some who have received or are bound to receive Cabinet posts --supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Some promoted the myth thatSaddam had weapons of mass destruction. A few have worked with theneoconservative Project for the New American Century, whose radical agenda wasadopted by the Bush/Cheney administration. And most have proven track recordsof supporting or implementing militaristic, offensive U.S. foreign policy."

After a masterful campaign, Barack Obama seems headed toward some fatefulmistakes as he assembles his administration by heeding the advice ofWashington's Democratic insider community, a collective group that representslittle 'change you can believe in,'" notes veteran journalist Robert Parry, theformer Associated Press and Newsweek reporter who broke many of the stories inthe Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama and the Myth of Black Progress

by Quincy Stewart
Pontiac MAALS Chapter

One and All,

I realize that in the midst of all the hoopla and feelings of hope and "Yes We Can" slogans, comparisons to "Camelot", the Kennedy years and even some references to Martin Luther King Jr., we must come down from the fantasy, give up on Santa Claus in any form, whether it be political or in the form of "Claymation" and look at stark reality.

Barack Obama, though seemingly sincere and desirous to "do good", is alas, a politician; Outside of the little good of Adam Clayton Powell, who ultimately misused his power, very few if any elected officials have done a whole lot of lasting "good" for the People.

Most of the good done for the People have been through non-elected, grass root captains like Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Sojourner Truth, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, and my personal favorite, Nat Turner; King nor Fred Hampton were elected officials...none of our real heroes and heroine were ever elected officials. Why, you might ask?

Elected officials are beholden not to the electorate as they claim to be during campaigns rather, they are beholden to financiers, contributors, political allies from their home-base where they began to build political muscle and other places and people. I realize that Obama had to do it to become president, so don't call me impossible for mentioning this, but he had to deny his own pastor, who was telling the absolute truth about this system, about white-skin privilege; about America as an inherently, racist, sexist and homophobic nation.

Obama had to cut ties from people at the grass root level who supported him, but happened to have the integrity to stand on their principles which were not popular among the brainwashed masses, and this was only due to us being so "educated"! Obama had to look and act like the old Tom on the front of the Cream of Wheat box! He had to sell out, lock, stock and barrel, so Jessie Jackson's punk ass could cry on national television at the election rally like a little bitch.

That is the equivalent of Nat Turner crying in appreciation over one field nigger who in Virginia, got a chance to manage the master's smoke house! How can we cry over being in any "WHITE house? The culmination of our struggle for freedom from white supremacy is to cry when we are part of it? Middle managing it?

Bill Ayers, the repudiated so-called "terrorist", who never took one life but was engaged during the 1960's and early 70's blowing up unoccupied government building to dramatize the horrific, bloodthirsty, racist and murderous state of the United Snakes government as it related to its occupation of N. Vietnam, the murder of its people and the pillaging of her lands, as well as the brutal, murderous treatment of any group that openly disagreed with the government like the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, was dissed by Obama.

He called his pastor of 12 years reprehensible! Obama is a true Uncle Tom...even Ralph Nader said it!Keep in mind, dear reader, that the United Snakes of America's "government" have been involved in more murder, outright genocide, pillaging of lands on this soil and everywhere abroad than anyone; most notably Africa; covert and overt coups of legitimate countries and governments throughout the 20th century and attempted open murder of heads of state like bobble-headed Ronald Reagan tried to do on Qaddafi some years ago. Reagan sent a plane to Libya in the still of the night to bomb Qaddafi's home and killed his only son.

The fact that America, under the madman, Mussolini/Hitler type sadist, George W. Bush Jr. has unjustly gone in to Iraq, murdered thousands upon thousands, and sent many U.S. soldiers to their untimely and unnecessary deaths, against the United Nations and world opinion ALONE is justification to never entrust politicians who BUY their way into a place of public trust!

Why is Ralph Nader considered a joke in a campaign? Because he has NO MONEY. Not because of his political ideals or even his integrity...just MONEY. The Matrix is real folks... many of you are asleep in it, going about your daily lives solemnly and blissfully oblivious to the complete control they have over your minds. Not that I support Nader per say, but his voice as well as many others go unheard and unconsidered, relegated to the loony-bin of political discourse because they hadn't enough money to be heard...what kind of shit is that, yawl?

You are not encouraged to critically think in any form of schooling, including college! You have been educated under an archaic, agricultural form of schooling, replete with the old behaviorist, teacher know everything, shut the fuck up and just get a grade approach!

You have been duped, hoodwinked and wholesale bamboozled into thinking that once you leave school your shit don't stink have been educated by the system not to truly think, because then you might ask some critical questions.... you are told not how to think but WHAT to think so you can chase Dollars, Yens, Marks, Euros, Franks, long as it's money, resulting in greed, avarice, are truly American.....

Once you create a system that forces its people to judge themselves and each other by how much they have acquired, where they live, what they drive, how many letters are behind their names and how much money they have, you have a sure-fire way of bending the human Will into silly putty; seeking the comfortable captivity of blissful ignorance over the authentic joy of clear truth, love and justice.

Once you do that the people will sell their own mothers out, do unspeakable things to either acquire or keep wealth, perceived power or prestige; hell, they will even sell their own truth telling pastors out for a mere pittance. (or just be Joe Lieberman).

New Africans (so- called Blacks; remember a so-called "white" man or woman can be born in or move to any place in Africa and come here and be considered what on their official United States citizenship documents? You guessed African-American) are so naive and pitiful!

We are so woefully politically immature and uneducated that we would pin our hopes on Mister Rogers, Pee Wee Herman or the Cookie Monster if either said the right things to us! We forgot that Amilcar Cabral stated that, "Culture is our first line of defense against colonialism".

We forgot that once a culture has been decimated through its desire to "assimilate" (brought about through years of brutality and brainwashing), that culture is suffering from a mortal wound in a main artery... massive cultural can no longer judge what is in it's best interests any longer... it will suffer from a collective dependent personality disorder on the very system that exploited and presently still exploits it.

It can not carry out its natural functions without the "approval" of the dominant culture who has, by the way, thoroughly inculcated the subordinate culture's mores, labor, values, and culture to its own benefit via as in our case, slavery ( the exploitation of unpaid labor to build a leisure wealthy class for the dominating culture), its music, its language; the dominating class berating the subordinates' culture to the point where it seems ugly and distasteful to its own people and then the dominating culture steals it and makes money with it, leaving us here in 2008 calling each other "niggers"... as a term of endearment! Come on...come the fuck on people! Insane!

Once you truly survey the political landscape both contemporaneously and historically, even a cursory search would tell you that America is a morally bankrupt, cold, calloused and insensitive governmental system that hides behind superfluous philanthropy, or rhetoric about "democracy" to fool the people who live here that this is the best country on earth!

Yet, Nagasaki and Hiroshima are but one example of the brutality and ruthless nature of these crazed white men (in Africa you have crazed black men who exploit their people so this isn't an indictment on simply being white as criteria for evil...its the human condition) who have blazed a trail of ingenious ways to kill, rob, exploit, rape, behead, burn, castrate, enslave ( by the way there are still many countries in the world TODAY practicing open slavery) and make war with everyone.

When Obama even suggested he'd like to TALK with America's so-called "enemies", the crazed white male establishment derided him for it! TO TALK TO SOMEONE IS SEEN AS FOOLISH....TO BOMB IS PRUDENCE!Historically, viscerally, it may provide some comfort to those who need it, that finally there is black man in the president position. Keep in mind that he, Obama, is only a middle manager for the corporate elite, and black faces in high places do not translate into power for us AT ALL.

True power is a radical redistribution of economic, military, geographic, political and social power. That will never happen because to acquiesce that would mean the collapse of world domination and would begin a dialogue free from the advantage of power in the hands of a few.

The realest power is love to be sure....but alas, we don't eat, sleep or live in love. Practical issues must be faced and dealt with. People want a capitalist earth and a socialist heaven. What a profound contradiction.

Now many Black people believe they have what they want, Barak Obama, the Black ‘Presidential Moses’ in the white house, who has finally delivered Black people into an integrated America. What a political fantasy, let’s get real! Our Moses is Black political self-determination, the only earthly deliverance.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dhoruba Bin Wahad on Black Leadership and Barak Obama

Dhoruba Bin Wahad is currently on the road lecturing and promoting the re-release of the critically acclaimed award winning film “Passin’ It On”. Passin’ It On is a film highlighting Dhoruba and his case. The following is a question from a recent interview about Barak Obama being elected U.S. president.

Kalonji: What is the State of Black Leadership in America?

Dhoruba: Poor, afraid, reactionary, opportunistic, self-serving, and above all invested in the profession of reformism.

Kalonji: Is Barak Obama a "Savior" for Black People?

Dhoruba: No! Obama’s rise to political prominence marks the end of African history in America and the beginning of its complete assimilation into the white supremacist ethos. Which is why integrationists of the sixties view his run for the "white house" as the culmination of their struggle for "equality".

Omali Yeshitela's Statement on the Election of Barak Obama as U.S. President

By Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African Socialist International

African workers and peoples of the world:

On Tuesday, November 4 Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States to the obvious joy of millions of African people in the U.S. and around the world, especially in Africa, our national homeland. Other peoples of the world also welcomed the election of Obama.

The jubilation over the election was the result of relief at the end of the hated Bush regime, but mostly it was the result of an assumption that Obama’s election represents a drastic change for the better in the conditions of African people in the U.S. and an end to the United States’ predatory relationship with most of the world.Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: none of this is true.

The fact is that the election of Obama to the U.S. presidency represents the highest stage of neocolonialism, white power in black face.As we have seen in Africa and some other places, when our political consciousness develops to the extent that it becomes impossible for imperialist white power to rule us directly, indirect rule or neocolonialism has been employed as a method of undermining our struggle to win our freedom.

Instead of imperialism with the white face that had become so hated by our people because of its history of brutality and humiliation, imperialism donned a black face giving the appearance of freedom and progress while our resources remained in the hands of the same imperialist white power as before.Sisters, brothers and comrades: some of us are old enough to remember the joy and hope that we experienced with our independence and the emergence of African heads of state in Africa during the 1960s.

Others experienced the same elation that accompanied the election of Nelson Mandela as president in South Africa in 1994. Today that joy has been dulled by the reality of our continued exploitation by the same imperialist countries and corporations that have exploited us historically.Sisters and brothers; friends and comrades: Today our people are swimming in a sea of misery throughout Africa under the indirect rule of neocolonialism.

This is true even after Mandela in South Africa where nearly 50 percent of African people are unemployed and thousands are required to live in shanties unfit for human habitation. This South Africa that we are told has overcome its racial past and now constitutes a “Rainbow Nation,” is one where the white ten percent of the population still own 87 percent of the land that they stole with their initial brutal occupation that lasts to this day.

In the U.S., where Barack Obama also told us that racial oppression is no longer a factor in life, the black-white health gap costs the lives of more than 83,000 African people each year. Additionally, African men in the U.S. are incarcerated at rates 8 times higher than white men and one out of three African males in his 30s has a prison record. One out of eight African men in his 20s is now in prison or jail on any given day. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the conditions of existence for African people, most of whom are workers, in the U.S. Clearly the election of Obama is not a sign that things are better for African people.

Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: the same thing that made it necessary for imperialist white power to employ neocolonialism on the Continent of Africa has made it necessary for our imperialist oppressors and exploiters to employ neocolonialism globally through the election of Barack Obama, whose presidential campaign cost more than 600 million U.S. dollars.

Throughout the world people are struggling to overturn their oppressive relationship to the U.S. These are struggles that have been ongoing for some time now and were highlighted in the past by the glorious struggles of the Vietnamese and Cuban peoples. Today these struggles are evident in the resistance to U.S. occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the challenge to U.S. hegemony by growing numbers of peoples and countries in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.

In South America the growing resentment of the people to U.S. domination and expropriation of their wealth can be found in the policies and popularity of Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela along with the governments and people of Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Nicaragua and others.These are some of the myriad of problems the U.S. ruling class has been confronted with for some time now. These are among the contradictions facing U.S. imperialism that we have characterized as a crisis of imperialism.

Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: The U.S. and world economy is in trouble precisely because of this growing resistance by the world’s peoples. It is true that the world capitalist economy is a parasitic economy that rests upon a pedestal of the oppressive exploitation of the majority of humanity—a parasitic economy that has its origins in part from African slavery and the colonization of Africa and much of the world.

The successful struggles of the world’s peoples to take back their resources and their freedoms for their own use means that these are resources that the imperialists can no longer rely on to feed, clothe and house themselves and their children at our expense.This is what has made it necessary for our oppressors to employ a global neocolonial strategy.

It is a strategy that intends to give imperial white power a new and friendlier face that is not normally associated with oppression and exploitation. It is a strategy to seduce the peoples of the world to compliance with the predatory interests of U.S. imperialism as it becomes increasingly clear that military coercion alone is no longer sufficient for imperialist success.It is a strategy designed to enhance the U.S.’s capacity in the growing contest with others, especially China, for the resources of Africa that are so critical in determining the economic future of the world.

Part of the strategy is to create an international brotherhood of neocolonialism under the umbrella of U.S. imperialism that would allow neocolonial heads of state in Africa to enjoy the prestige of association with Obama in return for favorable treatment of U.S. corporations exploiting the resources of Our Africa.
Another critical component of the imperialist strategy represented by Obama’s election is the Africa Command or AFRICOM, the overt U.S. military intervention in Africa that is designed to protect the oppressive status quo and to oppose its most serious contenders for Africa’s resources that should be going to the development of Africa for African people ourselves.

Obama’s presidency provides the necessary cover for cowardly neocolonial heads of state who could not previously openly support Africom because of its obvious colonial connotation.While Obama is an African this is not a true determination of who he really represents, any more than the fact that all over Africa there are African heads of state that continue to represent the interests of the wealthy imperialists and do not represent African interests beyond those of their narrow petty bourgeois class base.During his campaign for president, Obama received more money from the white ruling class of the U.S. in the form of Wall Street bankers than any other candidate.

While African people flocked loyally to him, Obama refused to raise any of the issues critical to the interests of Africans, especially the issue of police killings of young African men throughout the U.S. Obama also spoke out against reparations payments to Africans for the history of slavery and other forms of exploitation and oppression that have robbed our people of a meaningful economic capacity and the inheritance of the value created by our ancestors.

Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: All of Obama’s advisors during his campaign and those who he is expected to bring into his administration have histories as imperialist servants, some of them notoriously so, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was National Security Advisor with the administration of U.S. President James Earl Carter and Madeline Albright who was Secretary of State with the regime of William Jefferson Clinton.In addition his campaign financial chairwoman was Penny Pritzker from Chicago, a billionaire heiress who created the predatory lending scheme that targeted Africans and Latinos, resulting in thousands losing their homes while she made a fortune at their expense.

Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: Elections in the U.S. are simply nonviolent contests by different sectors of the white ruling class for control of the state. The ideas that are presented during these electoral campaigns are simply the ideas of different sectors of the ruling class who use the elections to achieve a popular mandate to use the power of the imperialist state to advance their predatory interests.

Although Obama has proved to be quite eloquent in putting forward ideas during the campaign for president, the ideas that he put forward were those of his ruling class sponsors.Obama will not free Africa. He cannot free Africans either at home in Africa or abroad in the U.S. or the many other places to which we have been shipped by slavery and colonialism. He is not a friend of Africa, nor is he a friend of the suffering oppressed peoples of the world. His interests are the interests of U.S. imperialism, the world’s greatest predator state.

If Africa and Africans are to be free it will be because we stop looking to representatives of our oppressors for our freedom; it will be because we come to understand that our power resides in ourselves as African people who are determined to fight for Africa for Africans ourselves; it will be because we recognize that we must combine our efforts as a people under the leadership of the African working class, organized independently into our own international party to fight for a totally liberated and united Africa and African people worldwide.

Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades: Barack Obama represents imperialism in crisis. He is an imperialist solution to its loss of influence among the struggling peoples of the world. To embrace Obama is to participate in resolving the crisis of imperialism that is responsible for our misery as a class and as African people.The return of our freedom, resources and happiness will only come with the conquest of political power in our own hands through our own efforts.

We must reject imperialist neocolonialism, whether in Africa or in North America!We must implement the Revolutionary National Democratic Program!We must fight for power to the people under the leadership of the African working class!We must build the African Socialist International as the essential instrument for waging our struggle for national liberation and power to the African working class!

*U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan!

*U.S. hands off Venezuela and all of South America!

*Down with U.S. terrorist threats against the people of Iran!

*Down with AFRICOM!

*All U.S. troops and intelligence agencies out of Africa now!

*One Africa! One Nation!