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Obama's Intelligence Agenda: More of the Same from the "Change Administration"
Peter Wrote:David, I don't want to get into a contest as to which of us here is the most cynical [as I may well win]. I disagree with nothing you said and reiterate your point that ONLY if people wake-up to the millenia-old control by the Elites nothing can be done. If they do - anything is possible. Otherwise, we might as well all commit suicide [or have another joint or scotch and laugh at it all awaiting the end with a whimper]. We must have just a modicum of hope against hope. I'm not of the optomistic persuasion, myself, but I do have that tiny sliver of hope - as I know what is possible IF ONLY the sleeping and hypnotized/propagandized masses would awake from their trance and slumber. Let us hope and let us endeavor [as I assume this Forum is for] to aid in that awakening - otherwise we are only documenting the end of humanity and life at the hands of greed and avarice on the part of the upper-upper-class. F**k 'em.

Amen, Brother Lemkin!

Obviously things are grim, but as Lyle Lovett says:
"What would you be if you didn't even try?
You have to try."

So if we're not trying to make a difference then what are we doing here?
Just complaining about things?
I can't stand chronic complainers, personally.
There's nothing more tiresome.

Furthermore I don't want to justify the motto of lazy and selfish people everywhere that "One person can't make a difference." In addition to being lazy and selfish I think they're wrong.
Paul Rigby Wrote:

Obama’s transition: A who’s who of imperialist policy

by Alex Lantier

Global Research, November 19, 2008

A short sketch of those most likely to comprise Obama's key "changelings." Most of the names will be deeply unfamiliar...

This is Change. 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama's White House

by Jeremy Scahill

Global Research, November 22, 2008 - 2008-11-20

Quote:U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and views, the disastrous 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 the course of his campaign: bring actual change. But the more we learn about who Obama is considering for top positions in his administration, the more his inner circle resembles a staff reunion of President Bill Clinton's White House. Although Obama brought some progressives on board early in his campaign, his foreign policy team is now dominated by the hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the 1990s. This has been particularly true since Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the 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 foreign policy team recently asked the Washington Post. "This isn't lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time."

Amid the euphoria over Obama's election and the end of the Bush era, it is critical to recall what 1990s U.S. foreign policy actually looked like. Bill Clinton's boiled down to a one-two punch from the hidden hand of the free market, 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). He presided 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 Noam Chomsky described as the "New Military Humanism." Sudan and Afghanistan were attacked, Haiti was destabilized and "free trade" deals like the North America Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade radically escalated the spread of corporate-dominated globalization that hurt U.S. workers and devastated developing countries. Clinton accelerated the militarization of the so-called War on Drugs in Central and Latin America and supported privatization of U.S. military operations, giving lucrative contracts to Halliburton and other war contractors. Meanwhile, U.S. weapons sales to countries like Turkey and Indonesia aided genocidal campaigns against the Kurds and the East Timorese.

The prospect of Obama's foreign policy being, at least in part, an extension of the Clinton Doctrine is real. Even more disturbing, several of the individuals at the center of Obama's transition and emerging foreign policy teams were top players in creating and implementing foreign policies that would pave the way for projects eventually carried out under the Bush/Cheney administration. With their assistance, Obama has already charted out several hawkish stances. Among them:

-- His plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan;

-- An Iraq plan that could turn into a downsized and rebranded occupation that keeps 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 infuriated Palestinian officials and which he later attempted to reframe;

-- His plan to continue the War on Drugs, a backdoor U.S. counterinsurgency campaign in Central and Latin America;

-- His refusal to "rule out" using Blackwater and other armed private forces in U.S. war zones, despite previously introducing legislation to regulate these companies and bring them under U.S. law.

Obama did not arrive at these positions in a vacuum. They were carefully crafted in consultation with his foreign policy team. While the verdict is still 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 that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. A few have worked with the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, whose radical agenda was adopted by the Bush/Cheney administration. And most have proven track records of supporting or implementing militaristic, offensive U.S. foreign policy. "After a masterful campaign, Barack Obama seems headed toward some fateful mistakes as he assembles his administration by heeding the advice of Washington's Democratic insider community, a collective group that represents little 'change you can believe in,'" notes veteran journalist Robert Parry, the former Associated Press and Newsweek reporter who broke many of the stories in the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s.

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

Joe Biden

There was no stronger sign that Obama's foreign policy would follow the hawkish tradition of the Democratic foreign policy establishment than his selection of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate. Much has been written on Biden's tenure as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but his role in the invasion and occupation of Iraq stands out. Biden is not just one more Democratic lawmaker 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 attack on Iraq, Biden presided over hearings whose ostensible purpose was to weigh all existing options. But instead of calling on experts whose testimony could challenge the case for war -- Iraq's alleged WMD possession and its supposed ties to al-Qaida -- Biden's hearings treated the invasion as a foregone conclusion. His refusal to call on two individuals in particular ensured that testimony that could have proven invaluable to an actual debate was never heard: Former Chief United Nations Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter and Hans von Sponeck, a 32-year veteran diplomat and the former head of the U.N.'s Iraq program.

Both men say they made it clear to Biden's office that they were ready and willing to testify; Ritter knew more about the dismantling of Iraq's WMD program than perhaps any other U.S. citizen and would have been in prime position to debunk the misinformation and outright lies being peddled by the White House. Meanwhile, von Sponeck had just returned from Iraq, where he had observed Ansar al Islam rebels in the north of Iraq -- the so-called al-Qaida connection -- and could have testified that, rather than colluding with Saddam's regime, they were in a battle against it. Moreover, he would have pointed out that they were operating in the U.S.-enforced safe haven of Iraqi Kurdistan. "Evidence of al-Qaida/lraq collaboration does not exist, neither in the training of operatives nor in support to Ansar-al-Islam," von Sponeck wrote in 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 poses no threat to anyone in the region, let alone in the United States. To argue otherwise is dishonest."

With both men barred from testifying, rather than eliciting an array of informed opinions, Biden's committee whitewashed Bush's lies and helped lead the country to war. Biden himself promoted the administration's false claims that were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, declaring on the Senate floor, "[Saddam Hussein] possesses chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons."

With the war underway, Biden was then the genius who passionately promoted the ridiculous plan to partition Iraq into three areas based on religion and ethnicity, attempting to Balkanize one of the strongest Arab states in the world.

"He's a part of the old Democratic establishment," says retired Army Col. Ann Wright, the State Department diplomat who reopened the U.S. embassy in Kabul in 2002. Biden, she says, has "had a long history with foreign affairs, [but] it's not the type of foreign affairs that I want."

Rahm Emanuel

Obama's appointment of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff is a clear sign that Clinton-era neoliberal hawks will be well-represented at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. A former senior Clinton advisor, Emanuel is a hard-line supporter of Israel's "targeted assassination" policy and actually volunteered to work with the Israeli Army during the 1991 Gulf War. He is close to the right-wing Democratic Leadership Council and was the only member of the Illinois Democratic delegation in the Congress to vote for the invasion of Iraq. Unlike many of his colleagues, Emanuel still defends his vote. As chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, Emanuel promoted the campaigns of 22 candidates, only one of who supported a swift withdrawal from Iraq, and denied crucial Party funding to anti-war candidates. "As for Iraq policy, at the right time, we will have a position," he said in December 2005. As Philip Giraldi recently pointed out on, Emanuel "advocates increasing the size of the U.S. Army by 100,000 soldiers and creating a domestic spying organization like Britain's MI5. More recently, he has supported mandatory paramilitary national service for all Americans between the ages 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 the successful passage of NAFTA.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

For all the buzz and speculation about the possibility that Sen. Clinton may be named Secretary of State, most media coverage has focused on her rivalry with Obama during the primary, along with the prospect of her husband having to face the intense personal, financial and political vetting process required to secure a job in the new administration. But the question of how Clinton would lead the operations at Foggy Bottom calls for scrutiny of her positions vis-a-vis Obama's stated foreign-policy goals.

Clinton was an ardent defender of her husband's economic and military war against 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 Bush administration's propaganda campaign in the lead-up to the invasion. "Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability and his nuclear program," Clinton said when rising to support the measure in October 2002. "He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members Š I want to insure that Saddam Hussein makes no mistake about our national unity and for our support for the president's efforts to wage America's war against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction."

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

Beyond Iraq, Clinton shocked many and sparked official protests by Tehran at the United Nations when asked during the presidential campaign what she would do as president if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons. "I want the Iranians 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 an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."

Clinton has not shied away from supporting offensive foreign policy tactics in the past. Recalling her husband's weighing the decision of whether to attack Yugoslavia, she said in 1999, "I urged him to bomb. Š You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do 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 of State Warren Christopher, Defense Secretary William Perry, Director of the State Department Office of Policy Planning Greg Craig (who was officially named Obama's White House Counsel) and Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, perhaps most influential is Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's former Secretary of State and U.N. ambassador. Albright recently served as a proxy for Obama, representing him at the G-20 summit earlier this month. Whether or not she is awarded an official role in the administration, Albright will be a major force in shaping Obama's foreign policy.

"It will take time to convince skeptics that the promotion of democracy is not a mask for imperialism or a recipe for the kind of chaos we have seen in the Persian Gulf," Albright recently wrote. "And it will take time to establish the right identity for America in a world that has grown suspicious of all who claim a monopoly on virtue and that has become reluctant to follow the lead of any one country."

Albright should know. She was one of the key architects in the dismantling of Yugoslavia during the 1990s. In the lead-up to the 1999 "Kosovo war," she oversaw the U.S. attempt to coerce the Yugoslav government to deny its own sovereignty in return for not being bombed. Albright demanded that the Yugoslav government sign a document that would have been unacceptable to any sovereign nation. Known as the Rambouillet Accord, it included a provision that would have guaranteed U.S. and NATO forces "free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout" all of Yugoslavia -- not just Kosovo -- while also seeking to immunize those occupation forces "from any form of arrest, investigation or detention by the authorities in [Yugoslavia]." Moreover, it would have granted the occupiers "the use of airports, roads, rails and ports without payment." Similar to Bush's Iraq plan years later, the Rambouillet Accord mandated that the economy of Kosovo "shall function in accordance with free-market principles."

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

Perhaps Albright's most notorious moment came with her enthusiastic support of the economic war against the civilian population of Iraq. When confronted by Lesley Stahl of "60 Minutes" that the sanctions were responsible for the deaths of "a half-million children Š more children than died in Hiroshima," Albright responded, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it." (While defending the policy, Albright later called 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 not he gets an official job. A career diplomat since the Vietnam War, Holbrooke's most recent government post was as President Clinton's ambassador to the U.N. Among the many violent policies he helped implement and enforce was the U.S.-backed Indonesian genocide in East Timor. Holbrooke was an Assistant Secretary of State in the late 1970s at the height of the slaughter and was the point man on East Timor for the Carter Administration.

According to Brad Simpson, director of the Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, "It was Holbrooke and Zbigniew Brzezinski [another top Obama advisor], both now leading lights in the Democratic Party, who played point in trying to frustrate the efforts of congressional human-rights activists to try and condition or stop U.S. military assistance to Indonesia, and in fact accelerated the flow of weapons to Indonesia at the height of the genocide."

Holbrooke, too, was a major player in the dismantling of Yugoslavia and praised the bombing of Serb Television, which killed 16 media workers, as a significant victory. (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. While Clark is known for being relatively progressive on social issues, as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, he ordered bombings and attacks that Amnesty International labeled war crimes.)

Like many in Obama's foreign policy circle, Holbrooke also supported the Iraq war. In early 2003, shortly after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the UN, where he presented the administration's fraud-laden case for war to the UN (a speech Powell has since called a "blot" on his reputation), Holbrooke said: "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. Š Saddam is the most dangerous government leader in the world today, he poses a threat to the region, he could pose a larger threat if he got weapons of mass destruction deployed, 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 of the primary authors of Obama's aforementioned speech before AIPAC this summer. He cut his teeth working under famed neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon in the 1970s and worked closely with the Project for the New American Century. Ross has been a staunch supporter of Israel and has fanned the flames for a more hostile stance toward Iran. As the lead U.S. negotiator between Israel and numerous Arab nations under Clinton, Ross' team acted, in the words of one U.S. official who worked under him, as "Israel's lawyer."

"The 'no surprises' policy, under which we had to run everything by Israel first, stripped our policy of the independence and flexibility required for serious peacemaking," wrote U.S. diplomat Aaron David Miller in 2005. "If we couldn'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 mediation be? Far too often, particularly when it came to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, our departure point was not what was needed to reach an agreement acceptable to both sides but what would pass with only one -- Israel." After the Clinton White House, Ross worked for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a hawkish pro-Israel think tank, and for FOX News, where he repeatedly pressed for war against Iraq.

Martin Indyk

Founder of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Indyk spent years working for AIPAC and served as Clinton's ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, while also playing a major role in developing U.S. policy toward Iraq and Iran. In addition to his work for the U.S. government, he has worked for the Israeli government and with PNAC.

"Barack Obama has painted himself into a corner by appealing to the most hard-line, pro-Israel elements in this country," Ali Abunimah, founder of, recently told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, describing Indyk and Dennis Ross as "two of the most pro-Israel officials from the Clinton era, who are totally distrusted by Palestinians and others across the Middle East, because they're seen as lifelong advocates for Israeli positions."

Anthony Lake

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

Decades later, after working for various administrations, Lake "was the main force behind the U.S. invasion of Haiti in the mid-Clinton years," according to veteran journalist Allan Nairn, whose groundbreaking reporting revealed U.S. support for Haitian death squads in the 1990s. "They brought back Aristide essentially in political chains, pledged to support a World Bank/IMF overhaul of the economy, which resulted in an increase in malnutrition deaths among Haitians, and set the stage for the current ongoing political disaster in Haiti." Clinton nominated Lake as CIA Director, but he failed to win Senate confirmation.

Lee Hamilton

Hamilton is a former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was co-chairman of both the Iraq Study Group and 9/11 Commission. Robert Parry, who has covered Hamilton's career extensively, recently ran a piece on Consortium News that characterized him this way: "Whenever the Republicans have a touchy national-security scandal to put to rest, their favorite Democratic investigator is Lee Hamilton. Š Hamilton's carefully honed skill for balancing truth against political comity has elevated him to the status of a Washington Wise Man."

Susan Rice

Former Assistant Secretary of Sate Susan Rice, who served on Bill Clinton's National Security Council, is a potential candidate for the post of ambassador to the U.N. or as a deputy national security advisor. She, too, promoted the myth that Saddam had WMDs. "It's clear that Iraq poses a major threat," she said in 2002. "It's clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that's the path we're on." (After the invasion, discussing Saddam's alleged possession of WMDs, she said, "I don't think many informed people doubted that.")

Rice has also been a passionate advocate for a U.S. military attack against Sudan over the Darfur crisis. In an op-ed co-authored with Anthony Lake, she wrote, "The United States, preferably with NATO involvement and African political support, would strike Sudanese airfields, aircraft and other military assets. 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 NATO backing."

John Brennan

A longtime CIA official and former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, Brennan is one of the coordinators of Obama's intelligence transition team and a top contender for either CIA Director or Director of National Intelligence. He was also recently described by Glenn Greenwald as "an ardent supporter of torture and one of the most emphatic advocates of FISA expansions and 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 "enhanced interrogation" techniques. "There has been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has, in fact, used against the real hard-core terrorists," Brennan said in a 2007 interview. "It has saved lives. And let's not forget, these are hardened terrorists who have been responsible for 9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the death of 3,000 innocents."

Brennan has described the CIA's extraordinary rendition program -- the government-run kidnap-and-torture program enacted under Clinton -- as an absolutely vital tool. "I have been intimately familiar now over the past decade with the cases of rendition that the U.S. Government has been involved in," he said in a December 2005 interview. "And I can say without a doubt that it has been very successful as far as producing intelligence that has saved lives."

Brennan is currently the head of Analysis Corporation, a private intelligence company that was recently implicated in the breach of Obama and Sen. John McCain's passport records. He is also the current chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), a trade association of private intelligence contractors who have dramatically increased their role in sensitive U.S. national security operations. (Current Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell is former chairman of the INSA.)

Jami Miscik

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

"When the administration insisted on an intelligence assessment of Saddam Hussein's relationship to al-Qaida, Miscik blocked the skeptics (who were later vindicated) within the CIA's Mideast analytical directorate and instructed the less-skeptical counterterrorism analysts to 'stretch to the maximum the evidence you had,' " journalist Spencer Ackerman recently wrote in the Washington Independent. "It's hard to think of a more egregious case of sacrificing sound intelligence analysis in order to accommodate the strategic fantasies of an administration. Š The idea that Miscik is helping staff Obama'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 Sovereign Risk for the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers.

John Kerry and Bill Richardson

Both Sen. Kerry and Gov. Richardson have been identified as possible contenders for Secretary of State. While neither is likely to be as hawkish as Hillary Clinton, both have taken pro-war positions. Kerry promoted the WMD lie and voted to invade Iraq. "Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don't even try?" Kerry asked on the Senate floor in October 2002. "According to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons Š Iraq is developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents."

Richardson, whose Iraq plan during his 2008 presidential campaign was more progressive and far-reaching than Obama's, served as Bill Clinton's ambassador to the UN. In this capacity, he supported Clinton's December 1998 bombing of Baghdad and the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq. "We think this man is a threat to the international community, and he threatens a lot of the neighbors in his region and future generations there with anthrax and VX," Richardson told an interviewer in February 1998.

While Clinton's Secretary of Energy, Richardson publicly named Wen Ho Lee, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, as a target in an espionage investigation. Lee was accused of passing nuclear secrets to the Chinese government. Lee was later cleared of those charges and won a settlement against the 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 has occasionally proved to be a stark contrast to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he would hardly represent a break from the policies of the Bush administration. Quite the opposite; according to the Washington Post, in the interest of a "smooth transition," Gates "has ordered hundreds of political appointees at the Pentagon canvassed to see whether they wish to stay on in the new administration, has streamlined policy briefings and has set up suites for President-elect Barack Obama's transition team just down the hall from his own E-ring office." The Post reports that Gates could stay on for a brief period and then be replaced by Richard Danzig, who was Clinton's Secretary of the Navy. Other names currently being tossed around are Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (a critic of the Iraq occupation) and Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, who served alongside Biden on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Ivo H. Daalder

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

Sarah Sewall

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance during the Clinton administration, Sewall served as a top advisor to Obama during the campaign and is almost certain to be selected for a post in his administration. In 2007, Sewall worked with the U.S. military and Army Gen. David Petraeus, writing the introduction to the University of Chicago edition of the Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. She was criticized for this collaboration by Tom Hayden, who wrote, "the Petraeus plan draws intellectual 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 becoming complicit in its purpose," she wrote in the introduction. "'The field manual requires engagement precisely from those who fear that its words lack meaning."

Michele Flournoy

Flournoy and former Clinton Deputy Defense Secretary John White are co-heading Obama's defense transition team. Flournoy was a senior Clinton appointee at the Pentagon. She currently runs the Center for a New American Security, a center-right think-tank. There is speculation that Obama could eventually name her as the first woman to serve as defense secretary. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported: "While at CNAS, Flournoy helped to write a report that called for reducing the open-ended American military commitment in Iraq and replacing it with a policy of 'conditional engagement' there. Significantly, the paper rejected the idea of withdrawing troops according to the sort of a fixed timeline that Obama espoused during the presidential campaign. Obama has in recent weeks signaled that he was willing to shelve the idea, bringing him more in line with Flournoy's thinking." Flournoy has also worked with the neoconservative Project for the New American Century.

Wendy Sherman and Tom Donilon

Currently employed at Madeleine Albright's consulting firm, the Albright Group, Sherman worked under Albright at the State Department, coordinating U.S. policy on North Korea. She is now coordinating the State Department transition team for Obama. Tom Donilon, her co-coordinator, was Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Chief of Staff at the State Department under Clinton. Interestingly, Sherman and Donilon both have ties to Fannie Mae that didn't make it onto their official bios on Obama's website. "Donilon was Fannie's general counsel and executive vice president for law and policy from 1999 until the spring of 2005, a period during which the company was rocked by accounting problems," reports the Wall Street Journal.

Denis McDonough and Mark Lippert

While many of the figures at the center of Obama's foreign policy team are well-known, two of its most important members have never held national elected office or a high-profile government position. While they cannot be characterized as Clinton-era hawks, it will be important to watch Denis McDonough and Mark Lippert, co-coordinators of the Obama foreign policy team. From 2000 to 2005, McDonough served as foreign policy advisor to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and worked extensively on the use-of-force authorizations for the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which Daschle supported. From 1996 to 1999, McDonough was a professional staff member of the House International Relations Committee during the debate over the bombing of Yugoslavia. More recently, he was at the Center for American Progress working under John Podesta, Clinton's former chief of staff and the current head of the Obama transition.

Mark Lippert is a close personal friend of Obama's. He has worked for Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, as well as the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Democratic Policy Committee. He is a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve and spent a year 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 advocate for increased military spending. 'Even before Obama announced for the presidency, Lippert wanted Obama to be seen as tough on Iran,' says a lobbyist who's worked the Iran issue on Capitol Hill, 'He's clearly more hawkish than the senator.' "

Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to bring change to Washington

"I don't want to just end the war," he said early this year. "I want to end the mindset that got us into war." That is going to be very difficult if Obama employs a foreign policy team that was central to creating that mindset, before and during the presidency of George W. Bush.

"Twenty-three senators and 133 House members who voted against the war -- and countless other notable individuals who spoke out against it and the dubious claims leading to war -- are apparently not even being considered for these crucial positions," observes Sam Husseini of the Institute for Public Accuracy. This includes dozens of former military and intelligence officials who spoke out forcefully against the war and continue to oppose militaristic policy, as well as credible national security experts who have articulated their visions for 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 the militaristic, hawkish tradition of modern U.S. foreign policy. But that work would begin by bringing on board people who would challenge this tradition, not those who have been complicit in creating it and are bound to continue advancing it. those who were in cryogenic suspension during those boom years for decent government under Slick Willie.

Quote:Jeremy Scahill pledges to be the same journalist under an Obama administration that he was during Bill Clinton and George Bush's presidencies. He is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army and is a frequent contributor to The Nation and Democracy Now! He is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at the Nation Institute.
Paul Rigby Wrote:A short sketch of those most likely to comprise Obama's key "changelings." Most of the names will be deeply unfamiliar...

This is Change. 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama's White House

by Jeremy Scahill

Global Research, November 22, 2008 - 2008-11-20 those who were in cryogenic suspension during those boom years for decent government under Slick Willie.

Sad, but true. Good piece by Scahill. The Clinton Admin was bad. Bush was, yes, worse - so looks like we're headed back to.... bad. Great latitude we are 'allowed'. :mad: Nothing was ever given by the Elites - not the 40 hr week; not unions; not minimum wage; not the end to slavery; not the vote for women - and on and on - every one of those and more were hard fought for. If we expect more we have to fight and push more - get out in the street more and make more noise by a variety of means and constantly. We're saddled with a horrible system that, naively, most believe is the best of all possible worlds - ha! Did Clinton or Carter come clean on Dallas - or any other Deep Political stuff? Did they end pre-emptive wars and covert operations? Did they defang the MIC or let the average person make a decent wage and living - even [perish the thought] have National Health Care? Nix - they let things just go on as they have been going on - holding the place for the even meaner Repugnicrats - that's the game - two rigged teams and no one else is allowed to play. I say we pelt the 'field' with so much **** they have to pay attention and can't play their game anymore. It is just the Yankees and the Cowboys. We want and need neither. WE are the sovereign - if only we'd begin to act like it. Yes, the Elites manipulate and propagandize the average person - but the average person all too oftne lets them - even in some ways welcomes the warm and fuzzy mythology and lies - knowing [minus the details] they are likely just that - lies. it is hard to get up in the morning and feel good about humanity, generally. But those of us who know which side the bread is buttered on [neither side] really have to engage this battle. Time is running out on the Planet. I say that as an Environmental Scientist and as an observer of the growing power of the Deep Political structures. New Game or End Game. Choose one.
Paul Rigby Wrote:A short sketch of those most likely to comprise Obama's key "changelings." Most of the names will be deeply unfamiliar...

This is Change. 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama's White House

by Jeremy Scahill

Global Research, November 22, 2008 - 2008-11-20 those who were in cryogenic suspension during those boom years for decent government under Slick Willie.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Keep the Change: The Empire Beat Goes On

Written by Chris Floyd

Quote:Here are a few short takes on an overwhelmed day. All of the pieces below deserve much more attention -- especially the first one -- but these brief mentions will have to do for the moment.

Arthur Silber is back, with a vengeance, laying bare the true cost of the "unity" which Barack Obama has brought to previously dissident quarters: Kiss, Kiss, Kill, Kill. To pluck just one gem from the piece, Silber reminds all those "realist progressives" who believe we should be "realistic" about the blatantly pro-fatcat, pro-empire Obama team because, realistically speaking, it's as good as we are going to get, of this truth:

"Two percent less shitty than Pure Evil" is still evil. Many people expend untold energy to avoid that very simple, indisputable fact.

It is, as usual, a must-read; so go read it. While you are there, drop some coinage in The Cyrano Fund, to help one of Arthur's beloved cats get some much-needed medical care.

In his piece, Silber also points to a post by Michael J. Smith which clearly outlines the dynamic of perpetual betrayal which drives the Democratic Party. Alluding to a decision by the New York state Democratic Party to renege on a pre-election promise to advance legislation that would treat people with same-sex partners as fully human beings, Smith notes:

Readers older than, oh, say, twelve, may have noticed a pattern with the Democrats. They campaign on some issue -- in the previous Most Important Elections Of Our Lifetime, the 2006 midterms, it was the Iraq war, for example. Then once safely in office, the find a reason why they can't actually do anything about the issue until they get something else on the next election cycle -- the White House, or the state senate, or a second term for the Governor (why? This one seems especially arbitrary).

Justin Raimondo takes up this same theme with this cold-eyed look at Obama's new "National Security" team: "The End of the Affair." And Matthew Rothschild is on the case as well, stating the obvious (always a novel approach in the fantasyland of our national discourse: "With Gates, Obama Opts for Empire." As Rothschild notes:

Let’s remember: Gates was head of the CIA during Bush I. As such, he was involved in the invasion of Panama, the funding of a genocidal regime in Guatemala, the support of Suharto’s brutal government in Indonesia, and the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti.

With Bush I, he pushed the first war against Saddam Hussein, even when it seemed that Saddam was preparing to withdraw from Iraq. And now with Bush II, he’s been running the Iraq War, which Obama vowed to end.

And Gates has come out with modernizing our nuclear weapons arsenal—that means making new nukes—even though Obama talked about nuclear disarmament during the campaign...

Obama doesn’t really want a change in foreign and military policy. He said as much during the campaign when he praised Bush Sr. and said he wanted to return to the bipartisan consensus of the last forty years.

In those forty years, the United States waged war against Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It helped overthrow the Allende government in Chile. It supported Suharto’s invasion of East Timor. It financed and trained death squads in Central America. And on and on.

With the Gates choice, Obama proves he’s not about ending the U.S. empire. He’s about running the U.S. empire—with less bravado than Bush-Cheney, but perhaps more efficiently. And he’s perfectly willing to use the old hands like Gates, bloody as they are, to get that job done.

This completely non-controversial, indisputable statement of plain facts should be running in every newspaper in the country -- in place of all the feel-good hogwash about "steady hands" and "serious pragmatists" and "continuity in wartime."

Speaking of wartime, and Obama's pledge to expand the Terror War front in Central Asia, Robert Fisk sees the writing on the wall in Afghanistan:

The collapse of Afghanistan is closer than the world believes. Kandahar is in Taliban hands – all but a square mile at the centre of the city – and the first Taliban checkpoints are scarcely 15 miles from Kabul. Hamid Karzai's deeply corrupted government is almost as powerless as the Iraqi cabinet in Baghdad's "Green Zone"; lorry drivers in the country now carry business permits issued by the Taliban which operate their own courts in remote areas of the country...

"Nobody I know wants to see the Taliban back in power," a Kabul business executive says – anonymity is now as much demanded as it was before 2001 – "but people hate the government and the parliament which doesn't care about their security. The government is useless. With so many internally displaced refugees pouring into Kabul from the countryside, there's mass unemployment – but of course, there are no statistics.

"The 'open market' led many of us into financial disaster. Afghanistan is just a battlefield of ideology, opium and political corruption. Now you've got all these commercial outfits receiving contracts from people like USAID. First they skim off 30 to 50 per cent for their own profits – then they contract out and sub-contract to other companies and there's only 10 per cent of the original amount left for the Afghans themselves."

...The Afghan Minister of Defence has 65,000 troops under his dubious command but says he needs 500,000 to control Afghanistan. The Soviets failed to contain the country even when they had 100,000 troops here with 150,000 Afghan soldiers in support. And as Barack Obama prepares to send another 7,000 US soldiers into the pit of Afghanistan, the Spanish and Italians are talking of leaving while the Norwegians may pull their 500 troops out of the area north of Heart. Repeatedly, Western leaders talk of the "key" – of training more and more Afghans to fight in the army. But that was the same "key" which the Russians tried – and it did not fit the lock.

But hey, if the Afghan adventure goes up in smoke, there is always another prime target for the Bush-Obama-Gates "War on Terror": the American people. As the Washington Post reports, with astonishing sang-froid, the Terror Warriors plan to deploy 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States, to "help" local authorities with "domestic emergencies." And as many others have noted earlier, the definition of a "domestic emergency" requiring the use of combat troops against the American people is entirely up to the discretion of our old friend, the Unitary Executive -- soon to be appearing in a brand-new sepia-toned edition, but still packing the same authoritarian punch we've come to know and love so well.

Now don't you feel safer already? Aren't you proud to be an American again? Isn't it great to see how things are changing?
The Anti-Empire Report

December 1st, 2008
by William Blum
Vote First. Ask Questions Later.

Okay, let's get the obvious out of the way. It was historic. I choked up a number of times, tears came to my eyes, even though I didn't vote for him. I voted for Ralph Nader for the fourth time in a row.

During the past eight years when I've listened to news programs on the radio each day I've made sure to be within a few feet of the radio so I could quickly change the station when that preposterous man or one of his disciples came on; I'm not a masochist, I suffer fools very poorly, and I get bored easily. Sad to say, I'm already turning the radio off sometimes when Obama comes on. He doesn't say anything, or not enough, or not often enough. Platitudes, clichés, promises without substance, "hope and change", almost everything without sufficient substance, "change and hope", without specifics, designed not to offend. What exactly are the man's principles? He never questions the premises of the empire. Never questions the premises of the "War on Terror". I'm glad he won for two reasons only: John McCain and Sarah Palin, and I deeply resent the fact that the American system forces me to squeeze out a drop of pleasure from something so far removed from my ideals. Obama's votes came at least as much from people desperate for relief from neo-conservative suffocation as from people who genuinely believed in him. It's a form of extortion – Vote for Obama or you get more of the same. Those are your only choices.

Is there reason to be happy that the insufferably religious George W. is soon to be history? "I believe that Christ died for my sins and I am redeemed through him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis." That was said by someone named Barack Obama.1 The United States turns out religious fanatics like the Japanese turn out cars. Let's pray for an end to this.

As I've mentioned before, if you're one of those who would like to believe that Obama has to present center-right foreign policy views to be elected, but once he's in the White House we can forget that he misled us repeatedly and the true, progressive man of peace and international law and human rights will emerge ... keep in mind that as a US Senate candidate in 2004 he threatened missile strikes against Iran2, and winning that election apparently did not put him in touch with his inner peacenik. He's been threatening Iran ever since.

The world is in terrible shape. I don't think I have to elucidate on that remark. How nice, how marvelously nice it would be to have an American president who was infused with progressive values and political courage. Just imagine what could be done. Like a quick and complete exit from Iraq. You can paint the picture as well as I can. With his popularity Obama could get away with almost anything, but he'll probably continue to play it safe. Or what may be more precise, he'll continue to be himself; which, apparently, is a committed centrist. He's not really against the war. Not like you and I are. During Obama's first four years in the White House, the United States will not leave Iraq. I doubt that he'd allow a complete withdrawal even in a second term. Has he ever unequivocally called the war illegal and immoral? A crime against humanity? Why is he so close to Colin Powell? Does he not know of Powell's despicable role in the war? And retaining George W. Bush's Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, a man against whom it would not be difficult to draw up charges of war crimes? Will he also find a place for Rumsfeld? And Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a supporter of the war, to run the Homeland Security department? And General James Jones, a former NATO commander (sic), who wants to "win" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who backed John McCain, as his National Security Adviser? Jones is on the Board of Directors of the Boeing Corporation and Chevron Oil. Out of what dark corner of Obama's soul does all this come?

As Noam Chomsky recently pointed out, the election of an indigenous person (Evo Morales) in Bolivia and a progressive person (Jean-Bertrand Aristide) in Haiti were more historic than the election of Barack Obama.

He's not really against torture either. Not like you and I are. No one will be punished for using or ordering torture. No one will be impeached because of torture. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says that prosecuting Bush officials is necessary to set future anti-torture policy. "The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it. I don't see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable."3

As president, Obama cannot remain silent and do nothing; otherwise he will inherit the war crimes of Bush and Cheney and become a war criminal himself. Closing the Guantanamo hell-hole means nothing at all if the prisoners are simply moved to other torture dungeons. If Obama is truly against torture, why does he not declare that after closing Guantanamo the inmates will be tried in civilian courts in the US or resettled in countries where they clearly face no risk of torture? And simply affirm that his administration will faithfully abide by the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, of which the United States is a signatory, and which states: "The term 'torture' means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining information or a confession ... inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or any other person acting in an official capacity."

The convention affirms that: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

Instead, Obama has appointed former CIA official John O. Brennan as an adviser on intelligence matters and co-leader of his intelligence transition team. Brennan has called "rendition" – the kidnap-and-torture program carried out under the Clinton and Bush administrations – a "vital tool", and praised the CIA's interrogation techniques for providing "lifesaving" intelligence.4

Obama may prove to be as big a disappointment as Nelson Mandela, who did painfully little to improve the lot of the masses of South Africa while turning the country over to the international forces of globalization. I make this comparison not because both men are black, but because both produced such great expectations in their home country and throughout the world. Mandela was freed from prison on the assumption of the Apartheid leaders that he would become president and pacify the restless black population while ruling as a non-radical, free-market centrist without undue threat to white privilege. It's perhaps significant that in his autobiography he declines to blame the CIA for his capture in 1962 even though the evidence to support this is compelling.5 It appears that Barack Obama made a similar impression upon the American power elite who vetted him in many fundraising and other meetings and smoothed the way for his highly unlikely ascendancy from obscure state senator to the presidency in four years. The financial support from the corporate world to sell "Brand Obama" was extraordinary.

Another comparison might be with Tony Blair. The Tories could never have brought in university fees or endless brutal wars, but New Labour did. The Republicans would have had a very difficult time bringing back the draft, but I can see Obama reinstating it, accompanied by a suitable slogan, some variation of "Yes, we can!".

I do hope I'm wrong, about his past and about how he'll rule as president. I hope I'm very wrong.

Many people are calling for progressives to intensely lobby the Obama administration, to exert pressure to bring out the "good Obama", force him to commit himself, hold him accountable. The bold reforms of Roosevelt's New Deal were spurred by widespread labor strikes and other militant actions soon after the honeymoon period was over. At the moment I have nothing better to offer than that. God help us.
The future as we used to know it has ceased to exist. And other happy thoughts.

Reading the accounts of the terrorist horror in Mumbai has left me as pessimistic as a dinosaur contemplating the future of his grandchildren. How could they do that? ... destroying all those lives, people they didn't even know, people enjoying themselves on vacation ... whatever could be their motivation? Well, they did sort of know some of their victims; they knew they were Indians, or Americans, or British, or Zionists, or some other kind of infidel; so it wasn't completely mindless, not totally random. Does that help to understand? Can it ease the weltschmerz? You can even make use of it. The next time you encounter a defender of American foreign policy, someone insisting that something like Mumbai justifies Washington's rhetorical and military attacks against Islam, you might want to point out that the United States does the same on a regular basis. For seven years in Afghanistan, almost six in Iraq, to give only the two most obvious examples ... breaking down doors and machine-gunning strangers, infidels, traumatizing children for life, firing missiles into occupied houses, exploding bombs all over the place, pausing to torture ... every few days dropping bombs on Pakistan or Afghanistan, and still Iraq, claiming they've killed members of al-Qaeda, just as bad as Zionists, bombing wedding parties, one after another, 20 or 30 or 70 killed, all terrorists of course, often including top al-Qaeda leaders, the number one or number two man, so we're told; so not completely mindless, not totally random; the survivors say it was a wedding party, their brother or their nephew or their friend, mostly women and children dead; the US military pays people to tell them where so-and-so number-one bad guy is going to be; and the US military believes what they're told, so Bombs Away! ... Does any of that depress you like Mumbai? Sometimes they bomb Syria instead, or kill people in Iran or Somalia, all bad guys ... "US helicopter-borne troops have carried out a raid inside Syria along the Iraqi border, killing eight people including a woman, Syrian authorities say" reports the BBC.6 ... "The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials. ... The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States," the New York Times informs us.7 So it's all nice and legal, not an attack upon civilization by a bunch of escaped mental patients. Maybe the Mumbai terrorists also have a piece of paper, from some authority, saying that it's okay what they did. ... I'm feeling better already.
The mythology of the War on Terrorism

On November 8, three men were executed by the government of Indonesia for terrorist attacks on two night clubs in Bali in 2002 that took the lives of 202 people, more than half of whom were Australians, Britons and Americans. The Associated Press8 reported that "the three men never expressed remorse, saying the suicide bombings were meant to punish the United States and its Western allies for alleged atrocities in Afghanistan and elsewhere."

During the recent US election campaign, John McCain and his followers repeated a sentiment that has become a commonplace – that the War on Terrorism has been a success because there hasn't been a terrorist attack against the United States since September 11, 2001; as if terrorists killing Americans is acceptable if it's done abroad. Since the first American strike on Afghanistan in October 2001 there have been literally scores of terrorist attacks against American institutions in the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific, more than a dozen in Pakistan alone: military, civilian, Christian, and other targets associated with the United States. The year following the Bali bombings saw the heavy bombing of the US-managed Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, the site of diplomatic receptions and 4th of July celebrations held by the American Embassy. The Marriott Hotel in Pakistan was the scene of a major terrorist bombing just two months ago. All of these attacks have been in addition to the thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan against US occupation, which Washington officially labels an integral part of the War on Terrorism. Yet American lovers of military force insist that the War on Terrorism has kept the United States safe.

Even the claim that the War on Terrorism has kept Americans safe at home is questionable. There was no terrorist attack in the United States during the 6 1/2 years prior to the one in September 2001; not since the April 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. It would thus appear that the absence of terrorist attacks in the United States is the norm.

An even more insidious myth of the War on Terrorism has been the notion that terrorist acts against the United States can be explained, largely, if not entirely, by irrational hatred or envy of American social, economic, or religious values, and not by what the United States does to the world; i.e., US foreign policy. Many Americans are mightily reluctant to abandon this idea. Without it the whole paradigm – that we are the innocent good guys and they are the crazy, fanatic, bloodthirsty bastards who cannot be talked to but only bombed, tortured and killed – falls apart. Statements like the one above from the Bali bombers blaming American policies for their actions are numerous, coming routinely from Osama bin Laden and those under him.9

Terrorism is an act of political propaganda, a bloody form of making the world hear one's outrage against a perceived oppressor, graffiti written on the wall in some grim, desolate alley. It follows that if the perpetrators of a terrorist act declare what their motivation was, their statement should carry credibility, no matter what one thinks of their cause or the method used to achieve it.
Just put down that stereotype and no one gets hurt.

Sarah Palin and her American supporters resent what they see as the East Coast elite, the intellectuals, the cultural snobs, the politically correct, the pacifists and peaceniks, the agnostics and atheists, the environmentalists, the fanatic animal protectors, the food police, the health gestapo, the socialists, and other such leftist and liberal types who think of themselves as morally superior to Joe Sixpack, Joe the Plumber, National Rifle Association devotées, rednecks, and all the Bush supporters who have relished the idea of having a president no smarter than themselves. It's stereotyping gone wild. So in the interest of bringing some balance and historical perspective to the issue, allow me to remind you of some forgotten, or never known, factoids which confound the stereotypes.
Josef Stalin studied for the priesthood.
Adolf Hitler once hoped to become a Catholic priest or monk; he was a vegetarian and was anti-smoking.
Hermann Goering, while his Luftwaffe rained death upon Europe, kept a sign in his office that read: "He who tortures animals wounds the feelings of the German people."
Adolf Eichmann was cultured, read deeply, played the violin.
Benito Mussolini also played the violin.
Some Nazi concentration camp commanders listened to Mozart to drown out the cries of the inmates.
Charles Manson was a staunch anti-vivisectionist.
Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, charged with war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, had been a psychiatrist specializing in depression; the author of a published book of poetry as well as children's books, often with themes of nature; and a practitioner of alternative medicine.

I'm not really certain to what use you might put this information to advance toward our cherished national goal of becoming a civilized society, but I feel a need to disseminate it. If you know of any other examples of the same type, I'd appreciate your sending them to me.

The examples above are all of "bad guys" doing "good" things. There are of course many more instances of "good guys" doing "bad" things.
Washington Post, August 17, 2008↩
Chicago Tribune, September 25, 2004 ↩
Associated Press, November 17, 2008 ↩
New York Times, October 3, 2008 ↩
Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (1994) p.278; William Blum, Rogue State, chapter 23, "How the CIA sent Nelson Mandela to prison for 28 years" ↩
BBC, October 26, 2008 ↩
New York Times, November 9, 2008 ↩
Associated Press, November 9, 2008 ↩
See my article at:

William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at

Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website.
This is really depressing. Hey Caroline Kennedy backed him. But after reading the above few articles ....I just copied and pasted some to a friend with the heading "now you can say 'I told you so' ". He'd been out of the country during the election (for six months) to avoid fights with his Oboma voting friends and just hearing about all the false hope and false change...

He's not even president yet and already I am glad I don't have an Obama bumper sticker on my car.

But really, did we think that someone DIFFERENT, TRULY DIFFERENT would ever be permitted to be elected?

(Deep down there's still a tiny part of me that thinks he will "turn" like JFK...but....then I read here and reality sinks in.)

In the Public Interest Between Hope and Reality
by Ralph Nader

Dear Senator Obama:

In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words "hope
and change," "change and hope" have been your trademark
declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives
and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers
of power that want not "hope and change" but the continuation of
the power-entrenched status quo.

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous,
unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall
Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm
attorneys. Never before has a Democratic nominee for President
achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart. Why,
apart from your unconditional vote for the $700 billion Wall
Street bailout, are these large corporate interests investing so
much in Senator Obama? Could it be that in your state Senate
record, your U.S. Senate record and your presidential campaign
record (favoring nuclear power, coal plants, offshore oil
drilling, corporate subsidies including the 1872 Mining Act and
avoiding any comprehensive program to crack down on the
corporate crime wave and the bloated, wasteful military budget,
for example) you have shown that you are their man?

To advance change and hope, the presidential persona requires
character, courage, integrity—not expediency, accommodation and
short-range opportunism. Take, for example, your transformation
from an articulate defender of Palestinian rights in Chicago
before your run for the U.S. Senate to an acolyte, a dittoman
for the hard-line AIPAC lobby, which bolsters the militaristic
oppression, occupation, blockage, colonization and land-water
seizures over the years of the Palestinian peoples and their
shrunken territories in the West Bank and Gaza. Eric Alterman
summarized numerous polls in a December 2007 issue of The Nation
magazine showing that AIPAC policies are opposed by a majority
of Jewish-Americans.

You know quite well that only when the U.S. Government supports
the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements, that years ago
worked out a detailed two-state solution (which is supported by
a majority of Israelis and Palestinians), will there be a chance
for a peaceful resolution of this 60-year plus conflict. Yet you
align yourself with the hard-liners, so much so that in your
infamous, demeaning speech to the AIPAC convention right after
you gained the nomination of the Democratic Party, you supported
an "undivided Jerusalem," and opposed negotiations with
Hamas—the elected government in Gaza. Once again, you ignored
the will of the Israeli people who, in a March 1, 2008 poll by
the respected newspaper Haaretz, showed that 64% of Israelis
favored "direct negotiations with Hamas." Siding with the AIPAC
hard-liners is what one of the many leading Palestinians
advocating dialogue and peace with the Israeli people was
describing when he wrote "Anti-semitism today is the persecution
of Palestinian society by the Israeli state."

During your visit to Israel this summer, you scheduled a mere 45
minutes of your time for Palestinians with no news conference,
and no visit to Palestinian refugee camps that would have
focused the media on the brutalization of the Palestinians. Your
trip supported the illegal, cruel blockade of Gaza in defiance
of international law and the United Nations charter. You focused
on southern Israeli casualties which during the past year have
totaled one civilian casualty to every 400 Palestinian
casualties on the Gaza side. Instead of a statesmanship that
decried all violence and its replacement with acceptance of the
Arab League’s 2002 proposal to permit a viable Palestinian state
within the 1967 borders in return for full economic and
diplomatic relations between Arab countries and Israel, you
played the role of a cheap politician, leaving the area and
Palestinians with the feeling of much shock and little awe.

David Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator, described your
trip succinctly: "There was almost a willful display of
indifference to the fact that there are two narratives here.
This could serve him well as a candidate, but not as a

Palestinian American commentator, Ali Abunimah, noted that Obama
did not utter a single criticism of Israel, "of its relentless
settlement and wall construction, of the closures that make life
unlivable for millions of Palestinians. …Even the Bush
administration recently criticized Israeli’s use of cluster
bombs against Lebanese civilians [see
for elaboration]. But Obama defended Israeli’s assault on
Lebanon as an exercise of its `legitimate right to defend itself.’"

In numerous columns Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, strongly
criticized the Israeli government’s assault on civilians in
Gaza, including attacks on "the heart of a crowded refugee
camp… with horrible bloodshed" in early 2008.

Israeli writer and peace advocate—Uri Avnery—described Obama’s
appearance before AIPAC as one that "broke all records for
obsequiousness and fawning, adding that Obama "is prepared to
sacrifice the most basic American interests. After all, the US
has a vital interest in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace
that will allow it to find ways to the hearts of the Arab masses
from Iraq to Morocco. Obama has harmed his image in the Muslim
world and mortgaged his future—if and when he is elected
president.," he said, adding, "Of one thing I am certain:
Obama’s declarations at the AIPAC conference are very, very bad
for peace. And what is bad for peace is bad for Israel, bad for
the world and bad for the Palestinian people."

A further illustration of your deficiency of character is the
way you turned your back on the Muslim-Americans in this
country. You refused to send surrogates to speak to voters at
their events. Having visited numerous churches and synagogues,
you refused to visit a single Mosque in America. Even George W.
Bush visited the Grand Mosque in Washington D.C. after 9/11 to
express proper sentiments of tolerance before a frightened major
religious group of innocents.

Although the New York Times published a major article on June
24, 2008 titled "Muslim Voters Detect a Snub from Obama" (by
Andrea Elliott), citing examples of your aversion to these
Americans who come from all walks of life, who serve in the
armed forces and who work to live the American dream. Three days
earlier the International Herald Tribune published an article by
Roger Cohen titled "Why Obama Should Visit a Mosque." None of
these comments and reports change your political bigotry against
Muslim-Americans—even though your father was a Muslim from

Perhaps nothing illustrated your utter lack of political courage
or even the mildest version of this trait than your surrendering
to demands of the hard-liners to prohibit former president Jimmy
Carter from speaking at the Democratic National Convention. This
is a tradition for former presidents and one accorded in prime
time to Bill Clinton this year.

Here was a President who negotiated peace between Israel and
Egypt, but his recent book pressing the dominant Israeli
superpower to avoid Apartheid of the Palestinians and make peace
was all that it took to sideline him. Instead of an important
address to the nation by Jimmy Carter on this critical
international problem, he was relegated to a stroll across the
stage to "tumultuous applause," following a showing of a film
about the Carter Center’s post-Katrina work. Shame on you,
Barack Obama!

But then your shameful behavior has extended to many other areas
of American life. (See the factual analysis by my running mate,
Matt Gonzalez, on You have turned your back
on the 100-million poor Americans composed of poor whites,
African-Americans, and Latinos. You always mention helping the
"middle class" but you omit, repeatedly, mention of the "poor"
in America.

Should you be elected President, it must be more than an
unprecedented upward career move following a brilliantly
unprincipled campaign that spoke "change" yet demonstrated
actual obeisance to the concentration power of the "corporate
supremacists." It must be about shifting the power from the few
to the many. It must be a White House presided over by a black
man who does not turn his back on the downtrodden here and
abroad but challenges the forces of greed, dictatorial control
of labor, consumers and taxpayers, and the militarization of
foreign policy. It must be a White House that is transforming of
American politics—opening it up to the public funding of
elections (through voluntary approaches)—and allowing smaller
candidates to have a chance to be heard on debates and in the
fullness of their now restricted civil liberties. Call it a
competitive democracy.

Your presidential campaign again and again has demonstrated
cowardly stands. "Hope" some say "springs eternal." But not when
"reality" consumes it daily.

Ralph Nader
Peter Lemkin Wrote:

In the Public Interest Between Hope and Reality

by Ralph Nader

Dear Senator Obama:

In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words "hope
and change," "change and hope" have been your trademark
declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives
and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers
of power that want not "hope and change" but the continuation of
the power-entrenched status quo...

Ralph Nader

December 5, 2008

A Loud Silence: That's the response from the "antiwar" wing of the Democratic party to Obama's Iraq sellout

by Justin Raimondo

Quote:Is it really possible that President-elect Barack Obama intends to break his campaign promise to "end the war" in Iraq, and keep US troops in that country well beyond the sixteen month timetable for withdrawal he advocated during the campaign?

The answer, according to the New York Times, is a fairly certain yes:

"On the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama offered a pledge that electrified and motivated his liberal base, vowing to "end the war" in Iraq.

"But as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months.

"'I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary — likely to be necessary — to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq,' Mr. Obama said this week as he introduced his national security team."

Tens of thousands – a prime target for terrorists, a "residual force" that, in any other context, would be seen as an army of occupation, and a reminder to the Iraqis that they still aren't free of us, nor we of them. That "residual" force, we are told, could number as high as 70,000 troops "for a substantial time even beyond 2011." At a cost of billions, to be sure.

This is not "ending" the war.

The retention of Gates, the appointment of Hillary the Hawk, the "team of rivals" gambit that is supposed to inoculate Obama against criticism from the pro-war right – this pre-inaugural political drama is a dress rehearsal for betrayal. Antiwar voters, who put Obama in office, are about to get screwed – and their alleged spokespersons, at least amongst the left-wing punditariat, are bending over with alacrity. Somebody please tell Rachel Maddow to drop the "quackitude," and reorient her own attitude – because she soon won't have George W. Bush to kick around anymore. The ball is in her court – and in Keith Olbermann's, if he can only remember to take his meds.

My guess, however, is that they'll miss the basket by a mile. After all, it looks like GE Capital – a division of General Electric, corporate parent of MSNBC – has got their bailout to the tune of untold billions. Unlike the blue-collar types, like General Motors and the UAW, they didn't have to come crawling to Congress, hat in hand, with a plan to show what they're going to do with the money. It was payment for services rendered: thanks for your business, and please come again.

There's no accountability from this crowd. Forget the pretentious rhetoric about "inclusion," and the alleged sanctity of the "democratic process." The only kind of populism these folks understand is the kind that's packaged and sold by Madison Avenue, for the benefit of Wall Street.

From all the formerly outraged "antiwar" personalities in the media and politics, we hear nothing in response to Obama's preemptive betrayal – carried out before he even takes office – except a very loud and embarrassing silence.

Where is the ever-voluble Arianna Huffington? Busy choosing her wardrobe for the Inaugural Ball. And Rachel's so focused on getting Susan into the inaugural after-party at the White House that such mundane matters as the continuing occupation of Iraq shrink into well-deserved insignificance. As for Keith Olbermann, I hear he's demanding GE Capital's bailout check be made out directly to him. After all, he's earned it – they've all earned it.

It's been remarked before that Team Obama is a re-run of the Clinton administration, as far as appointments are concerned, but there's been less attention paid to what this actually means, stylistically: the return of the old Clintonian trick of redefining words to fit the circumstances. Get ready for more lectures on what the true meaning of the word "is" is. They're going to redefine us out of Iraq, whilst leaving the occupation intact, by re-labeling military personnel and "changing the mission." Since the mission is being reduced to specific tasks, like force protection, these will no longer be "combat troops." They'll be something else – but not, technically, an occupying force. Or, at least, that is what MSNBC will no doubt be reporting as fact.

The moral slackness, the complete lack of perspective, and of course the boundless arrogance – it's all coming back to Washington. So when did it ever leave? Well, then, expect a ratcheting up, at the very least, of all the worst aspects of the old Clinton administration, especially in the foreign policy realm. These people have forgotten where they've come from so quick that, in a few months, they'll be acting just like their predecessors: warlike, imperious, and ready to rumble. As far as the future of American foreign policy is concerned, I have only three words to say: watch out, Pakistan!

So where is the left, anyway?

Glenn Greenwald, among the best of the liberals, is AWOL on Obama's foreign policy sellout. Sure, torture is bad, and it's very noble to be against it, I'm sure, but what about the endless war that gives it a conceptual framework and legitimizes it in the name of "national security"?

Where are the "antiwar" liberals? They're on their way to the Inauguration, and you'll have to pardon them if they slam the door of the limousine in our faces.

Okay, so what about the commies? As obnoxious and outright crazy as they can be, surely they are sufficiently sincere and consistent in their opposition to US imperialism to resist the lure of Obama-mania.

Well, not exactly … because, you see, unfortunately, they don't make commies like they used to. Take, for example, the softcore Communist party types who lord it over the main antiwar "coalition," United for Peace and Justice. These are old-style CPUSA types, whose subservience to the Democratic party is a matter of longstanding doctrine, and whose hopes for "Popular Front" with the incoming administration fit in quite well with the Obama-as-Roosevelt narrative the left is playing in their heads.

The war in Iraq? As they say in the Big Apple, fuggeddaboutit! The Communist Party of Iraq supports the American occupation, and has from the beginning. The endless "withdrawal" from Iraq can be glossed over in the name of getting out "responsibly."

The war in Afghanistan? One hardly expects much sympathy, in these quarters, for a people that defeated the Soviet Union and arguably brought about its downfall. As for Obama, in a statement on his election victory they take credit for his success:

"For more than six years, United For Peace and Justice and the antiwar movement have stood firm in our opposition to the war in Iraq. Our consistent work played a major role in turning public sentiment against the war, and that sentiment helped lay the foundation for the Obama campaign's success."

You'll note that there's no mention of Afghanistan, until much later, and then only in an ambiguous context. After all, these people consider themselves part of the team – Obama's team:

"Obama has put forth the challenge and United For Peace and Justice is ready to meet that challenge as we work to change our nation's path from militarism and greed to peace and justice."

The real challenge these leftist appendages of the Obama administration face is explaining to their own supporters how and why we're still going to be in Iraq at the end of Obama's first term. In the meantime, however, they can gush over their multiculti messiah and even take credit for his election – and forget about all those tiresome antiwar demonstrations. I see they're holding a "National Assembly" soon, which is going to discuss their new strategic orientation: their last such document professed to "stay alert" to the threat of an expanded war in Afghanistan, as well as reiterating UFPJ's opposition to the occupation of Iraq. But actions speak louder than words: where are the relatively large demonstrations of the Bush era?

I see no indication of any such action anywhere, not even from the Marcyites, who made a profession out of mounting these marches. However, they seem to have split into two factions, the most active of which is preoccupied with calling for a government "bailout" for "workers", freeing Mumia, and calling for a National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving – a public relations triumph in Bizarro World, from what I hear.

This loud silence from the ostensibly antiwar Left is all the more inexplicable given the fact that they're right: Obama does owe his election in large part to their efforts, which helped turn public opinion against the crazed foreign policy of the Bush White House. From a raucous crowd that wouldn't shut up, to a mobilization of Trappists – that's the current and very curious trajectory of the "official" antiwar movement in America.

The irony of this strange paralysis is that there never was a better time for them to get out the old placards, unfurl the banners, and take to the streets with their demands – after all, this is a President who listens to them, presumably. I never understood the logic of demonstrating in front of the Bush White House: after all, that's the last place anybody would be sympathetic. This, however, is a White House of a different color, so to speak. Having taken credit for electing Obama, what's to stop antiwar demonstrators from asking for a little something in return? They can do it respectfully: like Russian peasants supplicating the Czar.

Sooner or later, the antiwar movement will have to respond, as the Afghan front takes center stage in our perpetual "war on terrorism," and the War Party digs its spurs into the hindquarters of the national security bureaucracy, which actually administers and implements American foreign policy. The quick extension of the conflict into Pakistan by the Obama administration is another development we have to look forward to, complete with an Indo-American alliance and the ratcheting up of regional tensions. China, Russia, and Iran all have legitimate cause for concern.

We are entering a very dangerous time, as everyone's attention is diverted away from the field of foreign affairs while the economy melts down. However, war is often seen as the "solution" to our economic problems. The popular myth that war is good for the economy has been concretized by the doctrine of "military Keynesianism." After all, if government spending of any sort is the best way to kick-start the economy, then why not more military spending to create government-guaranteed jobs and keep the bubble expanding?

I note that the UFPJ statement comes out strongly against "militarism." I have news for them: they haven't seen anything yet.

Another enemy, another crusade, another "necessary" war that requires the production of arms and the militarization of labor – just like the "good war" did. If Obama is indeed a post-racial version of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as the lefties hope, then it becomes ever more important to keep a very close watch on his foreign policy. After all, Clare Booth Luce was dead on right when she said of FDR: "He lied us into war." Whether it was for our own good, as historians like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., aver, is an issue the Rachel Maddows and Keith Olbermanns of this world will have to face in the very near future. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm certain I know which side they'll come out on….

~ Justin Raimondo
Great analysis of the Obama cabinet of non-change by Ralph Shoenman and Mya Shone
Do take the time to listen - no transcript available.
Peter Lemkin Wrote:Great analysis of the Obama cabinet of non-change by Ralph Shoenman and Mya Shone
Do take the time to listen - no transcript available.

Kindly desist from posting interesting links - there aren't enough hours in the day...

By the way, did I really read right that Obama defended his compilation of a Cabinet full of Clintonian deadbeats and war criminals on the ground that he was anxious to avoid "group think"? The only thing likely to boom in the US in the next four years will be satire. What an idiot explanation.

On a more cheerful note, enjoy the quote in bold below.


Weekend Edition

December 5 / 7, 2008

CounterPunch Diary: Honeymoans From the Left


A month after he won the White House Barack Obama is drawing a chorus of approval from conservatives who spent most of this year denouncing him as a man of the extreme left. “Reassuring”, says Karl Rove, of Obama’s cabinet selections. Max Boot, a rabid right-wing commentator, confesses, "I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily have come from a President McCain." In Murdoch’s Weekly Standard, mouthpiece of the neocons, Michael Goldfarb reviewed Obama’s appointments and declared that he sees “nothing that represents a drastic change in how Washington does business. The expectation is that Obama is set to continue the course set by Bush in his second term."

But on the liberal-left end of the spectrum, where Obama kindled extraordinary levels of enthusiasm throughout his campaign, the mood is swiftly swinging to dismay and bitterness. “How… to explain that not a single top member of Obama's foreign policy/national security team opposed the war?” Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, asked last Monday. She went on, “For Obama, who's said he wants to be challenged by his advisors, wouldn't it have made sense to include at least one person on the foreign policy/national security team who would challenge him with some new and fresh thinking about security in the 21st century?”

“How nice, how marvelously nice it would be,” wrote the left-wing historian William Blum sarcastically here on the CounterPunch site last week, “to have an American president who was infused with progressive values and political courage.” Blum speedily made it clear that in his estimation Obama is not endowed with these desirable qualities: “He's not really against the war. Not like you and I are. During Obama's first four years in the White House, the United States will not leave Iraq. I doubt that he'd allow a complete withdrawal even in a second term. “

Similar sentiments came from another popular left-wing reporter, Jeremy Scahill, who wrote here on Tuesday, “The assembly of Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, Susan Rice and Joe Biden is a kettle of hawks with a proven track record of support for the Iraq war, militaristic interventionism, neoliberal economic policies and a worldview consistent with the foreign policy arch that stretches from George HW Bush's time in office to the present.”

Suddenly a familiar specter is shuffling back under the spotlights. A long piece on Obama’s foreign policy advisors last Tuesday carried the headline, “Are Key Obama Advisors in Tune with Neocon Hawks who wants to Attack in Iran.” The author is Robert Dreyfuss, a level headed leftish commentator. He sketched in the political backgrounds of advisers to Obama and concluded that “Tony Lake, UN Ambassador-designate Susan Rice, Tom Daschle, and Dennis Ross, along with leading Democratic hawks like Richard Holbrooke, close to Vice-President-elect Joe Biden or Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton -- have made common cause with war-minded think-tank hawks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and other hardline institutes.”
These Obama-hawks, Dreyfuss gloomily told his readers, reckon that talks with Iran about its nuclear program will fail. On the heels of this failure they urge “a kinetic action” in the form of a savage bombing campaign by the US Air Force.

Four more years of anxious articles about the impending attack on Iran? I’d rather read Piers Plowman again, the dullest work I ever had to trudge through when I read Eng Lit at Oxford. Criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy team are, if anything, outstripped by gloom and indignation over his economic team. The economist Michael Hudson complained here recently that Obama was meekly following the advice of banker and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, putting Rubin’s protégés in key Obama administration posts: “Larry Summers, who as head of the World Bank forced privatization at give-away prices to kleptocrats; Geithner of the New York Fed; and a monetarist economist from Berkeley, as right-wing a university as Chicago. These are the protective guard-dogs of America’s vested interests.”

More mouldy cabbages are being hurled at Obama’s picks at the Pentagon, starting with the familiar visage of Robert Gates, already in occupation of the top job, having been put there by George Bush Jr, to replace Donald Rumsfeld. Winslow Wheeler, for many years a senor Republican staffer in Congress, has a solid reputation as one of the best-informed of all the observers of that vast sink hole of fraud and waste, the US Defense Department.

During Gates’ tenure, Wheeler complains in an interview by Andrew Cockburn here last Wednesday, “things have only gotten worse. The budget’s going up faster than ever before in recent history; the size of our forces is going south; the equipment continues to get older.”

Wheeler says “the second tier of appointments that they’re talking about in the press for the Obama team are mostly holdovers from the Clinton era, when things were almost as bad as they were during the Bush era. Most of the major hardware programs that are now coming a cropper as major cost and performance disasters were conceived during the Clinton era. Things such as the Future Combat Systems, or the Navy’s DDG 1000 Destroyer known as the Arsenal Ship and later the DDX Destroyer, spawned when Richard Danzig was Secretary of the Navy. Danzig is under active consideration to be deputy secretary of defense and Gates’ natural successor when Gates finishes whatever short timer term he has under Obama. The F-22 fighter, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, it goes on, all these programs that are cost and performance disasters had their genesis during the Clinton era.”

Asked by Andrew about Obama’s National Security Advisor, Jim Jones, Wheeler replied tartly , “He is a man of great stature, physically and figuratively, in Washington. He is a Washington ‘heavy’ but if you look at his record, nothing much ever happened. Things went south in Afghanistan pretty rapidly when he was supreme commander of all Nato forces in Afghanistan. When he was Commandant of the Marine Corps, a lot of the marines’ overpriced underperforming hardware programs, such as the V-22 [vertical takeoff troop transport plane] and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle were endorsed and continued happily along. He seems to have been mostly a placeholder when he had these very senior and important positions.

In Jones’ favor I have heard that at some point in Bush time he lodged with Condoleezza Rice a report on Israeli conduct that was so harsh it had to be swiftly tossed to the shredder. I look forward to reports of a mano a mano between the vast Jones and the diminutive Emanuel. One striking feature of these complaints is that if the many of complainers had their suspicions about Obama during the campaign, they kept their mouths firmly shut. Across eight presidential campaigns, since Jimmy Carter’s successful run in 1976, I’ve never seen such collective determination by the liberal left to think only positive thoughts about a Democratic candidate. Indeed, some of the present fury may stem from a certain embarrassment at their own political naivety. In fairness to Obama, beyond the vaguely radical afflatus of his campaign rhetoric about “change”, Obama never concealed his true political stance, which is of the center-right. In every sense of the phrase, he can say to his left critics, “I told you so.” And indeed he did.

The obvious question is whether this chorus of political disillusion on the liberal left is of any political consequence. Obama is sensitive on the matter. He defended himself last week by saying that in these dire times Americans need to be comforted by the installation of familiar and respected figures in the new administration. The polls bear him out. The public is mostly happy with what it has seen thus far. The new President, Obama insisted, will be the man setting the new course.

In his salvoes against Obama’s awful economic team, Michael Hudson brought up one ominous parallel. Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976, after eight years of Richard Nixon. The hopes of the liberal left were similarly high. Almost immediately Carter dashed their hopes with hawkish foreign policy appointments. Two years after Carter took over the Oval Office, Jim Ridgeway and I, working for the Village Voice, went to interview William Winpisinger, president of the Machinists’ Union and one of the most powerful labor leaders in America. We put a tape recorder on his desk and asked, “Is there anything President Carter could do to redeem himself in your eyes? Winpisinger eyed the tape recorder bleakly and said, “Die.”

A year later Carter was grimly fighting a liberal-left challenge to his re-nomination by the Democrats for a second term. The challenger was Teddy Kennedy. Though Carter beat off the Kennedy threat, he was seriously weakened and lost his relection bid. One can surmise that one reason Obama has made Hillary Clinton Secretary of State is to head off a Kennedy-type challenge. The trouble with slogans like “change” is that they are like zeppelins. The wind can whistle out of their pretensions with dreadful speed.

But it would be foolishly premature to conjure up the possibility of serious left resistance emerging in any form that would be bothersome to Obama. All it will take for now will be a bone tossed out of the limo, in the form of one or two halfways decent appointments on the enviro side. Nixon launched his green crusade (Earth Day, EPA, etc) in an effort to split the left and Obama could do the same. How about a “war” on global warming, with some version of the Roosevelt era’s Civilian Conservation Corps waging “war” on the fictive foe known as man-made global warming.

In the present juncture, with untrammeled “free enterprise” reeling in bankrupt disorder into the state’s vital, albeit servile embrace, Obama’s rallying of youth to the cause of “hope” and “change” could head off into some unpalatable directions, as a glance at the popular “crusades” launched in the 30s will swiftly attest. As has often been pointed out, there were close similarities between the CCC and similar quasi-militarised bodies of this nature in Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy. If you want to see fascism in action, don’t look in the direction of militia men in camo clustered around Hayden Lake, Idaho. Look at the Air Quality Management District in Los Angeles, the model Rep Waxman will be brandishing in the coming war on bad things in the air, though not – to be sure – the bad things in the air that make serious money for big corporations. If the price of a rhetorical crusade against “global warming” is to be bombing Teheran, I think most of the GW fanatics will echo Madeleine Albright and cry out, “We think the price is worth it.”

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