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Reflections on President Obama's Visit to Ireland.
You have to be in the matrix to believe 'Yes we can'
There is no doubt compared to Bush that Obama is probably far more intelligent, certainly far more articulate and overall generally appealing in terms of visuals, charisma and presentation. Not only that he is also the first black president of the US which in itself only a generation ago was thought to be an impossible realisation. At the end of the Bush regime, people everywhere including Ireland were fed up with what appeared to be a fool in charge of a job that he seemed ill suited for, although it is not clear how much of this image was actually fabricated. People the world over were losing hope and wanted change, and Obama rode in promising that change. Superficially it appears people got it. He was black, he could make great speeches and he had promised a lot. He also seemed inherently fairer and nicer because he talked about peace and health for everyone (in the US). Obama was a marketing dream and it worked to perfection.
But what change did he really bring? He promised to close Guantanamo where torture without trial is the order of the day, yet it still remains open. And we must recall that at the moment Rumsfeld back in 2002 was saying the inmates were the worst of the worst, internal memos (since obtained under Freedom of Information requests) in the White House were circulating that they were sure 95% of them were completely innocent. Obama also promised peace. Yet the US is still in Iraq and Afghanistan and has stepped up predator-drone attacks inside Pakistan that are estimated to have killed over 2,000 civilians. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize whilst he was and still is commander-in-chief of these wars. All that did was to water down the honor of the prize to the point of making it meaningless.
And then onto domestic issues he promised to bring in Health Care for all Americans, but what has transpired seems to have satisfied the medical insurance industry and has fallen far short of its original goals. Whether this was outside the control of Obama is for debate elsewhere.
So returning back to yesterday's visit, then what are Irish people exactly cheering and smiling about? Did he solve the financial crisis or something? The answer then is clearly no and just like in Ireland, nobody has gone to jail although some people will say 'but Madoff went to jail'. Madoff was a side show and turned himself in so it doesn't really count. The Obama administration has done what they have done here and that is all the garbage toxic loans ultimately got transferred onto the taxpayers back. Criminality in the financial collapse is well documented but zero has been done about it. Millions of Americans have been booted out of their homes via foreclosure and a scandal has raged that many of these foreclosure documents were forgeries issued by the banks. Yet people still lost their homes. The stimulus package QE2 has served to prop up the banks whilst jobless figures rose. What other changes has Obama made? Well none. In fact the Obama administration policies in practically all areas; namely the war, oppression of civil liberties, bailout of the banks, tax breaks were extended again to the rich and so on, has actually gone further to the right than George Bush. Obama is widely recognised as the stooge of the financial elite. The banks are doing very well thank you with him. You could go so far as to say that the people have been duped for another few years, while the Class War has moved up a few more notches and the attacks on the working class (technically this is about 85% of the population) have intensified to the point now where there are mass layoffs of workers, pensions and social safety networks continue to be robbed and stripped away.
On the global stage, the USA still supports brutal dictators, the Iraq war has left more than 1 million dead and endless US soldiers accounts speak of their nightmarish flashbacks as they recall how they shot dead whole families at roadside checkpoints. Terrorism is when you terrorize a population. This has and still is surely the case in Iraq, Afghanistan and along the border in Pakistan with the case of drones. America apparently once stood for justice and equality although a check of the record shows this is more myth than reality. Nevertheless especially since World War II, this has been the image portrayed by successive US administrations and presidents combined with the image or promise of the American dream. Where is the American dream now in the carnage of the new Class War -aka the financial crisis. And as to justice and equality, this image has given way to spying, homeland security, tasers, secret renditions and torture. We are told the US is the land of the free, yet it has the highest prisoner population in the world. Most of Europe has depending on the country from about 80 to 150 people per 100,000 in prison. Russia has about 500, China 660 and the land of opportunity has reached new heights of over 750 per 100,000 in prison. Many states spend more on prisons than education.
To row in behind the carnival of festivities of Obama's visit yesterday you would have to be taking the blue pill as in 'The Matrix'. From this remove Obama seems like a nice guy and may well be, but to turn out to cheer and adorn him, you have to be honest with yourself because to do so is to help perpetuate and validate the system of corrupt and illicit power that promotes endless wars, robs our civil liberties and that is systematically destroying the habitability of the planet. The current state of politics in most countries from the most corrupt places in the Third World to the dictatorships in the Arab world, to Western countries that have laid cleaned out poorer countries through Third World Debt and agencies like the World Bank and IMF and they are now turning on their own people. Already we have lost significant portions of the gains achieved throughout the last 150 years of working rights and protections. There is no end in sight to this slide backwards but we are told to work harder, earn less, accept intrusion in our private lives. In essence to shut up and don't complain and just keep admiring and to be in awe of the rich and to spend all our mental energies and time following and gossiping about the minutiae of the daily lives of celebrities. Obama is simply the frontman for the financial elite at this point. We must recall that the same media that sold us war, sold us bailouts has sold the US and everyone else Obama. Obama does not represent real change of any kind. He is a stooge, a distraction with the explicit purpose of keeping the whole illusion going for a bit longer. If Obama was honest he would come clean to his own population and tell the most car dependent population in the world that Peak Oil has already occured and this single fact alone means the endless growth economy is dead and ain't coming back. It also means all the promises about recovery are fake and exposes all the other frauds of the system. His energy secretary Steven Chu -Physics Nobel Prize winner knows about Peak Oil and its implications. There is no way Obama doesn't know. Many pundits have pointed out that all the geo-strategic political moves and adventures by the big powers of China, Russia, India and the USA over the last decade have been all about positioning themselves to retain access to this dwindling but vital resource.
To finish the Obama visit was all about symbolism, ideas and meaning. After all this is what many people out on the streets had said yesterday. Yet there is no evidence to that any of these ideals hold true and if he is the most powerful man in the world as people regularly change, then why hasn't he made any change for the better?