Obama's world tour - international news roundup
Barack Obama's July international tour gives as much insight into what is not important to Amerika as it tells us about what is important. Looking at where Obama's tour stopped, we can see some big continents skipped: He did not visit Asia, Africa or Latin America. These regions represent the vast majority of oppressed and exploited people in the world. That's not to say Obama only focused on imperialist countries, but his visits to Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan and Palestine underscore the relative importance of the Middle East to imperialism right now.
The missing Third World
It is pretty clear that Amerikans are not very interested in Third World countries as long as super profits flow back home and there is no perception of significant threat. The Amerikan government has done a great job of building up fear around the Middle East and its potential danger to Amerikan people. This served to justify several recent battles in the ongoing World War three against the Third World, and maintains our focus on this region.
Asia is currently in the news only for the Olympics and stories about pollution in Beijing. It is interesting that many have taken the opportunity of the Olympics to attack China and its foreign and domestic policies. We at MIM(Prisons) are not fans of the capitalist government in China, but we find their policies no more objectionable than those of the many other imperialist countries that have hosted the Olympics. And as we've discussed in a previous article on Tibet (White Nationalism still reaching out to Tibet), the attacks on China around this topic are regurgitation of white-washed imperialist history. Historical example predicts that the white nationalists condemning China will not rally for an independent New Afrika in response to Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. Yet, New Afrikans were enslaved by amerika, whereas Tibetans freed themselves from slavery in joining the socialist project of the People's Republic of China in the 1950s. The current mayor of Chicago has overseen numerous slayings of Black residents and many years of torture chambers run in the city's jails, targeting New Afrikans in particular. Mayor Daley's father oversaw the murder and imprisonment of Black Panthers, Vice Lords, Black P. Stone Rangers and other organizations organizing for Black self-determination as mayor of the city in the late 1960s. China would be hard-pressed to outdo the city of Chicago alone in its genocidal national oppression.
Even his African heritage is not sufficient reason for Obama to talk about that continent, much less visit there. In general Amerika is pretty happy to ignore Africa and it is among the regions of the world that the Amerikan public knows the least about. In Zimbabwe there is significant turmoil over Presidential election results and subsequent economic collapse. Imperialist hegemony relies on relative stability of oppressed nations and so there is a lot of interest in this country right now. The U.$. has gotten involved to the extent of calling for sanctions on the Mugabe government but this country is not impacting the Amerikan economy enough to merit further action. In reality this is a good thing as attention from Amerika generally means imperialist intervention (overt or covert) and is generally devastating for a country. But the flip side of that is that countries already devastated by imperialism are ignored because of the poor conditions and lack of threat to imperialism. The U.$. is setting the stage for potential actions against the Mugabe government in the future if that seems useful to imperialism, and this is something anti-imperialists must remain vigilant about fighting.
Iraq and Afghanistan
All eyes are on Iraq as Amerikans continue to fight a war that was started under false pretenses but continues as Amerika fights for a strong foothold in the Middle East. Obama continues to advocate a pull out of troops within 16 months if he is elected President. But as we reported in a previous article on the elections: Just because he wants to pull troops out of Iraq doesn't mean Obama is anti-militarist. Obama is clear that he will use the Amerikan military to defend the Amerikan economy. From his web site: "The excellence of our military is unmatched. But as a result of a misguided war in Iraq, our forces are under pressure as never before. Obama will make the investments we need so that the finest military in the world is best-prepared to meet 21st-century threats." And he wants to expand the imperialist military: "We have learned from Iraq that our military needs more men and women in uniform to reduce the strain on our active force. Obama will increase the size of ground forces, adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines."
Further, Obama has called for u$ troop redeployment to Afghanistan and into Pakistan. Essentially Obama will free up the resources to move from one invasion to another. Meanwhile, one of Obama's high-profile foreign policy advisors is Zbigniew Brzezinski, who's book detailing plans for continued amerikan hegemony foreshadows the current occupation of Afghanistan to secure access to the Caspian Sea. Brzezinski was a strong backer of the Shah in Iran, and later supported military occupation of the country to maintain stability after the Shah's fall. The amerikan imperialists will disagree on where to invade and who to befriend, but they never disagree on whether to be imperialists or to promote amerikan domination over the rest of the world.
There is really little difference between Obama's position and that of the current administration. Bush is now saying clearly that the "terrorists" in Iraq are on the brink of defeat and the Iraqi government and security forces are getting stronger, which would allow “further reductions in our combat forces, as conditions permit.” (NYT, Aug 1, 2008) Bush is likely looking for vindication of his policies and a "victory" before the end of his presidency, but the government also recognizes the decreasing popularity of this war with the Amerikan people. Earlier in July, Bush announced a plan to send more troops to Afghanistan: "We're going to increase troops by 2009." (Yahoo News, July 2, 2008)
This brings us to Iran - not a stop in Obama's world tour but a topic he discussed several times in public speeches around the world. "A nuclear Iran would be a game-changing situation, not just in the Middle East, but around the world," said Obama. "A nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat, and the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." "It would endanger Israel and the rest of the region, and it could embolden terrorists and spark a dangerous arm race in the Middle East."
Obama is putting forward consistent imperialist rhetoric which sets the stage for an invasion or any other attacks against Iran the imperialists deem necessary. This is partly due to the position of the close Amerikan buddy, Israel, a country that considers Iranian nuclear power to be a direct threat. It is ok for Israel, a viciously aggressive country with a bloody history of repression against Palestinians, to have nuclear weapons, but their enemies must not be allowed to develop such tools. Some have speculated that Israel may attack Iran, and if that happens Amerika wants to be positioned to support their ally.
During his stop in Israel Obama told Israeli President Shimon Peres: "I'm here on this trip to reaffirm the special relationship between Israel and the United States and my abiding commitment to Israel's security and my hope that I can serve as an effective partner, whether as a U.S. senator or as president." Obama has always been consistent in his strong support for this imperialist ally. Joining him on his tour of the region was Dennis Ross, a former Middle East envoy who is a consultant for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think-tank promoting the Israeli lobby under the guise of academia.
Very related to Middle East policy, with so much attention to gas prices in Amerika, John McCain has seized on this issue as the path to the presidency and is vocally promoting offshore drilling. Of course invading oil-rich countries is one way to gain control of significant stores of oil and bring down gas prices, but since that seems to be costing more Amerikan lives and money than the Amerikan people are willing to tolerate, environmental destruction to get at more oil is a reasonable backup strategy for the imperialists.
A poll from the Public Policy Institute of California reported that by the end of July Californian's had shifted their opinions, with a slim majority now supporting offshore drilling. California would be one of the main sites where costal waters would be opened to drilling by the McCain proposal. Historically public opinion has shifted with the price of gas - as prices go up, support for drilling goes up. This is typical Amerikan me-firstism, which leaves room for environmental protection, national self-determination, and other policies that are good for the majority of the world's people only if it doesn't impact their pocketbooks.
McCain's new support for offshore drilling has certainly gained him some donations from the oil industry. But a 2007 study from the Department of Energy suggested that new offshore leases will not lead to production of oil until 2020 and would not impact prices until 2030.( http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/otheranalysis/ongr.html) McCain has claimed offshore drilling could provide economic relief within months, which contradicts these studies by his own government. There is no doubt that oil drilling is bad for the environment. But the Amerikan government is uninterested in adopting far sighted policies that might protect against environmental destruction by developing energy sources. Until the Amerikan public really feels the impact of environmental destruction (in their pocketbooks or in their health) it is unlikely the government will be motivated to act.
As MIM wrote back in 1996: "The root cause of environmental problems is capitalism, the private ownership of the means of production by a relative handful of people. This essence of capitalism is one reason why capitalism creates environmental problems: while the majority of the world's people have a material interest in maintaining a healthy planet, the small capitalist ruling class is not accountable to this majority, except in the indirect sense that the ruling class seeks to co-opt the demands of the majority in order to maintain the capitalist system. A second reason why capitalism creates environmental problems is that although the world's resources are controlled by a relative handful of people, planning is not centralized under capitalism. Instead, production is anarchic; it is centered around making profits, not around meeting basic human needs in the short or long runs. Much of what is produced by the capitalist system is unnecessary and wasteful, and the system is not fundamentally capable of incorporating long-term human survival as a need. Finally, the capitalist system does not distribute resources equitably. Under capitalism, many people do not have adequate resources for survival. Many environmental problems stem from this root problem….. The capitalist system of production for profit creates a number of environmental problems which are often understood and discussed in isolation from their root causes. Key among these is pollution of air, water and land. Pollution, like all else under capitalism, is unequally distributed. On a world scale, waste from the imperialist countries is dumped in the neocolonies." (MIM Theory 12: http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/mt/mt12capenv.html)
Obama was received like a rock star in Berlin and was generally very popular among European leaders in his tour of that region. This just provides further evidence that Obama is a good imperialist, who works well with his imperialist allies. Being loved by other imperialist country populations may be considered good credentials by some voting Amerikans, but for anti-imperialists it is just further proof of an enemy of the people.
We have already lamented the readiness of many youth and oppressed people to join the Obama bandwagon because of his identity. Some closer to MIM(Prisons) are still suggesting that Obama represents progress for our movement and that everything reported in this article is just for show to get elected. This analysis acknowledges one important reality, while ignoring another. It recognizes that amerikans would not vote for someone who is working in the interests of the oppressed, and therefore such a persyn would have to put on a show to get elected. The mistake these people make is putting identity above a of mountain facts. We have seen serious revolutionaries degenerate into bourgeois politics, so don't think dark skin and a little time in the projects in Chicago means someone is a friend. The bourgeois theory of history upholds the idea that individuals make history, the proletarian theory looks to social forces on the group level to explain history and predict future developments. The president of the united $tates is only one persyn. Obama comes with a whole package of people, and they're all the standard imperialists, voted in by the same old amerikan oppressor nation.
More interesting than the theory that Obama is a progressive in imperialist clothing is the proposal that he could be the nail in the coffin of the Black Nation as an oppressed internal semi-colony. We would expect the bourgeois internationalists to have to pull the rest of white amerika into full integration, but we'd also expect this to require a healthy push from the oppressed themselves.