President Obama is the latest beneficiary of corporate stenographers to power known as the American mainstream press. The range of allowable debate makes room for NBC’s recent puff pieces on Obama’s White House while excluding issues of substance such as questioning the war in Afghanistan, examining the implications of fighting wars with mercenaries instead of troops, examining the ethical implications of robot warfare, examining the role of media, and critiquing our loss of civil liberties.
Jeremy Scahill on Bill Moyers’ Journal (transcript) from 2009-06-05.
Scahill explains how Obama gets so little critique about the mercenary increase in Iraq and Afghanistan resulting in killing more civilians indiscriminately and increasing the chances of another 9/11 attack—”[I]t’s time to take off the Obama t-shirts. This is a man who’s in charge of the most powerful country on earth. The media in this country, we have an obligation to treat him the way we treated Bush in terms of being critical of him. And, yet, I feel like many Democrats have had their spines surgically removed these days, as have a lot of journalists. The fact is that this man is governing over a policy that is killing a tremendous number of civilians.”
This is a far cry from the almost blinders-on Obama’s Egypt speech analysis I saw on Rachel Maddow’s 2009-06-04 MSNBC show. She identified 8 points where she was obviously quite excited about how much Obama was willing to “grab the third rail” and mention things politicians don’t typically discuss. But she did not discuss the difference between Obama’s words and the reality on the ground, nor did she bother to talk to some civilians affected by American foreign policy. When America gives uncounted billions to Israel which is used to help kill and oppress Palestinians, when the Obama plan has long been to ramp up the occupation of Afghanistan including killing civilians with robot drones (which is underway now), when the US puts in unaccountable mercenaries to do its killing (as now outnumber US troops in each of Iraq and Afghanistan), it’s cold comfort for civilian living friends and family to hear Pres. Obama go on about condemning Israeli settlements, how “resistance through violence does not succeed”, or that “moral authority is not claimed” by blowing people up. Sure, Obama is willing to acknowledge the torture we all knew was going on from day 1, but when will the torture end? Moving prisoners from Guantanamo to another prison doesn’t necessarily mean ending torture. The news about America’s disrespect of democratically elected leaders is how few of America’s coups Obama is willing to publicly cop to. It takes too little to get in some people’s good graces. Matters of life and death should not be so easily brushed away or forgotten.
I’ll come back to this and add more as time permits.