by michael hureaux perez
President Obama has now been to Baghdad and the great white way of U.S. leftism is busy choking up over the footage of the Prez with “our troops.” For those of you out there who don’t understand what an imperialist doggie the new president is just yet, here he is in living color, boots on, Clint Eastwood bravado at the ready. If you are still “feeling” Obama, you must accept the fact that this man went into Baghdad, waded through the wreckage from a civil war our U.S. foreign policy deliberately created, and grins Kool-aid smiles when asked about the agony this “civilization” we live with has caused. According to the president, this mayhem he celebrates is “success beyond our wildest dreams.” Why, not even Meyer Lansky could have put that better.
One point two million people dead, four million displaced, the infrastructure of an autonomous people destroyed. Four thousand U.S. troops dead. Thousands more troops maimed physically and psychically. Billions and billions more dollars to be spent on an ongoing, residual occupation that has no purpose or moral base other than the sheer exercise of raw, naked power, the crime for which people were convicted at Nuremburg.
The imperial project is pursued regardless of how the waste of material resource affects our people here in the United States in a time of great economic crisis. We’re told there’s not enough jobs, there’s not enough money to fund the further education of people who need jobs. There’s not enough money for public health. There’s not enough resource for mental health. Housing is in short supply while undersold housing stands vacant and tent cities abound. But there’s enough money for the corporate software military establishment, the bankers and arms manufacturers who profit off of this bloody empire, these software barons of international piracy. This piracy that runs the world, this piracy that wants to roar with outrage at the teeny, tiny gaggle of piracy off the coast of Somalia, wants to steal, and kill, and maim and irradiate both children and veterans with depleted uranium shell casings, and lecture the world on responsibility and morality. And we let them do it. We let them get away with it. In the words of Dalton Trumbo, in the introduction to his classic Johnny Got His Gun, instead of vomiting, we reach for the toast.
Barack Obama says it’s time for the Iraqi people to take responsibility for their future. Barack Obama does this as leader of the United States, which has gone out of its way to destroy any autonomous future Iraq was inching towards for itself. In taking such a stance, he has joined a violent, arrogant and Eurocentric chorus led by war criminals like the Clinton and Bush dynasties. Barack Obama knows full well that the U.S. conducted this atrocity for no reason apart from imperial venture, and at this moment, he declares it to have been a sacrifice made for the honor of our so-called civilization. Barack Obama rises to tasks demanded of him by the Warlords of the Empire, their eyes glinting with the malicious demand of the self-satisfied mercenary that their victim rise to the moment and assume responsibility for a bloodying that the victim never asked for. This is success beyond their wildest dreams. This is the world that capitalism wants to have.
2600 years after the defeat of Greek democracy by the Spartans, the democratic impulse which western capital claims to defend can’t find its ass with both hands in the great capitalist center. Five centuries after the early days of the capitalist system, with no global threat that compels the development of an imperial order, western capital still chooses imperialism. Western capital chooses imperialism over its own financial solvency. Western capital chooses imperialism over the tattered remnants of its own democratic integrity.
We’re dealing with spoiled children with high tech toys of destruction, and it is time for any anti-war movement worth a damn in this country to begin to figure out how we can make the political culture that exists in this country learn to live with the rest of the world, whatever it costs the imperial order to forfeit the empire, and whatever it costs we who speak out in opposition to that order. We have to pledge, as the Declaration of Independence put it so eloquently, “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” We have to form a new independent political movement, based in the organizations that still exist at the behest of the working class majority in this country and their allies among critical and revolutionary thinking entrepreneurs, a movement that is willing to fight, and even die if necessary, in a battle for the revolutionary promise of democracy.
For all the flowery rhetoric of themselves or their charming Golden Child in the White House, the Obamians are not up to this needful task.You can tell because many of them are shocked at Obama’s decision to defend the CIA’s right to spy on the people of this country. The Obamians feel “betrayed.” The truth is that they lied to themselves about who Obama and the “democrats” are, and many of them are lying still. They believe that if a man allowed to rise within the ranks of the imperial order is black, that the system is more just. The experience of Colin Powell’s miserable lies at the UN six years ago taught them nothing. The brutal farce led by the U.S. State Department under the tutelage of the mercenary Condoleezza Rice taught them nothing. The hard cold fact is that house slaves are allowed a larger role in the global plantation that the imperial order forces upon the so-called “underdeveloped world,” and house slaves like Powell, Rice, and Obama have been “skinnin’ and grinnin’ for a long time. Many more will be outed as the struggle against the imperial order takes larger shape.
The question of anti-imperialism is decisive in this political battle in the United States and internationally. The question of anti-imperialism is decisive, because it is the question of race and class writ large. Capital will not forego the so-called rights of the nations at the center of the world’s economy to live at the expense of those at the bottom of the world economy, most of whom are impoverished and exhausted peoples of color. Capital cannot and will not exist without imperialism. And the dreams of the so-called anti-war movement in this country, the geniuses at MoveOn, the deluded individuals at United for Peace and Justice, who believe that Obama offers “a different approach to imperialism,” and the Center for American Progress, all of these people believe they can ride the tiger’s back. They will wind up on the inside of the beast. No wild thing ever voluntarily cuts its claws.
The rest of the world knows. The imperial leadership of the United States is sowing the dragon’s teeth of global terror. It may claim otherwise, but its actions belie its words. People in Pakistan, who at this moment are evading President Obama’s Predator drone attacks; people of Iran, who have seen Barack Obama’s current “good cop, bad cop” routine come from many a U.S. president; people on the Gaza Strip, who watched family members die as the president-elect solemnly declared during the Israeli siege that “there is only one president at a time.”
It is a terrible thing when a man as intelligent as Barack Obama, and the people who support his imperial policies choose to use cunning over critical reason. It is a terrible thing when legions of people believe that words measured in political expediency are the only available form of political discourse acceptable in a country that supposedly upholds a democratic tradition of expression. It is a terror that so many have eyes but will not see. Terror is terror. If humanity survives this period, history will record that United States politics were overtaken by a layer of what used to be called “good Germans,” or people who denied the terrifying evidence provided by their own senses in the years during the holocaust directed against the Jews of Europe. The game is the same, but the name is changed.
But, oh, as the poet said, the shark has pearly teeth, dear. And they’re there for all to see.
michael hureaux perez is a writer, musician and teacher who lives in southwest Seattle, Washington. He is a longtime contributor to small and alternative presses around the country and performs his work frequently.