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Obama Will Not Drop the Baton: The Empire is Safe

As many of you will remember, the American 4 by 100 meter relay team at the summer Olympics did not complete the race because during an exchange, the baton was dropped. The structurally embedded empire builders in the Pentagon, State Department, CIA, and NSA etc. should have no such fears if Obama qualifies for the final event, the swearing-in of the president. Despite his anodynic and reassuring words about change, Obama would not perceive the world differently than his predecessors who, since 1991 in particular, viewed the world as an appendage of the American empire.

In the case of Iraq, Obama may be more progressive than his hunlike opponent, but according to his website, “A residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counterterrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel.” In other words, we will withdraw some troops but some will remain to protect American interests. I wonder how Obama would respond if China decided to send troops to the United States to protect their interests?

The United States bombed Iraq in 1991, imposed sanctions between 1990 and 2003, continued to bomb Iraq in so-called no-fly zones, and bombed Iraq again in 2003 all followed by a military occupation. The result of American actions is the virtual destruction of the infrastructure, industrial base and agricultural infrastructure while the means for reconstruction has been unavailable due to the relentless sanctions.

According to international law, the United States has an obligation to pay reparations to Iraq for the damages caused by an illegal war and illegal military occupation. Both wars on Iraq violate the United Nation’s Charter, Chapters 1, VI, and VII, which obligate UN members not to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security and to seek all possible means to resolve their disputes by referring them to the Security Council if necessary. There is no concept of “preemptive war” in international law. Also, the United States violated the Geneva Conventions, and in particular, Protocol I, which prohibits “indiscriminate attacks [which] are: those which are not directed at a specific military objective”. In addition, Geneva Convention IV states that “To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.”

During the military occupation in Iraq, conditions worsened for the Iraqi people as the water, food and medical crises deepened. According a 2008 UNICEF report, “Years of conflict and under-investment have undermined Iraq’s vital social services to the point where many basic family needs are going unmet. Water and sanitation networks have been particularly affected by damage to local infrastructure, poor maintenance and a lack of skilled staff.”

The conditions under which Iraqis are living were caused by the illegal actions of the American government obliging the U.S. to pay for the damage for which it was responsible according to Resolution 60/47 of the General Assembly of the United Nations which requires that “Restitution should, whenever possible, restore the victim to the original situation before the gross violations of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian rights law occurred.”

Obama’s website appears humanitarian on the surface but there is no recognition that the American government is guilty of any wrongdoing or that there is an obligation to pay reparations. His website states that “Obama will form an international working group to address the [humanitarian] crisis. He will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and insure that Iraqis inside their own country can find sanctuary. Obama would also work with Iraqi authorities and the international community to hold perpetrators of potential war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide accountable.”

It is tragically and ironically obvious the Barack Obama is woefully oblivious of American culpability in war crimes on a massive scale in Iraq. He offers no reparations other than a pittance for those who have been displaced and nothing for repairing the damage resulting from American violations of international law. There is no real change in Obama’s approach to foreign policy as it relates to Iraq and empire-builders in various departments and agencies of government can sleep in peace.

As well, his policies toward Afghanistan offer no change and reveal the same lack of a realistic perspective on America’s role in global affairs. As in Iraq, Obama fails to recognize that the problem is the United States which is responsible for numerous violations of international law including the UN Charter and the Hague and Geneva Conventions. On his website, he boasts that “Our troops and our NATO allies are performing heroically in Afghanistan, but I have argued for years that we lack the resources to finish the job…This is a war that we have to win.” I always thought it was a given that America had to win all its wars. Unfortunately, Obama’s policies reveal a complete lack of understanding of the realities in Afghanistan and he seems bent on repeating the same egregious mistake made in Iraq.

Obama’s policies on Iraq and Afghanistan serve as an example of the extent to which Obama’s approach to foreign policy will be no different than his predecessors. The world will still be America’s oyster. Perceived and selfish U.S. interests will still be the exclusive priority of American foreign policy overriding any considerations of human rights or humanitarian concerns.

State of Darkness: US Complicity in Genocides since 1945


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