Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Obama Decries 'Unjust' Violence

She is dead. A crime justified by nothing more than a brutal determination to silence dissent. Now ask yourself a question: Have you ever seen so graphic an image of an innocent killed by an American attack?

I can think of one — the young girl burned in a napalm attack running naked down a road in Vietnam, over 35 years ago. I can think of no such image, certainly not one receiving such coverage, from an American attack in the past 20 years.

Unjust. Unjustified. Violence.
President Obama hardened his tone toward Iran on Tuesday, condemning the government for its crackdown against election protesters and accusing Iran’s leaders of fabricating charges against the United States.

In his strongest comments since the crisis erupted 10 days ago, Mr. Obama used unambiguous language to assail the Iranian government during a news conference at the White House, calling himself “appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the past few days.”
So reports The New York Times on the new found indignation of Barack Obama.

"Appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments. . . ."

Is it possible that this man is so small-minded that he does not see the absurdity, the hypocrisy in an American president, in this American president, saying such things?

This is the president who refuses categorically to prosecute or even investigate the Americans who drove this country into a war that has seen tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of deaths — for nothing — for the trumped up fictions eagerly accepted and elaborated by American media and politicians .

This is the president who has hired a significant number of leftovers from the Clinton years, Clinton being the man responsible for years of sanctions and bombings in Iraq which caused something like half a million deaths among children. His henchmen including his partner Hilary, Dennis Ross (now ensconced at the White House), among others.

This is the president who has endorsed continued denial of basic human rights to people who have been imprisoned without charge of due process of any kind for years. The justification for continued imprisonment? "If they weren't guilty before, they are likely to have been radicalized by their imprisonment."

The president who has expanded a war in Afghanistan which has to date seen at least 30,000 civilian deaths at American hands.

This president, who has to date done nothing more than pay lip service to Palestinian democratic aspirations for self-determination. Indeed, Obama endorsed Israel's atrocities in Gaza at the end of the Bush term. He has repeatedly reiterated exactly the 'justifications' Israel itself offers for killing hundreds of civilians to get at one (if any) 'militant'.

And he is only months into his reign.


Unjust. Just. Unjustified. Justified. Violence.

The Iranian despots clearly think themselves justified. Theirs is an act, they think, of self-preservation. The Chinese thought themselves justified in their attacks on Tibetans before, during and after the Olympics.

Most notably in recent history, Israel thought itself 'justified' in a murderous campaign against all 1.5 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. In that case, many American politicians, pundits and 'journalists' applauded Israeli 'justice'.

The Principle of the Excluded Left

There is actually a principle at work here, one described at length and repeatedly by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and many many others (all from the excluded left).

An act is justified and just by definition, if it is carried out by the United States. This is a broad statement of the principle stated explicitly by Nixon: "If the president does it, that means it is not illegal."

This principle is widely used in the United States. It is the principle in use when The New York Times or NPR or CNN fail to call torture by Americans torture. It the principle at work when Americans react with genuine indignation on the suggestion that the United States has committed crimes against humanity.

It is more than just a dictionary-style definition. It is a defining element of the way most Americans think. It is certainly not isolated to the US. The Chinese clearly just cannot imagine why anyone would oppose their actions in Tibet. The Israelis, in large majority, cannot grasp that people might think that Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon. The British, the French, take your pick. Very nearly every aggressive power simply does not see itself as an aggressor.

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