Obama Plays Cairo

Redwood Valley

In this Eighteenth Edition, we review the Obama speech in Cairo, the Palestinian impasse, and how he balances his message of friendship with Moslems world wide alongside his armed attacks in Afghanistan and support for the Pakistan’s army’s assault upon the Taliban in the Swat Valley.

The man’s performances are captivating to us all. We are proud of a President so knowledgeable of Moslem history and accomplishments, who can speak comfortably of common aspirations, while skipping deftly past lethal Drone attacks on wedding parties in small mountain villages, and yet who somehow keeps our hopes alive while moving us towards more war and ever greater hypocrisy.

The Cairo speech was directed not to any one country but addressed the entire Islamic Nation, most of whom are intensely wary of American motives and of our capacity for change, while incredibly fond of our way of life. Stratfor suggests 6/03/09 that: “the Moslem masses are in for a disappointment . . . but this will not pose much of a problem for Obama. The fond feelings of the Moslem world might be nice to claim but ultimately he does not need their support. In the end, it will be the American people, not the rest of the world, who will issue the final referendum on his performance as President.”

It is 139 days since January 19th, when Israel stopped the wanton killing of Gazans, so as not to “rain upon the start of Obama’s Reign” the following day. John Ging, director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), told a Code Pink delegation to Gaza last month that “billions in aid had been promised in the wake of Israel’s massacre, but so far nothing had arrived”. Code Pink reporters added: “Make no mistake about it: the blockade, directly enforced by Israel and Egypt but conspired in by their superpower patron in Washington, is a continuing act of war against an entire civilian population of 1.5 million, a form of collective punishment and a crime against humanity.” Roane Carey, The Nation 6/02/09.

Building materials that would allow Gazans to rebuild are forbidden, not one bag of cement, not one 2 by 4. Netanyahu complained that: “We are being asked to ease the living conditions of the population and allow goods and equipment in, but we have other priorities in the Gaza Strip. We do not want to strengthen Hamas, by allowing them to rebuild their defenses”. By this logic, he could forbid flour since it gives nourishment that rebuilds strength and thus furthers resistance. In Cairo, Obama acknowledged that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza: “Suffer daily humiliations that come with occupation. There is no doubt that the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.” He said America will not turn our backs on their “legitimate aspirations” while carefully avoiding ascribing to them any ‘rights’. Most appropriately, Obama said: ”Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build.” A nice phrase, but without the weight of a single bag of cement.

Obama equated Palestinians’ displacement from their homes (first in 1948 and now with each new Jewish settlement in the West Bank) with Israel having to suffer the hostility and attacks from individual Palestinians. “Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed.” He talked about Negroes in our south who resisted yet never did he acknowledge that it was their physical resistance which eventually got them some rights in America. Never once did he condemn Israel’s violence in Gaza (1400 killed), nor in Lebanon (1300 killed), nor in the West Bank (2308 Palestinians killed in the Al Aqsa Intifada from 2000 to 2004, along with 727 Israelis).

Uri Avnery reports from Tel Aviv 5/31/09 that: “This week, the Knesset voted by a large majority (47 to 34) for a law that threatens imprisonment for anyone who dares to deny that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. The bill also promises one year in prison to anyone who publicly disagrees, no matter whether they be Arabs or Jews. It also prohibits Jews from advocating any change in the state’s definition, or the creation of a bi-national state in all of historic Palestine or spreading any other such unconventional ideas.” Finally, Avnery speculates: “One can only imagine what would happen in the U.S. if a senator proposed a law to imprison anyone who suggests an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. This government has already adopted a bill to imprison for three years anyone who mourns the Palestinian Nakba”. Nakba refers to the 1948 uprooting of more than half the Palestinian people from their homes and lands by a Jewish Army.

Well that pretty much brings us up to date in the prospects for either a one-state or even a two-state solution. Our Seventeenth Edition outlined the futility of these non-solutions and need not be repeated here, although President Obama hangs onto the Two-State Plan as if he couldn’t think of any other place to stand.

But let us at least end on a positive note with the announcement that Israel has finally released a set of maps showing where US-supplied cluster bombs were released around Lebanese villages during the last few days of their 2006 invasion of Lebanon. According to Ha’Aretz, the Israeli newspaper in Tel Aviv, between 1.2 and 3 million were dropped in Southern Lebanon (IDF figures). Since the war, 30 have been killed and 203 injured by these indiscriminate weapons that are prohibited under Article 50 of the 1977 Geneva Conventions. AntiWar 6/04/09 Stephen Green.

James Cogan reported 6/01/09 in URUK.net that: “A little over a month ago, the Pakistani government acquiesced to the demands of the Obama administration to use brute force to eradicate radical Islamist influence in the north-west of the country, as part of the so-called AfPak war to secure American interests in Central Asia. Pakistan had resisted all pressures up until this time to go after the rebels in the Northwestern Territories. In recent years, they have been afforded a considerable autonomy and allowed to impose their own system of government and of justice so long as they stayed in the mountains and did not come into the valleys.

Now, for the first time, the Pakistani military has attacked the Taliban on the ground as well as from the air in the Swat Valley where they had seized large areas. The Pakistan Army claimed over the past weekend that they had largely shattered the armed opposition in the Swat Valley, Lower Dir and Buner districts of North West Frontier Province (NWFP).”

The military operation in NWFP has emptied the city of Mingora – population 300,000 and has driven out most of the ethnic Pashtun population in the three districts targeted. The current UN estimate is that 2.4 million people have been internally displaced in just over a month, making it the largest displacement on the Indian subcontinent since the 1947 partition. The mass exodus has taken place during the harvest season, meaning that thousands of small farmers who could barely subsist before the offensive have not been able to bring in their crops. A large number of livestock have died or been lost.

The violence, instability and suffering will only escalate if, as appears increasingly likely, the government bows to US demands to carry out a full-scale offensive against the strongholds of the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal agencies of South and North Waziristan. These areas are used as a safe haven by Pashtun fighters from over the border in Afghanistan who are resisting the US/NATO occupation of that country. Targets in these areas are being repeatedly bombed by unmanned US Predator drones but the cross-border movement has barely been disrupted.

Pakistani troops, not American, serve as Obama’s cannon fodder in these bloody battles with an estimated 15,000 Taliban fighters. In exchange, the Pakistani ruling elites represented by President Asif Ali Zadari and Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani will get the financial assistance they need to stave off economic collapse of the entire nation” reports James Cogan.

Obama’s only mention in Cairo of his major new military thrust into Pakistan was a brief reference to a $1.5 billion dollar five- year program to build schools, hospitals roads and new businesses. Did his speech writers just overlook the latest offensive? Did Obama think that with all his warm hug-a-Moslem talk his audience would forget this increasingly dark side of America’s program for the Moslem world?

We have searched the text of this “historic” speech for even a single concrete proposal to redress the grievances the Moslem world holds against America. We have not located a one. Yet many liberals praise Obama’s efforts and not a few conservatives have been equally enraptured. He has been applauded for not being Bush, for looking a bit ‘Third-Worldly’ and for a willingness to recognize US errors in the past.

He was drafted several years back by key sections of the American power-elite to put this new face on American imperialism and global hegemony. Veteran cold warriors like Zbigniew Brzezinsky, has backed him for years now. Zibby recently said, in an interview with the German magazine ‘Der Spiegel’, that the collective danger we (the US) face in coming decades is “that the majority of humanity will no longer tolerate these enormous disparities in the human condition”. In other words, world revolution is the fear and Obama was put in the White House to prevent such a cataclysmic social upheaval. Hence, our new and exciting President has opened his road show in Cairo this past week.

See also Andrew Sullivan: It was not a speech. It was an intervention