A propagandist-in-chief's war on intellectual imperialism and pursuit of a resistance episteme

Posts Tagged: Obama

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Without ignoring or belittling Saudi sponsorship of the Takfiri groups who are slaying Lebanese and Syrian civilians, let us not forget the culpability of Israel and the US in these crimes, including today’s Dahyeh bombing. Not only do we now know that the Obama adminstration has been reaching out to “engage” the Islamic Front in Syria, which contains Al-Qaeda affiliates like Ahrar Al Sham (a senior figure for the group, Abu Khaled al Suri, admitted as much recently), but even more significantly, Obama made this very telling statement to the New Yorker, which effectively distinguishes between a good and a bad al-Qaeda and normalizes the former as a just another benign [to the US at least] sectarian force, involved in petty power-struggles, the implication being, that the US can manipulate these good Takfiris to serve its strategic interests:
I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian…And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into…But how we approach those problems and the resources that we direct toward those problems is not going to be exactly the same as how we think about a transnational network of operatives who want to blow up the World Trade Center. We have to be able to distinguish between these problems analytically.”

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Both in Kosovo and Libya, US presidents bypassed Congress although their declared aims were far more ambitious than in Syria. In Kosovo, the Clinton administration sought to “seriously diminish his [Milosevic’s] military capacity” and push the Serbs out of Kosovo; in Libya, the Obama administration’s goal was regime change. And yet, in Syria where administration officials have repeatedly stressed that the US’ aims are neither regime change nor even “changing the balance of forces on the ground”, Obama has announced his intent to seek Congressional authorization, although Congress might not convene for another 10 days, giving skeptics and opponents of the war plenty of time to present their case, hence Obama’s assertion that a military strike was not “time sensitive” and could take weeks. At the risk of sounding prematurely triumphalist, the fact that Obama is taking a major gamble in calling for a Congressional vote, right on the heels of the British parliament’s no vote, despite the professedly “limited scope” of the intended strike, can only be explained as a climb-down. So ironic that a power which supposedly enjoys the “writ of the international community” behind it and which is facing an “isolated Syria” is forced to take such precautions. Irrespective of whether a strike is launched, the deterrent power of the Resistance Axis and Russia can no longer be denied.

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This scene from my favourite show came to mind when I read how Obama declared Syria’s main opposition group the sole “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people. 

Like Michael Scott in The Office, Obama and other world leaders have yet to learn that statuses like bankruptcy, victory and legitimacy can’t be won by means of totally arbitrary declarations. 

They would also do well to look up Syria in any dictionary, encyclopedia or UN document. Last time I checked it was defined as the Syrian Arab Republic— a founding member of the UN— symbolized by a flag with 2 stars not 3, and led by President Bashar al-Assad. Until international law withdraws recognition and legitimacy from the Syrian Arab Republic, the sole representative of the Syrian people remains the “Assad regime” irrespective of the political whims of NATO-GCC governments. 

In the meantime, Obama and co. can call the movement they created in hotel conference halls all the cute pet names they want. That won’t stop Syria from meaning the Syrian Arab Republic. 

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Al-Akhbar’s Boxes and Briefs blog responds to IDF, social media chief, Sacha Dratwa’s non-apology: 

While Dratwa, the IDF and their supporters can continue to claim that any offense taken is “cynical,” we at Boxes & Briefs have drawn a different conclusion:

Had Dratwa been unaware of the history and significance of blackface, an apology would have been appropriate (surely, Dratwa and his supporters are fluent in identifying and deploring the symbols and stereotypes that conjure an ugly, painful past for Jews.)

Brownface/blackface isn’t a harmless gesture. It’s also merely the tip of the iceberg (icebergs happen to be white, which makes this a stellar idiom for elucidating issues of race to self-justifying racists.)

Full post here

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A few days ago I posted a photo of Sacha Dratwa, the head of the IDF’s social media unit and after seeing it on my blog, my colleagues at al-Akhbar later ran a very witty but factual story on the racist photo in their Boxes and Briefs blog here. Today, Dratwa responded with the following statement on his FB profile page here , saying:

“There have been attempts to make use of private photos from my Facebook profile in order to publicly misrepresent my opinions. Due to the amount of public attention I’ve garnered in recent days I have decided to restrict access to my page, in order to protect my privacy and prevent further cynical use of the information therein.

I am, and have always been, completely candid about my beliefs and have nothing to hide – as reflected by my Facebook profile, which until recently was open to everyone. The aforementioned photos do not reflect my beliefs and have no bearing whatsoever on my position in the IDF.

Sacha Dratwa”

As his statement above indicates, and in contrast to the ridiculous comments by his Zionist fans claiming his Facebook identity must have been stolen and that the racism story was a lie, Dratwa made no such claims or pretensions. He unabashedly acknowledges the photos were his, albeit used “cynically” to “misrepresent” his opinions, and that the photos in question don’t reflect his beliefs. But Dratwa also brags that he has “nothing to hide” and has always been “candid” about his beliefs.

In other words, Dratwa, like his compatriots, is an unapologetic Zionist who insults American readers’ intelligence by arguing that the photo doesn’t make him a racist. Of course, the vast majority of the world don’t need this photo or any other to know that Zionism is the most racist ideology in the world, but Dratwa doesn’t even bother to offer an explanation for the photo (he was drunk, stoned, under the effect of medication etc.) to Israel’s ignorant American supporters or to even lie by claiming we doctored the photo. But this arrogant callousness should come as no surprise because the Zionists can be assured of unconditional US support even if golliwogs and KKK hoods are involved. And this impunity doesn’t stem from Israel’s supposed status as the US’ “spoilt child”, whose Zionist lobby controls US policy, but stems from the fact that Israel is the US’ proxy settler colony in the Arab world and serves the interests of global capitalism.


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Al-Akhbar’s brilliantly witty media blog mocks the IDF social media chief I posted about earlier here. If you have a Twitter account, you can link this article and ask US officials with Twitter accounts embarrassing questions about the IDF’s racist slur against their president (and African people generally). 
"For all its high-tech industries and self-promotion as a western-style democracy, Israeli public officials apparently still enjoy forms of entertainment that went out of fashion in the US with the end of the Jim Crow era.
A photo uploaded on September 29 to the Facebook profile of the head of the IDF’s social media unit depicts the lieutenant posing with brown mud on his face under the caption: “Obama style.”…
For a poignant example of the pedestrian racism that Israeli public spokespersons can get away with – not only against Arabs and African migrants African migrants, but also against Israel’s American benefactors – look no further than the Facebook profile of the championed IDF social media guru.”

Full article here 

P.S. The video link at the end is a MUST WATCH: “I am a political science major so I know my shit….Who is Benjamin Yahoo?” For real.

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"Remember Obama’s mantra: Iran must “fulfill its international obligations”, i.e. submit to U.S. diktat, so it could “rejoin the community of nations “? Must be feeling rather lonely now in that “international community”, otherwise known as a handful of western powers and Israel, as it observes two thirds of the worlds nations ignore its wishes and attend the NAM summit."

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Mohammad Marandi on the difference between Romney and Obama on Iran: Nothing

I am proud to be a friend of Seyed Mohammad Marandi. Mohamad is an associate professor of English Literature at University of Tehran and the founder and director of Institute for North American and European Studies there. Talking to al-Jazeeraa English, he turns colonial discourse on its head in the video link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgUnLcNZndQ


“The Iranians have been talking. The Iranians are basically saying that ‘we are willing to negotiate.’ But the Western position is ‘you give up everything and then we’ll start talking.’ The Iranian right to enriching uranium is a right that all sovereign countries have. And the Iranian Revolution itself was partially about dignity and independence. The Iranians are not going to accept being a second-rate country. This is not the Saudi regime or the Jordanian regime. This is a country that is fiercely independent. So the Iranians will continue to enrich uranium within the framework of the NPT and international law. The United States cannot stop Iran from doing so. If the United States was reasonable and rational, if the Europeans were rational, then the Iranians would be willing to give further assurances to ease tensions. But the United States isn’t really after that, in the eyes of Iranians.”

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An old 2009 debate I had with former US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk on al-Jazeera’s Riz Khan show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hGw8C2KFrM&feature=relmfu

See part 2 of the debate here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5iTLSJtAFE&feature=relmfu

I believe the content of the debate “Obama’s engagement in Iran” is still relevant to today’s talks between Iran and the 6 powers (see AP article copied below).

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Yesterday’s FP Magazine covered Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman’s visit to the Turkish-Syrian border to meet with leaders of the Free Syria Army and Syrian refugees. They were quoted as saying: "If America still stands for the cause of oppressed people who are fighting for their freedom, and justice, and deliverance from tyranny, we cannot abandon the people of Syria," they said. "We cannot shirk our responsibility to lead. Our deepest values and interests compel us to act in Syria, and we must do so before it is too late.”

The provocative reference to the “cause of the oppressed” aside, what’s striking about this statement is how its language is unabashedly liberal imperialist . Not only do the Senators refer to their White Man’s Burden, “the responsibility to lead”, but they also acknowledge that “our interests compel” intervention in Syria. Coupled with the characteristic anchoring of all foreign policy [read interventionist] discourse in the language of values, the senators’ statement smacks of Enlightened Imperialism. Like its predecessor, Enlightened Absolutism (monarchies inspired by Enlightenment values of religious toleration, freedom of speech and the press, and the right to hold private property, and which aimed at “improving” their subjects’ lives in order to further entrench their own authority), Enlightened Imperialism pursues similar liberal values such as human rights, economic development, democratization etc., which ultimately reinforce its economic and political domination of the oppressed South. Both are based on the liberal concept of “Enlightened self-interest” (as used by Alexis de Tocqueville in his study of democracy in America),  a philosophy in ethics which states that persons who act to further the interests of others, ultimately serve their own self-interest. 

Such Realist morality, or what some have called the “imperialism of virtue” is not confined to American conservatives but pervades contemporary liberal discourse in the US. A case in point, is Obama’s National Security Strategy document of 2008 where he clearly spells out this doctrine: “A key source of American leadership throughout our history has been enlightened self-interest…The United States rejects the false choice between the narrow pursuit of our interests and an endless campaign to impose our values. Instead, we see it as fundamental to our own interests to support a just peace around the world—one in which individuals, and not just nations, are granted the fundamental rights that they deserve… The belief that our own interests are bound to the interests of those beyond our borders…” In other words, the US’ interests and values are made synonymous and moral and political values are reduced to naked self-interest, while these interests are equated with, or forcibly projected onto, the interests of those it seeks to neo-colonize. 

Given that De Tocqueville viewed the concept of Enlightened Self-Interest as the cornerstone of American democracy, and considering the space it occupies in mainstream and official political discourse, one can only conclude that it defines the US’ political identity, which effectively makes that identity an imperialist one. 

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We really have to start challenging the concept of US “security interests” in the Middle East. I know it seems so self-evidently nonsensical as to obviate the need for a critique but it has become so deeply naturalized in mainstream political discourse, that even well-meaning Arabs feel compelled to appeal to the US’ regional interests when dissuading Washington from committing further foreign policy blunders.
First of all, how does the US even have a security to protect in the region when it isn’t part of the region? Sure, it’s a regional actor and player insofar as it has occupation troops stationed in the Arab and Islamic world, and it has military bases strewn across GCC countries, but the US doesn’t belong to the Middle East; it isn’t located here so it has no physical security concerns to speak of. What happens in Syria or Libya for example, does not constitute a threat to the US’ homeland security. 
Second, how is security an interest? And why use the plural “interests” if survival is the main concern? One need only read Obama’s National Security Strategy document (May 2010) to find an explanation. Here, Obama equates national security with “economic competitiveness” among other interests which are completely divorced from the concept of physical security. So basically, in American liberal parlance, security is not synonymous with the survival of a state but with survival and maintenance of empire-building. 
The US is not entitled to any interests in our region. Period.

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