Obama’s Presidency: A Political and Moral Disappointment

By Dr. Ludwig Watzal

It’s all over town. Only the Obama administration does not want to hear it. The people responsible for the moral decay of U.S. foreign policy were the ‘Bush-worriers’: Vice President Dick Cheney and his President George W. Bush and all the other cronies. Why will Eric Holder investigate the poor CIA subordinates who just followed orders? The torture memos and all the other unconstitutional and partly criminal orders went all the way down the chain of command. The White House people were a gathering of political tricksters. The U.S. has no moral authority anymore, despite Obama, because his foreign policy has only been slightly different from his predecessor’s. Anti-American militancy in the Third World has not diminished. Why should it? Has Obama done something fundamentally different from Bush despite making nice speeches in order to camouflage the ongoing brutality of America’s occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan? Baghram and all other military camps, including Guantanamo, are still operated as extra-judicial zones. Is not the U.S. a law-abiding country? Or does the rule of law only apply to Americans and not to the “Wretched of the Earth” in American “colonies”? Obama has not committed the U. S. plausibly to democratic values and human rights so far because he has been ignoring the infamous Bush presidency. He has to make a clear cut.

In his novel “Why the Dreyfus Affair matters” Louis Begley draws comparisons between the handling of the “Dreyfus Affair” and the terror suspects in Guantanamo. In both cases there has been an abuse of power. For Begely, who survived the holocaust in Poland, the Bush presidency followed with its systematic torture of detainees “the footsteps of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union”. Perhaps this and similar comparisons are exaggerated but the misuse of the rule of law under President Bush and his cronies should concern the American public. The corrupted moral authority of the U.S. can only credibly restored through a solid refurbishment of the Bush years, followed by an indictment of those who were responsible.
President Obama must furthermore distance himself from the dangerous neoconservative concept of perpetual war against Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. How come that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that the U.S. was behind the “riots” and “protests” in Iran? And what about Obama? Who is in charge of American foreign policy? Hillary is merely Obama’s secretary for foreign affairs. There is no Iranian “threat” to the national security of the United States and it has never been. Iran’s military spending is less than one percent of that of the United States. In real figures: U.S. military spending stands now at 623 billion dollars a year; the rest of the world put together 500 billion and Iran the “staggering” amount of some 4 billion dollars. Who then threatens world peace?

The famous American political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephan M. Walt stated in their groundbreaking book “The Israel Lobby” that Israel is no longer an asset for US foreign policy interests in the Middle East but rather a liability. The Obama administration has to define its strategic interests according to its national security interests. Israel’s permanent violation of international law and the human rights of the Palestinians should definitely not be in the American interest. America’s bad reputation and problems in the Middle East have a lot to do with Israel’s occupation policy. The independence of the United States emerged out of an anti-colonial revolt against European colonialism. According to this anti-colonial heritage the U.S. should never accept the ongoing occupation und subjugation of another people by a democratic ally. Such an occupation not only corrupts the occupier but also hurts the credibility of the West and its values in the Muslim world and beyond.

Why has Obama accomplished so little in the Middle East so far? His alleged “anti-Israeli” rhetoric concerning a total halt of Israel’s illegal settlement extentions in the Palestinian Occupied Territories is going to be watered down by Israel. There is a “compromise” in sight. The U. S. is going to make another phony compromise where compliance with international law would be required.

Why is Obama acting like he does? Obama is a “prisoner” of the American power elite and their corporate interests. He has to act according to certain rules to guarantee the military, imperial and global might of  the U. S. Therefore he was elected. The only instrument left to get its way is America´s military power. Financially, economically and morally the U. S. is bankrupt. Not all the Arab countries have apprehended these weaknesses yet, especially the Saudis. They have presented their Middle East peace plan twice and got no positive answer neither from Israel nor from the U. S. They should think about changing sides despite Obama´s Cairo speech.

– Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and publicist in Bonn, Germany. He can be reached: lwatzal@aol.com.

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