In the past two months:
US Vice President Joe Biden was asked by reporters at a summit in Chile if Washington plans to put an end to the near-50-year-old economic embargo against Cuba. He replied “No.”
Israeli authorities broke up a series of Palestinian cultural events in Jerusalem, disrupting a children’s march and bursting balloons at a schoolyard celebration.11 There has not been, nor will there be, any embargo of any kind by the United States against Israel. Nor will President Obama make any comment about what he really feels about invading a children’s party and bursting their balloons.
The White House and the Pentagon appear to be having a competition over who can announce the most troops being sent to Afghanistan. Is anyone keeping a body count?
US drones continue to drop bombs on people’s homes and wedding parties in Pakistan. No one in Washington publicly admits to this or comments in any way about the legality or morality of it all.
Bolivia and Ecuador have expelled American diplomats for what their hosts saw as conspiring to undermine the government.
Any number of other examples can be given of how alike the foreign policies of the Bush and Obama administrations are, how little, if any, change has occurred; certainly nothing of any significance. Yet, my saying such a thing is precisely what most often bothers Obama supporters who read or hear my comments. They’re in love with the man with the toothpaste-advertisement smile, who’s “smart” (whatever that means), who plays basketball, and is not George W. Bush, and his wife who puts her arm around the queen of England.
Obama’s popularity around the world is enhanced, to an important extent, by the fact that he has endeavored to conceal or obscure his real ideology. As an example, in early March, in an interview with the New York Times, he was asked: “Is there a one word name for your philosophy? If you’re not a socialist, are you a liberal? Are you progressive? One word?”
“No, I’m not going to engage in that,” replied the president.
The next day he called the Times reporter, telling him: “It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question”. Obama then gave the reporter several examples of why his policies show that he isn’t a socialist.
He didn’t have to convince me. Obama’s centrist bent is clear to anyone who bothers to look. But after the Times incident — which apparently bothered him — he may have felt the need to be more clear about his ideological leanings to avoid any further silly “socialist” episodes. The next day, meeting at the White House with members of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of centrist Democratic members of the House, Obama said at one point: “I am a New Democrat.”
Most conservatives will probably continue to see him as a dangerous leftist. They should be happy that Obama is the president and not any kind of real progressive or socialist or even a genuine liberal, but the right wing is greedy.
William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.
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