An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Prison of Obama's Perception




Obama team decisions need to be placed in a broader context. They appear to have made decisions at the beginning of the crisis that have locked them into automatic behavior. Their first decision, perhaps implicit, was to commit to the banking system as it currently exists. They decided that there was no fundamental problem with investment banks, hedge funds, or the shadow banking system that has grown up in the past 8 years. Once this decision was made, their tactics follow inevitably. Since the system is fundamentally sound, problems must be due to technical factors that can be corrected through methods such as monetary policy. If these tactics aren't working, it can only be because they haven't been applied forcefully enough. The advisers Obama chose are incapable of perceiving the fundamental flaws of the system they are desperately attempting to prop up. Until they do, the hole will keep getting deeper.

What basis do we have for assuming that they are not owned by financial interests? All of their behavior so far indicates that their decisions are dictated by the desire to preserve the financial system as it has existed for the past 8 years. No break with Bush policy is detectable in that regard. So it seems to me that the burden of proof is on those who do not believe that the primary motivating factor of the Obama economic team is to preserve the financial interests of those whose speculations have resulted in the current crisis.

These tactics are of a piece with Obama's endorsement of the Bush war policy, as it was well put by the Wall Street Journal, "But more important than Mr. Obama's implicit repudiation of his own positions as a candidate (and the implicit vindication of Mr. Bush's position, to say nothing of John McCain's) is his decision to maintain a sizable U.S. military presence in Iraq -- in the range of 35,000 to 50,000 troops -- past the August 2010 'withdrawal' date. That 'transitional force' is roughly the size of the U.S. military presence in South Korea through the Cold War. And its mission, involving training of Iraqi forces, U.S. force protection and 'targeted counter terrorism missions,' largely describes what the U.S. is already doing in Iraq." - Obama's Bush Vindication, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 28, 2009

Blinded by ideology, the Obama administration can't see outside the economic and military terms of reference which have been bequeathed to them. The ruling elite needs to secure access to the energy resources of the Middle East and they intend to rely on military force. In addition, they wish to keep open a secondary energy access option in Afghanistan with regard to the upcoming pipeline which will snake its way to the Persian Gulf in case there is disruption by Iran of the Gulf of Hormuz. Those are the primary motivating factors in Obama's Mideast policy.

A pattern is emerging in Obama's definition of "change". To his administration, "change" apparently means redefinition of terms. As Anthony Arnove describe the Iraq withdrawal deception, "Obama calls the troops who will stay in Iraq through the end of 2011 'residual forces' and non-combat troops, but this is just doublespeak. Combat troops are simply being renamed non-combat troops through a verbal sleight of hand, but will certainly be able to use lethal force and will find themselves in combat situations." - Moved On from the Struggle, Anthony Arnove, March 20, 2009.

All of these deceptions flow from the fundamental decision to preserve the financial and military system as it existed at the time of Obama's election. Unless and until that system is challenged, all decisions will be calibrated according to the need to preserve that system, as Edward Liddy's testimony so forcefully declared. Those who doubt this analysis should listen carefully to Liddy's testimony on the Real News: http://therealnews.com/t/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=3435&updaterx=2009-03-20+06%3A35%3A56

The fundamental theme of the Obama administration is "preservation" - slavish continuity with the current financial and military system. They are clearly operating from a playbook that originated before the current financial meltdown. Their war policy is also operating from a similar playbook. Consider Jeremy Scahill's recent findings about the massive payments made to Blackwater mercenaries: "The Obama administration has paid the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater nearly $70 million to operate in Iraq and, according to The Washington Times, may keep the company on the payroll months past the official expiration of its Iraq contract in May" - President Obama, Why Did You Pay Blackwater $70 Million in February?, Alternet, March 17, 2009.

A good example of Obama's "change" is the change of mercenary corporations contracted to carry out the subjugation of the Iraqi people, "Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that some of Blackwater's armed operatives may simply be rehired by two other US mercenary firms that are expected to take over Blackwater's work in Iraq under the Obama administration: Triple Canopy and DynCorp. Now, The Washington Times reports that the State Department has signed contracts with Blackwater that appear to extend the company's presence in Iraq at least until September 2009." - President Obama, Why Did You Pay Blackwater $70 Million in February?, Alternet, March 17, 2009.

Change we can believe in, indeed.

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