It may be dawning on some that with the nomination and election of Obama they have bought the proverbial lemon. It reminds me of the time when a friend of mine bought a truck. The truck had a brand new paint job and looked great. It even ran great …for a little while. When my friend drove it home about 20 miles down the road white smoke began to pour out the exhaust pipe in huge billowing clouds. The previous owner had poured sawdust into the engine in order to cover up the fact that the rings were worn out and that the engine needed a complete rebuild. With Obama we barely got out of the driveway, not that there weren’t previous signs of trouble ahead.
John V. Whitbeck discusses the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff.
In the first major appointment of his administration, President-elect Barack Obama has named as his chief of staff Congressman Rahm Emanuel, an Israeli citizen and Israeli army veteran whose father, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was a member of Menachem Begin's Irgun forces during the Nakba and named his son after "a Lehi combatant who was killed" -- i.e., a member of Yitzhak Shamir's terrorist Stern Gang, responsible for, in addition to other atrocities against Palestinians, the more famous bombing of the King David Hotel and assassination of the UN peace envoy Count Folke Bernadotte.
In rapid response to this news, the editorial in the next day's Arab News (Jeddah) was entitled "Don't pin much hope on Obama -- Emanuel is his chief of staff and that sends a message". This editorial referred to the Irgun as a "terror organization" (a judgment call) and concluded: "Far from challenging Israel, the new team may turn out to be as pro-Israel as the one it is replacing."
That was always likely. Obama repeatedly pledged unconditional allegiance to Israel during his campaign, most memorably in an address to the AIPAC national convention which Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery characterized as "a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning", and America's electing a black president has always been more easily imagined than any American president's declaring his country's independence from Israeli domination.
Indeed, we can look forward to a smooth transition from Bush to Obama with very little change on the horizon. There may be some small change in domestic issues but with Obama’s bellicose stance toward the Middle East and Russia there is very little to look forward to regarding the U.S. imperial program.
William J. Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, who took part in a multilateral meeting in July with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, heads the State Department transition team, along with Patrick F. Kennedy, the undersecretary for management.
The department has set up "one-stop shopping" for the transition team on the first floor, where Mr. Obama's nominees for secretary of state and other senior posts will be briefed by both career diplomats and political appointees.
"We are trying to move issues as far down a constructive path as we can and make as much progress as we can," Mr. Burns said. "We'll move quickly and do everything we can to accelerate the confirmation process, which will be very important given the pace lots of issues are moving."
Officials predicted "continuity" on two of the five most urgent challenges -- North Korea and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the other three -- Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan -- they said the new administration is likely to "build on" the Bush team's recent policies and take them much further.
"There aren't great alternatives on those issues," the State Department official said. It is clear, he added, that more troops are needed in Afghanistan, Iran should not have a nuclear weapon, North Korea's nuclear programs must be dismantled, troops in Iraq have to start pulling out, and an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal must be reached.
“Build on Bush policies and take them much further” while chilling should be no surprise if you actually listened to what Obama has been saying all along. That Obama will be able to reach a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel is hardly likely if Obama continues to back the Israeli genocide and theft of Palestinian land. On Iran the most likely scenario is that Obama will make demands of Iran that no one would accept, point his finger at the Iranians claiming they won’t deal and use that as an excuse to bomb and invade that country with all the inherent dangers of such actions. We already know of Obama’s plans to further inflame the Middle East with his plans for sending more troops to Afghanistan, “the right war” as he likes to call it. Has everyone lost their senses? It wasn’t too long ago when people, including liberals, believed that hunting down terrorists was a job for police action, cooperation between various nations, but certainly not the job that militaries were created for as has been illustrated all too dismally with the Global War on Terror. Despite this Obama has promised to unilaterally send troops into Pakistan on wild goose chases with no regard at all for the people of Pakistan or their fervent wish that U.S. troops be kept out of their country. Isn’t this the exact same kind of thing Bush has been doing? It is Bush policy in no uncertain terms.
In the mean time the blood bath continues as the U.S. wages war against children.
While America continues its giddy, self-congratulatory celebration of "change," Afghans find themselves mired in the tragically familiar: yet another round of mourning for yet another massacre of innocent civilians in yet another blind, bludgeoning air strike by American forces.
This time almost 40 people, including 10 women and 23 children, were ripped to shreds of bone and viscera when an American missile struck a wedding party in the remote village of Wech Bakhtu, according to Washington's own hand-picked native satrap, President Hamid Karzai. As the Guardian and National Post report:
The bombing on Monday of Wech Baghtu in the southern province of Kandahar destroyed an Afghan housing complex where women and children had gathered to celebrate. Body parts littered the wreckage and farm animals lay dead.
Abdul Jalil, a 37-year-old grape farmer whose niece was getting married, said at the scene of the bombing that US troops and Taliban fighters had been fighting about half a mile from his home.
A short while later fighter planes bombed the complex, killing 23 children, 10 women and four men, he claimed.
"In the bombing, mostly women and children were killed," said villager Hyat Ullah. "Some lost their head. Some lost their hand. They were in very bad condition."
Such mass slaughters of civilians are now a regular occurrence in the occupied land. At last 18 people -- three women and 15 children -- were killed by an allied air strike in Helmand in mid-October. Some 90 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in a night raid on the village of Azizabad in September -- an atrocity that the Pentagon at first tried, My Lai-like, to cover up completely, but was eventually forced to partially acknowledge, admitting "only" 33 civilian deaths in a report that contradicted the eyewitness evidence gathered by the Afghan government, NGOs and UN investigators who detailed the much larger true death toll. In July, Americans bombed yet another wedding party in Nangahar, killing 47 civilians -- including the bride, as the NY Times notes.
I have to agree with Chris Floyd, just what does the U.S. have to be proud of?
But you can expect a smooth transition from Bush to Obama with no change or hope of change in the next four years unless Obama has a change of heart, if he has one that is.