FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Transmogrification

by NORMAN POLLACK

On May first, which we in the United States celebrate as Law Day, presumably to honor, at latest count, the principle and practice of indefinite detention, which includes torture, solitary confinement, and now, forced feeding, to pacify, break the will, and otherwise punish with impunity, detainees at Guantanamo, for many, going on a full decade, the New York Times in an editorial ever so gently criticized Obama for betraying (not their word) his promise to close the facility.  W

hether prompted by the other May Day (completely unlikely), or the excellent national-security reporters Mazzetti, Savage, and Shane’s investigations ranging from waterboarding to targeted assassination (also unlikely, given the disconnect between the editorial page and the live journalism), or simply, because the stench of illegality was so great that the Times had no other choice, provided of course Guantanamo was treated in isolation as a self-contained topic bearing not at all on the totality of Obama’s militarism and grandiose vision of world supremacy (to be executed through covert operations and the extreme importance attached to paramilitary operations and advanced technologies of killing), it took a step to chide the president in the hope perhaps that no one was looking.

Yet Guantanamo is but a speck in the vast sea of America’s international posture of counterrevolution.  In its own right it is our Devil’s Island, our Penal Colony, placing the United States in the fine historical company of the most nefarious imperialist powers.  And Obama of course still sleeps well at night, confident that he is proving his mettle to the military establishment, defense contractors, hired guns, and finding increasing favor, the CIA and JSOC.

Guantanamo is, for him, merely a symbolic gesture of unrestrained American power, a veritable sideshow as the US prepares to take on the big boys, most notably China, as well as the brush fires which keep Americans on their toes, defense spending copiously rolling in, and the force-feeding of another kind, the steady diet of patriotism in the Homeland steeling our resolve for further interventions, assassinations, etc., North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, and still, Cuba, filling the bill.  Counterrevolution and counterterrorism, dialectically entwined, becomes Obama’s magic elixir at the foundation of the National Security State, the one creating the conditions for making the second operable and, to the American people, legitimate, the second, meanwhile, in its execution feeding the forces of the first—a vicious circle of hegemonic dynamism.

In the larger picture, Guantanamo is merely confirmatory.  Already we see Obama’s contempt for the law and the rule of law, the former in blatantly disregarding the constraints of international legal-moral conduct (targeted killing), the latter in just as blatantly cutting the rug from under civil liberties whether through surveillance, the denial of due process, or, as in the case of Bradley Manning (our Dreyfus), the use of Espionage Act prosecutions and egregious modes of punishment.  A police state in the making?—probably not yet, but not for want of trying.

I referred to Obama as a pathetic despot because, as one meaning in Webster, he arouses this writer to contemptuous pity for his transparent (the only case of transparency in the Obama administration!) opportunism, absence of human concerns, gravitation to the sources of power in America: beyond the military, the world of banking especially, but all consolidations of megawealth, from pharmaceuticals to oil to health insurers, and the list daily grows.

CounterPunchers, Happy May Day even if my wishes are tardy, and the good old Bronx cheer for Law Day.  My New York Times Comment (5/1/13) follows:

This issue of indefinite detention without benefit of trial and the rights accorded defendants in Western legal philosophy and practice, indeed, conversely, subject to “enhanced interrogation,” i.e., torture in its most reprehensible forms, is but one indication of the TRANSMOGRIFICATION of Pres. Obama, who is hardly recognizable from the candidate in ’08, and presently a sinister force immersed totally in the ways of militarism in international policy, and friend to the wealthy and increasingly concentrated corporate-banking structure. Where has the American soul fled? How accept barbaric policies unworthy of a free citizenry of a democratic nation? Yet, accept, we as a nation do.

Guantanamo is INSEPARABLE from armed drones for targeted assassination. They complement each other and spring from the same mindset, a sick psychopathological take on the human condition in which exercising strength with impunity becomes the New Ethics of the present age in America. Regrettably, the nation gives evidence of being past caring, mounting defensive mechanisms in the collective mind to prevent shame or the stirrings of conscience–defensiveness to go with its concrete embodiment in a megalithic structure of power disposed to unilateral actions, a DEFENSE of a status-quo world structure conducive to and consistent with American hegemony in a global system itself seeking to become multipolar and, hence, decentralized, as more in keeping with nations’ peaceful existence and growth.

Norman Pollack is the author of “The Populist Response to Industrial America” (Harvard) and “The Just Polity” (Illinois), Guggenheim Fellow, and professor of history emeritus, Michigan State University.

 

Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail