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.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewable of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail