A Snake Cannot Change Its Markings

Or if you prefer (to be tactful), a leopard cannot change its spots–but either way, skipping to the chase, the Obama administration, signals coming out of possible staff changes, it wouldn’t matter, the nature of the beast being the narrowed bounds of counterrevolution, global hegemony, surveillance, a clogged stream of war, intervention, deregulation, assassination, within whose confines America is pushing the envelope of 20th century fascism dressed as 21st century liberal humanitarianism. Markings/spots don’t wash off. The beast, the Democratic party, has inscribed in its DNA from Truman through Obama a core of antiradicalism happily transmuted into fervid anticommunism then, not skipping a beat, because the same essential political-ideological formation holds, counterterrorism, and now exemplar of democracy conferring world leadership. With baseness of this character, who needs Republicans? The country’s Capitalist Soul can be fully entrusted to Democrats, even more so, because the level of sophistication creating deception and false consciousness is even greater. And radicalism? Where did that disappear to? Swept by the same stream into the river Styx.

Mark Landler’s New York Times article, “Obama Could Replace Aides Bruised by a Cascade of Crises,” (Oct. 30), conjures up dedicated officials worn out from fighting the good fight (never fully identified by either him or them, except as perhaps against a generalized, amorphous terrorism) on track, yet forced by world circumstances to address simultaneous multiple crises none of our own making. Landler puts well the sense of Innocence backed against the wall (no doubt the prevalent feeling—who us? did we do anything wrong?) possibly necessitating staff changes, not because of false policy decisions made having war-crimes implications, but simply, exhaustion in the service of the country. He writes: “At a time when the Obama administration is lurching from crisis to crisis—a looming Cold War in Europe, a brutal Islamic caliphate in the Middle East and a deadly epidemic in West Africa—it is not surprising that long-term strategy would take a back seat. But it raises inevitable questions about the ability of the president and his hard-pressed national security team to manage and somehow get ahead of the daily onslaught of events.”

I beg to differ. “Hard-pressed,” perhaps; meetings for planning drone assassination, covert operations, identifying and magnifying an Enemy (to justify the military implementation of US global management, financial-commercial penetration on an expanding basis, and assuring social docility at home through stoking an appetite for foreign conquest), can be exhaustive work. The Obama engine of Imperialism never shuts off. From the administration’s standpoint, the good thing, however, is that the supply of certifiable planners-ideologues never shuts off—as though a mold has been created, at Harvard, think tanks, or the swamplands of liberal/Centrist politicians never long out of public service. Credentials are easy to obtain: passing the f-scale (fascism) of the Adorno, et. al., Authoritarian Personality study, CIA-Pentagon experience, and proven hard-line attitudes and performance in previous administrations. The supply of those eager to prove their mettle by going up against Putin and Li is seemingly inexhaustible.
But “lurching,” emphatically not; a consistency of aggressive design (our concern here is foreign policy, but the consistency in domestic policy interrelated with but distinct from the former should be noted), the rhetorical liberalization of imperialism, and ingrained convictions of inevitable Great-Powers conflict which places preemptive nuclear war tucked away on the near-margins of political discourse yet ready for use at all times, all signify the defining contours, indeed, the entrance gate and ticket of admission to Team Obama. Peaceniks are not wanted. Stay out. The reason this is not noticed is the unexceptional character of the foreign-policy paradigm. It’s been around a long time. Obama vibrates at one with the American people on the rawness, assumptions, and underlying edge favoring global hegemony (his low poll ratings partly a function of not sizing up the man properly, which is to say, his profoundly militaristic view of the world and comfort with the military and intelligence communities). What appears, then, as lurching can be attributed to the one factor a fascist-inclined mind-set (here, toss in the whole team, from Rice and Power to Brennan, Dempsey, right—and I mean right—down the line to agency heads, speechwriters, public intellectuals, etc.) never seems to reckon with: the consequences of policy, i.e., commonly known as blowback, but in addition, the temerity of those wronged and violated to want to fight back.

Bullies cannot last forever. Times change, yet Obama and his foreign-policy crew plod on, circa 1950s, in the best Cold War tradition, even including massive surveillance on the home front going Joe McCarthy one better. Obama’s contribution to world peace is and has been already the militarization of American Consciousness, a specific gnawing away at civil liberties, rule of law, international treaties and protocols (the US has yet to ratify the Convention on Torture), everyday modes of obligation and accommodation which, fully honored and supported, question and defy the logic of the militarized Fortress the nation has become. Yet instead of calling Obama to account, fellow Democrats, naturally, as expected (given the party’s lackluster record and ideological collapse into Reaction), rush to his side and lamely call for replacements for the “battle-tested but exhausted White House loyalists and cabinet members.” If so replaced, who will notice, the screening process guaranteed to provide continuity. Sen. Blumenthal of Connecticut, on Senate Armed Services, greases the track: “’There is an inflection point in every presidency, and this certainly is a logical one, if the president feels he might be better served by some replacements on his team.” Maybe talk is premature, especially given Obama’s dependence on his inner circle. Together, they have the ultimate excuse, a complicated world the team has been exemplary in addressing. Give Susan Rice the last word: “’We’re managing a multiring event, and I think reasonably well. I would say very well, if I were not trying to be a little bit studied. We’ve got a lot of balls in the air; and frankly, they’re still in the air.’”

My New York Times Comment on the Landler article, same date, follows:

Emphasis on multiple problems and staff burnout is a lame excuse for what really matters: policy substance. Every foreign-policy crisis listed has little to do with poor planning and/or slow execution, but with the fundamental international posture of the US, a Behemoth seeking to maintain unilateral world dominance in what is now–which America cannot prevent–a multipolar world tired of America’s military-financial-commercial-political control.

Obama is the worst POTUS since World War II, ignorant of sound principles, vain, opportunistic, attempting to orchestrate a full-throated confrontation with both Russia and China, and meanwhile practicing illegal interventions, drone assassinations, a monolithic armed presence everywhere. His advisers are drawn from central casting on a Strangelove set, exuding hatred for any and all who oppose US global hegemony.

This is not a record of ineptitude, as some seem to think, but rock-bottom counterrevolution in order to keep the US on top of the power pyramid. And the nation faults him–for not being more aggressive, more belligerent, as though government and people were in a mad race to see who is deadliest of them all. Obama is perfect for where America is, pushing toward a soft-core fascism composed of economic consolidation, mass surveillance, and over-the-top militarism. Obama deserves better of the American people because he is executing their own Thanatos-like inner rot of moral-social values.

Norman Pollack has written on Populism. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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.