FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama Calls for Peace and Comity at Home, But Favors Wars and Killer Drones Abroad

President Barack Obama made an eloquent plea for sanity and peace following the latest deadly assault on police officers — this time a gunman with an assault rifle shooting and killing three cops in Baton Rouge and wounding another three, one critically injured.

He struck just the right tone, condemning the killings but also warning against politicians and media talking heads using the incident to stir up more divisions. As he put it:

Someone once wrote, “A bullet need happen only once, but for peace to work we need to be reminded of its existence again and again and again.”

The president continued:

“My fellow Americans, only we can prove, through words and through deeds, that we will not be divided. And we’re going to have to keep on doing it “again and again and again.” That’s how this country gets united. That’s how we bring people of good will together. Only we can prove that we have the grace and the character and the common humanity to end this kind of senseless violence, to reduce fear and mistrust within the American family, to set an example for our children.”

It was a moving call to bring this violence-plagued feuding country together — people respecting the police, and police respecting the people, black, brown, red, yellow and white.

And yet I wonder, why did the president say this only applying to violence in our own country?  This is, remember, the same president who chairs weekly meetings to decide who will be killed next somewhere in the world by our high-tech drones — remotely piloted killing machines with grotesque names like Predator and Reaper, armed with their obscenely but aptly named Hellfire missiles. Victims who include not just suspected or alleged “terrorists” but also innocent members of their families, including young children, not to mention the all too many innocents who either happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or who are simply victims of targeting errors or “intelligence” errors.

How can this president, who is so quick to approve bombing campaigns in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Somalia, or to send in Special Forces death squads to countries like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, or to extend a war launched in 2001 by his predecessor against one of the poorest nations in the world — Afghanistan — for not just the eight years of his own violence-plagued presidency, but into the next one, be so eloquent about not turning to violence in the US?

Curious about his unattributed quotation, I googled it, and discovered it had been penned by Colum McCann. a writing professor at New York’s Hunter College, a native of Dublin, Ireland and author of several novels, including Let the World Spin and TransAtlantic.

I can see why the president didn’t mention McCann’s authorship of that line, or more importantly, the context in which he used it.

In fact, it appeared in an essay by McCann, which ran as an opinion piece in the New York Times on March 30, 2013.  And that article recalled how peace was finally achieved in the endless war zone of Northern Ireland, where Catholics and Protestants, along with the British Army, had spent over half a century slaughtering each other. It was written to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday peace agreement between the two mutual enemies which was brokered by George Mitchell, the former Democratic senator from Maine who as US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland oversaw two years of tough negotiations to end the violence and bloodshed.

That article went on to say of that peace agreement:

“It is one of the great stories of the second half of the 20th century, and by the nature of its refusal to topple, it is one of the continuing marvels of the 21st as well. While rockets fizzle across the Israeli border, and funeral chants sound along the streets of Aleppo in Syria, and drones cut coordinates in the blue over Kandahar, Afghanistan, the Irish peace process reaffirms the possibility that — despite the weight of evidence against human nature — we are all still capable of small moments of resurrection, no matter where we happen to be.

“This is the Easter narrative: that the stone can be rolled away from the cave.

“Hundred of years of arterial bitterness, in Ireland and elsewhere, are never easy to ignore. They cannot be whisked away with a series of signatures. It takes time and struggle to maintain even the remotest sense of calm. Peace is indeed harder than war, and its constant fragility is part of its beauty. A bullet need happen only once, but for peace to work we need to be reminded of its existence again and again and again.”

McCann, in other words, wrote those words as a rather direct criticism of President Obama and his default policy of war in Syria, in Afghanistan, as criticism of Obama’s enthusiastic use of drone warfare, and as criticism too of America’s ally and protectorate Israel’s brutal attacks on its occupied Palestinian population. He was saying clearly in that essay that the answer to these conflicts is not war but peace.

How relatively easy it is for those words to flow from the president’s lips when he’s talking about America’s domestic disputes, but how unwilling he is to admit that the same truth applies to international conflicts. For these conflicts will not be solved by killing and brutality, by war and occupation, much less by escalating the violence. They can only be solved by the painful and slow process of negotiation, diplomacy and compromise, and ultimately by the achieving of mutual understanding, tolerance and trust.

If we needed any evidence of that reality, we only need to look at Nice, where 84 people this week were slaughtered by a French Tunisian immigrant acting in the name of ISIS, which is itself the product of the years of US destruction of Iraq, Libya and now Syria, in which hundreds of thousands of innocent Arab people have been slaughtered by American military forces, cooperating NATO forces, including those of France, and by the unleashed hatreds of feuding Arab populations themselves, whose festering internecine hatreds were stoked, often deliberately, by US policy-makers.

If I were McCann, I’d sue President Obama for stealing and not crediting my words, and would demand that he either pay damages or concede that the usurped words apply equally well, if not better, to his two disastrous presidential terms of endless wars and extrajudicial killing-by-drone.

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savoir
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail