In the midst of a softball interview with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, New York Times reporter Deborah Solomon hurls this zinger:
"For all your lofty talk about democracy, last November you shut down the opposition television station in Tbilisi."
To the oily Saakashvili, however, this is water off a duck’s back:
"The interference with Imedi TV was an exception, not a rule. This action was taken during mass riots when Imedi TV started to incite overthrow of the democratically elected government. It should be noted that the government did pay damages."
Do you suppose it would be okay if the FBI barged into the offices of, say, MSNBC, wrecked the place, hauled Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow out of the studio bodily, and shut down the station as long as "damages" were paid?
The station, by the way, which was the only televised platform for the Georgian opposition, has since been handed over to a regime-friendly front man, who just happens to be an American citizen. Damages were paid, indeed
There’s Afghanistan, for example, where a young aspiring journalist has just been spared the death penalty for circulating an article about women’s rights, and given 20 years in prison instead. This is the government Obama wants to strengthen and sacrifice more American lives for. From the Los Angeles Times piece on the trial and conviction by Laura King:
"In a case that has illustrated this country’s drift toward a more radically conservative brand of Islam as well as the fragility of its legal system, an appeals court today overturned a death sentence for a student convicted of blasphemy but sentenced him instead to 20 years in prison."
So at a time when the U.S.-supported government is moving rapidly toward a Taliban-type theocracy even as that government moves toward some type of accommodation with the radical Islamic former rulers of the country Obama is telling us we must pour more troops, more money, and more of our hopes into the Afghan front, which has supposedly been "neglected" by the Bushies.
No wonder he’s been endorsed by none other than Ken "Cakewalk" Adelman, and given support (albeit indirectly) by any number of neocons, such as Charles Krauthammer who, after pummeling Obama for weeks, has suddenly discovered the Democratic candidate is possessed of a "first-class intellect and a first-class temperament," which "will likely be enough to make him president." And what more proof does anyone need that Obama is a disaster in the making other than that Andrew Sullivan, the former warlord of the blogosphere, has not only endorsed him, but fallen head over heels?
"McCain’s foreign policy crew has quite a few cranks (William Kristol, to state the most obvious) and his policies are generally scarier than Obama’s. Agreed. But having Powell and Adelman sign up with the Obama movement is about as uplifting as when Obama endorsed ballistic missile defense (the scaled down version of Star Wars) during the second debate. It’s conservatives who should be cheering."
To which Sullivan adds: "Yes. And we are."
"On ‘the issues’ in these closing weeks, there really isn’t a very sharp or highly noticeable distinction to be made between the two nominees, and their ‘debates’ have been cramped and boring affairs as a result."
Hitchens happily notes, also, that "the Obama-Biden ticket is not a capitulationist one," by which he means our foreign policy of trigger-happy aggression will carry on, as before, albeit fronted by someone with a more pleasing personality than the Great Decider.
And if you’re wondering what motivated a good many of these dyed-in-the-wool warmongers to suddenly turn on a dime and come out for the supposed "antiwar" candidate, you’ll be on the right track if you consider who else is rooting for him:
"Defendants in the classified-information case involving two former pro-Israel lobbyists are hoping a change in administrations next year will bring a fresh review of their prosecution, according to sources on the defense team. The next attorney general, who will be nominated by Barack Obama or John McCain, is expected to reconsider the case of former American Israel Public Affairs Committee staffers Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, as part of general review of high-profile legal issues decided by the Bush administration.
"Sources on the defense team have speculated that a possible Obama nominee to head the justice system could be more receptive to pleas to dismiss the case."
Obama wants to invade Pakistan and flood Afghanistan with yet more U.S. troops, and he will likely let two spies who funneled top secret intelligence to Israel off scot-free. Why wouldn’t the War Party be perfectly satisfied with the election? After all, they’re done with Iraq, anyway. We’re about to be invited to leave. And he’s good from their perspective on the Russian question, which promises to be the key area of future neocon mischief-making.
Our war-birds are naturally migratory creatures, effortlessly moving from branch to branch, and party to party, with no compunction whatsoever about changing either their nesting habits or the color of their feathers, so long as their ultimate goal promoting conflict, in whatever form is achieved. Republicans, Democrats, independents, or whatever: it’s the same program, with the same result an America perpetually at war, defending and extending the frontiers of its empire, without regard for the costs, either financial or purely human.
Preoccupied as we are with the spectacle of "democracy" unfolding on the American stage, we fail to notice the contours of a new world conflict taking shape far from the media spotlight. From the steppes of Central Asia to the jungles of South America, the American colossus is being challenged by rising forces of nationalism, religious zeal, and sheer resentment of the heedless exercise of hegemonic power that is often mistranslated as "anti-Americanism." It will take more than the calm reassurances of Barack Obama to still these tides of discontent and rancor. If he defies the odds and actually makes it to the White House, Obama will merely put another face on the same old policies, albeit more friendly and less offensive to our own elites, who would rather not be so rudely confronted with the ruthlessness of their rulers.
As some of my readers may know, I recently moved to a small town in northern California, where antiwar feeling is high and so is support for Obama. Everywhere I go I see Obama posters, bumper-stickers, etc. Why, just the other day, a gaggle of peace demonstrators gathered in the middle of the town’s main street, holding up banners proclaiming their opposition to our government’s foreign policy and their support for Obama. "Honk if you’re for peace and Obama!" and the resulting cacophony was audible for miles. I live next door to a couple that has festooned their home with peace signs, and their backyard is a veritable "peace garden," with peace signs sprouting up all over and, yes, their car sports an Obama-Biden bumper-sticker. A house sign supporting the Democratic ticket has sprung up in their front yard, alongside the rhododendrons. I wonder how long it will take these well-meaning folks to become thoroughly disillusioned with their messiah. In the case of the more honest and intelligent, I give it a few weeks, a month or so at the outside. The rest, I’m afraid, will follow the Dear Leader to perdition