Starhawk posted an essay Thursday on her site, explaining why she will vote for Obama. Heart alluded to being discouraged by that essay, which was sent out on the Global Sisterhood Network list. I posted this in response:
I also read that letter from Starhawk. I imagine she is trying to take a practical approach. Why she thinks Obama “is headed in the right direction, toward the future,” I cannot say. I think that is wishful thinking, and if this debate did not make that clear, I do not know what will. It almost seems she is saying, a candidate with principles is unelectable. That may seem true, but in my eyes, a candidate who betrays most principles important to me is not headed in the right direction. I imagine Starhawk thinks, or at least hopes, Obama is a principled politician. I was disgusted by his performance tonight, but not surprised. Commentators are saying he held his own in the area where McCain supposedly held an advantage, foreign policy. Yeah, he held his own; he can talk the warmonger talk with the worst of them. He even had the gall to deny he threatened to attack Pakistan.
Nobody talked about attacking Pakistan. Here’s what I said.
And if John wants to disagree with this, he can let me know, that, if the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out.
That is not talking about attacking Pakistan? I think the people of Pakistan would disagree. Obama also said,
You don’t muddle through stamping out the Taliban.
Just how does he propose to do that? This is heading in the right direction?
Now, what I’ve said is we should end this war responsibly. We should do it in phases. But in 16 months we should be able to reduce our combat troops, put — provide some relief to military families and our troops and bolster our efforts in Afghanistan so that we can capture and kill bin Laden and crush al Qaeda.
This is his vaunted timetable, refined so that in 16 months we SHOULD be able to REDUCE our combat troops? His fans have been saying his plan would end that war in 16 months! How does he propose to crush al Qaeda? Start a war with Pakistan? The next President might well inherit a war with Pakistan, the way things are going already! If not, it will be despite this reckless rhetoric from Obama!
I do not know if people really believe Obama would bring real change, but they seem to be comparing him to Bush, and in that light, he seems to represent progress. He may be more sensible than Bush or McCain, but that is a far cry from headed in the right direction. I imagine many women figure Obama is the best that can be expected. Considering how messed up the Green Party has been, this may seem the realistic approach. I see nothing realistic in rushing headlong toward the inglorious end of this empire, but I think Obama is masterfully playing on our hopes and fears, so many think he is what they hope he is. Starhawk says,
Obama may or may not be all we hope.
She knows better, but I think her fear of McCain has gotten the better of her. This is a terrifying time, but making decisions out of fear never makes things better.
One way or another, the Democratic Party is self-destructing. People may not yet be convinced its promises are hollow, same old tripe masquerading as change, progress, hope, whatever one wants to call it, it is all shameless posturing. Obama has no real answers, but he certainly is skillful at snowing people. Charm and erudition cannot substitute for principle, but in the reality most people see, principles and politics do not mix. Principles are seen as utopian, beyond the realm of practical politics. This is a sure recipe for disaster, and we are witnessing the results. The curious thing is that a variation on the standard recipe for disaster is considered practical, progressive, real change. Corporate media can allow no other perspective to gain traction. The survival of the corporate empire is at stake, so it will do its damnedest to circumscribe the range of acceptable political perspectives.
There was plenty more belligerent warmongering talk from Obama in this first debate:
Well, I think that, given what’s happened over the last several weeks and months, our entire Russian approach has to be evaluated, because a resurgent and very aggressive Russia is a threat to the peace and stability of the region.
Their actions in Georgia were unacceptable. They were unwarranted. And at this point, it is absolutely critical for the next president to make clear that we have to follow through on our six-party — or the six-point cease-fire. They have to remove themselves from South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
And to countries like Georgia and the Ukraine, I think we have to insist that they are free to join NATO if they meet the requirements, and they should have a membership action plan immediately to start bringing them in.
So back in April, I warned the administration that you had Russian peacekeepers in Georgian territory. That made no sense whatsoever.
Obama is rewriting history. Those peacekeepers had been there for decades. Georgia was the aggressor, invading its breakaway province South Ossetia on the pretext of rebel attacks. Russia responded with overwhelming force, which was disproportionate and opportunistic, but it was not the initiator of the violence. There are reasons to suspect the Administration encouraged Saakashvili to move to reclaim those rebellious provinces, which he has wanted to do for many years.
I believe the Republican Guard of Iran is a terrorist organization. I’ve consistently said so. What Senator McCain refers to is a measure in the Senate that would try to broaden the mandate inside of Iraq. To deal with Iran.
And ironically, the single thing that has strengthened Iran over the last several years has been the war in Iraq. Iraq was Iran’s mortal enemy. That was cleared away. And what we’ve seen over the last several years is Iran’s influence grow. They have funded Hezbollah, they have funded Hamas, they have gone from zero centrifuges to 4,000 centrifuges to develop a nuclear weapon.
So obviously, our policy over the last eight years has not worked. Senator McCain is absolutely right, we cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran. It would be a game changer. Not only would it threaten Israel, a country that is our stalwart ally, but it would also create an environment in which you could set off an arms race in this Middle East.
Obama was concerned that Senate measure was provocative. What, encouraging Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO is not provocative? So what is the plan if tough diplomacy with Iran, whose Republican Guard he agrees is a terrorist organization, fails? What is the plan if Israel gets impatient with diplomatic efforts and attacks Iran? The likely new Prime Minister, Tzipi Livni, is less impatient to attack Iran than many Israeli politicians, but she may bow to their pressure eventually. A month ago, Obama said:
“My job as president would be to try to make sure that we are tightening the screws diplomatically on Iran, that we’ve mobilized the world community to go after Iran’s program in a serious way, to get sanctions in place so that Iran starts making a difficult calculation,” Obama said in response to a voter’s question at a campaign event in Iowa. “We’ve got to do that before Israel feels like its back is to the wall.”
So if Israel attacks Iran for pursuing its rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would be another flagrant violation of international law, this stalwart ally must be defended at all costs? Israel has no respect for that treaty or international law, but Obama sees no cause to pressure Israel to back off? One can only hope Ms. Livni has more sense than these candidates.
I actually believe that we need missile defense, because of Iran and North Korea and the potential for them to obtain or to launch nuclear weapons…
How does this deliberately misleading excuse for that unworkable total waste of resources called missile defense differ from Bush? Clearly Obama has no concern about provoking Russia, which sees the missile defense program as a threat, enough so to threaten a nuclear attack on Poland for accepting a deal last month to host missile defense facilities. Russia called the line about deterring rogue states like Iran or North Korea a fairy tale. Why is Obama parroting this Bush lie? Why are he and Biden helping whip up Cold War style rhetoric about a very aggressive Russia that must be contained?
Look, over the last eight years, this administration, along with Senator McCain, have been solely focused on Iraq. That has been their priority. That has been where all our resources have gone.
In the meantime, bin Laden is still out there. He is not captured. He is not killed. Al Qaeda is resurgent.
In the meantime, we’ve got challenges, for example, with China, where we are borrowing billions of dollars. They now hold a trillion dollars’ worth of our debt. And they are active in countries like — in regions like Latin America, and Asia, and Africa. They are — the conspicuousness of their presence is only matched by our absence, because we’ve been focused on Iraq.
We have weakened our capacity to project power around the world because we have viewed everything through this single lens, not to mention, look at our economy. We are now spending $10 billion or more every month.
And that means we can’t provide health care to people who need it. We can’t invest in science and technology, which will determine whether or not we are going to be competitive in the long term.
There has never been a country on Earth that saw its economy decline and yet maintained its military superiority. So this is a national security issue.
So Obama wants to maintain military superiority so USA can project power around the world. In other words, he is as intent as any neocon to keep this empire in control of the world. No country has ever maintained military superiority, period. All empires must fall. What makes Obama think this one will be different? Is this what Obama thinks being President means, projecting US power around the world? Is this what passes for red-blooded American patriotism these days? This is what people around the world despise about USA, its sense of entitlement to project its power as the corrupt policeman of the world to promote transnational corporate interests. There is no right to military superiority and no way to maintain it. Does USA stand for the rule of law, or might? Obama wants his turn at emperor, figurehead of the corporate world. A President could renounce empire, military superiority, projecting power, but that would require some respect for international law. USA and Israel are right up there with the worst scofflaws. The list of war crimes makes international law seem like a bad joke. Obama wants to put Pakistan on the list of illegally invaded countries, to crush al Qaeda and stamp out the Taliban. He does not mince words, but he does duck and compromise major issues.
Why did he let McCain go on about how well the surge worked? The troop increase deserves little or no credit for the drop in violence. The ethnic cleansing had already nearly run its course, deals were cut with hostile tribal leaders, foreign forces wore out their welcome. Those trends could unravel, so the generals warn the progress is fragile. It is worse than fragile, it is a scam, a lull at best resulting from this desperate sham strategy of shaky alliances and manipulating the availability of information to create the image spin doctors want people to believe is real. Obama had chances to contest the surge theory, as well as many other dubious points McCain made, but let them pass. Too complex for the audience, he may think? I think not. Surge or not, most Iraqis want US troops out so they can rebuild their country.
That means that we, as one of the biggest consumers of oil — 25 percent of the world’s oil — have to have an energy strategy not just to deal with Russia, but to deal with many of the rogue states we’ve talked about, Iran, Venezuela.
And that means, yes, increasing domestic production and off-shore drilling, but we only have 3 percent of the world’s oil supplies and we use 25 percent of the world’s oil. So we can’t simply drill our way out of the problem.
What we’re going to have to do is to approach it through alternative energy, like solar, and wind, and biodiesel, and, yes, nuclear energy, clean-coal technology.
Obama is a long time supporter of ethanol, but he has been trying to back away from that lately. McCain said he would eliminate ethanol subsidies. Aside from that, the energy plans of these candidates differ only in the details. After this debate, it should be clear that the foreign policies of these candidates also differ very little. Obama might end the war on Iraq sooner, but keeps refining his withdrawal plan to push that end farther down the garden path. McCain said Obama has the most liberal voting record in the Senate. If Obama can pass for liberal or progressive, those terms have become so thoroughly mainstreamed as to be meaningless. Mainstream policy is nowhere near headed in the right direction. I fear many women thinking like Starhawk have been blinded by their hopes and fears, played for fools by this slick master politician, just like Bill Clinton. She says,
I don’t think Obama will be our savior. But if he’s elected, the wind will shift. The breeze will be at our backs, pushing us further and faster toward destinations we otherwise cannot reach.
So, voting for Obama is the only hope. Where have I heard that kind of defeatist attitude before? I hear that argument every election, the Democrat is not a savior, but he is the only hope for progress. That is political reality, the fantasy world perpetuated by corporate media that keeps these two wings of mainstream opinion in control of politics. What would it take to dislodge this misplaced loyalty to this Democratic Party, that pretends to care about women’s rights, peace, the environment? That is all for show, but Democrats get away with it because most people opposed to Republican madness are convinced they have nowhere else to go. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If enough people stop believing it, it will lose its stranglehold on political reality.
Barack Obama talks a good game about change, peace, the environment, abortion, but he is as compromised as any politician, as hawkish, macho, tough, opportunistic, slick as they come. I imagine many Obama fans thought he mopped the floor with McCain. I note how far apart they are from my perspective. From some angles, they are far apart, but not on most issues that matter to me. On balance, neither is someone I would trust, and that has nothing to do with skin color or sex. If this rant about his foreign policy has not revealed sufficient reasons, A Case Against Obama Nation goes into some depth. Bush seems emboldened by the belligerent rhetoric from Obama on Pakistan. I have posted a chain of news stories on the recent border skirmishes there, starting with Fear of losing drove US ground raid in Pakistan.