Friday, June 21, 2013

Same old US, but it’s OK, Obama’s cool

IOL (Cape Argus)
Murray Williams
June 21, 2013.

Cape Town - When the 44th President of the United States of America leaves office on January 20, 2017, he will carry with him a flag, autographed by members of US Navy SEAL Team Six, to commemorate their killing of one Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011.

Obama says it’s “probably the most important possession that I leave with from this presidency”.

Obama has also already authorised 283 strikes in Pakistan, six times more than the number during George W Bush's eight years in office.

The deaths toll is more than 400% higher than under Bush - somewhere between 1 494 and 2 618, the majority of them civilians, CNN reports.

Yes, and?

So here’s this president who's the flavour of the decade, like for Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. In her “Freedom of the City” bid, she swooned: “For this city, as for the entire world, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are the guiding stars to our eventual destination.”

She sounds like she wants to kiss him.

Those who already hold keys to Cape Town include former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. And therein the rub: those two moral beacons in fact disagree profoundly with Obama on some of the world’s most important issues, like the deaths cited above.

The Arch last year called for Tony Blair and Bush to be hauled before the international criminal court for leaving the world more destabilised and divided “than any other conflict in history”.

Have Obama’s policies been profoundly different?

The Arch was also highly critical of Obama’s order to capture or kill Bin Laden “with less worry about judicial scrutiny, than if the target is an American”. In other words, one set of rights for US citizens, and another set for The Rest.

And the Arch is outraged at the use of drones.

Many Capetonians share the Arch’s views. The opinion and editorial pages of the Cape Times, for example, host some of the most robust and in-depth debates on Palestine of any paper in the world.

Many in SA believe Obama wields traditional American global hegemony as powerfully his predecessors – including a pro-Israeli stance in the Middle East.

So: Would Archbishop Tutu or like-minded Capetonians shake Bush’s hand? Unlikely.

Will they refuse to shake Obama’s? No way!

Hell, the Arch will probably high-five him. Not so long ago he was doing push-ups with Michelle (believe it or not – Google it).

All this shows what a rare politician Obama is. He can snuff out an enemy’s life at the touch of a button, and yet he’s the president who bodysurfs in Hawaii, shoots hoops with his daughters and melts hearts with his baritone.

Many in SA believe the US’s policies are murderous. But sometimes it’s more about “who’s cool”, it seems. And Barack Hussein Obama II is very seriously cool.

So Obama will be mainly unchallenged, it seems, on the streets of Cape Town. Some Muslim Capetonians may protest, but who will stand with them?

And where does that leave some among us, as people of supposed high principle?

Read the original article here.

Murray Williams’s column Shooting from the Lip appears in the Cape Argus every Friday. Follow him on Twitter: @mwdeadline
Comment: I don't expect too much intellectual reflection or reasoned dexterity from South Africans on the issues raised by Murray Williams in this opinion piece.

Most South Africans are so brow-beaten by being underlings in just about every aspect of life that they cannot fathom the reason or courage to stand up against what Obama represents.

Not unlike their American counterparts, the vast majority remain blissfully unaware of what is happening elsewhere in the world unless it is news of the infotainment kind.

An excellent point Murray raises is that of the role of Desmond Tutu.  Now you know that this blog is a fan of Tutu and his advocacy for human rights especially in Palestine and most recently among the Rohingya in Burma.

What confuses me though is that Tutu is almost silent on Obama.  Is the Arch selective on who he calls out?  Can he not see what Obama is doing?

The most Tutu has done is to join a group of Nobel Peace laureates to call on Obama to reject the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline.

Am I missing something?  Surely he must know that Obama's policies are killing innocents around the world and that he should be tried for war crimes against humanity.  Why the silence then?

Tutu should know better than to mollycoddle Obama.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille on the other hand is a political opportunist.  She is a vacuous example of what some politicians will do to remain on the political stage.  At one time she was a Pan Africanist and now she is a neo-liberal aligned with the Democratic Alliance.

American political commentators like to say that "politics makes for strange bedfellows".  I guess in Mrs de Lille's case the saying rings true and those of us on the outside should hardly expect any substantive conviction from her.

I want to close with a comment that was left under the story above by a South African who identifies himself as Christian.  I think it is an excellent example of a thinking person who has been able to set aside inflammatory politics and to stand for the right and moral principle in the matter of resisting Obama:
I'm a Christian and I will surely join the MLA protest should they go ahead with it. As the facts state in this article the Obama Administration has been murderous, criminal regarding the trashing of human rights e:g; Gitmo and Middle Eastern Policies . . . The unpopular view is seldom the incorrect view, and the popular view is always the one deceiving millions . . I won't be fooled by Obama and his suave' ways, the truth/facts stays the same no matter how cool you are. . .I be uncool as posterity will judge us for not making a stand whether it be cool or uncool . .
 Could not have said it better myself.


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