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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Reasons to love Obama even more


    by Sunny on 11th December, 2008 at 10:29 am    

    1) We can all argue endlessly over whether Plane Stupid are good or bad for the environmental movement (my position is clear below) but what really matters is government policy. Which is why I’m ecstatic Obama has appointed nobel-prize winning physicist Steven Chu as his energy secretary - a guy who famously asked his scientists to find technological ways not only to stop but reverse global warming. Grist explains why he is good. Three women are being mentioned to lead the environmental protection team. This is near-orgasmic stuff for an environmentalist like me, and the reason why I went out to the US to volunteer.

    2) In an interview with the Chicago Tribune he says:

    Barack Obama says his presidency is an opportunity for the U.S. to renovate its relations with the Muslim world, starting the day of his inauguration and continuing with a speech he plans to deliver in an Islamic capital. And when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20, he plans to be sworn in like every other president, using his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.

    “I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular,” Obama said Tuesday, promising an “unrelenting” desire to “create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of good will who want their citizens and ours to prosper together.”

    Would you expect a Republican to say that? And there are still idiots who say Obama is a continuation of the past. The NY Times reckons the big speech will in Cairo. Mel Phillips will no doubt be spitting blood.



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    41 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Neil — on 11th December, 2008 at 11:09 am  

      Mel Phillips will no doubt be spitting blood.

      A tenner says her post on the matter will include the words ’surrender’ and ‘the death of Israel’.

    2. MaidMarian — on 11th December, 2008 at 12:23 pm  

      ‘[Obama is]…promising an “unrelenting” desire to “create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of good will who want their citizens and ours to prosper together.”.

      Doesn’t that rather presuppose that such a desire and sentiment exists in those countries?

    3. Tom — on 11th December, 2008 at 12:46 pm  

      Mad Mel will be telling us how she and the other loonies were right all along, and Obama really is a crazed islamofascist bent on selling the US out to the brown Eurabian hordes, of which he of course is one. Wait till she sees his policy towards Europe.

    4. sonia — on 11th December, 2008 at 1:01 pm  

      I have to say Obama really looks like he is going to be doing very well, even if things don’t work out you can feel people really believe in him. im normally a cynical old cow but it does seem to be inspiring many people to get involved in ’social change’ however they understand it, so that’s great.

    5. douglas clark — on 11th December, 2008 at 1:24 pm  

      Just taking up Sunnys’ first point. Ain’t that great?

    6. Leon — on 11th December, 2008 at 1:27 pm  

      Mel Phillips will no doubt be spitting blood.

      A very good thing indeed.

      I can’t say I like the idea of encouraging anyone to ‘love’ a politician. In fact its downright dangerous, for some very good historical reasons, to have a deep emotional attachment to a powerful figure…

    7. sonia — on 11th December, 2008 at 1:48 pm  

      good point from leon,also it means we won’t be as personally crushed if it all goes..wrong

      like what happened with Tony Blair..

    8. Random Guy — on 11th December, 2008 at 1:48 pm  

      Surely a post titled “Reasons to love Obama even more” should be written as a retrospective after all these great, peace-making, world problem-solving policies are actually initiated by the new U.S. administration?

      Give it 4 years and then come out with all the gushing praise and “Oh I feel so optimistic” fawning. Fawning that is completely unwarranted imo at the moment. The world is still broken, and America is still the rat’s ass of its problems right now. That will take some work to fix.

      Expressing loveley sentiments is one thing (especially after the wholesale crime against humanity that is Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the entire financial screwup we are having thanks mainly to the U.S.). Following through is quite another. So take those rose-tinted spectacles off for a while, will ya?

    9. Refresh — on 11th December, 2008 at 4:49 pm  

      Its not rose tinted glasses we should worry about. The nudging and pushing everyone to believe is a dangerous thing as alluded to by Leon.

      What will matter will be facts on the ground. We can be hopeful but not necessarily believing. At this stage no one, worldwide can afford the complacency of wishful thinking.

      One fundamental point which is carefully missed, is the system that drives US policy. What of the corporate interest?

      It wasn’t the left or the so called ‘far left’ which coined the phrase and warned of the power of the ‘military industrial complex’, it was a past US president.

      Sunny, the right thing to do would be to promote hope for Obama’s presidency; but always advocate caution given Obama will leave office in at most 8 years - assuming he will do (or be able to do) what he says. And right wing America is always hovering like vultures, regardless of whether its Democrat or Republican.

      In a nutshell people are not idiots - they will believe it when they see it. Anything else is stupidity, and gives license for more of the same as long as the spin is right. A la Tony Blair.

    10. Shamit — on 11th December, 2008 at 5:15 pm  

      You lot are cynical.

      I am no blind admirer of Obama but as Sunny says he is so far doing very well.

      What impresses me most about him his discipline and he is the first of at least the last three (including him) who is using his transition to lay out a focused agenda with the appropriate people.

      Circumstances will throw in curve balls for him but I think with his considered approach he would be able to measure up to them very well. I hope and I actually believe so.

      And, for all those who think Tony Blair was a lousy PM — I think we tend to judge him based on Iraq which by the way is becoming more and more stable. And a fledgling democracy. And the rest of his record on especially transforming public services, devolution, Northern Ireland, making local government more accountable among few others are not bad either folks.

      Add in there the Balkan genocide, Sierra Leone and making international development aid a priority as part of a global agenda — I think you get the picture -

      I think he was flawed like any human being and his record on upholding the norms of a liberal democracy is despicable — it does not mean he was an ineffective or bad PM.

    11. Leon — on 11th December, 2008 at 5:30 pm  

      You lot are cynical.

      If we’re cynical that must make you Mr Gullible 2008.

    12. Peter — on 11th December, 2008 at 5:41 pm  

      Sunny wrote:

      ‘Would you expect a Republican to say that?’

      Yeah, because plenty of Republicans have expressed similar sentiments over the last eight years. Like when George Bush said this in 2002:

      ‘I have a hope for the people of Muslim countries. Your commitments to morality, and learning, and tolerance led to great historical achievements. And those values are alive in the Islamic world today. You have a rich culture, and you share the aspirations of men and women in every culture. Prosperity and freedom and dignity are not just American hopes, or Western hopes. They are universal, human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of the Middle East, America believes those hopes have the power to transform lives and nations’.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/jun/25/israel.usa

      It’s just rhetoric, and as someone has already pointed out, we should wait and see what Obama actually does in ‘the Muslim world’ before falling into raptures. Or as Paul Robeson once said:

      ‘I applaud words for what words are worth, and those were good and beautiful words. Now we want to see the President follow up those words with deeds. Because we will judge him . . . we will judge the entire administration, not by the beauty of the words which they utter, nor the soundness of those words. We will judge them by what they do’.

      It’s entirely feasible that the Obama administration won’t be as extreme as the Bush administration were in pursuing U.S. strategic objectives in the middle east and central asia, but that’s something altogther different from saying the Obama administration’s methods will be necessarily progressive and laudable.

      It’s my guess that Muslim civilians will continue to die in large numbers under U.S. bombs. It’s my guess the torturers and oppressers in Egypt and Saudi and will continue to be armed and supported. It’s my guess that policy on Israel/Palestine will still be skewed towards Israel over the Palestinians (Obama apparently believes Jerusalem should be Israel’s ‘undivided capital’ - that’s quite an extreme, not to mention illegal, position that could kill the two-state solution if he tries to push it through).

      Or in other words, an Obama administration will continue the U.S.’s long standing policy of propping up repressive elites in the region to secure Western military and economic advantage there.

    13. Shamit — on 11th December, 2008 at 5:57 pm  

      Leon

      All I am saying give the guy a chance he has done very impressively in terms of persuading people. And he has got a clear agenda for his transition which he is executing very very well.

      So far his policy frameworks are instinctively correct and he has got a good team to deliver it. Rather than a creature of the far left, he has demonstrated he intends to govern from the centre - something I find quite good actually.

      I guess I am cautiously optimistic.

    14. Sunny — on 11th December, 2008 at 6:05 pm  

      Peter, firstly, that Jerusalem statement was withdrawn. Secondly,

      It’s my guess that Muslim civilians will continue to die in large numbers under U.S. bombs.

      It’s my guess that more Muslims will die at the hands of other Muslims…. you know, just a guess.

      Secondly, if you believe this administation is full of deluded neocons like Bush’s was, let’s hear it.

      As for the comparison with Tony Blair - I’m afraid there isn’t much.

    15. ASinha — on 11th December, 2008 at 6:12 pm  

      1. The appointment of Chu is no surprise. Obama is committed to appointing talented, knowledgeable individuals who will carry out his reform policies. This is in sharp contrast to his predecessor who appointed people based on religious ideology and abortion views - this is not an exaggeration.
      *************
      2. Obama may make a speech in Cairo, but it will be a sobering one. I predict he makes 3 points.

      - You cant lock up professors who advocate free speech and democracy.
      - If we,United States, give you financial aid , you must use those funds to improve the infrastructure of your country. You will not be permitted to hide the funds in Swiss banks and erect palaces for your recreation.
      - You must weed out the bad guys. They are a small vocal minority. Dont let them be the face and voice of your nation.

    16. Refresh — on 11th December, 2008 at 6:18 pm  

      Shamit,

      ‘All I am saying give the guy a chance he has done very impressively in terms of persuading people.’

      He’s got the chance. He’s been elected. Its better to be sure by reminding him every day that it was the forces of change that elected him, not plaudits like Karl Rove.

      As for the rest of the world well they should hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

      On Iraq, this has got to be the most (inadvertently) cynical statement so far: ‘which by the way is becoming more and more stable’.

      After a million dead, I cannot believe there is anything to cheer. I still want every one of those million to have an inquest and perhaps if we can’t get Blair to the ICC, we can at least subpoena him to appear at each inquest hearing. Why should those lives be buried in a ‘mass grave’ of the conscience?

      Peter, excellent contribution. Bush is still saying he’s leaving the middle east with an aspirational legacy.

    17. Shamit — on 11th December, 2008 at 6:27 pm  

      Refresh

      We have had this argument in other threads and we agree to disagree. However, as I have always been ready to accept that we screwed up on many accounts in Iraq especially after the invasion- in my opinion removal of Saddam Hussein was not morally or legally wrong.

      And, just because we cant get into Burma or N. Korea does not mean we should not get rid of dictators of the worst kind when we get a chance. History, I reckon would judge Blair better.

      Anyway I think we again would have to agree to disagree.

      S

    18. Don — on 11th December, 2008 at 8:11 pm  

      POTUS is probably the worst job in the world for any sane person. I think Obama is eminently sane, and I can’t think of any serious candidate I’d rather have in the Oval Office. He was the best choice for President, but that doesn’t change the world.

      Cautiously optimistic.

    19. Sunny — on 11th December, 2008 at 8:18 pm  

      Don’t know why you want to defend Blair there Shamit… you’re on your own buddy :)
      I’d rather have him on trial.

    20. Ravi Naik — on 11th December, 2008 at 8:19 pm  

      However, as I have always been ready to accept that we screwed up on many accounts in Iraq especially after the invasion– in my opinion removal of Saddam Hussein was not morally or legally wrong.

      And, just because we cant get into Burma or N. Korea does not mean we should not get rid of dictators of the worst kind when we get a chance. History, I reckon would judge Blair better.

      Sorry, but this debate is largely over. Blair was objectively a disaster, and this will not change unless there is a massive revisionism of History. But I was there when Blair, Bush and Colin Powell made a case for war against Iraq: because this country was an imminent threat to Europe and the US with its huge arsenal of WMDs. They lied and they want to war with no plan or idea how to deal in reconstructing Iraq, and that to me is criminal.

      I do not know how in this day and age people can defend Blair or Bush.

    21. Shamit — on 11th December, 2008 at 8:47 pm  

      except for Iraq - where was he a disaster? But lets not make this thread into that debate about Blair. He was a good PM even if you disagreed with him on Iraq.

      Look at the domestic agenda, wider international agenda beyond Iraq war — but no one is really interested in having that debate.

      And still no one can explain to me why was it so wrong to get rid of a genocidal dictator who was killing his own people just like Hitler’s Germany did — and the British input in the reconstruction was largely ignored. We could not have gotten rid of him ourselves but we helped Bush to get rid of that monster — I wont apologise for that.

      Blair had a thing for dictators and still does. He was the guy who convinced everyone to put buts in the ground in Kosovo.

      He was a young new to the job PM who was happy to lose his entire political credibility and he put his job on the line. And he did the same in Sierra Leone. Forget about the international development agenda which was his key vehicle of moral intervention. Nahh we will leave that out of the objective assessment.

      Another issue is the Lebanon one. Right?

      And one more thing, I honestly do not believe that Blair acted in bad faith. Its my belief.

      And I would rather not get into this every three month or so and not surprisingly with the same people. So guys lets agree to disagree - fair.

    22. Shamit — on 11th December, 2008 at 8:57 pm  

      Sunny

      You are right I should just shut up about Blair now. I should look towards the future and leave the judgement on Blair to history.

      Oh and thanks for the support mate…NOT!:)

    23. Rumbold — on 11th December, 2008 at 9:23 pm  

      Shamit:

      “He was a good PM.”

      Perhaps you should lie down.

    24. Amrit — on 11th December, 2008 at 9:36 pm  

      ‘This is near-orgasmic stuff for an environmentalist like me’

      *snicker*

      Sorry.

      ‘Three women are being mentioned to lead the environmental protection team.’

      Yay! Obama wins both environmentalist AND feminist brownie points from me, at least. :D

    25. S.Johal — on 11th December, 2008 at 9:39 pm  

      And still no one can explain to me why was it so wrong to get rid of a genocidal dictator who was killing his own people just like Hitler’s Germany did

      Because one monster has been placed by another bigger monster, that is US Imperlism which has killed millions across the globe. If you want a list of their dirty handy work, i suggest you start from Cuba. As for Britain, I recommend you start from Irland and work your way down. Has Tony forgot the Palastinian or is just to busy making milions on is talking spree.

    26. fugstar — on 11th December, 2008 at 11:06 pm  

      the us state has been unjust in a very violent way with afghanistan and iraq. electing obama does not turn it angelic.

      the us perpetuates and is a key beneficiary of the unsustainable way of living we seem to be surrounded by. electing obama doesnt mean that americans and their oil sheikhs will eat less.

      in international negotiations i think it will take a year or so for any change in thinking to have observable effect. best not be too optimistic. even if obama wishes too, he still has to put every thing through congress. i think global forces should find a way to bypass them altogether rather than touting the actual problem as the solution. this isnt homeopathy.

    27. dave bones — on 11th December, 2008 at 11:23 pm  

      Nice one. Where is Joe Stiglitz?

    28. Refresh — on 11th December, 2008 at 11:30 pm  

      Shamit, its a mistake to think foreign policy is developed within the lifetime of one government or even one premiership. No establishment is founded on the basis of change. By definition it is conservatism writ large. Its foundation are policies determined to run on a rolling 50 year cycle, removing risk to its interests. And the only thing that really determines those are economics - pure and simple.

      Iraq was a point on a roadmap, as is Iran.

      Good points S.Johal, its worth reminding ourselves the basis of US power every so often. Supreme Force in the interest of economic power.

    29. Refresh — on 11th December, 2008 at 11:33 pm  

      ‘this isnt homeopathy.’

      So glad you didn’t find a way of using ‘holistic’.

    30. Refresh — on 11th December, 2008 at 11:37 pm  

      ‘except for Iraq - where was he a disaster?’

      Don’t get me started!

    31. Shamit — on 12th December, 2008 at 12:15 am  

      Go on get started mate.

      I reckon he was pretty good. And, I can back it up.

      btw, may be all those who have been kind enough to teach me history and international relations 101 - could you please explain aside from Iraq why was he such a disaster? No ranting and pontification please.

      Second, did Blair have any achievements? If so, what are they?

      Third, isn’t it just a little bit too presumptuous to think that a leader the country voted in twice with huge historic majorities was a complete disaster. Yeah but what do the common folks know?

      Oh I remember the argument now, all the clever ones stayed at home because they don’t believe in the system. Not in this first by the post system — am I right?

      Wonder what would have happened to the Obama campaign if the progressive youth and the 30’s generation in the US felt the same way? Guess Obama would still have been the junior senator from Illinois.

      Fourth, how was the war illegal? Didn’t all those signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights pledge to uphold those at all costs? Or the human rights of kurdish people rate lower than white european muslims in Kosovo.

      And, if I remember correctly, over 74% of Iraqi people went and cast their vote in the elections under death threats. In my book that is progress — but how could that be correct when Seamus Milne calls it shameful?

    32. Ravi Naik — on 12th December, 2008 at 12:53 am  

      btw, may be all those who have been kind enough to teach me history and international relations 101 - could you please explain aside from Iraq why was he such a disaster? No ranting and pontification please.

      He was a disaster because of Iraq. I guess if you exclude all the big blunders, then what remains by definition is ok.

      Third, isn’t it just a little bit too presumptuous to think that a leader the country voted in twice with huge historic majorities was a complete disaster. Yeah but what do the common folks know?

      Common folk voted Bush twice, and they are a bunch of idiots, just like those 46% who voted to have Sarah Palin to be their VP. Yes, it is presumptuous to say that, but what is really your point?

    33. Refresh — on 12th December, 2008 at 2:26 am  

      Sorry Shamit didn’t mean to get you going.

      To be honest I just don’t feel like dredging my brain to find something heart-warming to say about any politician of the last decade and half. Apart from Robin Cook.

      I suppose you can wipe out a life’s work with one mistake. But then it wasn’t any old mistake. The flipside of course is, Blair could have so easily been the towering global figure he thought he should be if only he had stood up to Bush. And I kept thinking, and he kept us thinking that he wouldn’t let it happen.

      And why should there be. Why should countries in the region and well beyond allow US/UK adventurism to succeed? Never mind the insurgents.

    34. Refresh — on 12th December, 2008 at 2:52 am  

      Ignore last para., it was the beginning of me hyper-ventilating. I’ll leave it to a future comment.

    35. douglas clark — on 12th December, 2008 at 3:26 am  

      Refresh,

      I hate this so I do.

      I will never forgive Blair for taking us into the Iraq conflict against our wishes. I will never forgive him for being economical with the truth in the dossier he presented to the House of Commons. It is for these reasons that he ought to be damned.

      However, the post Gulf War One blockade of Iraq was a disaster in itself. It killed numerous children and, at least until we established no-fly zones, left both Marsh Arabs and Kurds open to whatever revenge Saddam wished to impose. Our - the wests - failure to support properly the internal revolt against Saddam beggars belief. If I had been PM I would have thought our entire containment strategy was a disaster. We ought to have finished him off at the end of Gulf War 1. But, we didn’t.

      I think Blair was aware of these quite obvious failures and that is what probably motivated him. Whether he knew he was supping with the devil or not will probably determine whether he was just a fool or something worse.

      Sometimes I think events overtake folk. They do what they think is right from some sort of higher motivation, but they end up as fallen angels.

      Blair seems to me to be a genuinely tragic character.

    36. Desi Italiana — on 12th December, 2008 at 10:04 am  

      “Would you expect a Republican to say that? And there are still idiots who say Obama is a continuation of the past.”

      That may be because Obama puffs away like a chimney (he’s such a Chicagoan in that respect):

      “I also wonder—and this will seem wildly heretical to virtue-crats, so hide the children—whether some of Obama’s finer qualities aren’t bound up in his alleged nicotine sins. That contemplative self-possession that so many admire him for. It might come from Obama’s ability to sit back, inhale a puff or two, slow down and think—meditate, cogitate—before acting. Sure it’s a trade-off. Lung cancer later in life: the percentage grows grim. But isn’t it possible that, without the mediating thoughtfulness of a nicotine break, Obama would still be a “community organizer”? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

      http://www.slate.com/id/2206445/pagenum/2

    37. douglas clark — on 12th December, 2008 at 10:30 am  

      Desi,

      I used to buy an American Science Fiction magazine called ‘Analog’. The editor, a John W Campbell if memory serves, was a contrarian of the first order. He argued, fairly convincingly, that the spread of nicotine was what caused the modern world. That it stimulated thought and ideas. The sort of ground you now occupy.

      I am a smoker and I approve this message. We might not live long but at least we think about it.

    38. Shamit — on 12th December, 2008 at 10:30 am  

      Douglas

      I agree with your thoughts about gulf war 1. The containment strategy was not only a human rights disaster but I think played well into the hands of some of the fundamental groups in helping to recruit in Arab streets.

      We (both UK and the US) have had a history of getting people to rise up against dictators and telling them we would have their back. But since the Budapest fuck up in 1956 to the Kurds in the 1990s we have let everyone down. And they paid with their lives.

      Where was the morality in that?

    39. douglas clark — on 12th December, 2008 at 11:00 am  

      Shamit @ 38,

      And I agree with your first paragraph completely.

      There is probably no point in going into the ifs and buts, however a proper resolution of Gulf War One would have seen the world as a completely different landscape from what we see now. It is worth remembering how united the world was - at that time - in it’s anger about the invasion of Kuwait. It was damn near universal. Now we all fight and argue about the second Gulf War. Which was politicians attempting to play catch up for the mistakes their fathers had made. And making a wasteland and calling it victory.

      Where was the morality in that?

      Nowhere.

    40. sonia — on 12th December, 2008 at 12:38 pm  

      in response to the question where else blair was a disaster?
      here -and elsewhere- in as much as he was responsible for aiding the disguise of neoliberalism.

    41. S Johal — on 12th December, 2008 at 6:36 pm  

      We (both UK and the US) have had a history of getting people to rise up against dictators and telling them we would have their back. But since the Budapest fuck up in 1956 to the Kurds in the 1990s we have let everyone down. And they paid with their lives

      We in [both UK and US have a history of installing dictators in Latin America, { Cuba, chile, are just few examples. Remember indonisia were two million were killed. All the list were provide by the CIA, while the the slaughter was going on, the loot was been divided up by these fucking merchants of death. You need to read history written by the victims, not by the oppressors



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