Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama, when he’s speaking about American foreign policy, is capable of being anything like an honest man? In a March 26 talk in Belgium to “European youth,” the president fed his audience one falsehood, half-truth, blatant omission, or hypocrisy after another. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements, Obama supporters would not hesitate to shake their head, roll their eyes, or smirk.
Here’s a sample:
“In defending its actions, Russian leaders have further claimed Kosovo as a precedent—an example they say of the West interfering in the affairs of a smaller country, just as they’re doing now. But NATO only intervened after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized and killed for years.”
Most people who follow such things are convinced that the 1999 US/NATO bombing of the Serbian province of Kosovo took place only after the Serbian-forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stop this “ethnic cleansing.” In actuality, the systematic deportations of large numbers of people did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a reaction to it, born of Serbia’s extreme anger and powerlessness over the bombing. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, 1999, and the few days following. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:
. . . with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of Kosovo] that the Serbs would now vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation. [emphasis added]
On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that nature.
But the propaganda version is already set in marble.
“And Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized, not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.”
None of that even came close to happening in Kosovo either. The story is false. The referendum the president speaks of never happened. Did the mainstream media pick up on this or on the previous example? If any reader comes across such I’d appreciate being informed.
Crimea, by the way, did have a referendum. A real one.
“Workers and engineers gave life to the Marshall Plan . . . As the Iron Curtain fell here in Europe, the iron fist of apartheid was unclenched, and Nelson Mandela emerged upright, proud, from prison to lead a multiracial democracy. Latin American nations rejected dictatorship and built new democracies . . .”
The president might have mentioned that the main beneficiary of the Marshall Plan was US corporations , that the United States played an indispensable role in Mandela being caught and imprisoned, and that virtually all the Latin American dictatorships owed their very existence to Washington. Instead, the European youth were fed the same party line that their parents were fed, as were all Americans.
“Yes, we believe in democracy—with elections that are free and fair.”
In this talk, the main purpose of which was to lambaste the Russians for their actions concerning Ukraine, there was no mention that the government overthrown in that country with the clear support of the United States had been democratically elected.
“Moreover, Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. . . . But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about its own future.”
The US did not get UN Security Council approval for its invasion, the only approval that could legitimize the action. It occupied Iraq from one end of the country to the other for 8 years, forcing the government to privatize the oil industry and accept multinational—largely U.S.-based, oil companies’—ownership. This endeavor was less than successful because of the violence unleashed by the invasion. The US military finally was forced to leave because the Iraqi government refused to give immunity to American soldiers for their many crimes.
Here is a brief summary of what Barack Obama is attempting to present as America’s moral superiority to the Russians:
The modern, educated, advanced nation of Iraq was reduced to a quasi failed state . . . the Americans, beginning in 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one dubious excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, tortured without inhibition, killed wantonly . . . the people of that unhappy land lost everything—their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives . . . More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile . . . The air, soil, water, blood, and genes drenched with depleted uranium . . . the most awful birth defects . . . unexploded cluster bombs lying in wait for children to pick them up . . . a river of blood running alongside the Euphrates and Tigris . . . through a country that may never be put back together again. . . .”It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003,” reported the Washington Post. (May 5, 2007)
How can all these mistakes, such arrogance, hypocrisy and absurdity find their way into a single international speech by the president of the United States? Is the White House budget not sufficient to hire a decent fact checker? Someone with an intellect and a social conscience? Or does the desire to score propaganda points trump everything else? Is this another symptom of the Banana-Republicization of America?
William Blum is the author of America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy’ Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2; Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower; West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir; Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire.