Obama’s Self-Deceit

President Obama, who has boasted of ordering military strikes on seven countries, chastised Russia and China for not abiding by the rules of international behavior, a breathtaking example of hypocrisy or self-deceit, writes Joe Lauria.

By Joe Lauria

There was stunned silence in the General Assembly Hall on Monday as U.S. President Barack Obama warned leaders against falling back to pre-United Nations days, in which strong nations imposed their will by force against the weak. There was apparent disbelief as he said it was Russia and China that wanted a “return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution.”

These ancient rules included the “belief that power is a zero-sum game; that might makes right; that strong states must impose their will on weaker ones; that the rights of individuals don’t matter; and that in a time of rapid change, order must be imposed by force.”

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (Photo credit: United Nations.)

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (Photo credit: United Nations.)

The silence in the chamber came because everything Obama ascribed to others perfectly describes U.S. behavior from the end of the Second World War until today.

Since 1945, the U.S. has participated in dozens of documented invasions and overthrows of sovereign governments that resisted U.S. hegemony, the strongest nation imposing its will militarily on the weak. Among the best known are the 1953 and 1954 coups in Iran and Guatemala, and the invasions of Vietnam and Iraq. There were other democracies overthrown to install monarchies or dictatorships, such as Mobutu in Congo in 1961, Suharto in Indonesia in 1965 and Pinochet in Chile in 1973.

There was a setback to the American militarists with the loss in Vietnam, but a decade later Ronald Reagan was back at it, starting with a small invasion of Grenada. George H.W. Bush pounded Panama in 1989 and then devastated Iraqi forces in 1991 with an air and ground campaign, leading to his declaration that “we’ve kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.” Thirty years after the defeat in Vietnam, his son, George W. Bush, staged a full-scale 2003 invasion of Iraq, unleashing utter chaos that’s led to the most fearsome terrorist power in history.

Yet Obama on Monday was blaming Russia and China for the mess Washington has created, saying, “We see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law.” Obama cited Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea and “further aggression” in Eastern Ukraine.

He didn’t mention the documented U.S. orchestrated coup against a democratically-elected president in Kiev, which eastern Ukrainians have resisted. Russia has helped them but the U.S. with all its fancy surveillance that can find out almost any detail of your private life has yet to come up with a scrap of evidence of a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine.

At heart is either Obama’s willful ignorance of Ukraine, a clumsy attempt at disinformation, or as Vladimir Putin suggested in his U.N. speech a half hour later, a big measure of self-deception.

Obama said Ukrainians favor the West. That may be true of most western Ukrainians but not the whole country. Then, he said the U.S. has “few economic interests” in Ukraine. That’s woefully ignorant or a blatant lie. Monsanto has a big interest. Then there’s Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and a John Kerry family friend joining the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, just after the coup.

And the country’s finance minister is an American, Natalie Jaresko, who was given Ukrainian citizenship on the day she began the job. Why put an American government official in charge of the treasury of a foreign country?

Despite Russia’s “aggression,” Obama said he did not want a new Cold War, just U.S. bases encircling Russia, and China. In the South China Sea, the “U.S. makes no territorial claims,” Obama said, and only has an altruistic interest in protecting freedom of navigation and resolving disputes peacefully and not by “the law of force.” Yet, when the International Court of Justice ruled the U.S. mining of Nicaraguan harbors in the 1980s was illegal, the U.S. just ignored it.

On Syria, Obama (and his junior partners in Europe) insist that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office, as though that would make ISIS lay down its arms. “Realism requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader, and an inclusive government that recognizes there must be an end to this chaos so that the Syrian people can begin to rebuild,” the President said.

Obama’s position presupposes that the war would end as soon as a new Syrian leader calls off the fight. Instead ISIS is fighting not only to topple Assad, but to take Damascus from whoever may take Assad’s place. They want the capital. It doesn’t matter who is in charge.

Putin argues that Assad’s military is the most effective ground force (along with the Kurds) against the monstrous group and that all nations who want ISIS defeated should work with Assad. “Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of parties willing to stand firm against those who, just like the Nazis, sow evil and hatred of humankind,” Putin said.

While this is the most practical approach, it would be politically difficult for Western leaders, after three years of calling for Assad’s ouster, to reverse course. Instead the West blames Russian “ambition” in its military build-up in Syria rather than seeing it as a move to help Syria defeat this scourge that came about partly by the West playing around with terrorists who turned into a Frankenstein monster.

“The Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere,” Putin told the Assembly. “It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes.” He added that it was irresponsible “to manipulate extremist groups and use them to achieve your political goals, hoping that later you’ll find a way to get rid of them or somehow eliminate them.”

Russia warned from three years ago that this could happen. “I’m urged to ask those who created this situation: do you at least realize now what you’ve done?” Putin asked. “But I’m afraid that this question will remain unanswered, because they have never abandoned their policy, which is based on arrogance, exceptionalism and impunity.”

Though Obama told the U.N. that he could essentially blow up the whole world if he wanted to, he’s decided to be a nice guy and seek diplomacy over confrontation with Russia and China. “I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known,” he boasted to the quiet hall, “and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.”

“I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion,” Obama said. “We cannot look backwards.” Obama might try looking into a mirror instead.

Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached at[email protected]  and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.


22 comments for “Obama’s Self-Deceit

  1. NobodysaysBOO
    October 2, 2015 at 11:54

    He has hurt the citizens of the USA ENOUGH!

    • Steve
      October 2, 2015 at 12:59

      I wanted to say the same about the previous “lying fool”, but the prospect of a warmonger like Cheney with his finger on the red button was even worse. Cheney was one of those guys who believed that you could “win” a nuclear war, and accept “modest” casualties of 30 million dead (as long as his sorry ass and family survived, of course).

  2. D5-5
    October 2, 2015 at 11:22

    He looks frightened most of the time, particularly when looking at Putin. A frightened person could be dangerous, with a tendency to blame everybody else and pretend he has muscles. It’s interesting that this paranoia leads him to make boastful statements as with how decent he’s going to be and not use the world’s most powerful military on those who disagree with neo con policy right away. This is the boy emperor with no clothes..

  3. Joe Lauria
    October 1, 2015 at 23:22

    Thank you for the comments, some of which pointed out it was for domestic consumption. If he’d given this speech to an American audience these same litany of false Russian and Chinese threats used as a pretext for US aggression would not have raised an eyebrow. But they weren’t buying it in this setting. Is he deceiving himself or is he a cynical liar is the question.

  4. September 30, 2015 at 18:17

    Thanks for this excellent article Joe.

    I liked Putin’s UNGA speech a lot. I’m thinking that Putin as a leader with BRICS is key towards creating a multi-polar world which as some chance of a soft landing through this century’s global crisis. Key for me is a democratic political revolution in the US towards a new American multi-party system with deep immunizations against plutocratic takeover.


  5. Bruce
    September 30, 2015 at 12:35

    So depraved, he’s RenegedOn himself!

  6. Fred Palla
    September 30, 2015 at 00:33

    excellent summation … stunned silence, a time to absorb an incredible hypocrisy

    thank you Mr. Lauria

  7. Fran
    September 29, 2015 at 22:57

    That “stunned silence” in the General Assembly Hall can be understood as an audience that was stunned by his “audacity” in exposing his utter ignorance of the fact that we are on to his deceitful oratory. Personally I gasped when he went on with his lecture about how powerful nations are doing these naughty things and he was telling them how to behave. We all know who is the most dangerous nation in this world and it is us! With leaders like this we deserve no respect or trust. I respect and trust both the Russian and the Chinese presidents more than I do this jerk who may even believe the garbage he is putting out there although to me it is unbelievable that he can be this stupid and not recognize that he is projecting behaviors that he is himself guilty of committing. It is blantenly obvious to any intelligent citizen that he is a terrible hypocrite and I’ll be so happy to see his “celebrity” family leave our white house. Ugh…did any of you stay up late to see his wife on the late show? Yea Gods I thought Colburn had better taste.

    • Steve
      October 2, 2015 at 12:49

      As long as the power of the US govt has the rest of the planet by the throat, the next gangster in the POTUS seat will be just as bad, just like the PREVIOUS gangster was just as bad.

      It is NOT the individual in the POTUS seat. It is the entire blood-mad bureaucracy behind and around him.

    • Red Flag
      October 2, 2015 at 14:21

      Yes, stunned silence at recognition of a sociopath. Too bad they were too polite to boo him.
      These people need booing and out loud rejection. It’s obvious that the US govt is going down. We the people will live on and cobble a new future, but this regime is far beyond our ability to pay for and their attempts to steal their power from other countries is losing now that the world has caught on to the incessant international drug trade and gold theft that supports the black ops and the ESF.

  8. F. G. Sanford
    September 29, 2015 at 20:20

    Great news – I just read that Evelyn Farkas, the so-called “Russia expert” who served both the Pentagon and State Dept. has resigned. As one of the authors of the current lunacy afflicting foreign policy, her fossilized toxic ideological misguidance will no doubt be sorely missed. Ash Crater (sic) is rumored to be beside himself with grief.

  9. Stygg
    September 29, 2015 at 20:16

    I don’t think it’s self-deceit. He’s just a con man, plain and simple.

    • Francis
      September 30, 2015 at 17:46

      Exactly my thoughts. We knew that from Day 1.

  10. Minnesota Mary
    September 29, 2015 at 20:01

    I wonder who the Neocon speechwriters were that wrote Obama’s speech.

  11. F. G. Sanford
    September 29, 2015 at 13:08

    Several years ago, while browsing in a “used and rare book” store, I came across a strange volume. The pages were yellow, the cover was tattered, and it was very thick for a paperback of its day – almost three inches. We’re all familiar with the old black and white newsreel footage which inspires both fear and wonder. How could a raving lunatic nearly conquer the world? Of course, those selected clips only depict the rousing coda which, true to symphonic form, represents the recapitulation of a theme brought to its resolution after a slow and deliberate exposition and development. They never depict the measured, rational and reasonable tone employed to capture the audience, entrance it, and bring it to a hysterical, frenzied applause. Oratory does not adapt itself well to the printed page, so we are still handicapped by a lack of historical immediacy. BUT, that immediacy was real and effective. The book is a collection of speeches, each presented with introductory historical and geopolitical background material and contemporary diplomatic concerns. Following each speech are excerpts from prominent press releases and commentary by the influential pundits of the day. Not once, NOT EVEN ONE TIME, did anyone question the basic political, geopolitical, economic, historical or diplomatic facts underpinning these speeches. The ideology motivating them was OF COURSE noted to be circumspect, but the FACTS were never questioned. Nobody ever said, “This is hypocrisy”, or “This is self-deception”, or, “This simply isn’t true based on documented historical fact”. Today, we recognize in historical hindsight the demagoguery, the race-baiting, the psychological manipulation, and the hate filled rhetoric for what it was. But today, we are presented with “facts” which are simply fraudulent, and we stand at the precipice of disaster with nary a qualm.

    Raoul de Roussy de Sales, “Hitler: My New Order”, (New York, Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941)

    Wake up, folks, there’s a big difference between “self-deception” and “delusional psychosis”.

  12. Joe Tedesky
    September 29, 2015 at 11:22

    Great article Mr. Lauria. My take on Obama’s UN speech, is he wasn’t speaking to the rest of the world, as much as he was speaking to the ill informed of America. Americans get their news in sound bites, and from corporate bought and paid for pundits. The official American stance on Russia and China, is they are bad and we are good. It really is that simple. History doesn’t matter to this corporate militaristic bunch, as they would rather we all get a little more dumbed down and go about our way. Just look at the choices we have to pick from when you review our presidential candidates. If the American public were informed correctly, I would doubt that any of these nut jobs (for the lack of a better word) would be in the running. The American people would do much better if they were to turn off their televisions, and never listen to talk radio. Oh, and just do the crossword puzzles, or read the movie reviews in the New York Times…this goes for WaPo & some other rags that print Washington’s lies. It will be an up hill climb for Putin to get the American public to see him as a good guy. This is very sad, since Putin could be the only one who does have it right. In the meantime let’s just see what Obama and Washington will do, to make the world a better place.

    • Joe Tedesky
      September 29, 2015 at 12:19

      There maybe hope yet. I just returned from the barbershop, and my barber made a statement of how he though Putin may have the right answer. So, maybe more people get it than not. I would love a nice surprise.

    • wholy1
      October 3, 2015 at 13:42

      Astute observation! “Barry” was AGAIN, AS USUAL, pandering to the declining “Lame Dream Tedia” / “Faux Views” (MSM/Fox News) dumbed-down, debt-ridden, Big-Pharma/Monsatan physically debilitated and DISTRACTED “Merikaan Mushroom Majority” CHOOSING to remain vegetating on said MSM’s dis-info-dung in the dark! He/”It” could give a rat’s-ass about what anybody else.

  13. Tom Welsh
    September 29, 2015 at 10:51

    Putin’s depiction of an “anti-Hitler coalition” is somewhat deceptive. True, from 1942 on the USSR, USA and Britain fought together against Nazi Germany – but only because Germany had challenged or attacked them, one by one. In 1939 Germany invaded Poland, and Britain and France – which had guaranteed Poland’s integrity – declared war on Germany. They didn’t actually do anything, so it’s unclear why they declared war – but at least they made the gesture. In 1940 the gesture bit them severely, as Germany rapidly conquered France and made a spirited attempt to overwhelm Britain. Meanwhile the USSR remained stolidly neutral, content with the half of Poland it had quietly annexed, and steadily providing Germany with all sorts of important war materials. In mid-1941 Germany attacked the USSR, forcing it into the war. And finally, in December 1941, Japan attacked the USA and Germany then declared war on the USA, forcing it into the war. Not exactly a determined and resolute coalition, then: more a banding together of several nations with an extremely dangerous common enemy.

    • Stan Kormak
      September 29, 2015 at 17:22

      USSR did not remain stolidly neutral. They attacked Finland in November 30, 1939 and took over the Baltic countries in June 1940. This was part of the Ribbentrop Agreement.

      • Steve
        October 2, 2015 at 12:42

        Not that this justifies the attacks, but you cannot claim it to be part of a campaign of “world conquest” or any such. These were ALL territories that had been historically part of the Tsarist Russian empire, and had been removed in 1918 by the harsh treaty of Brest-Litovsk. So this behavior, while not justified, is more a matter of someone who thinks they are reclaiming what was once “theirs”, a considerably lower level of aggression than someone trying to remake the status quo..

        The fact that the USSR did not occupy all of Finland in 1940 mirrors their same behavior in 1945 after WWII. Even though Finland had cooperated with Germany against the USSR, a war that cost the USSR 30 million lives (no small potatos), the USSR, when it had the chance, did not occupy all of Finland, nor force it into the Warsaw Pact. Yes, it was forced to remain strictly neutral and non-threatening, pretty much what the USA requires of Canada and Mexico. But the USSR behavior was much more defensive than aggressive.

        Since so few Americans are used to objective analysis, I expect to be yelled at for this. But I was once deceived myself when I was young, and only had to learn bitter truths about my own country and its lies, before I began to be more objective…

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